My New Photo Rig

Spiny Plant

I have been shooting photos for a couple decades now, and one of the things that has caused me no end of frustration, has been lugging the tripod up and down steep mountain trails. There just never seemed to be a good way to carry the damn thing (just thinking about it gets me frustrated). I’ve finally figured it out and now have a very lightweight, versatile, comfortable, simple, take-anywhere-all-purpose camera rig…

The Camera

Recently, I got rid of all my pro level camera equipment and exchanged it for a simple, lightweight, but still quite powerful point-and-shoot camera, the Panasonic Luminx DMC-FZ28K. This saved me a minimum of 15 lbs. of equipment that I hauled around on hikes, often as much as 30 lbs. if I took multiple lenses.

The Tripod

My Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod is very sturdy, lighter than any similarly sized tripod, and has easily extended legs. You need a good tripod if you’re every going to do any serious photography.

The Tripod Head

I just replaced my old (big and heavy) tripod head (what the camera mounts on), with a lighter model that is more appropriate with my new camera. The ball head allows you to easily adjust where you point the camera and it has a special knob that allows panning (for creating panoramics). Also has a quick-release mount which is very handy when going from hand-holding to tripod mounted to hand-holding again.

The Tripod Sling

This was the breakthrough – I simply took two camera straps and made a big loop out of them. Then I wear it like a sash (across the chest and back) and slide one leg of the tripod through it. The tripod rides just behind my hip. Positioned correctly, it doesn’t bang into your leg or get hung up on plants and rocks. Because the camera is so light, I can keep it on the tripod the entire time. I can’t tell you how much easier this is to carry after five or six rugged miles.

Other Stuff

Additionally I carry:

  • Nikon ProStaff 10×25 Waterproof Binoculars which I sling over the other shoulder (waterproof because you ARE going to get wet one day).
  • My iPhone (GPS, Emergency)
  • Plastic bags for the camera and phone (did I say you ARE going to get wet?)
  • Water bottle attached to a belt loop via D-ring
  • Wide brimmed hat – to shade my eyes, but just as importantly, to shade the camera lens so you don’t have to carry a lens hood
  • PowerBars if I expect to be out for more than an hour
  • Small compass (which I always forget and leave in the Jeep)

And that’s it. Everything fits in your pockets, slung over your shoulder or on your head. Both hands free for climbing, scratching or breaking your fall when you step where you should have known better. 🙂

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