Open main menu

Camera suggestions for hiking


I’m looking for suggestions on a ruggedized digital camera for point and shoot use while hiking (mostly for trip reports / web sharing purposes). I’ve read some reviews and it seems like the consensus choices are: Pentax Optio WG-1, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3, and Olympus TG-310.

I hike mostly in rain forests (non-tropical) but don’t need to actually take under water photos. I was hoping to spend less than $300 but may be willing to break that ceiling if the rationale is compelling enough.

Like with any consumer electronics, the reviews are frustrating to digest as every model out there seems to have equal amounts of good and bad reviews.

I have no photographic knowledge or skills (not a even a hobbyist really) and therefore no bias whatsoever so I’m open to any suggestions.

Thanks in advance for any replies!

I have been looking at the Fuji XP 30. Waterproof and it has a GPS feature. The link here gets into it a bit more. I like this little cam alot. I have a friend that owns one and he love it. After playing with it a bit I can see why.

Definitely in your price range at $200(I've seen it cheaper.)

Its shockproof to 1.5 meters, waterproof to 5 meters, and has a lanyard attachment point. I want the orange one. :)


Check out the GoPro cameras.

They shoot video,stills and are built for wet weather and underwater shooting. And range in price from $179 to $299 And they have 16 and 32 GB memory cards. Waterproof to 180 ft/60 meters

No, I do not have one but it will be my next adventure travel camera!


give some thought to how much zoom you want.  depends on what kind of photography you do.  if you do wildlife, you may want a pretty significant (20x?) zoom capability.  if you are mostly shooting vistas, trails, hiking friends, you don't need the zoom.

if you don't need the zoom, i'm a fan of smaller is better.  just used a small canon point/shoot in costa rica, including some rain forest, and it worked very well.  also used a canon on the same trip that's larger, heavier, but has the better zoom lense, and it came in handy for some purposes.  there are lots of good brands out there; we used a Canon SD1300 (the small one) and a Canon S3-IS (the larger one).   both are old, newer models available.

Before we 'pat-ourselves-on-the back' with our clever suggestions ... bear-in-mind these cameras are Made-in-China throw-away schlock.

I'm in the Nikon-camp (have been, for decades), and even they are out-sourcing some of their low-end stuff to China.

Anyhow!   .... Yeah ... I need a "cheapie" myself.   My Nikons are too good (and too big and heavy) to schlepp around in the outback or bushwackin' trails.

My attitude is favoring a simple rig ... I don't think (?) I need a lot of 'bells-&-whistles'.  I'm definitely NOT going into water with it.  I have various dry-sacks, anyway.     Not necessarily small, either.    Some of these things are getting ridiculously small.   Light, is good.

BTW -- I have segued away from mega-GB memory cards.   I find it more convenient (and, smarter)  to use smaller-capacity cards, and use one each for every dedicated shoot / hiking / oudoor foray.   Easier to catalog later.   Also, you may lose or damage one of the higher-capacity cards, with precious shots (family, etc.) that are irreplaceable.   Has already happened to me.   Changed my thinking.   I mean ... they don't cost much ... 'Ya know ?

Again -- I HATE that we don't have much in the way of choices .... "Made-in-China".   Aaarrghh

The whole water thing is a necessity FOR ME.  I take alot of pics close to streams and I have dropped cameras before. Not too mention I kayak.  The Fuji has a few nice features to it especially the GPS feature.

Plus at around $200 if I was to run it over I'd just buy a new one.  Granted one could take a very expensive model out there but is is really worth the risk?  I personally do not think so.

Robert, last time I was in NY(Manhatten) I saw alot of vendors selling cheapie cameras.  Alot of them were made in places like MEXICO, BANGLADESH, etc.

I guess its safe to say you have choices, you just have to pick you poison lol.

I find my Nikon Coolpix S8000 to be feature loaded, with an easy to navigate intuitive user interface.  Ranges from macro to 10X zoom, high pixel count image, about the size of a pack of cigarettes.  Not as sophisticated as a DSLR, but more than enough for the scrapbook or blog applications.



I use the Nikon Coolpix P80 ... similar to your S8000, other than having 18X zoom, 10.1 million pixels.   Yes -- good for most 'point-&-shoot', as well as macro.   Physically, a bit larger than most, but that's what I prefer, for general usage.

However; a smaller "cheapie" is in my future.

  Would almost never take the DSLR out on a hiking excursion, except if I really knew I was after something specific to shoot.  I've seen guys with them, and it looked as though they needed one, separate, and specific backpack for all the lenses, filters,  and tri-pods.   Probably work for National Geographic, or something.



Yeah, I'm from Nu Yawk.   Know ALL ABOUT the street vendors.

I will shell out the extra ducats for a mfg's warranty.   Nikon has been good, in that regard.

I like B & H, over on 9th Ave ( West side of Manhattan), near Penn Station.   Great selection and prices, knowledgeable sales people.

Only, DO NOT go on a Saturday.   Jewish guys (B & H),  Orthodox Jews ... and they observe their Sabbath (Saturday), and all the Jewish Holidays  ... CLOSED.   You can get them to knock-off the NY sales tax (8 3/4%), but they'll need to ship it to you to achieve that.

Ritz Camera is coming out of bankruptcy, too.  One of the Ritz brothers lives in nearby Annapolis.   Good store there.



I realize I am in the minority but I've gone exclusively with my smartphone (8mp) for pictures.  The pictures I've taken over the past 4-5 years have turned out excellent.

If you need a zoom...I previously carried one of the Canon cameras that you can find less than $200.  Again, very impressive photos.

the top and bottom photos were taken with a shrimpy canon point/shoot digital, 10 megapixel, 3x optical zoom.  the middle one with a larger canon with a 12x optical zoom, 6 megapixel. 





The cameras with GPS features could be a nifty thing to have if you do a lot of traveling.

My friend just purchased the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 (which is waterproof/shockproof/freezeproof/bulletproof/buttproof..etc).

The fun little GPS feature records data where (state/province, city, country) you took the photo (this could come in handy on the trail) the downside is the GPS drains the battery.

Personally I have not used that camera (I'm a Canon girl) and don't mind lugging around my DSLR (plus a lens) on a backpacking trip.

I do have the Canon D10 (waterproof/shockproof...etc). It's a great simple camera that can handle a lot! I've taken it in a muddy and dusty caves and the ocean, it works just fine. But since the GoPro, I haven't been taking my D10 out as much.

If you're clumsy and careless with your equipment, I think you're better off with the rugged shockproof/waterproof cameras. 

To add on to the GoPro... this is my favorite toy right now! Only downside is you can't see what you're recording til you upload it (you can pay an extra $80 for an LCD screen attachment).. but with practice you'll know your distances.

last time I took my gopro out:

you can attach this camera to just about anything (and go underwater)!!!! It DOES take stills (5 megapixel resolution) but it's best feature is the HD video. It's compact and fun!

Hey ooohfishy, I'm just getting an empty space where you pict should be. Is it jsut me it really not there?

it should be a link to my video I took with the GoPro...

or go to this link:

I see. Yea, I'm still on dial-up so that stuff dosen't show up on my computer.  I can't do you tube.  Thanks, I'll check it out when I get to a High speed conection.

I must say, ooohfishy, your tube was pretty steady.  Does this cam have an image anti-shake feature?

PS: Try going up Baldy in the snow season, it’s quite a wild mountain that time of year!



Go to the youtube page and pause the video.  It will continue to download.  The gray bar indicates how much you've downloaded.

I have a Fuji XP20 which is the non GPS version to the XP30.  Good little camera.  Have used it during a thunderstorm in the mountains with no worry of damaging it.  I like the built in pano assist feature so you can take panos and see them once they are stitched.  The video feature isn't bad either.

whomeworry said:

I must say, ooohfishy, your tube was pretty steady.  Does this cam have an image anti-shake feature?

PS: Try going up Baldy in the snow season, it’s quite a wild mountain that time of year!



not that I'm aware of, the only thing I remember you can add to reduce ratting (say if it's attached to your car or motobike or bike) is a tiny rubber piece that reduces rattling vibrations, but no antishake features in the camera. And for the most part, I think think their head/helmets absorb most of the shock.

You can reduce it a little in post production (Final Cut...etc).

I think my trekking pole kind of acted like a steady cam.

if you're going to do it handheld, I'm SURE you can DIY steadi-cam with some counterweights and a well lubed pivoting handle, thingy. :)

I'd LOVE to do a snow/ice adventure, but I don't have crampons - I went up with my friend (I claim myself as the manly-er one of us :)) where there was still snow and ice at the top and crampons were recommended, I was wanting so badly to impulse buy a pair of crampons... he chickened out :(

Hate to say it Robert but China does know how to build great stuff at a good price.Also I have had 3 Nikon cool-pix cameras and all 3 were battery hogs.Nikon does make some great cameras but for the price my Pentax and Cannon models do as good a job for less money,my old pentax MX climbed with me for 30 years and never missed a beat still works well.ymmv

Skimanjohn said:

Hate to say it Robert but China does know how to build great stuff at a good price.Also I have had 3 Nikon cool-pix cameras and all 3 were battery hogs.Nikon does make some great cameras ....

 Probably a circumstance of the cameras being BUILT in China.   I suspect they are designed and engineered in Japan.


I have a Canon Powershot sx100is.  It won't compare to a DSLR but it's compact enough to fit in a large pants pocket. 

I think that it is a very good hiking camera because:

  • It has a 10x zoom which allows me to stay away from things I don't want to get too close to.
  • The macro focus ability is fantastic.  I can literally get less than an inch from something. 
  • It has a very good panorama assist feature.  It works in either direction and the stitching software provided does a fantastic job.  The software has an option to stitch either tripod type panoramas or move sideways type panoramas.
  • It uses 2 AA batteries. No need to have a solar recharger or buy expensive spare batteries.

It's not water proof but it's been splashed with water before with no harm done.

How long will the Canon Powershot run on those 2 AA's?

I've never actually timed it.  On days when I'm heavily using it like on vacation at the Grand Canyon they last for about 125 photos. Depends on how much zooming, reviewing and flash used. NiMH rechargables offer at least twice that.

The only thing I don't like about it is you don't have an eye piece. My previous power shot did.  The only time that this is really a factor is at the beach with VERY bright sunlight. 

The other nice thing about it is that it fits my hand.  It's big enough to have reasonably sized buttons.  

If you have a big budget the Powershot G12 is nice and an underwater housing is available.  It however only has a 5x optical zoom.

The SX150is and SX130is are the the closest models to the SX100is. For some reason Canon removed the stitch assist mode.  If you like to take panoramas it makes it much easier to do without a tripod.

I have a Panasonic Lumix GF1 which is a tiny 12megapixel delight. Because it is Micro 4/3 mount, I can use all my old German glass (pre-1962) on it. Plus it can be converted to full-spectrum UV/Vis/NIR - which I had done and it is very sensitive throughout the range.

I personally use the Canon SX130IS. It isn't waterproof and shockproof but it comes with features that out-weigh those downsides. 12 megapixels, 12x optical zoom (very handy for wilderness shots), 720p Video w/sound, 2 AA powered (which I find more than important when it comes to outdoor use.  Li-ion batteries would require a solar charger if out for extended periods of time, and that would be your only means for power. With this camera you can use standard alkaline batteries or purchase some Eneloop rechargeable batteries that last 4 times as long. Not to mention 2 AA's are easily available over a AC outlet or spare Li-ion.) I carry this camera around with my "Mountainsmith Zoom Camera Case" from REI. The case comes with great padding and a rain cover, taking care of the shock and proofing part.

Canon is the leading brand for point-and-shoots. I'm a devout Nikon fan but when it comes to the point-and-shoots I believe Canon has the corner of the market.

Happy Trails!

I don't know, maybe I am being silly but I do take my dslr with me, and use one 18-135mm lens with it.

I use an op/tech to take care of it, and put it in my pack lid. I think I do it as a lot of the times I combine traveling and trekking and want to have it with me, and yep, maybe I should get myself a compact one when I just go hiking.

But gear wise - op/tech make great cases etc


The things I would look for in a camera for hiking are stitch assist or panorama feature and 8-10x optical zoom.  A macro feature is also very nice. The best thing you can do is to go to someplace like Best Buy and play with the cameras. See how fast they turn on. How steady can you hold them at full zoom. Mine has image stabilization which makes a huge difference even in a still camera.  Since you are worried about water check out Aquapacs.


I used to haul around an SLR on trips usually with 2 lenses.  You couldn't get quality photos from small point and shoot 35mm cameras.  The problem was the lens to film size ratio. Digital sensor are significantly smaller and quality lenses do not have to be as large.  At full zoom mine has some chromatic aberration but it is only noticeable if you zoom in on the picture.  For its size and weight I can't beat my sx100is's abilities.

I've gotten moon light shots of the Grand Canyon with it. (Click on the pictures to get a better look.)

I did not have a tripod so they are not as sharp as they could be.

Panoramas are easy with the stitch assist mode.

The Grand Canyon is wide.


Redwoods are really tall. (This is 5 photos stitched together. I had to shrink this one to 75% to upload it).

Get Close

Really Close

A different sort of night shot.

Here is my update:

I originally wound up buying a Pentax Optio WG-1 but only had it briefly. I used it for the Big South Fork Honey Creek trip report. For some reason less than half of the photos I took were any good. Most were very blurry. By the end of the weekend hike, the camera started locking up after snapping each photo for minutes at a time. It stayed messed up and I became irritated and returned it rather than replace it with another of the same model (was easy since it was an Amazon purchase).

I then briefly also tried the Fuji Film waterproof model, but wound up buying the display model from a local chain store and it messed up before I ever took it on the trail!

As a quick purchase I wound up with an Olympus TG310 which is what I used on the trip reports after Honey Creek. So far this one is working ok…

In retrospect, I think I was a bit hung-up on getting a shock-proof and water proof camera. The first camera that I began bringing for trip-reports back in April of this year was a $45 Sanyo model (really a kids camera). It died when I dropped it on it my Grandfather Mountain trip (only a fall of 4 feet though). However, it had better picture quality than any of the three I’ve tried since (including the current Olympus TG 310). So for the same money I spent on the Olympus, I could have gotten three (almost four) of the cheap Sanyo cameras. Hmmm….

Patrick, which Fuji did have?

Depending on what I intend doing with the photos, I have several cameras that I take with me. The little Pentax W90 is waterproof (10 meters, I think) and shockproof (4 or 5 feet onto concrete, but I haven't drop-tested it and don't intend to), just a few ounces, and fits in a shirt pocket. Temperature range is pretty good, as you might surmise from this photo near the summit of Mt. Vinson (Antarctica). Click on the photos to see a larger version.

It also takes micro-photos to as close as 1 cm. The big problems with it are the short battery life (my opinion, some people would find it adequate) and you frame the photo from the LCD (no optical viewfinder), so it is hard to use in full sunlight on snow. I didn't know what I got on Vinson until I got down to high camp and into the shade of the inside of the tent. The video is pretty good.

I have 3 GoPros, one of the original (still only, won in a drawing), the first video version (ok, but as mentioned above, you can't see where you are pointing), and a HD version I got on a super deal promotion. They threw in the view screen, which makes a huge difference in using it, though the LCD screen is still hard to see in daylight (but then when you are doing all the flips and jumps they do in the demo videos, who needs a viewfinder?). There is no zoom, so you are stuck at one superwide view. But that is the answer to the "shake" question - the view is so wide (170 deg, I think) that you can shake a lot and not notice it on the screen. The lens is also a "fisheye" lens. If you look carefully at ooohfishy's video and watch the horizon as she moves the camera up and down, you can see the bend in the horizon quite easily. Plus, note the distortion when the guy puts his face up close to the lens. That's part of the "artistry" if you learn to use it, though it can be quite annoying if it is used wrongly.

For my serious pictures, I have a Nikon D300s plus a collection of Nikkor lenses accumulated over 45 years of owning Nikon SLRs and DSLRs - Nikon is about the only company whose lenses are not obsoleted by changes in the lens mounting system. The oldest lenses do not have all the automation, but I find the Micro-Nikkor to be very useful still. I have taken the D300s to the summits of a few challenging mountains, where it served quite well. This one was taken in July on the summit of Vallanaraju in the Cordillera Blanca (Peruvian Andes).

And a 360° panorama of the summit of Vallanaraju, created in PhotoShop and shrunk to fit in Trailspace's size limits -

Here is one from the High Camp on the way up Mt. Vinson (Antarctica) during the 6 days and 8 "nights" of storm in 30 knot gusting to 50 knot winds.


Some pink flamingos in Patagonia -


The Cornu in Torres de Paine National Park -


Although some posters have expressed reservations about taking an "expensive" camera into the woods and hills, there are really only a couple of disadvantages compared to P&S. Yes, if you do damage the camera, you are out a lot more money than with an "inexpensive" camera. However, the top-quality cameras in the "pro-am" and "pro" category are pretty rugged. They have to be, since professional photographers put them to pretty hard use. I have never had any of my "pro-am" cameras fail in a serious way, even subjecting them to the rough and tumble of climbing expeditions, including wide swings in temperatures, and using them in moderate to heavy rains. The other disadvantage is that they are heavy. With a good lens, a "pro-am" DSLR can weigh 4 or 5 pounds. That's the price of ruggedness, versatility, and just plain higher quality.

You can get good photos with a P&S - it is more the photographer than the camera, after all. Or as a friend and mentor used to say, "It's not the tool, it is the tool-user - having a saw and hammer does not make you a carpenter. Having a Ferrari does not make you a Formula 1 driver."  After all, some really great art came out of the Diana Project (the Diana was a simple point and click the button disposable camera with no adjustments for focus or exposure whatsoever). Thousands of tourists have stood at the same spot as Ansel Adams at the same season and time of day and never come close to Adams' photographs in beauty and artistry.

Just get out there with whatever camera you have and take photos that enhance your personal memories.

DPReview has a good article comparing the best of of the waterproof compact cameras . You can compare the image quality here : (move the highlighted rectangle to get to  a different area) You can get better cameras of similar size but to some the peace of mind of not having to baby a camera can be more important.



 Pana TZ1

(photos Yair Kellner)


This topic of "what camera should I use" is one of those that cycles thru the forums on a regular basis.  There are just so many cameras on the market that it's pretty tough to make a specific recommendation, other than to explain what we use, along with the pros and cons.

I use a Nikon D300 (older/original version of the one The OGBO mentioned).  To conserve weight and space I use a Nikon 18-200 consumer-grade lens while backpacking.  The range provides good flexibility and it produces what I consider to be "ok" image quality (it's a consumer grade lens).

I also carry a tripod, though I rarely stop to unpack it during the day unless I'm on day hikes.  I do use it in early morning/evening conditions though.  Even though it's carbon fiber it still adds a few pounds to my pack weight.

All told my camera gear adds about 8 lbs to my load.  And on every single trip I ask myself, "is this really worth it"? and I consider purchasing a P&S, or maybe compromise and get a Micro 4/3 camera.  After each trip I look into the options and end up sticking with what I have - I can't convince myself to spend hundreds of dollars on a camera that I know won't satisfy me (yep I know, they say, "it's the photographer, not the camera"... but I've compared image quality between my D300 and the iPhone, and i can easily see why I carry the heavier camera.)

Anyway, as it turns out, my D300 died on me on a recent backpacking trip.  On day 2 of a 4 day trip it stopped working.  Something internal failed, as it's quickly draining the batteries.  So for now I'm using my older generation Nikon D70... I'd still rather have that than a P&S. 

If you just want to exchange small images on websites or in email, there are P&S's that do just great.  If you want the capability to print large images, you probably want something (like a DSLR) with a larger sensor.

I have a Canon 60D for taking the best pix EVAH!I know it is heavy, but when I get back from a big hike, I want great pix, not snap shots. I also want to video. Tis battery lasta a good while and the bells and whistles can be used easily for even beginners where taking good shots are concerned. For kayaking I use the Fuji mentioned above and get good shots and when it is floating in my kayak after a big splash, I do not worry.

I will be adding the go-pro to my collection because I love doing vids and then my camera world will be complete.

I give a rats patoot where it is made. I guess if it is made out of country, I am supporting the transportation and port jobs that are created so that I can get the dang thing in my pack.

I(like rob5073) am using this:

Fuji XP 20


I used it on my last TR and last 2 reviews. So far for a point and shoot its seems to be a really nice little cam.

14.2mp, 5x optical zoom, water, shock, dust, and freezeproof. Also can take short HD vid but then again so can my phone lol.

Here are a few pics.



...a panorama shot:



For what it is I really like it alot and it does the job. I am in no way a professional photographer. Just an "average Joe" that likes to snag some pics from time to time and share them with you all, etc. 

Granted I am still learning the settings, etc and the pics could probably be better but so far my experience has been quite favorable.

I opted for the XP20 instead of the XP30. Only difference is the XP30 has a geo-tagging option. I figured if I really want to get into that I could do it from my PC. 

The geo-tagging feature also eats up more battery.


That is not the exact one I ahve...I have this one:


Yours appears to have better picture quality than does mine. Bellow is mine and I do like it....but may have to upgrade to yours by pic quality.



Here is a link to the XP 20 so you can take a look at the specs, features, color options, etc...

I tested the waterproof capabilities by placing the camera turned on(auto shut-off turned off) in a 5 gallon bucket of water for a few hours.

It did fine.

As I mentioned earlier, the big problem with my Pentax W90 and the Fujis mentioned above (XP20, etc) and a lot of other P&S is that they do not have an optical viewfinder. Having to frame/zoom/etc on the LCD screen is a real pain in bright sunlight and almost impossible on sunlit snow. The GoPros get around that by having a wide angle (superwide on one of the HD models) and no zoom - hence just point it in the general direction and what you want is in the image (though you might have to crop the image so tightly that you see the individual pixels).

No perfect answer, though there are a few good P&S that are pretty waterproof and shockproof out there that do have a (small) optical finder. Or you can get one of the Hoodman loupes and hold it on the LCD screen with a rubber band (a bit awkward).

Hard to tell where anything is made these days. We stopped in to our neighborhood "Danish Furniture" shop a few days ago. Yeah, the "Stressless" chairs are still made in Scandinavia (highest priced furniture in the shop), but there were lots of pieces made in Czech Republic, VietNam, Indonesia, Brazil, and Kenya - most continents

Just ordered me a GoPro!

The Hero rocks. Thats next on my list. I want to do video trip reports here. 

I could see it now on my next week long trip....

168hrs+ of me frolicking through the hills, muttering jibberish. 

Grab the popcorn. ;)

@Rick-Pittsburgh: Uh oh...... I am excited. I am hoping to get some great vid crossing the gorges on the hanging brideges in Nepal and even some cool stuff to supplement my stills of Evererst.

I would like Trailspacers opinions on cameras.  I'm loath to carry a camera in the backcountry and or on trips and in fact usually only take a camera when I'm going on deep sea fishing trips. I feel that cameras are a) a unnecessary item that adds weight to a usually already heavy pack. b)it seems that by the time I get a camera out and set up that everybody is aware that the camera is out and starts to act differently. c) I'm susally just so involved with what's going on at the moment I always forget to take pictures anyway. Regarding a. Even though my smaller camera is light weight,  the camera has a dedicated battery and needs a dedicated charger as well as an adaptor if your going to another country. The charger quite often weighs just as much or more than the camera. I have a Sony Cyber Shot DSC-P10, 5 meg 3x zoom and takes movies that I got as companion camera to my 15 year old Sony DSC-F707 w/10x optical zoom because they use the same memory sticks. The 707 is a wonderful camera with a Carl Zeiss lens and takes movies and inferred pictures as well as a host of other options (review below). It will take pictures in the total dark. I would love to take the 707 with my on my trip to Thailand but with its charger it's just to heavy, I think at the moment.  . As I have the P10 it's light weight and would just be a better choice though the charger still makes it heaveier than I would like. I have 816 meg worth of memory sticks (fits both cameras), as well as having two batteries for the P10. I feel it will be important to have a lot of memory as I will be gone between 4-6 weeks in rural Southeast Asia and my not have a way to dump pictures for a long time. Any suggestions on a newer Sony camera that will use the older Sony/Lexar memory sticks? Maybe Sony made a smallish camera that did not have a dedicated battery so I would not have to carry a charger? Any other suggestions that do not require buying a "new" camera would be good. I will consider buying a used and or older camera that is newer than the two I have but I just do not buy new things anymore. I realize that in regards to b & c these are just things I will have to work on in so far as being comfortable, fast and being able to remember to take pictures without making a fuss so that people do not realize what is going on. With that being said I am aware that some cultures do not like beings photographed and I will keep that in mind where ever I am. Other suggestions on how and where to dump pictures while I'm on the road would be most welcome.


Here we have the DSC-P10 nest to a Svea 123 stove to show size.



Here we have the much nicer and larger DSC-707.


Any one have that has an older camera that they might want to get rid of that might fit into what I'm looking for.  Lite weight,  easy to use, does not have a charger and or has a much smaller charger.  A smaller Sony that uses the older mostly blue didicated Sony/Laxar memory sticks that uses regular batteries would be the gig.  Any and all thoughts on the matter are welcome

I had an incident recently that is a reminder to either use a cheap camera or be super careful in the outdoors.  I know, I'm stating the obvious, but I guess some of us have to learn the hard way.


This is the result of an unexpected strong gust of wind blowing over a tripod-mounted camera and smashing it to bits on Sierra granite.  Unfortunately it's not a matter of just glueing the case back together - the electronics got munged up too.  It still focuses & trips the shutter, but the adjustment functions & display are dead.

Believe it or not, in spite of this incident, that was still a great trip.  And the D5100 that replaced the broken D70 is leaps and bounds ahead of it ... the technology sure has improved in the past 6 years!

I have been taking my Canon 60D for the last year. Granted, weight in the pack is not a huge issue to me because 1) I am day hiking and 2) I am trying to get stronger anyway so weight = work = progress. But on long hikes where I really would like to get some nice pix it can be a bother carrying one around my neck. And it is a heavy cam. So I use a harness to relieve the stress on my neck and then it is pretty well always at the ready. I just got some Bruton charging stuff so I will be able to charge it on my trek to Everest, but again, the yak or the sherpas will be carrying a bulk of my gear. I will just have day pack and cameras. I will be carrying the iPhone, GoPro and Canon 60D with an extra lens (I hope).  The GoPro is made to withstand a lot of banging around. The 60D? Not at all. So it is a risk, but it is what I purchased it for. I am not going to the bottom of the top of the world without being able to take a camera that will get far far more than snap shots. But then again, my fuji is great on the kayak and with the Bruton I could take it on long trips and recharge it along the way if I needed.

Giftofgab, I feel the same way, even though I don't get to go to exotic locations like you described.  But for me, every trip to the Sierra or other similar location is an adventure in its own right, and while a "better" camera won't guarantee I get good pictures, at least the pictures I get are up to me, not limited by my gear.  

I cam really close to buying a P&S or Micro-four-thirds camera recently for backpacking.  I really wanted to reduce the bulk & weight for backpacking.  But the image comparisons I studied convinced me they wouldn't satisfy me.  So I ended up sticking with the DSLR & selected the D5100 for its small size & weight yet still very good image quality.  I'd have liked to go smaller & lighter, but for me it's worth having the better dynamic range, low noise, sharpness, etc, that a high quality DSLR sensor can provide.  Then the rest is up to me :).

I'll just suck it up and deal with the weight & bulk - photography is too much an integral part of my trips to skimp on it for the sake of saving less than a pound.

bheiser1: This is the trip of a lifetime for me., thus the pictures must be great But to learn to use the camera, it goes with me on every hike....almost whenever I leave my house! So the DSLR memorializes the trip in epic ways. I also like that it has great hd video.

For anyone interested GoPro has released the Hero2.

Heres a link to check it out if interested:

Interestingly, I bought mine on Amazon and, depending on what day you buy, each of the package configurations changes price. I bought the MotorSport version and it was 229. The helmet config was 299 at the time. Today, Helmet is 229 and Motorsport is 277. Same camera in each instance, just different mounts come with it. So be aware.

Here is the side by side comparison of the two:

GoPro emailed me the release info on this cam earlier. I think its a step up if it performs as intended too.

I can see the new version becoming a part of my life in the not so distant future. At the same time I am also going to wait for a little bit before I drop the dough on one just to see if they have any bugs or what not with them. I learned this lesson the hard way awhile back with a product and it ended up costing me alot of headaches...

Well, the improvements should not cause too much issue potential. I am mulling over sending back what is getting here tomorrow or just living with it. I may call Amazon and ask for a reduction based on the new version causing mine to drop in price even before receiving it. But I am likely going to keep it and remember how excited I was about the features before Saturday (the day after I ordered mine and even called Go Pro Friday and no hint).

another great thing about the gopro camera line is its size: 1.6" x 2.4" x 1.2" and up to 11 megapixel resolution is enough to make you leave a heavy dslr back at home. hard to say whether its ok for beginners though as there's no lcd for framing. fixed-focus lens makes it pretty foolproof.

Hey phraber, welcome to Trailspace.

Yeah the 11mp on the Hero2 is definitely a step up from the previous 5mp of the OG Hero.

The GoPro has an accessory LCD back. My HD version has this. One thing to be aware of is the format of the GoPro HD videos (the 1080p and 960P) is mp4. Your video software on your computer may not be able to view this without an upgrade. Yes, you can feed the output directly to your digital TV. But if you want to edit or combine scenes, it may be a problem. Another thing is that the 170° view is a fisheye view, not an anamorphic view. So you see bent horizon lines and doorways look like a barrel. You don't notice this so much when shooting outdoor scenes (until you tilt the view up or down to view something above or below the horizon, or shoot someone's face really close up).

BillH - I am a bit surprised you broke your D70 that way. I am pretty hard on cameras since I use them climbing. They get banged around a fair amount. I have been using Nikons (film and digital) for 50 years and never broke one. Dented, yes, but still workable.

Karen - I would suggest that for a once in a lifetime trip, it will be well worth it to take the Canon 60D. You might want to get the wide angle zoom (the 16-35 f/2.8) for those vistas in the Himalaya - they are much bigger than you can presently imagine and the "standard" lens (even the 18-135 or 18-200) just isn't wide enough, especially since the 60D has an APS-sized sensor. That extra 2 mm is more than 10% wider. Yeah, the 16-35 is really pricey (although B& H gives a good discount). But it will be worth it. I have always found having my Nikons with me well worth it, and the 12-24mm wide angle is really great for mountain scenes. Hey, you will have a porter carrying most of the gear. But are you really going to pay the huge roaming and per-minute to use the iPhone (the camera isn't really that great, even on the 4s).

BillS....I am looking into how much more $$ I can spend on gear. Will have the 60D, the GoPro and the iPhone with me. If you had to choose one extra lens would you choose the 16/35 f.2.8 or the 30-700? I got a harness for carrying the D60 so my neck does not get angry over days of hiking.

The GoPro is only 170 in 960 HD but on the GoPro 2, it is 170 in 1080. I don't know if that changes anything. Also the lens is 2x sharper on the Hero 2.

The OP had indicated no need for a waterproof camera. While with film technology, this was less of an issue, today, I think, it is more important to have a waterproof and shock proof camera. Digital cameras are much more sensitive, especially with all the features that are now being built into fairly small packages. So I would recommend shockproof and waterproof, though they don't necessary need to be underwater cameras if you are not going to use them for that. Quality of photos is an obvious consideration and may not always translate well from the literature, although that is a good starting point. For me, a major consideration is ease of use. I look at the features, and whether they are actually things I need, and how easy it is to cycle through the menu to change setting. You don't want to have to cycle through several pages of menu in order to get that fast moving shot of the golden eagle. While fewer buttons might seem less cluttered, more buttons means there will be fewer functions on each button which often translates to easier to change settings. The bottom line is to go to a dealer and test drive one in the store. See how easy it is to change settings. My personal preference is the Pentax Optio series. In my case, I still have an Optio W 30, the new one  is the Optio WG-1. Certainly my Canon 5D Mk 2, is easier to use in terms of changing settings and having a variety of lenses. However, the Optio is compact and relatively easy to use.


I would definitely go for the 16-35 if you want to stick with Canon lenses. However, Tokina has an excellent 12-24mm lens for the Canon at a much lower price. The link is to B&H Photo, which I have dealt with for something like 30 years mail order and internet. I have several Tokina lenses for my Nikons and have been pretty well pleased with them. They aren't up to the Nikon quality (or Canon), but are pretty close. It turns out that Tokina and Tamron are the actual manufacturers for a number of the Canon and Nikon lenses.

Erich makes a good point about digital cameras. Except that the pro-ams like your 60D are intended as standbys for pros who are pretty hard on their full professional cameras. The Canon pro-ams, like my Nikon pro-ams are quite rugged and well sealed as long as you don't drop them in the lake and leave them there for more than a few seconds. I have shot literally thousands of images with my Nikon DSLRs in pouring rain with no problem. I do use a Zing case when the camera is put away (the neoprene protects against modest bumps and fairly intense rain) and an Aquatech "rain cover" when shooting in heavy rains. I used the Aquatech for shooting the Tour of California bike race several times in pouring rain, in the rain forest in Tanzania, and in Katmai NP to shoot the Big Furry Guys in the rain.

If the weather is really bad, leave the Canon in the Pelican case with the porters and use the GoPro in its waterproof and shockproof enclosure.

Bill's (bheiser) D70, aside from getting a very hard blow, was just at the start of the pro-am cameras and was more "am" than "pro". If my father-in-law's Leica IIIg had received a similar blow, I suspect it would have been just as damaged, and that was a camera that was a favorite of professionals in the field as well as being on a number of Himalayan expeditions (Barb and I have it now, stored in a very safe and secure place, since it is a much sought after collectors item).

Bill S said:

BillH - I am a bit surprised you broke your D70 that way. I am pretty hard on cameras since I use them climbing. They get banged around a fair amount. I have been using Nikons (film and digital) for 50 years and never broke one. Dented, yes, but still workable.

Yup ... believe it or not I'm actually quite careful :).  For example when I'm camping/packing & have the camera on the tripod, I take care to make sure it's in a safe spot where no critters will knock it over when I go to sleep at night.  I even keep it in a case while I'm hiking, to avoid it getting banged around, dusty, etc.  But I obviously wasn't careful enough in this case.

I had the camera set up on the tripod, and then started making my breakfast.  Suddenly a gust of wind came along, much stronger than any up til that point.  All my breakfast items, including the titanium bowl, the lid from the pot on the stove, the tea mug, oatmeal packets, etc, etc., scattered in the wind.

My first instinct was to run and grab my breakfast items before they disappeared & littered the area.  Meanwhile, the unattended tripod blew over ... crash!!!  I was not pleased.  The fall also munged up the knob on the ball head, but at least that item survived without any functional damage.

Anyway, this damage certainly wasn't any fault of the camera, or Nikon ... this was a direct impact from 6 feet in the air, on solid rock.  I'm actually surprised there wasn't more physical damage, and that it still powers on and trips the shutter.

The really strange thing was that a couple days before that I broke a glass tabletop while moving the table.  Not long before that I sat on my glasses and broke them.  And even before the D70 broke, I had been pondering a possible replacement for backpacking.  Nature works in mysterious ways... but, hey, I made it ~35 years without breaking a camera :).

Thanks, BillS. Gonna check into that now.

BillS is right that the pro-ams are quite well sealed today. If you are going in that direction, for a larger camera, get one with a built in sensor cleaner...a speck of dirt on your images is difficult to source. As far as lens choice, Bill makes a good point about other brands(besides Canon and Nikon). Tamron makes some good lenses. If possible, try to get lenses with metal as opposed to plastic bodies.

Bill, I never used a III more than a couple of times. I did take my M3 and M2 all over the world. They were IMO, more rugged than the pro cameras today. The only issue I ever had with either in the field, was a shutter freezing on the M3 on a winter climb. On that same climb(but later) the camera in it's leather case slipped from my hands and I watched it roll down a slope of soft snow for a hundred meters. It still continued to function. Sadly, the lack of labs caused me to sell my beloved Leicas and go completely digital a few years ago.

This photo was shot on a cheap plastic Canon 35mm film camera in 2001. In 2011 I went back and digitized the film negatives from that trip and discovered just how much incredible detail was on the film that was not revealed in the prints. There's a lesson to be learned here about camera purchases.


Researching ancient history on the Canon camera, it has no variable zoom lens. Just two prime lenses - one at 36mm (for close) and one for 80mm (telephoto). The Canon engineers managed to put very good glass in that cheapo camera - and maintain a price point. Unlike modern digital cameras with their tiny solder joints and itty-bitty zoom motors - film cameras use simpler electronics and mechanics, and are far more forgiving to falls, drops and shocks than anything digital made today with the exception of pro-body DSLRs. Film cameras also use batteries that can retain their charge for years stored reasonable. Further, your film camera will work in temperature conditions where either your digital camera will shutdown (Li batteries dont like cold) - or the LCD will become unuseable (LCD's dont like heat).

If you can learn to choose situations where a cheap film camera will autoexpose nicely and get one on Craigslist with good glass, you can take it anywhere, or just leave it in your car all winter long. In low light, you will need to stabilize the camera and give up hand-held shots. But for most of your hiking shots, you'll be well into hand-held shot conditions even with 100 Speed film.  36 Exposure per roll is no limitation either, just learn to discern what shots are worth taking the time-out to setup. When you get home, you'll have 25 megapixel RAW images coming off the digitized film - be it E-6 slide film, or a nice modern negative film like Ektar 100.

Not anti-digital. I love my Lumix ZS8 - with it's 24mm/f3.3 lens and signal processing trickery for lovely low light shots.  I'm just saying that if you are broke, or fear destroying an expensive digital camera on a trip, that there is definitely still a very strong case to be made to consider getting a 35mm film camera specifically for backpacking and hiking.

Gorkushka, you are quite right that film has advantages over digital. No compact digital camera, can match the amount of information available from 35 mm film. As well, contrast range of film negative, is greater than digital. Of course, there are tricks with digital. One is to underexpose as you would slide film, and calculate a narrower range of contrast overall, also akin to slide film. 5 to 7 stops range of contrast is normal for digital and slide film(7 at the outside), whereas 10 to 12 is normal for color negative film.

Pentax W90

407_1314749783-1307190855_optiowg1gpsgreOptio WG-1 GPS

Get ready for adventure in any environment with the new PENTAX Optio WG-1 GPS – the next generation outdoor camera that’s tougher, smarter and more weatherproof than ever.

SELECT405_1314750107-1856349378_optiowg1black_Optio WG-1

Get ready for adventure in any environment with the new PENTAX Optio WG-1 – the next generation outdoor camera that’s tougher, smarter and more weatherproof than ever.


Yes. The digital camera I chose was the Lumix ZS8. The 24mm lens is critical because it lets you fit alot of stuff into the foreground. Its ISO noise is sufficient for handheld shots at dusk and dawn. It fits in the lovely Mountainsmith belt pack that either goes on my shoulder strap or on my pants belt. It uses a slider switch for power and shoot/review which is critical for both handling the camera with gloves on AND insuring the camera doesnt accidentally turn on in the pack (which power pushbuttons do!) It'd fine for long weekends, but on a 10-day hike I'd always take the film camera for the battery longevity and the raw bits I can fit on a 35mm frame. The only other cameras I'd considered is the Canon S95 or Lumix LX5 - Alot more money. I'd have bought either of them if I could have convinced myself that moonlit nightscapes were really important to me.  They are not.. I tend to be sound asleep by the time the moon is up.

My film beast is a used Nikon N80 (about $40 used on Ebay). I only use two lenses:   A 50mm/f1.8 ($134)  and a 20mm/f2.8 ($500). Contrary to most peoples fears of not having a zoom - the incredible image quality from the inexpensive 50/1.8 lens for landscapes in the backcounty is stunning.  The 1.8F capability means you can shoot 100 Film in any light you want. Had you asked me when I was young and dumb if I'd accept a fixed focal length lens - I'd probably have thought you were trying to scam me. LOL.

Ah Ha!  I've found it!  The perfect camera for the ultra-light backpacker!

bheiser1 said:

Ah Ha!  I've found it!  The perfect camera for the ultra-light backpacker!

That would work...... I'd try it. :p

What a great thread, opportunity for some beautiful photos!!

bheiser1 said:

Ah Ha!  I've found it!  The perfect camera for the ultra-light backpacker!

 If you drop it in the snow or on the ground, you will never find it. And if I stuck it in my pocket with the keys and coins, I would never find it either. Good old Hammacher-Schlemmer - lots of cute goodies (but the few times I bought something from them, not very dependable - almost everything broke within a couple weeks).

I'm from New York.   Have shopped at the East 57th St. Hammacher-Schlemmer store (in Manhattan) many, many times ... beginning back in the mid-1960s.   It was conveniently close to the flagship (original) Abercrombie & Fitch outdoor / safari outfitters store, where I once bought an authentic pith helmut, excellent Eddie Bauer camping gear and clothing (still have some of it, such as a Kara Koram sleeping bag I used in South Dakota last month) ... and perused the selection of elephant guns (not that I was going on an African safari, or anything like that).  I would spend hours in these two stores, often bringing my little daughter along to watch her marvel at the wonderful selection of specialty children's toys at Hammacher-Schlemmer, including a real carousel (at about $5k in 1960s money).

I have never had a problem with merchandise from Hammacher-Schlemmer.   Why?    I NEVER select an item with China as the country-of-origin.  If the catalog indicates "imported", inquire WHICH Asian country from which the item is sourced.   If one is looking to buy a high quality small camera, I suggest  narrowing the selection to those made in Japan or Germany.   (Good Luck with that!).   Seeing one too many shattered plastic cameras in airports, convinces me to seek metal-bodied cameras.   Not much 'out there', other than uber-expensive pro lines.

Anyone care to suggest ?

Interesting note about cameras:   I was recently solo hiking in The Black Hills of South Dakota, near the Wyoming border.   Encountered NO other hikers (nor bugs, nor traffic) other than a party of five (males and females) from Japan.   They spoke almost no English, but gestured to me to take some group photos of themselves with their ever-present cameras.  All five cameras were Nikons, and they gave me the "thumbs up" sign with smiles, pointing to my very own Nikon.

Hmmmm ....

                           pax vobiscum

                               ~ r2 ~

September 28, 2020
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply