I’ve written a few posts about using slings and tripods and tripod heads but I haven’t addressed the question about carrying heavy gear.
A good friend and wildlife photographer told me recently that he’d sold all his Nikon kit and moved to micro four thirds. He said that after wandering over Bempton Cliffs his body was suffering from carrying all the weight of his usual gear. I guess that was probably tripod, heavy camera with big lens attached and maybe a ‘sac as well. And I have to be honest and sympathise because lugging around heavy kit all day is a real pain. Which got me thinking…we’ve all experienced something similar and the reality is that we shouldn’t have to suffer too much for our art: creating the right image is tough enough without ‘back-ache’ ruining our day. As I said, we’ve all experienced the weight issue and been glad to get back to the car and throw it all in the boot. Phew! Unless you’re young, fit and strong and spend a few hours each week lifting weights down the local gym. So how did I solve this perennial problem of carrying heavy gear and avoiding associated aches and pains?
It was clear to me that if I’m out on a shoot with big, heavy glass the last thing I want to do is waste time setting up my tripod then attaching camera to lens and then to tripod every time I move location. If I carried the camera with lens attached in one hand and tripod plus head in the other then I’ve not really solved the problem at all: just shifted it somewhere else: with no free hands! Fine over a short distance but any further and I’m faced with the same problem. So what do I do now?
I use the Lowepro Lens Trekker 600 AW III. This is a genius bit of kit. I attach camera to big glass (up to 600mm) and drop the whole lot into the Lens Trekker, zip it up and pop it on my back. Job done! Excellent harness, weight on hips, shoulders not load bearing and both hands free. Brilliant! I grab the tripod with one of my free hands and I’m good to go… all day long. If I know it’s a long trek to my chosen location then I’ll strap the tripod to the side of the Lens Trekker. And there’s enough space/pockets to store any bits and bobs I might need. When I want to set up I simply put up the tripod, unzip the Lens Trekker, take out the ‘big stuff’ and pop it on the tripod. This literally takes a couple of minutes. Simples. And no back ache!
So how heavy is my ‘go to’ kit? I use the Canon EOS IDx iii (1250 g), plus the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM(3190 g) giving a total weight of 4.4KG. Which is near enough FOUR BAGS OF SUGAR.! With the lens Lens Trekker 600 AW III it feels much less than that. Job Done!
All that remains is to get back to the car after the shoot and relax and reflect on the day with a nice hot brew. And no aches and pains.
Warning: Carrying tripod with gear attached resting on one shoulder may cause long term problems with the rotator cuff of the shoulder.