Crop factor

Does size matter?

One of my goals for my recent camera upgrade was to jump from a ‘crop-sensor camera’ (like the Nikon D500) to a ‘full-frame camera’ (like the Canon R5). I had long avoided the full-frame cameras like the Nikon D800 and D850 because they (and their lenses) were so much larger, heavier, and costlier… but I favor smaller and lighter equipment because I like to be able to hike with them.

The switch from DLSR to mirrorless, however, enabled me to get a full-frame camera body (Canon R5) that was actually lighter (738g) than the crop-sensor camera body (Nikon D500) that I had been using (860g). To be fair, though, the R5 with its 24-105mm kit lens was heavier (1438g) than the D500 with its 16-80mm kit lens (1340g). But, I rationalized, it’s full frame! better quality, right?

But what else was I gaining… or losing? People often say that crop-sensor cameras have better ‘reach’ – because their effective focal length is a multiple of the lens focal length, making subjects appear ‘closer’. The truth is much more complicated. Read on.

Canon 500mm; 1/640 at f/7.1, ISO 2000
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Going mirrorless

Time to make the leap!

I’ve been a Nikon photographer for nearly forty years – first with an SLR and then a DSLR – but decided to upgrade to mirrorless and settled on a Canon EOS R5 after extensive research. Here’s why.

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Groundhog

Dinnertime.

Canon R5, 800mm + 1.4xTC, f/16, 1/200; ISO 12,800. Cropped about half.

After sunset, and as the summer evening fades into twilight, our friendly neighborhood groundhog comes out to browse. (I think he lives under our storage shed.) He’s quite shy, so I snapped a few photos from the deck – using my new 800mm lens plus a 1.4x teleconverter (effective 1120mm). The combination is fixed at f/16 and, combined with the deepening twilight, the photos are a bit noisy. Still, he’s a cute fellow!

Canon R5, 800mm + 1.4xTC, f/16, 1/200; ISO 12,800. Cropped about half.

(Also known as a woodchuck!)

Bald eagle

Our new neighbor.

As I was rowing on the river this morning, I scanned the tall riverside trees to see whether I might see anything interesting, as is my habit. Unlike other days, today I spotted the telltale white head of a bald eagle, high in the branches of a distant dead snag. I turned around, headed home, grabbed my camera, and drove up the road to that location. This was a great opportunity to test my new 800mm lens!

Canon R5 with 800mm f/11 at 1/400, ISO 500, cropped

It appears to be a somewhat immature bald eagle – not fully developed with the all-white head of an adult. It stuck around as long as I would, and beyond. I hope to see it again sometime soon.

Moosilauke

I can’t seem to get enough of this place – my third overnight visit in two months. The weather was hot – with a high in the 80s at the lodge and in the 70s on the summit – so the conditions weren’t great for hiking. But my group took our time climbing and descending, enjoying the summit breeze and the mix of clouds and sun (and a brief sprinkle) the weather delivered us today. It was my great pleasure to introduce the mountain, and the lodge, to a new group of people.

View of the ridge and South Peak, as we descend north peak of Mount Moosilauke.
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Camel’s Hump

Hot and hazy hike!

Today I climbed Camel’s Hump – the third-highest peak in Vermont, along the Long Trail as it travels over the spine of the Green Mountains – with friends Lelia and Kristin. We spotted a car so we would not be constrained to one of the standard ‘loop’ hikes, getting underway just before 10am near where the Long Trail crosses the Winooski River. The 10km hike to the summit is grueling, with many steep sections and several rocky scrambles over the cracked granite of Vermont’s spine. The hot, humid weather made it even more challenging. (The last time I climbed Camel’s Hump, the conditions were very different!) Check out the photo gallery!

Lelia and Kristin reaching a viewpoint on the Long Trail, with Camel’s Hump in view at rear.
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Ammonoosuc River falls

A natural waterpark.

On the final day of my vacation we took a late-morning walk along the Ammonoosuc River, upstream from the Mount Washington Hotel. This is a beautiful mountain stream formed upslope in the Ammonoosuc Ravine on the slopes of Mount Washington. Along this section, it passes through several narrow cracks in the granite, forming cascades, waterfalls, and deep pools of cold, clear water. Beautiful, yes … but also a great playground on a hot summer’s day. Check out the gallery.

People swimming at the Upper Falls of the Ammonoosuc River, White Mountains.

Hike stats:
Distance: 6.27km
Time: 2h19 with many stops
Gain: 54m

Mount Willard

A favorite morning jaunt.

Today broke clear and cool. I wanted to get out for one more hike, before we had to head home. From the Mount Washington Hotel I have found many lovely, short hikes, doable before breakfast. I selected the most convenient, the short jaunt up Mount Willard. It’s one I’ve visited many times. It includes a nice waterfall and a grand view south along Crawford Notch.

Early morning view from Mount Willard, looking south through Crawford Notch.
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This Tesla climbed Mount Washington

Never used the brakes!

In my forty years of visiting and living in New Hampshire, I’d never driven up the Auto Road to the top of Mount Washington – though the “This Car Climbed Mount Washington” bumper stickers are ubiquitous. Today was a beautiful day, though, and Pam indicated she’d never been to the top of Mount Washington… so we went. As we passed through the toll gate we noted the Tesla Model Y battery was at 50%. We wound our way up the mountain, on extremely narrow roads with no guardrails and steep drop-offs on one side or another. The views were stupendous, but allowable only to the passenger! We reached the summit parking area with battery at 35%; it thus takes 15% of the battery to climb the mountain. But we earned most of it back! read on.

Summit of Mount Washington, after a drive up the Autoroad.
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Mount Pierce and Mitzpah Hut

View of the Presidential Range from near the summit of Mt. Pierce, White Mountains.

Back in New Hampshire, I spent the weekend at the Mount Washington Hotel in the White Mountains – with perfect weather and a grand view of the Presidential Range. Pam joined me for the two-night stay. On Saturday morning the day broke cool and clear so I headed a few miles down the road to Crawford Notch and headed up the Crawford Path. This path is the oldest continuously used mountain trail in the United States, dating to 1819. There were few people on the trail this early in the morning (7am), but that would soon change. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.

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