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Medium Format Ultralight Hiking Kit

anyone

Well-known member
Hi there,

currently I'm facing the situation that I cannot carry heavy loads, which means I need to stay below 10kg overall weight for a multi-day tour. While I was able to optimize my hiking gear, now the largest single chunk is my camera equipment. It must come down to 2.5kg in total as a maximum. Since I really enjoy shooting medium format outdoors, it would be a big compromise to leave the camera home and go with my mirrorless Canon RP.

So I experimented with what I have:
Gitzo Traveler Tripod GK1545T 1.3kg
Hasselblad SWC/M + IQ1 60 1.85kg
Spare batteries etc. 0.5kg
Ricoh GR 0.35kg
Camera bag: 0.4kg
------ Sum: about 4.4kg

I also tried my 500CM + 80mm Planar + IQ1 60 (1.75kg), so it was about the same as above.

Now I'm trying to see where I can reduce weight.

First thought: go mirrorless? I try to avoid having two medium format camera systems for obvious reasons, so this is not really an option. Still I had a look how the weight compares to my system.
The GFX50R + V-Adapter + Planar 80 would be 1.63 kg - minor improvement, major spending. If adding the GF30mm instead of the planar, it would be 1.37 kg. Downside: quite expensive.

Second attempt: lighter tripod? This is a more serious attempt, I could add a lightweight tripod to my 'collection'.
Is there any tripod below 1kg which is worth having a look at?

Do you have any suggestions / ideas how to further reduce the weight?

Thank you!
 

dj may

Well-known member
I have no suggestions other than a tripod with less height that would weigh less and still be stable.

I feel your dilemma. I carry what I have because I am able. It could happen to any of us that the physical capability be diminished. My brother had a back injury just before we did a trip around Italy. I had to carry his gear part of the time.

Do you have someone that can help with the gear? Or is it a weight limitation because of a small airplane?
 

anyone

Well-known member
I have thought about a tripod with less height too. Unfortunately I couldn't find anything in between the micro-sized tripods such as the Novoflex Micropod (or the Gitzo equivalent) and full-sized tripods. A working height of 1.3m or even down to 1m might work well with a waist level finder.

The issue is unfortunately health-related, but I do want to be able to carry my own gear, as I enjoy hiking alone. In the worst case, the MF kit needs to stay home.
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
The RRS 1-series (non-versa) is surprisingly light and rigid. I wouldn't use it with a long lens, but for WA, it's great. There's the Peak Designs, but I find it too flexible. When I had kidney problems, I carried a Hassy X1D and 21mm or 30mm lens. No tripod. That I could manage.
 

rdeloe

Well-known member
I feel your pain, Thomas. Literally! As much as I love my Toyo VX23D outfit, carrying it in the field (which is what I do 99% of the time) is getting harder and harder.

I tried just using a tilt-shift adapter and my P645 lenses, but I really don't like using tilt-shift adapters. They're awkward and limiting.

My solution was to build a lighter camera. What started as a fun project to make a tool to replace my tilt-shift adapter ended up replacing my Toyo for most of what I do.

I gave up all movements on the rear standard, but I'm surprised to discover that for the kind of photography I do, movements on the front standard are perfectly fine. I can use all the main lenses I use on my VX23D on my new camera, but it weighs about 1/4 what my Toyo outfit weighs. Plus because the camera is now a lot lighter, I can use a lighter tripod. And I can walk around with the camera on the tripod, something I could never do for more than a few paces withe the Toyo outfit.
 

dchew

Well-known member
Second attempt: lighter tripod? This is a more serious attempt, I could add a lightweight tripod to my 'collection'.
Is there any tripod below 1kg which is worth having a look at?

Do you have any suggestions / ideas how to further reduce the weight?

Thank you!
Even the RRS-14 won't get you there @ 1116 grams. You still need a head. The BH-25 is 148 grams, totaling 1264 grams. Not any better than what you have.

The 40-70 zoom is a little lighter than the 30 and supposedly pretty good. 390 grams instead of 510. Or the small 50mm @ 335 grams.

Other than that, you are about as low as you can get with any interchangeable lens system, regardless of MF. The leap beyond that would be a Sony Rx1r at 507 grams for everything but the tripod.

Dave
 

pigtango

Member
the Gitzo 0545 weighs 0.895 kg. They make a special ballhead for that will allow it to fold over itself and close with it attached. Markins also made a special ballhead that was I think lighter and cheaper and did the same thing specifically for this tripod. I think it's the Q3i. I want to say the whole thing weighs about 2.5 lbs or so, and I think is just about the lightest combo I've found. for a tripod that goes up to 4ft or so. It's been a couple years since I looked though, so lighter ones in the same size range may have come out...

Add a GFX 50r or 100S with the 50mm and that's a MF combo you could handle all day probably and it probably the lightest. The flip out screens make working on a tripod this size easy. I almost never look through the viewfinder anymore once these screens came out. Like a variable angle Groundglass, love it. The X1d camera is also small and light, and one of thier smaller lenses could work well too, but those don't have the flippy screens, and that's sort of what makes the combo work for me. If you get the 100s, it has IBIS and you could possibly lose the tripod altogether for max weight savings... Oh, the 907x might be even smaller/lighter, and does have a flip-out screen. That might be the lightest in MF.

I also have multijoint back problems and have spent a lot of time looking at weight savings. For me, I now only bring one lens out on trips/hikes and just use it as a challenge. I also lose the tripod when possible. If you go with the higher res camera like a 100s, you can just crop in for a more tele-view and still have a ton of MP left over. I'm probably moving that direction next. I'm still using the 50r.

It's hard, but the biggest weight savings is usually in losing lenses. Glass is heavy. if you can simplify down to one or two small lenses, your back will thank you in spades later. Hope this helps a little.
 

anyone

Well-known member
Thank you all for your responses! In everyday situations I'm fortunate enough not to face limitations in my camera choice (although I prefer lightweight in any case), so the issue is 'only' present at multi day hikes where the camera competes with all the other gear that is required to be outside of civilisation. Therefore, that also impacts how much I'm willing to spend for such an 'edge case', as I'm not more than once or twice a year on such hikes.

I was guessing that I am already pretty much at the lower weight limit of a medium format kit, so changes are most likely costly. Will need to think in which direction it could go, but your suggestions are really valuable and offer a new perspective.

Tripod:
It seems here is really not much to gain. The Gitzo tripod I use is already quite lightweight at 1.3 kg including head. So the next step towards the 0545 would save about 185g.

Camera:
Back to mirrorless as only option ... I haven't really looked into the lens line ups so far, but the suggestions sound good.
The GFX line is appealing due to its Capture One workflow which I'm familiar with. The GFX100S seems to be outstanding in many ways, and paired with the 50mm a nice option.

When it comes to Hasselblad, the 907X option is interesting. I never thought that the 907x is a fully fledged camera on its own due to the lack of a viewfinder. Does it really replace a mirrorless body in general landscape photography use? The appealing part is that I can use the digital back for all my tech cam gear too. That would mean letting go of my IQ1 60, which I'm not sure I'm ready to let go.

Film:
I also thought about this already. My Rolleiflex comes at 1.1 kg and shoots 6x6 frames in excellent quality and was bought exactly for this reason.

Edit: The Cambo is 2.185 kg with digital back and Schneider Digitar 35mm XL
Edit 2: I thought of renting a mirrorless system, but the prices are sky high.
 
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Your tiny Schneider Apo-Digitar 35XL in Cambo WRS mount weighs ... not much at all. Neither does a 72L.

Your Cambo WRS 1200 with the 35XL and perhaps a 72L or similar would be a lightweight and compact set-up. And provides the shift you might miss with a Hasselblad or Fuji GFX.

Add a small tripod with a tiny ballhead that can be carried in one hand.
 

dchew

Well-known member
Your tiny Schneider Apo-Digitar 35XL in Cambo WRS mount weighs ... not much at all. Neither does a 72L.

Your Cambo WRS 1200 with the 35XL and perhaps a 72L or similar would be a lightweight and compact set-up. And provides the shift you might miss with a Hasselblad or Fuji GFX.

Add a small tripod with a tiny ballhead that can be carried in one hand.
I've been trying to do that for years! The problem is the digital back. All the Phase backs are in the ~700 gram range. Here is the best I can do with the svelte TC at 220 grams with the smallest tripod mount I can find. All the other Cambo's, Alpa's and A/S Factums will be heavier. Still 1700 grams without a tripod:

 
I've been trying to do that for years! The problem is the digital back. All the Phase backs are in the ~700 gram range. Here is the best I can do with the svelte TC at 220 grams with the smallest tripod mount I can find. All the other Cambo's, Alpa's and A/S Factums will be heavier. Still 1700 grams without a tripod:

Yes, the weight of the IQ back does go against the lightweight ideal. How much weight is saved by swapping it for a RB 6x8 rollfilm back with back adapter, plus a few rolls of 120 film? Either option seems more compact than a GFX plus a few lenses. The GFX gear quickly gets heavy and bulky.
 

dchew

Well-known member
Yes, the weight of the IQ back does go against the lightweight ideal. How much weight is saved by swapping it for a RB 6x8 rollfilm back with back adapter, plus a few rolls of 120 film? Either option seems more compact than a GFX plus a few lenses. The GFX gear quickly gets heavy and bulky.
Yeah auto focus lenses, especially fast ones, add up the pounds quickly.
Dave
 

FloatingLens

Well-known member
When it comes to Hasselblad, the 907X option is interesting. I never thought that the 907x is a fully fledged camera on its own due to the lack of a viewfinder. Does it really replace a mirrorless body in general landscape photography use? The appealing part is that I can use the digital back for all my tech cam gear too. That would mean letting go of my IQ1 60, which I'm not sure I'm ready to let go.
Yes, the 907X system by itself with a couple of X lenses is rather lightweight, especially the XCD 45P. Not sure about the 1,5kg though. It is impressive how light the XCD lenses are given their metal construction.
 

anyone

Well-known member
I've been trying to do that for years! The problem is the digital back. All the Phase backs are in the ~700 gram range. Here is the best I can do with the svelte TC at 220 grams with the smallest tripod mount I can find. All the other Cambo's, Alpa's and A/S Factums will be heavier. Still 1700 grams without a tripod:
Seems I am not the only one creating Excel sheets calculating the (real) weight of the gear ;-)

Yes, the weight of the IQ back does go against the lightweight ideal. How much weight is saved by swapping it for a RB 6x8 rollfilm back with back adapter, plus a few rolls of 120 film? Either option seems more compact than a GFX plus a few lenses. The GFX gear quickly gets heavy and bulky.
I twisted my mind around my existing medium format gear quite a bit and couldn't really find a solution to go below the approx. 4 kg. To be fair, 2.x kg IS lightweight for a tech camera, so my Cambo ticks that box very well. However, for the specific application of multi day hikes I need to go with even more lightweight gear.

Yes, the 907X system by itself with a couple of X lenses is rather lightweight, especially the XCD 45P. Not sure about the 1,5kg though. It is impressive how light the XCD lenses are given their metal construction.
A friend put exactly that kit for me on a scale - 1.2 kg. Major downside for me is that the 907x costs as much as a Fuji GFX100s. I value its versatility, but the GFX100s is a very compelling medium format camera and the resolution difference is signficant.
 

FloatingLens

Well-known member
A friend put exactly that kit for me on a scale - 1.2 kg. Major downside for me is that the 907x costs as much as a Fuji GFX100s. I value its versatility, but the GFX100s is a very compelling medium format camera and the resolution difference is signficant.
The quality level of the files that Hasselblad's 50c backs produce is well regarded. I'd argue that image pipeline, resulting malleability and color could trump resolution – depending on use cases, of course.
 

dchew

Well-known member
Seems I am not the only one creating Excel sheets calculating the (real) weight of the gear ;-)
No, you're not! I am just as ridiculous as you in that regard, if not more so.

I've been crying from the hilltop for a while now that a medium format kit can be as light as most "full frame" kits out there, especially when you require the best glass to be included in the FF kits. The trick is, most of the top-end 24x36 lenses out there are pretty fast, which makes them heavy. Also, I've always had the opinion that autofocusing, and to some extent OIS, adds considerable weight to each lens. Once you add everything up, the weights are pretty competitive even with technical camera options.

I'm normally backpacking with a 2 or 3 lens kit that totals ~ 4 kg, including the padded ICU and everything in it, but not including the tripod. You are trying to get way beyond that, which is a real challenge even for M4/3!

However, both HB and Fuji did a nice job offering options for relatively light lenses that are darn good. I think if cost was no object, you could get at or below 3 kg. Once you take out the things you really can't change:
1.3 kg tripod
0.5 kg batteries
You are only left with 2.5-1.8=0.7 kg. And that includes whatever bag or wrap you protect it with in your backpack. BTW, in the past I have simply wrapped my stuff in coats and layers. Works as long as you are careful when pulling stuff in and out of your pack. It helps if you use velcro straps to keep things wrapped. Presumably the only time you would be wearing all your layers is when you are sleeping or immobile; you don't have to worry about carrying your camera gear while you are wearing all your "padding."

If you got to 1.2 kg for body and lens (100s + 50mm for example) that's right at a 3.0 kg total. In my opinion, the only way to get beyond that is to ditch the tripod; almost regardless of system format.

Dave
 

anyone

Well-known member
When I wrote my initial question, I knew that I try to achieve the impossible.

The quality level of the files that Hasselblad's 50c backs produce is well regarded. I'd argue that image pipeline, resulting malleability and color could trump resolution – depending on use cases, of course.
No doubt about that. I like the versatility of the system a lot, and various examples shown here clearly underline your statement. The price point is - for me - a bit on the high side, but only since Fuji introduced the GFX 100s for such a low price. Maybe I'm also thinking the next CFV is a 100c ;-) Is the 907x really usable on its own without the viewfinder?

I'm curious about a mirrorless body, but I doubt that I would buy one at this time. I like my IQ1 60 too much.

I'm normally backpacking with a 2 or 3 lens kit that totals ~ 4 kg, including the padded ICU and everything in it, but not including the tripod. You are trying to get way beyond that, which is a real challenge even for M4/3!

However, both HB and Fuji did a nice job offering options for relatively light lenses that are darn good. I think if cost was no object, you could get at or below 3 kg. Once you take out the things you really can't change:
1.3 kg tripod
0.5 kg batteries
You are only left with 2.5-1.8=0.7 kg. And that includes whatever bag or wrap you protect it with in your backpack. BTW, in the past I have simply wrapped my stuff in coats and layers. Works as long as you are careful when pulling stuff in and out of your pack. It helps if you use velcro straps to keep things wrapped. Presumably the only time you would be wearing all your layers is when you are sleeping or immobile; you don't have to worry about carrying your camera gear while you are wearing all your "padding."

If you got to 1.2 kg for body and lens (100s + 50mm for example) that's right at a 3.0 kg total. In my opinion, the only way to get beyond that is to ditch the tripod; almost regardless of system format.

Dave
My shooting is almost entirely tripod-based, and my current digital back also often requires it, since I prefer to shoot it at base ISO (50). Leaving the tripod home would be a big compromise. I still am curious about something in between the tiny travel tripods (I own the Novoflex option I mentioned above, fantastic piece of kit but obviously very close to the ground) and a full-height tripod.

I had another session of checking my camera closet. A combination of digital with the Ricoh GR (my favourite hiking camera for snapshots) and the Rolleiflex will bring me to the 2.7kg league including tripod - and I would have wide angle covered with the Ricoh and a normal focal length with the Rolleiflex. The Malefic 617 is another option I own (giant, but lightweight due to 3D print), but this thing eats more film than I like due to the giant 6x17 negatives. Quality though is fantastic and my 90mm lens is quite wide on 6x17cm.

Maybe I need to acknowledge that taking the medium format camera and tripod is simply not feasible for multi day hikes and I need to fall back to my Canon equipment - not a very bad choice either.
 
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dchew

Well-known member
Maybe I need to acknowledge that taking the medium format camera and tripod is simply not feasible for multi day hikes and I need to fall back to my Canon equipment - not a very bad choice either.
The R5 is still 738 grams without a lens; 50r is 775. Doesn't save much weight, but I suppose it saves a lot of dollars assuming you already have it.

Dave
 

anyone

Well-known member
It‘s the more mundane Canon RP, which is not top of the line but enjoyable to shoot with. Paired with the RF50 it is about 600g. Arguably a big step down in image quality, but the best camera is the one you can carry…
 
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