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Best Photography Backpack for Hiking

If you’re like me, you’ve probable struggled with finding a backpack thats great for hiking, comfortable, but can also fit your DSLR, some lenses, tripod, drone, filters, AND hiking essentials like water, snacks, clothes, etc. I’m here to tell you that I believe I’ve found the perfect hiking/photography backpack!

Now let me first start off by telling you that I’m somewhat of a backpack connoisseur. I LOVE backpacks. I love them for traveling, hiking, and I even have a backpack my tools, and one for my fishing tackle. I swear! So I’m constantly trying to find the best backpack for each situation.

I’ve been hiking all my life, so I’ve had many backpacks, from cheap-o $20 Ozark Trail backpacks from Walmart, to $300+ Name Brand REI multi-day packs. However, I’ve had a really hard time finding a pack that fits all my photography gear, food, water, and also, comfortable enough to hike 10 miles with. That is, until I found the F Stop Ajna bag.

The F Stop Ajna is I think the perfect backpack for hiking with your photography gear. I would highly recommend it for day hikes, and an overnight hike with UL(ultralight) gear. I also have the F Stop Sukha for multi-day hikes. Now the Ajna is 40 Liters, which coincidentally is a perfect airline carry-on size, and fits everything I need(and probably some things I don’t).

The entire F stop line comes with about 8 different sizes of interchangeable ICU(Internal Camera Units), sold separately, and are accessible from the inside of the backpack. This works well when traveling in crowded places where pickpockets and thieves are an issue. The different sized ICU’s are a big part of why these backpacks are so special. You can get a Small ICU, which will fit a pro body, 2 medium sized lenses, and a few extra batteries, or a Pro Large, which I use. It fits my Nikon D810 body with grip, my Tamron 15-30mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, extra batteries, my DJI Mavic Pro, controller, batteries, a flashlight, sd card holder, GoPro and batteries, and a few other randoms. They also have deep, shallow and extra large ICU’s for super telephoto zooms like a 600mm.

The removable ICU’s are perfect for going through airport security, which you now have to remove your camera and lenses, like a laptop, and put them out in a separate bin. It helps protect them instead of rolling around in those bins or putting them in your checked luggage.

There are 3 exterior compartments, along with the main compartment, where you will have your camera gear. There are places to strap a tripod to on either side, or on the back of the pack. There is a top compartment with a mesh barrier to separate gear and accessories, and a key ring holder. In the main compartment there is an inner mesh zippered pocket, large enough to hold a small towel or first aid kit. There is also a sleeve on the inside for a water bladder or laptop computer up to 13″.I personally use it for a 3 liter water bladder.

The backpack is WATER RESISTANT! I say resistant because you can’t go swimming with it, but I’ve had it in hard rain, and have set it down it really wet areas, and have never had anything inside get wet. The weather resistance is due to the rip-stop nylon, and the thermoplastic polyurethane film coating. The zippers are heavy duty YKK zippers, and are easy to open and close.

The pack is an internal aluminum frame, and the entire pack weighs about 3.75 lbs. There are a few other accessories that I really recommend, which are the Gatekeeper Straps, which attach to the Gatekeeper Loops on the pack, as well as the rain cover( even though its not necessarily needed). I have the rain cover and plan on using it as added protection in Iceland next month!

I have taken both my Ajna and Sukha trekking in Peru, as well as many other day and overnight hikes, and I can’t recommend them enough. They are very comfortable, and provide the perfect combination of comfortability, functionality, and it caters to us landscape photographers! My Ajna did take about a month to come in(they were out of stock at the time), but you can expect them to usually take about a week to arrive in the US. I hope this article was helpful!

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Disclaimer: While the quality of these bags are superior, there are rumors easily googled about how this company is ran, lots of disgruntled former/current employees, shipping/inventory issues, an out of control CEO, and lawsuits. This review is solely based on the quality, and my experience with ordering the gear. They definitely do not sponsor this post, myself or my business. This is 100% independent.

Shutter Speed and Shutter Priority Mode




What is Shutter Priority? Why do I need to use it? This is an important step in taking creative control of your photography. If you haven’t read my first article on Aperture and Aperture Priority, you can read it here.

Knowing how to manipulate your shutter speed is a great way to show some creativity  in your images. Lets talk about a couple of examples, and you’ll see why your shutter speed can make a big difference in the feel and look of your image.

Lets say we are at a sporting event and there are a lot of moving around and running. How can we capture that movement, and freeze it, so the picture isn’t blurry? Well, we can simply increase our shutter speed to capture that motion. If you place your camera in “S” or “Tv” depending on your camera manufacturer. You can increase the shutter speed to 1/500th or 1/800th of a second to capture the movement. So you set the shutter speed, and the camera determines the correct aperture to properly expose the image! Its the opposite of Aperture Priority.

Let’s also say we are in the forest and we want to take pictures of a waterfall. We can shoot the waterfall at 1/60th of a second, or 1/100th, 1/250th or higher and freeze the motion of the waterfall.

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But what if we want to get that silky water look? Thats called a long exposure. But, in order to do that we will need to slow down our shutter speed so it will stay open long enough to get all that motion. We will need a tripod to do this, however. Its impossible to hold the camera still long enough to get that look. Any shutter speed less that 1/30th of a second, you will need a tripod( or you can rest the camera on a rock or the ground). So with the camera secured in place with a tripod, set your shutter speed to at least 1/2 of a second or slower if you’d like. The camera will set the aperture and boom! You got silky water!

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See, now you can really start to get creative with your shots! Now get out there and shoot! Practice with both Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. In the next article, we will talk about ISO, and take the 3rd and final step into fully manual, and take full control of our images!