Sunsets, sunrises, stars, and postcard views, populated by the flora and fauna that make the mountains a unique place … it is not surprising that the passion for the mountains often goes hand in hand with the passion for photography, which is why today we are talking about the 10 best cameras for hiking.
We know that the needs of a photographer are not exactly those of a mountain walker. Those who take the path that climbs uphill certainly cannot afford to fill their backpack with heavy and bulky equipment.
Hikers are looking for machines that perform in all light conditions, but are also light and easy to handle. So then you need to be able to extricate yourself from an increasingly varied offer. Let’s find out how to do it.
Best Budget Camera For Backpacking 2022
In this article, we will show you everything you need to know to choose the Best Budget Camera For Backpacking…
First, here are nine of the best travel cameras on the market. We’ve chosen them based on your budget and the type of traveler you are, so you can easily determine which Epic Adventure camera is best for you.
Next, we’ll give you the information you need to take your travel photography to the next level. This information is essential for anyone who wants to take attractive travel photos.
As a professional travel photographer, I know a lot about cameras and the best cameras to use while traveling. By the end of this article, you will know which travel camera is right for you.
Best Budget Camera For Backpacking | Comparison Table
5-Star Picks | Great Prices | High Quality
|OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 Mark III Body Silver||Olympus||Check Price|
|Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Body Only,Base Configuration,Black||Sony||Check Price|
|Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera with 1.0-type stacked CMOS sensor (DSCRX100M7)||Sony||Check Price|
|Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Camera Body - Black||Fujifilm||Check Price|
|Sony RX100 VI 20.1 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera w/ 1-inch sensor, 24-200mm ZEISS zoom lens and pop-up OLED EVF||Sony||Check Price|
|Panasonic LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera, 20X LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT F2.8-4.5 Lens, 21.1 Megapixels, 1 Inch High Sensitivity Sensor, 422 10-bit, HDMI Out, DMC-FZ2500 (USA BLACK)||Panasonic||Check Price|
|Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera (Black) with Streamer/Vlogging Kit. Includes: SanDisk Extreme 64GB Card, 12” Grispter Tripod, Carrying Case, and More.||Sony||Check Price|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body||Canon||Check Price|
|OLYMPUS Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera, Red||Olympus||Check Price|
|Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens (Renewed)||Sony||Check Price|
Best Budget Camera For Backpacking | Reviews 2022
How To Choose The Best Budget Camera For Backpacking | Ultimate Guide 2022
Backpacking Cameras: Reflex or Mirrorless?
The Different Types of Cameras
For years now, the camera market has been an extremely varied market, hosting products with different technologies. The differences can seem subtle and confusing: let’s try to clarify.
Let’s start, noblesse oblige, with the DSLR, or the Digital Single Lens Reflex. What are they? Reflex cameras are cameras with a replaceable body and lenses (they are therefore not compact). They owe their name to the fundamental presence of a mirror in the camera body.
When you are about to shoot, this small mirror lowers and lets the light in on a prism, which in turn bounces it off a viewfinder from which the photographer observes the scene and “composes” the photo.
In practice, with the Reflex you can see reality directly through the viewfinder. When the photographer shoots, the mirror is raised (hence the iconic “ click ”), and the light reaches the sensor and is imprinted in digital pixels. After that, the mirror is lowered again.
For some years the historical primacy of the Reflex has been undermined by the so-called ” mirrorless “. As the name suggests, the revolution of mirrorless cameras is the absence of the mirror, which allows these machines to be lighter and more compact.
In mirrorless cameras, the image is formed directly on the sensor, where what I see on the LCD monitor or on a digital viewfinder is imprinted. This means that I don’t look directly at reality, but I see it digitally filtered, through a simulation, no matter how good it is.
However, this allows me to make changes (increase exposure times, change the focus) and see them in real-time on the screen, knowing that the photo will look exactly like this. In the case of the Reflex, this does not happen: I will find out if a photo is “burned” (over or underexposed) only after I have taken it.
Mirrorless cameras also have a camera body (much lighter than that of DSLRs) and replaceable lenses.
In recent years, as we all know, smartphones have also made huge strides in the field of photography. The main limitations of a phone, even today, are related to its small size, and consequently the small size of the sensor. Smaller sensor = lower image quality.
However, the more expensive models (which moreover reach the figures of a Reflex) churn out shots that – except for zoom or large prints – hardly distinguish themselves from those of a DSLR. And they are much easier to use.
Defects? The mobile does not have different types of lenses, so we will have more limitations in the artistic creation of the composition. And in terms of quality, the excellent levels of Reflex and mirrorless are not yet reached.
Reflex o Mirrorless?
But between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, which ones should we choose? Until 10 years ago , when mirrorless cameras timidly entered the market, no enthusiast had any doubts: the Reflex was still the queen of cameras.
Is this still the case today? Do the best hiking cameras still have a mirror or can we save grams and bulk?
The point is that DSLR and mirrorless cameras are two different “species”, with their strengths and weaknesses.
A Reflex offers:
- a wider selection of interchangeable lenses
- longer battery life
- Better low-light shots thanks to the optical viewfinder
On the other hand, mirrorless cameras are
- more light
- more portable
- offer better video quality even in low-end models
- can shoot more images with faster shutter speeds
It is therefore up to each of us to evaluate which are the most important parameters to understand which are the best cameras for hiking.
We mainly take landscape photos and don’t our excursions involve huge differences in height? Then a Reflex could be for us since in this case the shutter speed and weight do not have great importance.
Conversely, do we walk a lot, and do we have a full backpack ( sleeping bag, tent, mattresses)? At this point, the important thing is to cut the weight.
But, remember, the important thing is to be there, in that moment and in that place. This is what makes the difference between a memorable photo and a photo like many others. So let’s focus on a machine that allows us to be there , a machine that we will always use, and not one that makes our backs ache just by looking at it.
The Different Types of Sensors | Why is the Sensor Important?
Not all cameras are created equal. An entry-level DSLR won’t give you the same results as a professional full-frame DSLR, even if they have exactly the same number of pixels. Why? Because the professional SLR has a larger sensor. The same goes for mirrorless cameras.
A camera’s sensor determines the quality of images it can produce – the larger the sensor, the higher the image quality.
Larger sensors have better low-light performance, reduced “noise” (grain), good dynamic range, and the ability to get more information.
As a photographer, it is important to know the difference between the camera sensor size, particularly if you are considering buying a new camera. The size of the sensor is the first and most important factor to consider. It is the feature that will have the most powerful impact on your images.
Recall that the objectives are born for a specific type of sensor. You can still use APS-C lenses on a full frame body or vice versa, but the photo will be “cropped”, ie cropped, with an effect equal to a zoom.
The best sensors out there are full frames, available in both DSLR and mirrorless cameras. They are the same size as the classic 35mm film that was used in virtually all analog cameras.
The 35mm full frame sensor type is the standard among professional photographers who want the highest quality images. The dimensions of a full frame sensor are typically 36 × 24mm.
The APS-C ( Advance Photo System – Classic ) or crop-sensor format is the most used and the most versatile sensor in circulation today under the full frame format. It has a lower production cost but guarantees excellent quality.
The APS-C sensor is used in the same way in DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Both beginners and professionals use it due to its adaptability.
Typical APS-C sensor size differs between camera brands. Canon APS-C sensors are generally 22.3 × 14.9mm, while other brands such as Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and others usually have APS-C sensors with dimensions of 23.6 × 15.6mm.
Many cameras, including Canon EOS M50 Mark II, Fujifilm X100V, Sony Alpha a6600, and Nikon Z50, are equipped with APS-C sensors.
4/3 and micro 4/3
Created by Olympus and Panasonic, the Four Thirds system is an 18 × 13.5mm large sensor type , with a crop factor of 2.0 compared to full-frame camera sensors.
As for the mirrorless camera, we have the Micro 4/3, first released in 2008. It shares the dimensions and sensor specifications of the 4/3 system but uses a compact design with no space for the moving mirror, pentaprism, and other parts of the DSLR not found in mirrorless cameras.
The Four-Thirds system uses a 4: 3 image aspect ratio, as opposed to the 3: 2 aspect ratio of APS-C and full frame.
1 Inch and Under
Any sensor between 1.5 and 1 inch or smaller in size can be found in cameras with non-interchangeable lenses (the typical compacts ) and smartphone cameras.
Weather and Water Proofing
A key consideration when choosing a camera for backpacking and tent travel is protection from the elements.
There is no universal standard for weather protection, but in general, the dials and buttons on the camera body are covered and sealed with rubber to reduce exposure to moisture and dust.
The cameras that offer the highest degree of protection are called ” tropicalized “. But let’s not be fooled by the term, which could suggest resistance to tropical typhoons, volcanic eruptions, and sandstorms!
A tropicalized machine, such as a softshell jacket, has a certain degree of protection against humidity, salt, and rain. Exceeded this degree, the machine will suffer and we could damage screens, SD cards, buttons …
Even with tropicalization, we strongly advise against shooting in a prolonged downpour or snowfall, as water can eventually pass, but it can be very useful with light to moderate rainfall. If you are a photographer who often shoots in the mountains, the tropicalized camera is a must.
It must therefore be taken into account that apart from the real waterproof models (equivalent to rain jackets or hard shells ), the other camera bodies are not really weatherproof. Why not buy waterproof models then? Because the quality of the optics is usually quite low.
When it comes to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, tropicalization is available on some mid-range models and on nearly all full-frame models.
Focal lengths for hiking
In addition to cameras for hiking, we should talk about lenses for hiking. Every photographer knows that optics are just as important as camera bodies, if not more so. Furthermore, a camera body becomes obsolete quite quickly, while some lenses remain top of the range for decades.
Let’s start with the basics: it would be a mistake to buy a DSLR or mirrorless camera with only the 18-55mm kit lens and expect professional-quality landscape photos.
Most likely, if you’re a hiker you’ll want a good wide-angle lens, or at least a quality zoom or prime that works well at the wide-angle end (most of the lenses in the kit are pretty underwhelming on that front).
Assuming most hiking photos are landscape type, the range we need to keep an eye on is from 14mm to 24mm.
These lengths will allow you to snap and frame the entire panorama even in situations where the mountain prevents you from moving too much. For example in a stop on a via Ferrata, where you certainly can’t look for the best place to take the photo.
As you move above 24mm, you will begin to lose the dramatic aperture that makes landscape shots so attractive.
Clearly, the matter changes if we also want to have a good lens with us for photographing animals or excursion companions. At that point, we can aim for good all-rounders (zooms that start – almost – from a wide-angle to get to frame even distant subjects) or a fixed telephoto 200 or 300 mm.
Recall that a zoom tends not to have the same quality as a fixed one, which does not allow us to change length but, being easier to manufacture, produces cleaner photos.
No matter what type of hiking camera you choose, this small metal, plastic, and glass item must be carried in your backpack wherever you go. Therefore hikers and backpackers are always looking for ways to keep the grams at bay while still getting the photo quality they want.
Compact machines – now on the verge of extinction due to smartphones – are the lightest, starting at around 250 grams including a battery and memory card.
As previously discussed, however, they have smaller sensors and lenses and do not allow for great quality.
Moving on to interchangeable lens cameras, mirrorless models start at around 340 grams for the camera body (the Sony Alpha a6000) up to over 650 grams for the full-frame Sony Alpha a7R IV.
DSLRs are the heaviest of the group, up to just over one kilogram with the Nikon D850 (full-frame Nikon flagship, and cult object for landscape architects).
Depending on the lenses you choose and how many you’ll be carrying, you should expect to carry at least 1 pound of photographic equipment. Estimated that goes up to 2-3 kg with tripod and different lenses.
The film is now – almost – extinct. Good news, because we can take as much as we want, but we still have to remember that our photos are recorded on a memory card, the SD card.
When the SD runs out … our photos disappear into thin air (unless there is a second SD, an option that only some machines allow). Some cameras report the problem so we can delete the junk photos. Others instead leave us with the surprise!
The advice is therefore to buy good capacious cards and to have a spare card in the case of the machine. As an indication, it is better not to go below 32 GB, also considering the considerable weight that the raw files (digital negatives) just taken now reach.
Choice of Lens
For many photographers, myself included, this is the biggest reason to invest in a particular camera company. Lenses literally create images, and a good lens can make all the difference. High-quality lenses make images sharper, more vivid, and more attractive.
Lenses come in so many different shapes and sizes, including fisheye, super-telephoto, and mid-power zoom. Each suits the individual shooting style and even the photographer. Do you like to shoot spectacular panoramas?
Get a wide-angle lens so you can capture as much of it as possible. Do you like to photograph people? Use a fast lens with a small aperture to create a nice “bokeh” effect.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you which lens to buy in this article. What I can do is provide you with this information guide and then advise you that if you want to take a certain photo with a certain quality, you need to buy the right lens. Investing in lenses is just as important as investing in the camera itself.
Lenses add weight to your backpack and sometimes take up a lot of space. I’ll say it now unless you want your bag to weigh a ton, you probably don’t have a lens that can handle every situation. Just pick the two that best fit you and your backpack weight goals.
A camera is only as good as the photographer who uses it. To get the most out of your travel camera, you need to understand it and use it effectively. Therefore, when looking for the best backpacking camera, you need to ask yourself two questions: how much control do I want? and how intuitive is the x-camera?
If you want a camera that is easy to use and you don’t have to worry about complicated things like exposure settings, invest in a good compact camera like the Sony αa5100 or the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. You can look at menus and settings as soon as they occur to you, so you never feel like you can’t make a decision.
If you are an enthusiast or expert and want the best travel camera, you need to make sure its controls are simple and intuitive. There are many great cameras out there whose controls are (somehow) irrational and unreasonable. Poor controls make photography a pain.
More and more travel cameras are developing technologies that make photography both fun and efficient. Features such as touch screen focus and focus peaking are really useful and can change the way you take pictures. Whatever your experience, learning how to use these tools will certainly help you. With the right knowledge, you will be a pro in no time.
Many modern travel cameras have extensive video recording capabilities. Gone are the days when you had to purchase a separate camera to shoot video. Modern travel cameras are very reliable for video, and more and more competent videographers are using them for professional work.
Most Best Budget Camera For Backpacking can shoot at least HD (1080p) video, but the most prestigious and desirable is a 4K video. 4K video is the highest level of technology in video recording today and is the current industry standard. If you are looking for the best travel camcorder for vlogging, look for one that can record in 4K.
that just because a camera can shoot 4K video does not make it a good camera. There are many processes involved in shooting great video, including fps (frames per second), image stabilization, and normal aperture. As with any functional aspect, knowing the recording capabilities of the camera helps in many ways. Remember, video is in the hands of the videographer.
To be honest, I don’t know much more about the intricacies of how photography works than the basics I have just discussed. All I know for sure is that photographers should study the video functions of their cameras just as much as they do photography.
Latest pearls of wisdom
There is an old saying that goes, “The best camera is the one you have with you”. When choosing the right camera for hiking, make sure you choose an option that is genuinely affordable. Professional photographers have plenty of time to stop, take out their DSLR or mirrorless camera, and choose the right lens to use, but having a complicated setup could result in fewer photos taken (and consequently fewer quality photos).
Ideally, you will have a camera like the Ricoh GR II in your pocket, and a DSLR or mirrorless camera in your backpack. That way you won’t miss those shots that require immediate readiness, and you can pull out the heavy artillery when you stop in front of epic landscapes and take your time. Regardless of which room you choose, make sure it is always accessible. Remember that the best photos are often unexpected.
FAQs about the best travel cameras
Still, have questions? No problem! Below you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions. Here is what people usually want to know.
How do I choose the Best Budget Camera For Backpacking?
Choose the Best Budget Camera For Backpacking according to what kind of photos and videos you want to take on your trip.
What is the best camera for backpacking photography?
The Canon PowerShot G9X Mark II is highly recommended for travel photographers. It is relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and reliable.
Can a travel camera take professional-looking photos and videos?
Best Budget Camera For Backpacking has great specs, but to shoot professionally, you will need to upgrade to a more serious and expensive camera.
Backpacking photography is not an exclusive art form. Great travel photography is created by visionaries, not by advanced technology or advanced features. What matters is the eye and sense of style that evoke emotion. Anyone and I mean anyone, can develop the skills to become a world-class travel photographer.
The key to becoming a great photographer is finding the best travel camera. Not the camera with the best sensor or the camera with the best video capabilities, but the camera that works best for you. Personal cameras are best for individual photographers. Some people feel better with a big DSLR in their hands, while others prefer a compact camera that they can carry around.