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Best Camera for Hiking?
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Kyle Purcell
(dufus934) - F

Locale: North Texas
Best Camera for Hiking? on 11/06/2007 18:19:48 MST Print View

So...I stepped on my camera and broke the screen.....long story.

That being said, I am in the market for a new camera, and was wondering from some of these photo gurus what is the best camera for outdoor pics. Obviously price is an issue (i'm in college), but other than that i just want something that will take good pics.

I am an amature photographer (very amature...haha), and I want something small and durable. I've heard about a new camera that is water and shockproof (made by olympus i think). Has anyone had experience with this.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Lightest Camera for Hiking? on 11/06/2007 22:04:14 MST Print View

I have a Canon Powershot SD 850 IS and it is great. Excellent video, image stabilization, and great shots. 5.8 oz. I really like this camera a lot.

The Pentax Optio series is also excellent. Their WP is also waterproof- a real bonus.

Now, I have a follow up question. What is the lightest digital camera? I'm doing a crazy trip this coming summer and I'm trying to get my pack weight as low as possible, but I also need good images because the trip will be posted here on the site.

So now there are two questions:
1) What is the best hiking camera?
2) What is the lightest digital that still takes decent shots?


Andrew Browne
(andrew_browne) - MLife

Locale: Mornington Peninsula AUSTRALIA
Lightest Camera on 11/07/2007 00:53:58 MST Print View

My vote is the Pentax Optio, 4.5oz on my scales
I am more than happy with the photos I take.
Your hands need to be very still with close up shots....hard to do when you've just walked up a steep incline and are heaving for breath
The only problem I have with it is I take high resolution 7M recorded pixel shots, these are not suitable to email and I don't know how to edit them to a lower resolution after the shot. If I know I'll be emailing them I set the camera to a lower 640/1024 pixels prior to the shot
Still have not used the movie mode

Shahrin Bin Shariff
(zzmelayu) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Table Mountain
Re: Lightest Camera for Hiking? on 11/07/2007 03:46:12 MST Print View

Like Doug, I have the 6.1oz Canon IXUS 860IS with image stabilization, Auto ISO, max ISO3200, zoom, macro, panorama stitching, easy-access manual controls for WB, ...almost everything I find on my Nikon dSLR except the 200mm zoom.

I used to have the first Casio EXILIM model (~4oz) and the Nikon Coolpix 5600 (~5oz). They were great but they all lack the control features that I NEED. Also their image quality is nothing close to the Canon IXUS/SD. YMMV. Anyway I lost/misplaced them both becoz they are so small and light.

I shoot at 5 Megapixel even though the Canon is 8MP.

>So now there are two questions:
>1) What is the best hiking camera?
>2) What is the lightest digital that still takes decent shots?

Doug, visit Ken Rockwell for his thoughts on "Why Your Camera Does Not Matter"
He is an engineer-turned-professional photographer who reached photography nirvana and transcended the marketing hype of equipment into the realm of artistic images. He reviewed 2 LW cameras.

I use Rockwell site for technical justification, and decide weight vs features I need to create a good image.

Hope this helps

Edited by zzmelayu on 12/02/2007 00:39:00 MST.

Shahrin Bin Shariff
(zzmelayu) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Table Mountain
Re: Lightest Camera on 11/07/2007 06:25:22 MST Print View


>The only problem I have with it is I take high resolution 7M recorded pixel shots, these are not suitable to email and I don't know how to edit them to a lower resolution after the shot. If I know I'll be emailing them I set the camera to a lower 640/1024 pixels prior to the shot

I downloaded a freeware called Picasa2 from Google and have been using it for 2 years.

It is a great software to manage your digital images. There is a feature where you can view your 2MBytes 7MPixel masterpiece and export/email it as a pixel-reduced (many options 160/320/480/640/800/1024pixel) image within 2 clicks. You can set it up to use GMAIL or OUTLOOK or even its own PICASA_MAIL. It has some neat features: basic "photoshopping" or image manipulation, setup on-line web album, direct blogging, & exporting (converting) images into smaller pixels.

This means you can capture all your images in 7MP and do the conversion later.

Give it a try. Its free.

>Your hands need to be very still with close up shots....hard to do when you've just walked up a steep incline and are heaving for breath

I cannot live with a camera without image stabilization (IS). The compacts these days are so small and so light that any movement will result in blurred pix. The simple action of squeezing the trigger can result in blurred images! Canon has IS and Nikon has VR (vibration reduction) in their $1000 lenses. Lucky for us, they provide this sophisticated feature in their compact cameras. This is the feature most important for me. YMMV.

Edited by zzmelayu on 12/02/2007 00:40:02 MST.

Robert Devereux
(robdev) - F

Locale: Pittsburgh, PA
Best Hiking Camera on 11/07/2007 06:36:10 MST Print View

I got the Olympus Stylus 770 SW. I'll double check the weight when I get home, but I think it is 5 or 6 oz.

I like it for outdoor activity because it is waterproof and shockproof. I've been on shallow scuba dives with it and I've been happy with that. I've taken it kayaking as well. I haven't tested the shockproof part, but in theory you can drop it 5 feet or have 200 lbs of pressure on it. Overall it's nice to have a camera that I'm not worried about getting wet or dropping (or falling on if the trail is slick).

There are a few drawbacks, the first is the price. It is rather expensive. I also find the menu system frustrating. It is annoying to change modes quickly, so I normally keep it in pure auto and don't bother with modes unless I have a bit of time. The lack of manual focus makes it difficult to get macro shots.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Best Camera for Hiking? on 11/07/2007 09:22:32 MST Print View

I highly recommend products in Canon's Powershot line. I have their Powershot SD400, battery, bag (home made), charger and all it all weighs in at 5.72.

View stats at

Canon Powershot SD400

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
cannon on 11/07/2007 09:35:32 MST Print View

I have a cannon. I like it a lot but they're not the most durable to dropping. i'll probably get the one mentioned above that's shock proof next time. My buddy has it and he likes it. I already broke my cannon once from a drop although it's survived a couple more without major damage. I know "don't drop it" but it's just a fact of life. It gets carted up and down mountains, mountain biking, running, hiking, hanging from tents at races etc. It's going to get dropped now and then.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Best Camera for Hiking? on 11/07/2007 10:51:39 MST Print View


* I am a klutz, so want a camera that's waterproof and ruggedized: Look at Oly and Pentax waterproof and ruggedized models, they have several to choose among.
* I want absolutely the smallest, lightest camera possible. Casio and Sony seem to have the edge here, although numerous cameras from numerous companies are in the 5-6 ounce range. Pore over the reviews to avoid selecting a dog, of which there is an enormous pack.

Neither scenario is likely to get you a viewfinder, a wide angle lens, RAW imaging. I need a viewfinder and a wide angle lens, and prefer a RAW option, especially if the camera has overly aggressive jpeg noise reduction. Insist on all three and the list of compact digicams goes from easily five hundred models to a literal handful. Best-of-show at present is the Ricoh GX100. Expensive and not widely distributed, its capabilities are unmatched. As much as I'd like to recommend the lovely Canon G-9, its lack of WA rules it out for my uses. For the prime lens aficionado, the forthcoming Ricoh GRD II looks as though it's answered most of the criticisms of the current GRD.

The dwindling "prosumer" digicam marketplace has shed the serious slr contenders for over-megapixeled overreaching superzooms. Still, they have electronic viewfinders and image stabilization, some have wide angle lenses, and a few still offer RAW. But they're not the least bit pocketable nor weather-resistant.

Robert Devereux
(robdev) - F

Locale: Pittsburgh, PA
Follow up on Olympus on 11/07/2007 15:51:47 MST Print View

The 770SW is 6 oz (with memory card and battery included).

If you don't plan on diving, get the 720SW instead. It's less expensive since it is only waterproof to 10 feet. The price on them may go down since they just released an upgrade, the 790SW.

From what I have heard, the Pentax waterproof cameras are better, but they didn't suit me (10 feet waterproof, I wanted 30). I think they're cheaper too. I have no idea about shock resistance.

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Pentax Optio on 11/15/2007 14:10:40 MST Print View

It can take a beating. I had placed mine in a stuff sack with some clothing to protect it from freezing over-night. Without thinking I picked up the bag and tossed it across an AT shelter. I heard a loud thump when the camera landed on the wood floor. Pulled it out and shot several pictures.

I guess its kind of like a Timex.

Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Good thread, keep it going... on 12/01/2007 17:15:47 MST Print View

Cameras upgrade and evolve so fast it would be great to keep this thread alive in the search for LIGHT cameras which perform well for hiking/outdoor photography.
A wide angle is important for me although I hadn't thought of image stablisation, this would certainly help.

I had a light hiking camera question:

But as my question was similar to this thread its best keep it all going here.

Anthea Michaelis
(antheawood) - F

Locale: Australia/US
Still looking on 04/02/2008 01:32:05 MDT Print View

I see no one has responded to this post recently. I am now looking for a small lightweight camera. I take a picture of every night I am not at home. This adds up to a lot of pictures of tents in the middle of nowhere as well as fancy hotels when I am on a businesss trip or fancy vacation. I have a Cannon that weighs 8 ons but I'd love to get to 4ons if possible. I am not too worried about the features, the weight is more important to me. Any new ideas out there?

Kevin Lane
Olympus 790 SW on 04/03/2008 18:37:45 MDT Print View

$234 on Amazon, $239 at BJ's as of 4/2/08

William Martinez
(wcarll) - F

Locale: Southwest
Stick with Canon on 04/04/2008 22:57:31 MDT Print View

I also have the Powershot SD850 IS and get great photos from it. I took it canoeing to Canada last summer and used a Otter case for it and it did great, even with rain most days and lots and lots of water around. I neglected to latch the case one day and the LCD screen got wet, but it dried out after a few days, and never stopped taking great pictures. I take it on all backpacking and hiking trips and it now fits great in a Lowepro case. IMHO, I'd say it's worth a few extra ounces for the picture quality and features.

Edited by wcarll on 04/04/2008 22:59:10 MDT.

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Best Camera for Hiking on 04/04/2008 23:49:23 MDT Print View

I recently bought a Canon A720IS and I love it, although at 8.8 ozs with batteries, it is heavier than what you are looking for. It's features are as follows: 8MP, 6x lens(35-210 35mm equivilent), stabilized lens, 2 AA batteries, optical viewfinder, internet price approx. $170. It fits in a Tamrac #5691 case perfectly with space for extra batteries and card. I use Sanyo Eneloop "low discharge" NiMh AA batteries; they don't cost much more than regular NiMh batteries and supposedly they keep their charge longer.

Kevin Lane
Optimus 790 SW on 04/05/2008 21:14:06 MDT Print View

Just bought one for $212 at I guess they are related. No tax, no shipping

Robert Packard
(leatherneck) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Best Camera for Hiking? on 04/11/2008 15:01:04 MDT Print View

At the link is one man's ideas about cameras in the outdoors - the mountains, to be specific. His criteria are shaded towards getting good photographs, rather than shaving every gram, but this blog should be interesting to readers of this forum.

I recently started using the Ricoh Caplio GX100 for it's unique combination of what are essentials for my backpacking: viewfinder, battery flexibility, wide-angle zoom lens (24-72mm equivalent), DNG RAW files.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Best Camera for Hiking? on 04/11/2008 17:21:06 MDT Print View

Great link Robert.
I would add to those three, the Fuji F31 (pretty much the same as the F30) and the Panasonic FX35/36.
The Pana picks up less detail than the Ricoh but has even less linear distortion and is smaller and cheaper.
If I could slot the Fuji sensor inside the Ricoh, I would be a happy snapping camper.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Best Camera for Hiking? on 04/11/2008 17:35:34 MDT Print View

I just received the dp1 2 days ago and think it should be the perfect backpacking camera. I had considered the ricoh gx100 but the noise was too much. Some people like the noise and I've seen it used to nice effect in b&w street shoots. But for landscape, I wanted something cleaner.

That was a nice summary and I'm sure there will be numerous other glitches besides the green corners, found in the dp1. After all this is version 1.0 of a brand new product category so that's to be expected. We'll see how effectively sigma resolves them.

Still at 10 oz it's a whole lot easier to carry than my d200. I think the dp1 will be the go to choose of those who would really want to carry a dSLR but just can't shoulder the weight in all situations. If you're coming from p&s land than it's less than obvious user interface (I needed to RTM), some what slugish response (3 seconds between shots with fast card) and various limitations will be annoying especially given the price.

BTW you can select 1 of 9 different auto focus points, but it's buried several levels down in a menu. Given there is a dedicated exposure lock button it's much easier to put the subject in the center lock exposure then reframe as desired.