10 Best Cameras for Hiking & Backpacking in 2022

The trail has a lot of breathtaking sights, and you will encounter moments you wish you could capture for posterity. This is where most discussions about backpacking cameras usually begin.

Sometimes you just want to have proof that you got there or preserve that feeling of triumph. Whatever your motivation is, the camera selection process can be overwhelmingly technical if you don’t have photography experience. Here is our selection of the best camera for hiking options you want to have for your next trip.


Best Cameras for Hiking & Backpacking – Winners

Check out our quick recommendations here, or keep scrolling for detailed reviews:


Best Camera for Hiking

1. Ricoh GR III Digital Compact Camera

Ricoh GR III Digital Compact Camera

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Camera Type: Digital

Sensor: Wide, APS-C format high resolution CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2

Lens: Wide angle F2.8

ISO Range: 102400 max

Weather Sealing: Not applied

Weight: 8 oz.

Pros

  • Easily portable due to the lightweight, petite profile
  • Enhanced stability via GR’s lens and shake reduction with a 3-axis 4-step image stabilization process
  • Refined image quality from a wide, high-resolution image sensor with filterless anti-aliasing
  • Easy to use with accessible controls and a touch screen LCD monitor

Cons

  • It doesn’t have an inbuilt flash, forcing you to accessorize at your own cost

At only 2.4 by 4.3 by 1.3,” the slim, compact profile allows you to carry the camera everywhere without logistical complications. The 8 oz. weight is also negligible in your hiking backpack. The exterior frame is a highly rigid magnesium alloy that can handle a bit of a beating while protecting the critical components from external hazards. The battery life is estimated at 200 images, sufficient for capturing memorable moments and sights on the trail.

The GR III’s specialized shake reduction has been installed without enlarging the camera due to the minimized depth of the optical system. Its 3-axis 4-step image stabilization guarantees crisp images even when it’s a split-second snapshot. It minimizes the shake in three axes: yaw, pitch, and raw.

The aspherical high precision-molded glass lenses have been imbued with GR’s unique optical technology to ensure high-quality image reproduction. The slim optical system has six elements and four groups with a focal length of 18.3mm/ 0.7” (approximately 28mm/ 1.1” in 35mm equivalent focal length).

It has an aperture of F2.8, which allows sufficient light to pass through the lens. They have a high refractive index and low dispersion rates, which helps suppress optical distortion and chromatic aberration. The resulting images are crisp, sharp, and clear across the entire frame.

The high resolution, wide dynamic range APS-C format complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor reads faster, has reduced power demands, and can handle a large print. Its anti-aliasing (AA) filterless construction allows you to retain the photo’s sharpness as you get rid of moiré effects.

The optical AA effect is achieved using shake reduction to suppress false colors and moiré instead of a filter. The image sensor is moved slightly during exposure, and you can choose between prioritizing resolution and elimination of moiré by selecting ‘high’ or ‘low’ in the effects settings.

It maximizes the high-resolution lens by reproducing high-definition detailed images at approximately 24.24 effective megapixels.

You can shoot at ISO 102400, which means the camera is super sensitive to light and can make do with poor lighting to produce sufficient exposure. The quality output from the image sensor is transmitted to a high-performance processor accelerator unit which reduces noise and delivers excellent resolution and color reproduction through the full sensitivity range.

The imaging processor is the latest GR Engine 6, which is super fast to enable the combination of the high-resolution sensor with a multi-tone 14-bit RAW when recording. It has better detailing and upgraded responsiveness and utility of autofocus and movie. It comes ready to capture split-second photo opportunities and supports full HD (1920 X 1080 pixels) at 60 frames per second movie recording in the H.264 recording format

The GR III comes with a 3-inch high definition LCD monitor with touch screen operation that provides intuitive control over numerous camera functions like menu selection, image magnification, playback, focus, and shutter release.

It comes with mountings compatible with several Pentax flashes like the AF 201, AF 360FGZ II, and AF 540FGZ II for better dynamic lighting. You can also establish USB connections with a wide array of operating systems. It also has wireless LAN functions to enable pairing with smartphones, tablets, and computers.

All you need to do is install their dedicated Image Sync application on your device. You can then display your images on the device’s monitor and send instructions to the camera from the device.

The hybrid autofocus (AF) optical system makes autofocus operation faster, more precise, and responsive. It combines a contrasting type and a phase detection type AF mechanism.

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Best Budget Camera for Hiking

2. Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera

OLYMPUS Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera, Red

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Camera Type: Digital

Sensor: Back illuminated CMOS

Megapixels: 12

Lens: Wide angle F2.0

ISO Range: 12800 max

Weather Sealing: Applied

Weight: 9 oz.    

Pros

  • Back-illuminated sensor increases the amount of light captured, enhancing performance in poor lighting
  • Tough enough to endure diverse conditions and abuse
  • Variable macro system enables close-up capture of minute details like a microscope
  • A dedicated underwater mode with multiple settings and advanced white balance
  • Easy to operate with accessible, intuitive controls

Cons

  • The battery door is next to the tripod mount, forcing you to remove the mount if you need to change the battery.

It has been built to withstand the most punishing environments. The sealing and double lock mechanism make it waterproof to depths of up to 15 meters. This allows you to shoot in heavy rain or even underwater while snorkeling. It is also dustproof, courtesy of an airtight construction design that keeps out dust and sand. You can just rinse off the dirt after use. It is also shockproof and has passed 2.1-meter drop tests.

The lens drive method, its shape, and positioning have been primed for shock-absorbing performance. An interior protective structure protects the inner parts, including the lens unit and circuit board. It can withstand weights of up to 100 kilogram-force, so you need not worry when you accidentally step on the camera or sit on it.

It has also been created to withstand cold temperatures and is freeze-proof to -10˚F. You can comfortably capture your winter adventures. A dual-pane protective glass ensures the lens will not fog with sudden temperature fluctuations.

An accessory lock button secures your lens accessories, allowing you to carry the camera around without worrying about losing the accessories.

Its F2.0 high-resolution lens with an optical 4X zoom has been designed using Dual Super Aspherical (DSA) technology which boosts image quality. It enables the implementation of fast shutter speeds to reduce blur, which is excellent when capturing moving objects in poor lighting conditions.

It has high dispersion and refractive index, which enables a lower profile lens without compromising lighting. It requires less space, allowing the camera to be compact and lightweight.

A 2X digital teleconverter amplifies the lenses 4X optical zoom, enabling you to achieve up to 8X zoom, which widens your range of photography. You can execute anything from wide-angle, bird’s eye view of scenic landscapes, zoomed-in close-ups of distant objects, or any other creative angle.  

The TG-6 features a high-speed, high-sensitivity back-illuminated CMOS image sensor capable of reproducing quality images at 12 megapixels. Combining this with the futuristic TruePic VIII image processor primes the camera for noise reduction and high-resolution image quality. It enables high sensitivity shooting of up to ISO 12800.

They now apply anti-reflective (AR) coating on both sides of the sealing glass above the image sensor, minimizing ghosts and flares for sharper pictures. This camera also allows shooting in RAW format and supports RAW processing.

You can also process these RAW images on a computer using their Olympus Workspace software. The camera shoots excellent videos with vibrant details and lifelike colors thanks to a high definition 4K movie compatibility and 120 frames per second shooting speed.

It has a fantastic variable macro system that lets you capture the tiniest details, akin to looking through a microscope in 4 separate modes. Under the microscope mode, you apply the optical zoom on objects as close as 1 cm from the lens to magnify the image up to 7 times.

You can control the display magnification factor through the touchscreen in the microscope control mode, similar to switching the objective lens on a microscope. The other mode is focus stacking, where you capture multiple images of your target at different focal positions and use a number of them for composting.

In focus bracketing, you capture multiple shots while gradually shifting the focal location, after which you can select the best shots.

For the best macro shooting results, you should accessorize with the LG-1 LED light guide to light the scene even when the camera’s shadow is cast on the target and the FD-1 flash diffuser, which controls the light output allowing you to adjust it to match prevailing shooting conditions.

They have an advanced dedicated underwater mode with five different settings for excellent shooting underwater. There is Underwater Macro for magnifying small objects during close-up shooting, Underwater Microscope for extreme close-ups, Underwater Wide for shooting in dark settings, Underwater Snapshot for shooting in natural light, and Underwater HDR where multiple images are taken and composited to reproduce different sections.

It also has three underwater white balance modes so that you can work with the prevailing lighting conditions. You should accessorize with a fisheye converter to get the best shots of the aquatic life.

The battery life is estimated at 340 images which are sufficient for a standard hike. You need not worry if you are an absolute shutterbug because the camera can be charged using its micro USB connector.

These cameras are easy to operate; a grid display helps with stable framing, and you can choose between a regular grid and a golden ratio. They allow you to save your favorite settings with two custom (C) modes.

Consequently, you can deploy the ready set camera instantly with the desired results. The easily accessible zoom lever and control dial can be operated even while wearing gloves, and the rear LCD screen has a resolution of 1.04 million dots for improved visibility.

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Best Mirrorless Camera for Hiking

3. Sony α7R IV Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

Sony α7R IV Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

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Camera type: Mirrorless

Sensor: Full frame back illuminated Xmor CMOS

Megapixels: 61.0

Lens: Open source

ISO range: 100 to 32000

Weather sealing: Not applied

Weight: 1 lb. 7.5 oz. (battery and memory card inclusive)

Pros

  • Advanced subject recognition featuring real-time tracking and autofocus
  • Stabilized shooting courtesy of a 5-axis stabilizer algorithm and a silenced shutter
  • Reduced noise and enhanced sensitivity offered by the Xmor R back-illuminated sensor
  • High-speed processing promoted by a speedy shutter and the high capacity BIONZ X processor

Cons

  • The need to source for a lens separately may disrupt your budget

Mirrorless cameras are popular because they allow you to swap out lenses and accessories, making them versatile than instant or point-and-shoot cameras. The lack of a bulky mirror inside also renders them smaller and less bulky than other cameras.

The mirrorless construction has left space for the full-frame CMOS image sensor, which has Sony’s Xmor R back-illuminated sensor technology that facilitates analog to digital conversion (ADC) of signals and noise reduction on each column of the sensor. It has double the sensitivity of regular front-illuminated sensors.

It is boosted by the superfast BIONZ X front-end LSI image processor, which can integrate the autofocus sensors despite many AF points; the hybrid processor’s system is a combination of a 567-point phase-detection AF system and a 425-point contrast AF system for real-time tracking.

As phase-detection utilizes light beams, contrast detection searches for the most contrast within the area of focus. It has 15 stops of dynamic range, which deliver fine gradation and high resolution at approximately 61 megapixels without breaking a sweat. This explains the high ISO range of 100 to 32000.

The processor moves large amounts of data from the sensor at full resolution and a maximum frame rate covering a wide area. It enables the α7R IV to apply a full-pixel readout for conventional HD and 4K, enhancing video image quality and minimizing aliasing. The camera is compatible with Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and iMovie apps, which can be used to edit, grade, and deliver your shots.

The camera is constructed using an in-body 5-axis image stabilizer algorithm which supports handheld shooting. Combined with the high shutter speed, the shooting is steady and fast, eliminating shake and distortion.

The shutter unit assembly has been reengineered with dampened screws to absorb shock, ensuring the shutter does not vibrate in action. Besides stabilizing shooting, silence is also an advantage in circumstances that require stealth, like when you don’t want to spook the subject of the shot, which may be a sensitive creature.

You can even accessorize with the optional wireless remote controller with which you can shoot stills and avoid the camera shake that happens as you press the shutter release.

It comes with Sony’s fast UXGA electronic viewfinder, a high-resolution OLED display panel with 5.76 million dots of resolution or 1600 X 1200 pixels. It is capable of running 120/100 frames per second, whose smooth imaging makes tracking moving subjects easy.

You can crop your images to APS-C size and still retain a significantly high resolution of approximately 26.2 megapixels due to the initial high resolution of the images. This is an advantage when you need to edit images or magnify them.

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Best Lightweight Camera for Hiking

4. Sony Alpha α6400 Mirrorless Camera

Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera

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Camera type: Mirrorless

Sensor: APS-C format, Xmor CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2

Lens: Open source

ISO range: 100 to 102400

Weather sealing: Not applied

Weight: 14.3 oz.

Pros

  • Fast autofocus time of 0.02 seconds on a 4D AF system
  • Lightweight and easily portable
  • Intuitive multi-purpose 3-inch flipping LCD touchscreen enables self-shooting
  • High-speed processing with a large buffering capacity

Cons

  • The large buffer takes long to clear

The 3-inch LCD touchscreen on this camera deserves special mention as it facilitates countless operations. It has a high resolution of 91K dots which offers clarity and sharp images. You can select the desired focus point by touching the display’s subject and releasing the shutter to capture it with one touch.

It has a viewfinder through which you can browse focus positions by sliding your finger across the screen. The flip screen can be tilted the whole 180˚ for selfie-style shooting of still images and video, allowing you to record your hiking activities featuring yourself. They recently introduced a Touch Tracking function with which you can activate real-time tracking on the touchscreen.

It features the fast upgraded hybrid AF technology, which maintains your subject in constant smooth focus regardless of the environment or light conditions. Its efficiency comes from a combination of AF drive speed and 4D focus.

It takes as little as 0.02 seconds to focus on the subject and simultaneously focus on multiple AF points, combining 425-phase and 425-contrast AF detection points covering 84% of the image area.

Enhanced by the new-generation subject motion prediction algorithm, your target will never get out of focus no matter how fast they are moving. Support for HD and 4K2 movies is also improved, and you can record higher definition videos.

It also has advanced real-time eye AF, which employs artificial intelligence to detect your subject’s eyes, process the data, and track them through the screen when they are in motion. You can even select a particular eye and make it the subject of your focus.

This 4D focus is enabled by the highly sensitive APS-C image sensor rated at approximately 24.2 effective megapixels. Its efficient light collection enables it to provide a wide ISO range between 100 and 102400. The high sensitivity promotes speed, and the camera can handle up to 11 frames per second continuous shooting.

The speed of the BIONZ X front-end LSI image processor hastens readout despite the number of shots. It has a large buffer capacity that can accommodate 116 continuous JPEGs and 42 compressed RAW frames. Therefore, it can handle QFHD: 3840 X 2160 (4K) recording with a full pixel readout without binning. This reproduces accurate images with the desired depth and smoothness.

At 4 ¾ by 2 ¾ by 2 3/8,” it is compact and can even fit in your pocket. It will only add a negligible 14.3 oz. The rugged magnesium alloy body will protect it from damages.

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Best Point and Shoot Camera for Hiking

5. Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera

Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera

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Camera type: Point and shoot

Sensor: Stacked Xmor CMOS

Megapixels: 20.1

Lens: F2.8 to 4.5 telephoto zoom

ISO range: 100 to 12800

Weather sealing: Not Applied

Weight: 0.61 lbs.

Pros

  • Enhanced image stabilization through Optical SteadyShot compensation and silent shooting
  • Special ZEISS Vario Sonnar lens extends zoom range without compromising resolution
  • Efficient autofocus from a high-speed Xmor sensor with a hybrid multi-point AF
  • Versatile video applications
  • Allows different techniques of modification and editing

Cons

  • A bit pricey for a point and shoot camera, although the features are also above par

The lens has a broad zoom capacity of 24-200mm, whose long focus expands your photography options akin to a telephoto lens, albeit in a compact camera body only covering 4 X 2.8 X 1.7 inches. The ZEISS Vario Sonnar F2.8 to 4.5 lens has been engineered to maximize resolution and clarity to enhance magnification across the entire zoom range.

Its elements comprise four advanced aspherical (AA) lenses and two extra-low dispersion (ED) glass elements working together to maintain the resolution throughout the telephoto range. The zoom ranges covered are equivalent to two standard zoom lenses: 24 to 70mm and 70 to 200mm.

A 1.0-type stacked Xmor CMOS sensor enables continuous shooting with speeds of up to 20 frames per second. It also enables 60 subject tracking hits per second using AF/AE calculations.  Your LCD or viewfinder screen will also be updated with 60 frames per second, keeping you on track by eliminating blackouts while shooting.

Sony has developed a Single Burst Shooting function to capture fast-moving subjects that support JPEG and RAW image formats. You can select between shooting speeds of 90, 60, or 30 frames per second. Xmor back illumination boosts light management, enabling the camera to provide a wide ISO range of 100 to 12800. This means it is capable of producing high-resolution images even in low light.

The RX100 IV’s hybrid AF is fed by 357 focal-plane phase-detection AF points complemented by 425 contrast-detection AF points. These points cover 68% of the frame, and the superfast Xmor sensor can acquire AF in 0.02 seconds. This system enables the deployment of Sony’s real-time eye AF for advanced eye detection and tracking.

It enables you to monitor your subject, providing time to compose your shot. It is available for animals as well as people and is a great way of getting quality portraits. The camera’s AI can conduct real-time tracking using infused subject recognition algorithms to discern between colors, patterns, distances, and face and eye information. This enables focus on a moving subject to ensure every important moment is captured as a still picture or movie.

Sony has incorporated an image stabilization algorithm dubbed Optical SteadyShot, designed to compensate for handheld camera shake to facilitate steady shots for quality images. The superfast sensor also plays a role in limiting distortion.

The RX100 VII’s shutter can achieve speeds of up to 1/32000 sec. This increases the possibility of a rolling shutter effect, especially when photographing rapidly moving subjects.

The sensor’s fast readout suppresses the rolling shutter effect. They have a silent shooting option which reduces vibrations further. The camera also supports active mode image stabilization, which, when engaged, allows you to capture smooth 4K videos even as you walk.

Sony technologies such as intelligent AF algorithms, real-time tracking, and eye AF are now available for movies. Consequently, these cameras can record high-resolution 4K HDR movies with full pixel readouts and no binning.

There is even a standard 3.5mm microphone input to boost audio capture for your movies and vlogs. They have Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) capability with which they can connect to HDR devices that are HLG capable, so you can enjoy your HDR images on a big screen.

All you need is to connect a USB cable. They keep coming up with new movie shooting ideas like an interval shooting function with the camera taking continuous shots based on AE tracking for preset time intervals.

The time-lapse images can then be assembled to create a movie on your PC. You can edit your movies on Sony’s Imaging Edge Movie Edit add-on app. The camera also adds metadata to your images, enabling you to view your videos in the same orientation shot on PCs or smartphones. If you record while the camera is vertical, you can also view them vertically.

Away from the excellent reproduction of colors and texture, the 7th installment of the RX100 cameras allows you to modify your images using several effects like the soft skin effect, which reduces wrinkles from a close-up portrait.

They support S-log picture profiles, so you can modify the colors if you wish. The display monitor tilts 180˚ upwards and 90˚ downwards so you can shoot selfies from different angles.

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Best Digital SLR for Hiking

6. Canon EOD 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body

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Camera type: Digital SLR

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS

Megapixels: 30.4

Lens: Wide Angle

ISO range: 100 to 32000

Weather sealing: Not applied

Weight: 1.76 lbs.

Pros

  • Ability to produce quality images in poor lighting conditions because of a high ISO range
  • A noise processing algorithm complements the sensitive sensor for a favorable S/N ratio
  • Canon’s DIGIC 6+ image processor provides the ability to support smooth 4K, FHD, and HD videos
  • Compatibility with a host of networking technologies makes photo management easy

Cons

  • Focus points are not spread far enough

It has a sensitive high-speed full-frame CMOS sensor capable of achieving high resolution. At 36 by 24 mm, it is the same size as a 35mm film frame. At its normal ISO of 100 to 32000, it can record 30.4 effective megapixels. It captures incredible still and 4K videos, which can be processed, retouched, and cropped without compromising quality.

Its improved signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio enhances its functionality in all lighting conditions and diverse shooting situations, whether print, wedding, magazine spread, or personal albums. A noise processing algorithm complements its high sensitivity to increase image resolution and quality. The ISO range is expandable to 50-102400, so it can persevere through worse lighting conditions.

It easily captures highly detailed 4K videos because Canon’s DIGIC 6+ image processor complements the highly sensitive sensor. This high-speed processor easily facilitates a transition from still photographs to video, with the ability to capture 4K motion JPEG videos of 4096 by 2160 pixels at high speeds ranging from 30 to 24 frames per second.

The system also supports 4K broadcasting standard 3840 by 2160 pixels, albeit with trimmings on the sides. You can also shoot full HD videos at 60 frames per second or HD at 120 frames per second. They support MOV and MP4 formats for diverse applications straight from the camera

There is great Improvement in focus accuracy thanks to a refined 61-point high-density reticular AF system and Canon’s revolutionary dual pixel CMOS AF which allows quick and smooth AF for video and live view shooting. It has two photodiodes per pixel, and each pixel has phase-difference detection autofocus capabilities.

The sensor delivers a fast and accurate spread over roughly 80% of the image plane. It can detect movement at the pixel level and facilitates continuous AF tracking, ensuring you don’t miss an opportunity for a quality shot and that focus transitions on movies are accurate.

Canon’s DIGIC 6+ Image processor with its noise reduction algorithm enables continuous shooting up to 7.0 frames per second. A symbiotic dependence with the fast shutter, image processing systems, advanced AF, and exposure promotes efficiency, helping you maintain high performance.

The processor also has a Digital Lens Optimizer with which you can correct aberration, diffractions, or any other optical shortcoming

The easy-to-navigate 3.2-inch Clear View LCD II touch panel allows the camera to become an extension of you. You can select focus points, zoom in on them and save the shots in the camera via a touch of the screen. The 1.62 million dot low reflection screen displays sharp images so you can easily identify your target.

It enables instant control over many functions like switching AF frames, accessing menus, switching settings, or image magnification when shooting. You can even capture still photos using the shutter release function. It is also where you review your images.

The built-in GPS provides an avenue to tag your images with critical location data. You can use this information to tag landmarks if it is a new trail or you need to direct another hiking party.

Besides, the American GPS satellites are also compatible with the Russian GLONASS satellites and Japanese quasi-zenith satellites. The combination improves coverage, so you are assured about the accuracy of the location reading. The GPS will automatically adjust the time and timestamp on your device.

They also have Wi-Fi technology which provides an avenue for sharing and connecting with other devices. The ability to execute wireless file transfers means you can now upload unlimited images from wherever you are.

With the free Canon Camera Connect app, you can set up and shoot your EOS 5D Mark IV camera remotely from a distance. You can control the aperture, shutter speed, ISO focus, and shutter release from your iOS or Android device. You are also able to review and share images remotely without removing the camera from its bag.

The Mark IV camera also has inbuilt Near Field Communication (NFC) technology with which it can connect wirelessly to compatible Android devices and the Canon Connect Station CS100 device. You can view and organize your photos from a single device.

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Best of the Rest

7. Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500

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Camera type: Digital SLR

Sensor: DX format CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2

Lens: Close-up

ISO range: 100 to 25600

Weather sealing: Not applied

Weight: 12.9 oz.

Pros

  • Comes with a lens kit containing two matched NIKKOR lenses
  • A large high definition DX-format CMOS sensor for accurate image reproduction
  • Long-lasting battery life supported by a fast charger
  • Superfast image processing courtesy of Nikon’s EXPEED 4 image-processing engine

Cons

  • Transfer of photos using Bluetooth is slow and tedious

The D3500 comes with a lens kit comprising two matched lenses that are balanced to cover a range of shooting techniques. The AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR for wide perspective shots like portraits, landscapes, and videos, and the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED that is a telephoto zoom lens with versatile applications not limited to capturing nature and events with many people.

The NIKKOR lenses’ sharp, high-definition rendering is amplified by the 24.2 megapixel Nikon DX-format CMOS sensor with an ISO range of 100 to 25600. It is 15 times larger than sensors used in standard smartphones and can accurately reproduce the images with high resolution, realistic depth, and sharpness.

The sensor’s potential is maximized by Nikon’s new age EXPEED 4 superfast image processing engine. It performs countless operations on massive volumes of data within seconds to produce high-definition images with excellent depth and color. This winning combination is unfazed by poor lighting conditions.

The speed enables the uninterrupted shooting, which is how they successfully produce quality 1080p full HD videos.

You can monitor all this through the 3-inch wide viewing angle TFT-LCD monitor with 921,000 dots resolution at the back of the camera. It offers a clear representation of the focus zone.

The compact design is great for hiking, and it is as easy to use as a point-and-shoot camera. Their EN-EL 14a rechargeable LI-ion battery can last up to 1,550 shots by CIPA standards which should be sufficient for a standard hike. They come equipped with MH-24 Quick chargers so that you spend less time charging and more actually using the camera.

You can share the photos with compatible smartphones or tablets using Nikon’s Snap Bridge app. The cameras also support Bluetooth version 4.1.

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8. Nikon D850

Nikon D850

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Camera type: Digital SLR

Sensor: FX-format full-frame CMOS

Megapixels: 45.7

Lens: Full frame NIKKOR

ISO range: 64 to 25600

Weather sealing: Not applied

Weight: 2.02 lbs.

Pros

  • Intuitive LCD touchscreen for hassle-free control, which also tilts to diversify shot angles
  • Highly sensitive BSI full-frame CMOS image sensor delivers 45.7MP and a dynamic ISO range
  • Superfast high capacity EXPEED 5 image processor
  • Efficient AF system with 99 cross-type sensors and 153 points

Cons

  • There have been complaints about the Nikon Wireless iOS app not being user friendly

This camera has certainly raised the bar for DSLR image quality and high-resolution photography from all perspectives. The main force driving it is the back-side illuminated (BSI) FX-format full-frame CMOS image sensor capable of delivering up to 45.7 megapixels without an optical low-pass filter. It has a faster data readout with excellent color rendering and eliminates moiré. Backlighting enhances its light-gathering efficiency so it can function just as well in poor lighting.

It is supported by the cutting-edge EXPEED 5 image processor, which goes through large volumes of data in microseconds without distorting the image quality. It supports a wider dynamic range that captures the smallest details and high-speed continuous shooting up to approximately nine frames per second to support full-frame 4K UHD movie recording. The dynamic range is broad partly due to one of the lowest base ISO ratings of 64. It can even be expanded down to ISO 32.

Its enhanced focus is courtesy of a 153 point AF system supported by 99 cross-type sensors and a dedicated AF processor. It can go down to -4EV to capture low light scenes thanks to the expanded dynamic range. Your high-resolution images retain their sharpness despite the lighting conditions

These cameras can record full-frame 4K UHD (3840 X 2190) leveraging on the total width of the full-frame BSI CMOS sensor. Full frame NIKKOR lenses will provide clean output against the wide frame with zero crop factor. Maximize the D850 interval timer mode to create detailed 4K time-lapse movies and 8K time-lapse sequences of up to 9,999 stills.

The tilting LCD touchscreen facilitates diverse shots from various angles. It is intuitive, and you can adjust AF from it, control the shutter, initiate playback, and navigate menus. It lets you zoom in during live view shooting and use the D850 Pinpoint AF to focus on your exact target.

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9. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Body Silver

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Body Silver

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Camera type: Mirrorless digital

Sensor: live MOS

Megapixels: 20.4

Lens: Compact, M.Zuiko (recommended)

ISO range: Undeclared

Weather sealing: Applied

Weight: 2.6 lbs.

Pros

  • Rugged weather-sealed construction allows shooting in adverse conditions.
  • Compact 5-axis image stabilization reduces distortion
  • Cutting edge telecentric design facilitates high resolution across the entire screen
  • Autofocus enhanced by a high-speed hybrid Imager AF

Cons

  • Lower battery life than its preceding model

It is super compact, a whole size smaller than full-frame interchangeable lens cameras. This has been achieved by condensing parts like the battery and IS units. It uses a slim, compact Li-ion battery. Their recommended M.Zuiko lenses are equally compact.

There is a broad lineup of these lenses to choose from depending on your needs, whether capturing landscape, blurring the background, capturing moving objects, or enhancing image quality.

They borrowed the weather-sealed construction design from the E-M1X model to create a dustproof, splash proof and up to 14˚F freeze-proof camera. You can keep shooting under punishing circumstances.

It employs a 20.4 megapixel live MOS image sensor to harness light from the M.Zuiko lenses. The shots are subjected to Olympus’ compact 5-axis image stabilization, which ensures there is no distortion. The TruePic VIII image processor collects the data for conversion instantly to maintain image integrity.

Image quality is maintained with minimal noise. They are products of a telecentric design that was developed based on cutting-edge optical technology to suppress distortion. It is eliminated up to the edges of the shot to have high resolution across the entire screen.

It has a high-speed hybrid imager AF which combines a 121-point imager cross-type phase-detection AF and a 121-point imager contrast AF. The focused shots are sharp and crisp due to shot stability.

The cameras are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatible, enabling the transfer of images to your smart devices through the free Olympus Ol Share app.

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10. Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera

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Camera type: Mirrorless Digital

Sensor: APS-C X Trans CMOS 4

Megapixels: 26.1

Lens: FUJIFILM X mount compatible (recommended)

ISO range: 51200 max

Weather sealing: Not applied

Weight: 2.2 lbs.

Pros

  • Sensitive high-resolution X Trans CMOS 4 image sensor with color filter array
  • Advanced AF phase detection with an enhanced low light threshold
  • Intuitive capacitive touchscreen panel for easy control
  • Large capacity quad-core image processor

Cons

  • The screen tilt angle is not sufficient for selfie-style shooting

It features the X Trans CMOS 4 image sensor with a resolution of 26.1 megapixels. It has the X Trans color filter array, which reduces moiré and filters false colors without engaging an optical low pass filter to maintain the integrity of the images. Back illumination boosts light management, enhancing image quality by reducing noise and extending the ISO to 160.

The sensor is supported by the X-Processor 4 with a quad-core design capable of collecting loads of data simultaneously. The synergy between the two components forms the foundation of numerous functions in the X-T30. The efficiency of the advanced autofocus tracking, film simulation modes, and 4K video shooting relies on the performance of the sensor and processor.

All 26.1 megapixels of the image sensor participate in AF phase detection and spread over the entire frame. This greatly increases the autofocus pace and accuracy. This camera’s low light threshold for phase detection is -3.0EV thanks to the backlit sensor, meaning low light conditions will hardly impact AF.

The camera also executes AF/AE tracking so that it can shoot continuously without blackouts. Its continuous shooting in full resolution can go up to 8 frames per second when using its mechanical shutter. The camera can capture 16.6-megapixel images using its electric shutter, albeit with a 1.25X crop factor when using the Sports Finder Mode.

When the electronic shutter is engaged, it can shoot continuously at up to 30 frames per second. The enhanced shooting capacity makes face and eye detection more accurate and improves subject tracking. You can select a specific face and focus on it, or even a particular eye that you feel will take a better photo.

The capacitive touchscreen panel facilitates touch-based controls during shooting, allowing you to move to your focus area faster and more intuitively as you watch the display. The 3-inch screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio and approximately 1.04 million dots provides a clear, hassle-free operation display. It is designed to tilt so you can shoot from different angles.

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What to Look for in a Camera You’ll Use for Hiking

Cost

Your budget limits the scope within which you can splurge. Premium high-end cameras are not always the best fit for your specific needs. For instance, some mirrorless cameras will come without the lens, forcing you to incur more expenditure purchasing a lens, and they don’t come cheap.

If you are not a professional photographer, there are features that drive the price up that you seldom use. Your ideal priorities may be general, like battery life and ruggedness. Another neat trick is to wait for the excitement to subside.

Weather Sealing and Weatherproofing

The environment where the hiking camera will be used determines the kind of exposure you need to protect it from. Overall sturdy construction is a basic requirement for a hiking camera. If your trail takes you to fishing spots, you might benefit from a fully sealed waterproof camera with underwater functionality. Some cameras are also dustproof and freeze-proof.

Zoom

The higher the zoom aspect, the wider your range of photography. You can view objects that are far away with clarity and adjust the angle of the shot to suit your narrative from bird’s eye view, close up, and so on. You are also able to amplify close shots to get microscopic views.

Aperture

It is a diaphragm within the lens or immediately behind it, usually made up of a set of blades that open or close depending on the applied settings. The aperture affects the photo’s depth of field (DOF), which is how much the photo appears to be in focus.

Their settings have a numerical sequence with lower settings having a larger diaphragm opening, allowing more light through the lens to the image sensor than higher settings (F5.6 will open wider than F11, for instance).

Different settings of the aperture provide varying degrees of blur; a wide aperture (indicated by a low number) provides a shallow DOF where the photo’s main subject is in focus while the foreground and background are blurred. This is excellent for portraits and single object photos.

A narrow aperture (with a high number) provides a deep DOF in which everything on the photo appears to be in focus. It is great for landscape and wide-angle photos. The more settings you can achieve, the more versatile the camera is. You can also opt for a high or low range of settings, depending on the type of photos you prefer taking.

ISO

This quantifies the camera’s sensor’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO rating, the more sensitive the camera is to light, requiring less light for optimal exposure. Consequently, low ISO’s are used in well-lit environments, while high ISO’s are meant for low light circumstances.

The higher your camera can go, the wider the range of ISO settings it can allow, making it more all-rounded. A high ISO setting is also required when using a narrow aperture or a high shutter speed because they allow less light through the lens to the image sensor.

Size and Weight

Compact cameras offer the portability required of a backpacking camera as they can fit in tight spaces. Unfortunately, the more advanced the camera gets, the larger the size. Most compact cameras will have small sensors that can’t effectively achieve shallow DOF and have low sensitivity with fewer adjustment options.

Technology is, however, addressing this gap with slimmer lenses, mirrorless cameras, and overall compact designs. An efficient hiking camera balances portability and picture quality based on the hiker’s priorities.

Image Stabilization

The objective is to compensate for shaking that inevitably occurs while shooting with a handheld camera and manage vibrations from the rolling shutter because still shots are sharper and have fewer distortions.

Camera manufacturers try to achieve this through image stabilization algorithms and proactive assembly of the shutter unit to minimize vibrations and/ or absorb shock. Some increase the shutter speed to reduce the shaking window; others even silence the shutter completely to eliminate vibrations caused by the sound.

Sensor Size

A large sensor allows you to record full-frame images without the need for cropping or dumping. It can capture more AF points which naturally makes it more sensitive, enhancing the overall quality of the images.

The flip side of the narrative is it needs space, so the larger it is, the larger your camera needs to be. Figure out the minimum sensitivity you can work with, the camera size you are comfortable with, and strike a balance.

Battery Life

The longer the battery life, the more photos you can take on the trail. Confirm what the manufacturer is basing their estimate on so you don’t fall for a sales gimmick. Look for assertions from reputable authorities in the industry.

The Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA) standards, for instance, define procedures for measuring camera battery consumption which renowned camera brands have adopted.

The battery life is also affected by other operational functions of the camera, like zoom and video capture. The more functions you use, the larger the battery capacity required. You can always carry a spare battery if you feel your actions will overwhelm the one you have.

Hiker in Jacket

Source: Pixabay


Camera Accessories for Hiking and Backpacking

Spare Batteries/ Battery Charger

Your camera should last through the entire excursion as you never know when that photogenic moment will pop up. Having backup batteries enables you to seamlessly capture the moments. A battery charger also comes in handy, especially if you have access to a charging point along the trail.

Lightweight Tripod

A tripod allows you to take stable shots without the handheld shake. It also facilitates the use of the camera’s timer, and you can capture both stills and video. It needs to be lightweight so you can comfortably lug it along the trail.

Lens Filters

They protect the front element of the lens from damage which is a lingering probability despite the amount of care you give your camera. Lenses are expensive, and it is easier to change out the less expensive filter than repair lens glasses or replace the lens.

Filters also help in managing exposure to light, UV protection, and other technical roles. Avoid filters that will degrade the quality of your shot by introducing a source of reflection.

Waterproof Cover

It lets you keep shooting when the environment is wet as you can never accurately predict the weather. Even weather-sealed cameras are overwhelmed by serious downpours. The lenses are always exposed, and a dripping wet camera will cause serious problems when you need to swap batteries or memory cards.


How to Protect (And Carry) Your Camera On the Hiking Trail

The aim is to balance your comfort, easy access for instant photos, and the camera’s security for sustainability. You should ensure it is not exposed to water at any point. A dry bag is a great idea so long as it is easy to pack and accessible. It can be a waist bag or one that has a shoulder or neck strap.

Camera straps are another way of storing the camera on your body while avoiding stress and fatigue. They can be worn on your neck, shoulder, or hand and switched or adjusted in a flash. Even floating straps for engaging in water activities ensure the camera will float on the surface within view, so you don’t lose it.

You can also get a camera backpack with provisions for carrying the camera, whether it is a padded designated compartment or the camera can be securely attached. The camera can also be secured to your belt for easy access.

Consider getting a lanyard or spiral safety cord to fasten it on your person, so it doesn’t get lost.


Our Verdict

The final image quality is more dependent on how the lens and the camera are matched than the individual lens and camera properties. If you compare the quality of images taken by the same camera, the results will vary depending on the lens used.

It takes some experience to know the exact combination that works for your purposes. If you are a beginner, our advice will be to go for entry-level cameras, which often come with their standard kit lenses. Pay special attention to construction and durability, and pick one that is easy to use.

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