Early this morning I went back to Bald Mountain, an easy loop hike just five miles west of Boulder. The only other time I had made that hike was at least three years ago.
Here are two comparable photos that I took of the Rockies from the summit of Bald Mountain with my Canon EOS 50D and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 cameras. Each shot is at maximum zoom.
The relevant difference between the two cameras is in the apparent closeness of the Rockies. While the color of the scene is much more beautiful with the Canon, this is not a fair comparison. I took that shot at 7:22, shortly after first light. By the time I pulled out my Panasonic 10 minutes later, the light had faded.
Today I carried my new Canon EOS 50D digital SLR camera on a hike for the first time. It was both literally and figuratively a trail trial run.
Yes, I ran. But only down the mountain, not up. I ran both for exercise and to feel how my new way of carrying a camera works.
I see lots of photographers carrying their camera on a shoulder strap. In the 1960s and ’70s I did that when I had a film SLR. But it’s not comfortable on a long hike and also exposes the camera too much to the vagaries of the elements.
Undoubtedly many other people carry their cameras in their backpacks or daypacks. But that’s not at all handy, since you have to take off your pack to get at the camera.
My biggest breakthrough in stepping up to a DSLR came when I met a backpacker on my hike back from the Crater Lakes about a month ago. He was the first person I noticed carrying his camera in a chest pack.
This was a breakthrough because a DSLR is much bigger and heavier than the point and shoot cameras that I have been carrying in a shirt pocket for the past few years. My nice Julie commented correctly that my new camera is far too big to fit in a pocket.
The final breakthrough came last weekend. Doug Goodin (http://www.boundaryphoto.com/home.html ), a photographer I met at Open Studios, told me that he uses a chest pack, but said that I need to watch out for two things:
1. That it could block my view of where I was going to step, something crucial on rocky trails.
2. That when I ran on the trail, the bottom of the chest pack could flop around uncomfortably unless I made special precautions.
He recommended a Lowepro chest pack, which I knew that REI carried. So immediately after I bought the camera on Tuesday, I went to REI and bought a Lowepro.
An REI salesperson gave me great help in attaching it to the chest strap of the daypack I carry on my back. The Lowepro pack also comes with a shoulder strap that the salesperson showed me how to use to tie the bottom snugly to my chest so that it doesn’t flop around.
Even running down the mountain today the system worked great. It was so comfortable that I hardly felt the weight. And I had no flops and no stumbles on rocks or otherwise. The trial run on the trail was a complete success.