When cameras become too heavy and uncomfortable to hold

Started Jan 28, 2014 | Discussions
Chris Malcolm Senior Member • Posts: 2,018
When cameras become too heavy and uncomfortable to hold
5

I'm old enough and an enthusiastic enough user of cameras that I more often buy a new camera because the old one has died of its injuries than because I'd become unhappy with it. But that has always been a good excuse to buy the newer better camera I'd been fancying Which has always been a bigger heavier camera.

An added complication at my age is that progressive arthritis is making my hands less dexterous and weaker. My current camera is ergonomically and optically the best I've ever owned. But it's too heavy to carry around in one hand for long, and becomes painfully uncomfortable held up to my face for more than a minute. I tried a hand strap which helped a bit, but not enough.

So I got a handle for it in the form of a monopod. The monopod's cushioned tubular hand grip is so easy to hold I can carry it around in either hand quite comfortably for miles, even though it roughly doubles the weight of the camera. Even when folded up and unsupported it gives me a sufficiently more comfortable two handed grip that I can easily hold it up to my face for minutes. And of course if I need more stability or to give my hands a rest I can simply extend the monopod and stand its foot (and the weight) on something. Incidentally it's also more stable, less camera shake.

I see a lot of posts from aging photographers who downsize when their cameras become too heavy or uncomfortable. It's somewhat counter intuitive to add weight to a camera which has become too heavy. But if your problem is in hands or wrists then it may permit you to shift the bulk of the burden to much bigger and stronger joints and muscles.

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Chris Malcolm

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gfspencer Contributing Member • Posts: 517
Re: When cameras become too heavy and uncomfortable to hold

One of the reasons that I like the Canon 6D is that it is smaller.  I have been seriously thinking about a good monopod as well.  That's probably my next buy.

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krugman Contributing Member • Posts: 957
Re: When cameras become too heavy and uncomfortable to hold

Chris Malcolm wrote:

I'm old enough and an enthusiastic enough user of cameras that I more often buy a new camera because the old one has died of its injuries than because I'd become unhappy with it. But that has always been a good excuse to buy the newer better camera I'd been fancying Which has always been a bigger heavier camera.

An added complication at my age is that progressive arthritis is making my hands less dexterous and weaker. My current camera is ergonomically and optically the best I've ever owned. But it's too heavy to carry around in one hand for long, and becomes painfully uncomfortable held up to my face for more than a minute. I tried a hand strap which helped a bit, but not enough.

So I got a handle for it in the form of a monopod. The monopod's cushioned tubular hand grip is so easy to hold I can carry it around in either hand quite comfortably for miles, even though it roughly doubles the weight of the camera. Even when folded up and unsupported it gives me a sufficiently more comfortable two handed grip that I can easily hold it up to my face for minutes. And of course if I need more stability or to give my hands a rest I can simply extend the monopod and stand its foot (and the weight) on something. Incidentally it's also more stable, less camera shake.

I see a lot of posts from aging photographers who downsize when their cameras become too heavy or uncomfortable. It's somewhat counter intuitive to add weight to a camera which has become too heavy. But if your problem is in hands or wrists then it may permit you to shift the bulk of the burden to much bigger and stronger joints and muscles.

Very good post, raises questions of interest to many of us. The monopod sounds like a very creative idea.

Here is another suggestion: use a camera with a very high quality flip screen or an articulating screen. The Canon G1X is what I use. The new Fuji Xti looks like a really good camera.

With a flip screen you are not holding the camera up in the air near your face. Instead it is in a kine of Rollei position at waist level, which I think would be a lot more comfortable for people with arthritis in their hands.

Krugman

carl english
carl english Veteran Member • Posts: 9,182
Re: When cameras become too heavy and uncomfortable to hold

We are all heading in the same direction a monopod/walking stick combo is good.

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Old Listener
Old Listener Senior Member • Posts: 2,011
Re: When cameras become too heavy and uncomfortable to hold
1

Chris Malcolm wrote:

I'm old enough and an enthusiastic enough user of cameras that I more often buy a new camera because the old one has died of its injuries than because I'd become unhappy with it. But that has always been a good excuse to buy the newer better camera I'd been fancying Which has always been a bigger heavier camera.

An added complication at my age is that progressive arthritis is making my hands less dexterous and weaker. My current camera is ergonomically and optically the best I've ever owned. But it's too heavy to carry around in one hand for long, and becomes painfully uncomfortable held up to my face for more than a minute. I tried a hand strap which helped a bit, but not enough.

So I got a handle for it in the form of a monopod. The monopod's cushioned tubular hand grip is so easy to hold I can carry it around in either hand quite comfortably for miles, even though it roughly doubles the weight of the camera. Even when folded up and unsupported it gives me a sufficiently more comfortable two handed grip that I can easily hold it up to my face for minutes. And of course if I need more stability or to give my hands a rest I can simply extend the monopod and stand its foot (and the weight) on something. Incidentally it's also more stable, less camera shake.

I see a lot of posts from aging photographers who downsize when their cameras become too heavy or uncomfortable. It's somewhat counter intuitive to add weight to a camera which has become too heavy. But if your problem is in hands or wrists then it may permit you to shift the bulk of the burden to much bigger and stronger joints and muscles.

I too find carrying a heavy camera  to be painful.  For wildlife/birding work, I have the camera (Nikon D7000) and 300mm lens plus 1.4x extender) attached to a monopod. I have not found that this solves the problem of carrying the weight comfortably.

For outdoor flower and insect pictures, I'm usually carrying the same camera + Sigma 150mm macro lens on a tripod.  The total is almost 10 pounds. Carrying the gear became increasing painful this past year.

I've already done some things: lighter tripod and head, strap for carrying the tripod, swapping with my wife so that I carry the D7000+Tamron 90mm lens when we walk far from the car.  The D7000 + Sigma 150mm combo isn't suitable for my wife so I'm in the market for more weight reduction.

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Rick Knepper
Rick Knepper Forum Pro • Posts: 15,781
Re: When cameras become too heavy and uncomfortable to hold

Chris Malcolm wrote:

I'm old enough and an enthusiastic enough user of cameras that I more often buy a new camera because the old one has died of its injuries than because I'd become unhappy with it. But that has always been a good excuse to buy the newer better camera I'd been fancying Which has always been a bigger heavier camera.

An added complication at my age is that progressive arthritis is making my hands less dexterous and weaker. My current camera is ergonomically and optically the best I've ever owned. But it's too heavy to carry around in one hand for long, and becomes painfully uncomfortable held up to my face for more than a minute. I tried a hand strap which helped a bit, but not enough.

So I got a handle for it in the form of a monopod. The monopod's cushioned tubular hand grip is so easy to hold I can carry it around in either hand quite comfortably for miles, even though it roughly doubles the weight of the camera. Even when folded up and unsupported it gives me a sufficiently more comfortable two handed grip that I can easily hold it up to my face for minutes. And of course if I need more stability or to give my hands a rest I can simply extend the monopod and stand its foot (and the weight) on something. Incidentally it's also more stable, less camera shake.

I see a lot of posts from aging photographers who downsize when their cameras become too heavy or uncomfortable. It's somewhat counter intuitive to add weight to a camera which has become too heavy. But if your problem is in hands or wrists then it may permit you to shift the bulk of the burden to much bigger and stronger joints and muscles.

And when descending a steep rocky trail, a monopod can double as a walking stick.

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Osvaldo Cristo
Osvaldo Cristo Veteran Member • Posts: 4,294
The weight is not from the camera...

Hi Chris,

I do not know your current equipment but usually the weight does not come from the camera but from the lenses.

In the search for image excellence, a lot of people goes to fast, big and heavy lenses. I think the Photographic equipment is much more affordable nowadays than in the past as I can see lots of amateurs with f/2.8 zooms and even the big monsters (500 and 600 mm prime lenses). I think they are not so expensive as they were (proportionally) in the past. All of them have something in common: big and heavy.

I bet the camera in the bag of most Photographers represents just a small part of the total weight.

My suggestion to decrease your burden is to rethink your lens collection. Probably one or two light and small zooms and one prime like fifty or 35 f/1.8. Additionally you do not need to bring all your stuff to all places you are going to - be selective and choose your kit according to the pictures you plan to make.

I always considered seriously the weight of my kit. I try to optimize it in order to have my tools at hand but without the burden to spoil my pleasure to make my Photography. I do not like heavy lenses for that reason. The bodies never were an issue although I choose a relative small body in 2002 when I decided to go to DSLR, it was Nikon D100, followed by D200 and D300S. These bodies are the minimum size I think it is comfortable for handling and always represented just a small part of the size and weight of my equipment.

Bottom line: consider to maintain the camera body you are familiar and  try to re-think your lens set.

All the best,

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O.Cristo - An Amateur Photographer
Opinions of men are almost as various as their faces - so many men so many minds. B. Franklin

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Mike_PEAT Forum Pro • Posts: 13,287
DSLRs have made cameras heavy, bigger, & bloated...
3

I still have the 35mm/135 format SLR & lenses (including 400 & 500mm) I bought over 30 years ago...they weigh nothing compared to all the 35mm/135 format dSLRs & comparable digital lenses I've had the displeasure to use over the past 10 years.

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 5,593
That's why I bought these
3

Often times I may only carry just one and leave the other in the car.

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 5,593
Re: The weight is not from the camera...

Osvaldo Cristo wrote:

Hi Chris,

I do not know your current equipment but usually the weight does not come from the camera but from the lenses.

In the search for image excellence, a lot of people goes to fast, big and heavy lenses. I think the Photographic equipment is much more affordable nowadays than in the past as I can see lots of amateurs with f/2.8 zooms and even the big monsters (500 and 600 mm prime lenses). I think they are not so expensive as they were (proportionally) in the past. All of them have something in common: big and heavy.

I bet the camera in the bag of most Photographers represents just a small part of the total weight.

I have fixed lens cameras so they represent all the weight.

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,324
you obviously never used these film era lenses
2

Mike_PEAT wrote:

I still have the 35mm/135 format SLR & lenses (including 400 & 500mm) I bought over 30 years ago...they weigh nothing compared to all the 35mm/135 format dSLRs & comparable digital lenses I've had the displeasure to use over the past 10 years.

you clearly never used the various 135/1.5s, 135/1.8s, 200/2s, or 300/2s on your film camera.

1981 300/2 Nikkor

Fast telephotos tend to be heavy whether film or dslr. In fact, the ones made for film were/are considerably heavier because of the engineering challenges of the time leading to the use of more glass for a design that would require less glass today and because of the use of heavy metals instead of plastics and lightweight alloys, among other things.

ApertureAcolyte
ApertureAcolyte Contributing Member • Posts: 994
Yeah but...

canonagain123 wrote:

Mike_PEAT wrote:

I still have the 35mm/135 format SLR & lenses (including 400 & 500mm) I bought over 30 years ago...they weigh nothing compared to all the 35mm/135 format dSLRs & comparable digital lenses I've had the displeasure to use over the past 10 years.

you clearly never used the various 135/1.5s, 135/1.8s, 200/2s, or 300/2s on your film camera.

1981 300/2 Nikkor

Fast telephotos tend to be heavy whether film or dslr. In fact, the ones made for film were/are considerably heavier because of the engineering challenges of the time leading to the use of more glass for a design that would require less glass today and because of the use of heavy metals instead of plastics and lightweight alloys, among other things.

No one would use a 300mm prime handheld anyway

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,324
who said anything about handheld? n/t

ApertureAcolyte wrote:

canonagain123 wrote:

Mike_PEAT wrote:

I still have the 35mm/135 format SLR & lenses (including 400 & 500mm) I bought over 30 years ago...they weigh nothing compared to all the 35mm/135 format dSLRs & comparable digital lenses I've had the displeasure to use over the past 10 years.

you clearly never used the various 135/1.5s, 135/1.8s, 200/2s, or 300/2s on your film camera.

1981 300/2 Nikkor

Fast telephotos tend to be heavy whether film or dslr. In fact, the ones made for film were/are considerably heavier because of the engineering challenges of the time leading to the use of more glass for a design that would require less glass today and because of the use of heavy metals instead of plastics and lightweight alloys, among other things.

No one would use a 300mm prime handheld anyway

TomBas Junior Member • Posts: 30
Re: When cameras become too heavy and uncomfortable to hold

I also use a monopod. One trick I learned a while back from an old timer. I shorten the monopod and tuck the foot into my belt. It forms a sort of minitripod and steadies the camera when I use a long lens.

hdr Senior Member • Posts: 2,841
Re: The weight is not from the camera...

Basalite wrote:weight.

I have fixed lens cameras so they represent all the weight.

But many also enjoy the wholistic experience of being a 'serious' photographer, which includes carrying the weight and bulk and handling a lot of photo gear. That experience itself, I am sure many can vouch for, can bring one a divine sense of well-being.

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,324
appropriate response

hdr wrote:

Basalite wrote:weight.

I have fixed lens cameras so they represent all the weight.

But many also enjoy the wholistic experience of being a 'serious' photographer, which includes carrying the weight and bulk and handling a lot of photo gear. That experience itself, I am sure many can vouch for, can bring one a divine sense of well-being.

Many opt for a small fixed lens camera instead, opt for a scooter instead of walking, opt for ordering in food instead of cooking, and opt for other people doing everything for them because doing everything is so difficult, and therefore not worth doing.

Nobody likes the weight, nobody, but you learn to deal with it, and only an idiot doesn't spend good money on the bags and support systems most appropriate for your gear and the way you use your gear and where you have to take it. The easy way out is simply the "way out" if the alternative features so many compromises you have to change your style of photography because of it, or accept inferior results.

Accepting inferior results and compromising away the things you can't afford to compromise away, and don't want to, is not being smart in any sense, quite the opposite.

jonrobertp Forum Pro • Posts: 12,875
Re: That's why I bought these
1

Not a fan of those specific cams...but I also am liking and doing that....one or 2 compact cams...still lighter than an slr w extra lens.

well...not really gonna give up my slrs yet ...sometimes...needed.

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Raymond Cho Senior Member • Posts: 1,431
Re: When cameras become too heavy and uncomfortable to hold

Well it is point of view isn't it ... What is cool ...

While we have all these 4/3 cameras and compact APC sensor and they cost even more than some dSLRs the general population out there perceive dSLR are the better cameras.  They do go ooh .. when they see a big dSLR with a big sport lens.......  You need that manly camera not some point and shoot

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DVT80111 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,153
Canon 60D/70D is my cut-off point

So I bought in Fuji X-E1 instead of a 6D.

Of course your body may be different.

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 5,593
Re: The weight is not from the camera...
2

hdr wrote:

Basalite wrote:weight.

I have fixed lens cameras so they represent all the weight.

But many also enjoy the wholistic experience of being a 'serious' photographer, which includes carrying the weight and bulk and handling a lot of photo gear. That experience itself, I am sure many can vouch for, can bring one a divine sense of well-being.

My definition of being a serious photographer has nothing to do with how much stuff I own and carry.

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