A friend and I recently took a 7 day, 165 kilometer walk in Northern Sweden. Starting at Ritsem and walking along the Padjelantaleden then moving off to Nordkalottleden and finishing in Kvikkjokk. This isnt going to be a post about the hike itself, but rather about my choice to bring the Mamiya 7ii +43mm lens and a ton of film. The film I used for this trip was varied but mainly Fuji Velvia 100 and Portra 160, 400. All film processed myself at home.
As some of you might know from previous post I have been an avid analog photographer (hobby) forever. I never went total digital as I always preferred the look of analog. On this particular trip I wanted to bring my analog camera as it had been years since I actually went hiking with an analog camera. Though, because I am a lightweight backpacking nerd, its hard to justify 2 kilos of extra gear that can only take still photos. While my total backpacking gear weight with food for the entire trip came in at 11kg, with the camera that pushed everything to just shy of 14kg.
It really was an internal debate for weeks whether or not I would bring the camera and what camera for that matter. In fact, just before boarding the train to northern sweden, I was still changing out my different pre-packed cameras and camera cubes in my backpack. My biggest issue was mainly with volume. While 14kg would not kill me, and I knew after a few days of eating the food weight in my backpack, my kit would be under 10 kg in no time. It was the volume of my pack that bothered me. I normally dont need more than a 40 liter backpack, however, with the mamiya and a packing cube I would need a 70 liter pack. This sucked.
However, while debating whether to bring my Ricoh GR21, Nikon F5, Canon f-1 or Mamiya 7ii, I ended on the only choice that would make any sense: the Mamiya 7ii. WIth its built in meter, super sharp lenses and lightweight, it was a no brainer. Though, I do regret not bringing my 150mm lens for the Mamiya, as 43mm is arguably to wide for most landscape applications. (for the kind of photos I take). This choice was mainly due to weight, one lens was enough.
To protect my camera I kept it in a Wandrd camera cube, in a plastic ziploc bag, the bag filled with these gel packs that keep moisture out. This seemed to work really well as I didnt have fog or moisture in my camera at all despite several days of hard rain. I did have a tripod, which I used both for video and for photography, my tripod weighed about 400grams and gives about 150cm of height.
In the end I think the extra weight and effort was worth it. Though I think had I brough my 150mm lens I would have gotten a lot more quality shots – as it was, I think its hard to capture the “vastness” of an area with such a wide lens that I brought. Wide lenses have a tendency to “squish” and area into a small frame, so even large alpine like mountains, look like little hills. Live and learn.
Anyway, here are a few more shots from the Mamiya 7ii + 43mm lens (I didnt bring viewfinder for 43mm lens as I find its not really necessary). Scanned with Silverfast and no additional editing
Some of you may not know, but since about mid February the family and I moved down to Zambia to adopt a beautiful little boy named Richard. Life here is certainly different, and having two son’s instead of one is also a big change. We live in Lusaka on the southern part of town in an area called Chalala. It’s a nice, quiet area of town that is rather close to the orphanage where Richard was living.
This hasn’t been a trip of wondering safaris and adventure. For the first month we only had permission to come by and visit Richard. So, everyday for a month we drove back and forth to visit Richard. Now, after two months we have full custody of Richard and he seems to really like being with us. We are now finally starting to be able to explore, unfortunately I am a bit out of action at the moment with a broken rib after falling hard on a slippery floor.
However we have made a few outings, with the most spectacular being Livingstone and Victoria falls. Livingstone is the town that hosts Victoria falls on the Zambian side of the border.
Over the years I have gone through dozens of cameras. Different purposes, but mainly because I have a serious problem with GAS when it comes to cameras. I have become a freak with gear, much like backpacking gear, I go through gear until I find what works best for me in the variety of situations that I use my gear in. A quick run down follows:
1st camera and one I’ve used until about 2004 – Canon AE-1 Program with a 35-70mm zoom lens. While it quit being my daily camera in 2004, I actually still use it even today. It’s not really my camera, which is probably why I’ve never gotten rid of it. It’s officially my moms camera that she bought back in the early 80’s new. I have used that camera like crazy and love it. Unfortunately, film is not very practical for everyday use so I eventually went over to some Kodak digital camera that had an amazing 5 megapixel camera.
I used that Kodak for a couple of years on my various trips to Australia, Thailand, Greece and Italy. I have a lot of pictures and video from that time, but, the quality is so bad I never got around to posting any of it. My photography lust cooled down a lot after that camera.. The pictures sucked, the video sucked.. the camera was boring..
Eventually I picked up my AE-1 Program again and started using it. My lust was reignited in 2012 when I bought a Sony NEX-7 then a Sony A7 Full frame and right after a Sony A7R. I liked the Sony cameras, and in a way they reignited my love for photography. Though they both seemed like unfinished masterpieces. Video was not great, lenses limited, software terrible, menu system lacking and with the Sony A7R it was nearly impossible to get sharp images handheld, on top of that, the Sony’s are extremely boring to use (I am used to the feel and look of the AE-1 Program which is rather fun). I also had a problem with the Sony business mantra of selling half finished products, and releasing just newer models every year. I traded my Sony A7R and Zeiss lens for a Fuji x-t1 with a few lenses. I loved the Fuji.
I used the Fuji on a few backpacking trips but found it to be a little on the heavy side and the video was still lacking. Fuji also started raising the prices of the lenses – they were getting heavier and more expensive than full frame lenses – and still are to this day. I upgraded to a X-T2 – though more of the same I thought. So I went over to an Olympus OMD EM-5 mark ii with a few lenses that I got really cheap, so I sold my Fuji and was perfectly happy with the OMD as it was better for video. IMO.. With a flipout screen, cheaper lenses, built in stabilization and in my opinion just as good if not better picture quality than the Fuji, I was more than happy to be an Olympus fanboy.
It was at this time I started to play around with video – last year, and this is when I realised that the Olympus was sorely lacking. With it’s less than optimal autofocusing and in non-perfect lighting conditions the video just looked terrible. And even in perfect lighting conditions with the most expensive lenses, video had artifacts and just all-around looked very amateurish. Don’t get me wrong, I am an amateur, but I figured there had to be better for the money.
This is when I went over to a Canon M50, In general I have been against Canon, because it seemed to me that while everybody else was innovating and pushing the boundaries, Canon has a board room filled with monkeys stuck in the 80’s. Warren buffet once said “I buy companies that can be run by idiots, because eventually it will be.. ” this is where Canon is – a company run by idiots. However, the Canon M50 while being the worst camera on the market for so many things does a few things very good.
Great video autofocus – it works no matter what
Flip out screen
Great colors from the camera – don’t have to color grade for my purposes
Decent, cheap, light lenses.
Now I really like the M50 but it has a few things I don’t like that have made me sell it for my current camera a Canon 6D mark ii
Lenses are not great
Battery life is lacking
Camera is boring to use
Not weather sealed
No depth of field
Low light performance is horrific
Everybody bashes on the M50 because it does(nt) have 4k- or at least not useable. But who wants to edit 4k video?
Now I have landed on the Canon 6d mark II – This camera has the technology of the Sony a7 from 2013 – if not worse. It’s bad in just about everything – that is Canon at it’s finest – making horrific products that just barely glide by, then pay vloggers and reviews to give it exposure. No 4k, terrible 1080p video codec, bad slow mo, no dynamic range, not very good autofocus for pictures.. so on and so forth. Canon has literally just placed a shit sensor from an Canon 80D and decided to take double the price. It’s these kinds of decisions that will kill this company. The board room asses that know nothing about photography or video and thinks they are competing against cameras from 2010. HOWEVER, there are things I like about this camera:
I love the feel in my hands – the ergonomics and size is just right for a big guy like myself.
Full frame – other than the Sony A7R, A7 and a few Leicas, I haven’t had FUll frame digital. I love the depth of field and quality of the video and images coming from the camera
Great, cheap lenses – the EF system is ancient. Lenses are a steal right now as everybody knows Canon is sinking so they are jumping off the Titanic before it goes down – doesn’t make the glass any worse.
Flip out screen
Good 1080p for Youtube and internet videos
Built in Timelapse mode – making completed timelapses in camera
That’s it.. That is why I have the Canon 6D mark ii and why I’m actually pretty happy with it.
Anyway, this is just the run-down of my main camera systems that i have used over the years. I have gone through quite a few Compact cameras as well as Film cameras.
At the moment my film camera of choice is a Ricoh GR21 (a fantastic 200 gram compact camera with an amazing 21mm wide angle lens) – This camera is a beast that takes extremely sharp pictures. A lot of fun for street photography – discrete, wide and sharp
My preferred compact camera is the Canon G7x mark ii. Yes it does basically everything worse than the Sony Rx100 series – all of which I have used a lot over the years. But, it has better colors right out of the camera which means a lot to me.
I recently had an outing with a few friends here in northern Sweden up in the Borgarfjäll mountains, about 350 kilometers inland from Umeå. This was the very reason I moved back to Northern Sweden: To get to the mountains! This was a fun trip, and more in line with car camping perhaps than a rough tumble through the wilds of Sweden, but I had fun non-the less.. In fact, there is something to be said about parking the car outside a mountain top, summiting, sleeping over, fishing and coming back down again. I was out a total of two nights and it was well worth the drive.
This trip also gave me the chance to test my Sierra designs Cloud sleeping bag/quilt and using my Samsung 9+ for all video and photography before taking my planned longer fall trips. Video coming eventually…..
The view from Buarkantjahke at about 700 meters
A lot can be said about the Zpacks Duplex – but there are two that define it most: Light and Cold. What you gain in weight, you sacrifice in size and “tightness”. This is a payoff usually worth the cost, but in cold, fall conditions the Duplex should be changed out for tents better situated for these conditions.
The Zpacks and Hilleberg Allak side by side.. both did just fine in the mountains – though the Allak weighs about 2kg more.
My favorite pack: the Hyperlite mountain gear windrider 2400. A great combination or weight, robustness, usability and looks.
David finding loads of chanterelle mushrooms – we filled up several plastic bags with mushrooms.
The view by Saxån overlooking Buarkantjahke mountain. 1235 meter peak and were we camped the night before at around 900meters.
On the way back from Borgafjäll I walked a few kilometers along Lögdeälven and camped right by the water
Spent this last Christmas and new year with my brother and his family in Ozark, Alabama – together with our parents.. This is the first time we have all come together an had Christmas together, and the first time in 20 or so years since my parents, my brother and myself have spent Christmas together. Anyway, I had a great time, and as always I have mixed emotions about my homeland: I love the fact that parking is free in a lot of places, public toilets are generally everywhere and not to mention a lot of great places to eat and shop. I am however heart broken about many things, signs of a fallen nation just waiting to crumble, a populace that willingly accepts it’s dumbing down by a broken news media and a willful ignorance to find out the truth. George Orwell once coined the term “double think” – Doublethink is the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct. This couldn’t be more true when talking about politics with people.
There is another term that unfortunately is lost on me now, but the idea is that it takes an incredible amount of intelligence to realize you don’t understand something. Often, the least understanding individuals are the ones that will argue loudest for the ideas or concepts they don’t understand – and not realize they don’t understand. I find this prevalent beyond belief, not only doublethink and the willful ignorance associated with that, but also the complete lack of understanding for general ideas – which often leads to pointless discussion on subjects that I may have studied for years and have a general understanding of, and find myself in the middle of discussion with people who obviously have no clue. Simple facts that are easy to prove or disapprove are simply ignored, often ideas of conspiracy are preferred over simple explanations; in the world of modern USA 2+2 does not equal 4. 2+2 is equal to whatever and whomever decides to argue the loudest.
Ideas that once could be expressed and a discussion could take place existed in a not too distant past, today I can be called a nazi and a snowflake in the same discussion with no thought or mental process from the accuser being apparent. Names and terms have become a kind of acceptable replacement for rational thought and discussion. I think these terms are crutches for the conversational cripple and it says more about the accuser than the accused.
In discussions people will simply refer me to look up the “facts” on Alternet, PragerU or Breitbart, Alex jones, or whatever Trump decides to vomit up as his latest wisdom. (disclaimer: I’m not generally for or against Trump. If he does something good I acknowledge it, if he does something shitty, I say it.) I was left with the feeling that there is no going back, when simple conventions and truths that society are built on are simply ignored, it creates an unnatural conflict, an unwillingness to change and learn. The radicalism that I have simply seen online was put on display in so many ways. I don’t just mean left wing radicalism, but also right wing. It’s all there, it’s not only online, it’s right there, just beneath the surface in everyday situations with real people.
Simply put, I believe it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better – and there is no guarantee that it will get better.
With that said, in general I love the people, the workers the survivors: because if nothing else can be said about the USA, one thing is certain, Americans are survivors. Life is not easy in the USA, the reality of working two full time jobs and still not make ends meet, is very real, and you see it everywhere. I sat down with my family to eat at Wendys, my son started playing with another kid who I thought was sitting with his family, then his “family” left him there, alone. Well, turns out his mother was working, at Wendys. These are the people the media likes to call “welfare queens”. Working their asses off, surviving, hustling and just trying to get by.
Video filmed on DJI Spark drone and Olympus OMD EM5 II
In any case, I have put together a few pictures and so far one video here from my trip to Ozark, Alabama and a couple days along the Florida coast in Panama city and Pensicola.
My schedule is filled at the moment while trying to get Backpackinglight.se up and running. So instead of a long trail report, I will post some pictures! More pictures coming soon.
Mukka Stugan is a small little emergency cottage that while offers a nice place to eat lunch while it’s raining, has unfortuantely become a trash can for hikers who can’t be bothered to bring their trash with them.
The Trailstar by the glacier river.
13 kilos for a 9 day trip – fully safe and secure with a fishing pole and satellite phone to boot. My packing is watertight, I’m set for far below zero temperatures if needed.
Taking a coffee and candy break while drying out my shoes.
It looks like hell, but believe me, this is some of the best aspects of wearing trailshoes in the wild. When my feet get hot I can just go trudging through some cold water. No blisters, no pain, no problems! Trailshoes are a luxury few have yet discovered.
Down by Rapadalen – Amazing
If only Ron would let me sell his MLD gear! The yellow trailstar is probably the single most beautiful tent build today. An incredibly light and well performing piece of kit.
My Fizan poles and HMG windrider 4400 after a week in Sarek. Both performed incredibly well – so good in fact that I will be supplying both at backpackinglight.se. These are simply the best products available for their intended purpose.
I find that I absolutely love video diaries of backpacking.. I have been following and watching them for years on YouTube, but I never really got around to doing it myself. I’ve tried a few times on a smaller scale, but never any real effort. My YouTube channel I don’t even bother marketing and in general I’m not very active on there. I’m not sure why this is to be honest, i guess I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work in practice while holding onto my ultralight philosophy. As well as being stuck on just doing gear reviews, which honestly, is a chore. On top of that I’m not really a computer guy – I don’t like editing video or photography and making an interesting video out of hours and hours of footage is no easy task.
With that said, because I love the format of video documentaries, I am going to start working on it more and more. I am changing up my camera gear for my upcoming trips along the High coast trail in northern Sweden and my two weeks through Sarek journey. My strategy is simple: Record everything! I found out the hard way that it’s damn difficult to make an interesting movie with limited footage. I have been editing my Iceland video now and realize that I hardly recorded anything at all, so as an embarrassment to myself and to the suffrage of everyone watching my videos, I do a 2 minute intro where I’m just describing what was happening… In any case, it kind of works, but would have been better to show instead of tell.
This means that my Fujifilm x-t2 camera and lenses have been sold to make room for video gear and after my Iceland trip, I’m convinced a pocket camera works wonders for what I do. So some of the gear that my Fujifilm x-t2 has financed so far are as follows:
Gopro hero 3 black edition with accessories – used cost about 150USD (200 grams) Ricoh GR – An excellent digital compact camera that I absolutely love 200USD (245 grams)
I used the Sony RX100 in Iceland, however I find the Ricoh GR to be a completely different beast altogether with regards to picture quality
DJI Spark drone and controller with two extra batteries 1000USD (550 grams complete)
The DJI Spark is a tiny drone with serious power
To top it all off I have two 20100mhv battery packs to keep everything charged along the way.
I’ve sold all my Fuji gear for around 2400USD
Total weight for my new photography and video gear = 1095grams
Total weight of Fujifilm x-t2 with lenses and batteries = 1114grams
Weight of battery packs 490grams each (added one for the drone)
Total weight increase for new system: 300grams
Total money savings: around 1000usd
I can live with a total weight increase of 300grams for so much more flexibility and control. The Ricoh GR works fantastic for me as almost all my photography in the wild is at 28mm, no matter what lenses and cameras I have with me – my shots are always wide. and now I have true video capabilities.
Concerns about drones: I got some feedback with regards to bringing a drone with me or drones in general. It seems to be a very hot topic in the USA and something I hadn’t thought about before as drones have never bothered me personally. I will call it the “road rage syndrome”, there are people who have an incredible amount of pent up rage and are looking for something to go bezerk over and I have to take this into consideration when flying the spark.
To the advantage of the spark it is tiny, unobtrusive and quiet. With that said I think drones should fall somewhere between loud music in camp and deficating on the trail. Neither of these should be practiced, and with proper fore thought and consideration for others, can easily be avoided.
My strategy for succeeding with video:
Record everything! Better to record days and days of video and edit down to a highly interesting 30 minute clip, than to take minimal video and try and stretch it out.
I also need to work on my editing skills. I don’t like working on computers that much, so I will have to find presets and styles that I like so I can get my editing done quickly. I also know what kind of footage I like – So I will try to emulate this.
Where it could possibly fail:
I like to keep things simple, sometimes it’s a hassle to record. To always have to think about the shot. To pull out a drone and start recording takes me out of the moment. hopefully I can overcome this, as I find I really love the video format, and I love watching my old videos of all the hikes I’ve done. (sadly I have barely edited any of them… so nothing is on youtube yet)
Through the years I have used many cameras on the trail, and several of them I have written reviews on. I thought for fun I would include a few pictures and a few of my favorites here. I know what your thinking, it’s not the gear that makes the photographer, and it’s absolutely correct, but it sure does help to have quality gear that inspires. You will notice I don’t put any importance on year the camera was made, I do this because I don’t really care. I love the Sony rx100, is it as good as the rx100 m4? probably not, but I wouldn’t know as I haven’t owned the m4. I have owned the m3 and I thought it too was an excellent backpacking camera. Anyway, here are my personal favorites:
It’s hard not to love this camera. It takes amazing pictures, the XF lenses are the best lenses on the market, and to top it off because of the release of the X-T2, the X-T1’s are relatively cheap now. The fujifilm with the 18-55 kit lens is a fantastic backpacking combination that weighs around 800 grams total. 16mp sensor.
Super crisp pictures and a set focal length of 35mm. What’s not to like. Missing the classic chrome film simulation mode and not really the best for video. However, an excellent backpacking camera. weighs 430 grams and 16mp sensor.
Small, light and excellent sensor. I used the sony RX 100 on my solo trip in Iceland and don’t regret a thing. Perhaps not the best quality when compared to Fuji, but still an excellent all around compact camera. 245 grams and 28-100mm lens and 20mp sensor. These can now be purchased relatively cheap on the classifieds.
Sony RX100 m3
Everything I love about the sony RX100 the M3 does better. The lens is criper, the files are cleaner, the sensor is better and the Sony RX 100 M3 even has a built in viewfinder and HD video. Only negative? 24-70mm lens is perhaps less flexible than the 28-100 on the Rx 100.
Small, light, excellent pictures and sensor… what’s not to like? Some people don’t like single focal length cameras, personally they are my favorite. I hate having to think about what lens might work best for a certain situation. Why bother? The 28mm lens on the Ricoh GR is one of the best on the market. Excellent for both backpacking and street photography. The Ricoh GR weighs 245 grams with battery and has a 16mp sensor.
The Fufilm X-T2 is no simple upgrade. It’s basically a completely new camera as compared to the X-T2. Sensor upgrade to a new Xtrans 24megapixel, two memory cards, autobracket for HDR and 4K video to name just a few of the upgrades. The downside of course being that a X-T2 will cost you twice as much as the X-T1 at the moment. But like all the Fujifilm cameras, the X-T2 is probably the best mirrorless camera on the market and easily competes with most full frames. The weight is similar to the X-T1 at 450 grams with battery.
Runner up: Sony A7R
Small body, clunky lenses and massive files that takes days to transfer to computer.. Excellent picture quality but a bore to use. Some of my best pictures have been taken with the A7R, but I can’t recommend the camera as for every one excellent picture 10 are bad. Why? because the shutter causes vibrations in the photo making sharp pictures handheld very difficult.
— 15 km, estimated walking time 6-7 hrs, 300m net descent —
Again, I was left breathless by the amazing hike. Glaciers, desert, rivers, mountains and forest all within a 15 kilometer hike. This day starts off in the canyon of Syðri – Emstruá. Here there is a steep path that leads a bridge that runs over the glacier river.
There is something epic about a raging river being fed with a glacier.. simply amazing. I sat here for sometime and ate my breakfast and just enjoyed the incredible view, engrossing my soul completely in the moment.
I learned along this trail that it was time to replace my beloved Haglöfs LIM trail shoes. I decided from this moment on that I would wear trail shoes that had toe protection and better grip. On top of that I realized that I’m not really into video production.. I shot hours and hours of video along this trail and so far haven’t edited anything.. I prefer working with photography.
After this long trek along the sandy, volcanic ash desert everything changes to a kind of mini forest.
This little house just seemed lost in the wilderness – It was the first house I’d seen for days.
The house from a little further out.
After a long walk came this amazing water crossing along the Þröngá river. As always the water is freezing cold, but barely knee high throughout so wading is no problem.
The little village at the bottom of the valley is Porsmork, while I will be staying in Bazar, I wanted to make the little 8 kilometer detour to Porsmork to drink beer and eat peanuts. It was worth the walk. You can even take the bus back to Reykjavik from Porsmork.
From Porsmork I made my way on to Bazar where I would be sleeping for the night.
While this was not Bazar, it was nice nonetheless.. Not really sure what this place was called, but it was nessled between Porsmork and Bazar.
After a quick walk over this glacier river, I soon arrived in Bazar where I would throw up my tent and make camp for the night
Once my tent was setup I made my way to the river, laid down and chilled out for a few hours before heading off to bed. Once again, the Laugavegur trail delivered on it’s incredible views and serene enviroment.
When volcanic desert transforms into a true paradise on earth
Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn – 12 kilometer from volcano to paradise
After a day and a half of hiking in rain and cold, finally some sunshine and water. I stopped here and filled up my water bottle, ate an energy bar and called home. This really lifted my spirits.
After what felt like an eternity of walking in rain and snow, after volcanic ash, rock and gravel. A long sleepless night in an unprotected snowy volcanic wasteland.
The Laugavegagur trail transformed itself into a true paradise on earth when I came up over the ridge and looked out upon Alftavatn.
Alftavatn is where most pictures you see of the trail come from, and in the next section you will see why. However to get there you have to walk along a desert wasteland for almost the entirety of the 12 kilometers from Hraftinnusker.
My journey to Alftavatn started after a cold night of “sleep”. On top of that I of course only use trail running shoes. While this is normally never a problem, on this one occasion my feet where frozen until I got my temperature up as the first 5 kilometers of the trail was covered in mushy snow.
It took me about 6 hours to get to Alftavatn from Hraftinnusker, lets just say I was in no hurry at all. While it was cold, wet and at times just all around shitty, I actually enjoyed this part of the trail immensely; granted, more now when I’m sitting at home writing this book.
While the campground looked lovely, I opted for the cabin.. there was actually an available bed! The room here will cost about $50.00.. to me it was worth it that night.