The search for the best backpacking camera can be quite challenging. When you are preparing for a backpacking trip, every element is very important, and the camera is a crucial inclusion in the list of essentials. Backpacking trips are inevitably in the lap of nature replete with scenic beauty. There are many types of experiences that you perhaps see happening for the first time. It can be as inconsequential as the butterflies hovering on flowers or milky white river rapids. But whatever these experiences may be, they are etched for life in your mind’s eye.
A handy efficient camera is perhaps one of the simplest ways to capture these special moments and keep reliving their magic years after the trip. But for that, you need a camera that can stand up to the challenges of a backpacking trip. Long camera life is a passe now. That is almost a given, but many other features deserve mention.
The best backpacking camera has to be compact and lightweight. There is no scope of carrying bulky options like the digital SLR. But at the same time, you need to check the relative competency of the camera. It has to capable of clicking multiple pictures in a short time, but it has to be precise and sharp with faster shutter speed for better output. Well, we decide to make the challenge a lot simpler for you
Here is a quick lowdown of some of the best backpacking camera for both personal and professional use. We have judged it on the basis of a wide range of features and output to create the most compelling collection of options for you. Most of these are also highly rated variants with a proven track record of some great quality photos.
1. Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 V – Electronic View Finder
If you are looking for the best backpacking camera, the Sony RX100 V Cyber-shot Digital Camera is one of the formidable options to explore. In fact, it is one of the most innovative offerings in the compact camera market. Both in terms of speed and performance, it is one of a kind offering that will surely give a brand new dimension to your photographs.
This camera is equipped with the world’s fastest AF speed system. It can click pictures at AF speed1 (0.05 sec.), the fastest in the world thus far. It is also capable of the fastest continuous shooting1 speed of 24fps. This camera also has the world’s most AF points, 315, for a compact camera. In other words, this camera combines the advantages of focal-plane phase detection AF and also the corresponding contrast detection AF. As a result, you can then lock the focus of this camera to as fast as 0.05 seconds2.
The AF points on this camera also need special mention, In fact, this high-speed focusing works perfectly in tandem with the highest dedicated focal plane phase detection AF points at 315. In essence, this covers as much as 65% of the RX100 V’s 1” sensor. So wherever you may have gone backpacking and whatever position you may be in, the accuracy, speed, and focus of the pics that you are taking will not be compromised in any way whatsoever.
The Exmor RS image sensor with DRAM chip also works towards improving the efficiency and speed of the final output. This works together with the BIONZ X processing engine to make the 20.1-megapixel pictures a reality at 24fps3 continuous shooting.
Not just the still photos but even the video output on this camera is striking and also gives you the option for a selfie, an in-camera video and still photo playback. The rotating LCD Display to enhances the overall picture quality.
- Compact, ultra-light camera with a superior output
- One of the fastest shutter speed compact camera in the world
- Amazing autofocus ability
- Convenient compact and useful alternative for backpacking trips
- Complicated navigation tool and instructions too small
- The camera appears to be prone to poor contrasts
- Not a replacement for the digital SLR
2. Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera – Dual Quad Core Processor
No list of the best backpacking camera is complete without a mention of the Olympus TG-5. It is durable, compact, smart and a rugged addition to the backpacking trip. This camera is a winner. It is sturdy, tough and comes with a stupendous imaging power. This is a crushproof, shockproof, freezeproof and dustproof wonder that helps you to capture every moment of your backpacking trip quite comprehensively.
This camera is replete with a bevy of features that promises superior imaging and great quality picture with minimum effort. The F2.0 high-speed lens is capable of capturing practically any adventure and action in a matter of seconds. The pictures are rich in details, blur-free and perfect for even low light shooting like dawn, dusk, and campfire.
In fact, think of any of the challenging photographic conditions and chances are there that the Olympus TG-5 will come out as a game changer. The specialized image sensors and advanced dual quad-core processor enables bright and clear picture in every situation. So there will no longer be an instance of missing another critical shot.
The TG-5 shoots video in 4K or lifelike resolution in simple terms. It also comes equipped with a full HD 120 fps high-speed video for slow-motion playback. It also has action track sensors that record environment data and any movement. It also has a GPS, compass, manometer and a temperature sensor. Therefore, this is more than just a click-shot camera. It is, in many ways, a convenience package.
This camera also has a WiFi connectivity that allows you to share your photos and videos within minutes of shooting. The camera settings also enable remote clicks for additional user convenience.
- Great output even underwater
- Versatile, multi-functional and enables easy clicking
- Capture fast movement and complete adventure
- Microscope mode maximizes image sharpness
- GPS and damage proof features add to the convenience element
- The WiFi connectivity is, however, the biggest disappointment about this camera. It works only with mobile phones and is rather primitive. This is not functional over the computer network
- The user interface too needs certain improvement and boost
- Functionality of the variety of features offered is fairly limited therefore limiting the overall scope of this camera.
3. Ricoh GR II Digital Camera – Captures JPEG and RAW Images
Another interesting and undeniably potential game changer in the list of the best backpacking camera is the Ricoh GRII Digital Camera. The large image sensor and GR Engine V are the most striking element of this camera. The camera is so programmed that this ensures more precise white-balance in any type of artificial lighting and significantly cuts down bleeding of green color in the outdoor shoots.
The GR II is not just a compact and high-resolution camera but also delivers high-quality images with a decidedly wide range focal length. The lens in this camera is known for its two high-precision aspherical optical elements. This camera also cuts down chances of distortion and possible chromatic aberration to a large extent and maintains the sharp, contrast of the overall image field.
The WiFi connectivity of the GRII also deserves special mention. It can be easily paired with any mobile device like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It is also perfectly compatible with any type of near-field communication network. The GR Remote setting in this camera enables easy command on the LCD panel and syncs quite seamlessly with any mobile device.
The high-speed AF system of this camera is another feather on its cap. It has a maximum speed of 0.2 seconds coupled with a high-speed readout of image data recorded in the image sensor. The start-up time for this camera is also very small at just 1 second. That ensures superb focus and great capture strength in every frame that you click using this spectacular camping or backpacking camera.
- Small lightweight and well built
- Award-winning series is especially known for the compact shape and range of features
- Large sensor enables sharp imaging quality and great focus
- Simple easy to use controls for better user benefit
- Starting time too long cuts down efficiency to a large extent
- Clarity of screen while taking pictures very low
4. Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera – World’s Fastest Autofocus
The Sony α6300 Mirrorless Interchangeable-lens Camera is another interesting option on any list of the best backpacking camera. This is a fast camera with an extensive autofocus option. The 4D FOCUS is undeniably one of the fastest autofocus at 0.05 seconds. That along with the phase detection points at 425 makes for simply incredible shots.
You can shoot images up to 11 frames every second with exposure tracking and continuous autofocus. Users can also experience the relative benefit in HD mode in case of video images and exposure tracking. Additionally, the α6300 takes full advantage of its enhanced fast hybrid AF for movies in both HD and 4K. It offers internal 4K video recordings at the super 35m format.
The image resolution capability of this camera also deserves mention. At 24.2 MP, this is undeniably technology used at the optimum level. The special BIONZ processor also makes for a lot quieter images than otherwise. The new viewfinder mode also allows image display at a striking 120Hz. This ensures a smooth display and easy to track.
The camera has a solid magnesium body. As a result, it is resistant to moisture and all other extreme weather conditions. Moreover, you can easily customize this camera to practically suit any type of shooting style. All in all, there are more than 65 different functions that you can choose from.
The 3-inch LCD screen in this camera is also hugely beneficial and easily allows tilting up and down for the easy clicking of low-angle or special framing options.
- Image quality at par with low-end SLR
- Small, compact and ideal for backpacking trips
- Convenient camera with a fairly wide range of options and opportunities
- Effective HDR and panorama mode for detailed and extensive photography
- Durability, however, seems to be a problem area for this otherwise power-packed camera
- Select cases of potential overheating issues when recording 4K videos. Makes sense for viewers to monitor this before going ahead closely and actually buying it
5. Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR – 9 Point AF System
This item has earned Editors’ Choice for its outstanding quality and performance.
This is, in fact, one of the smallest cameras available, but it may also be considered one of the best backpacking cameras that you can go for. Incidentally, this camera is also one of the world’s lightest digital SLR options. Don’t go by the small size of this camera. It may be diminutive in dimension but very high on performance. The image quality, in this case, is exceptional and if you are planning to move up the ladder from your smartphone or compact camera, this may well be the right choice.
This camera has an impressive ISO range between 100–12800 for still shots and ranges to 100–6400 in case of videos. As a result, you can click clear pictures in dim light or low light conditions. It also offers distinctly clear pictures in continuous AF exposure also. The 3-inch LCD offers the perfect opportunity to frame your best shots and also the right platform for image playback.
The processing power of this tiny camera is startling. The DIGIC 5 Image Processor, the EOS Rebel SL1 features uses technology to shoot in situations that were unimaginable earlier. It has a very high ISO sensitivity and makes for dependable shoot strength.
- Extremely lightweight, compact and easy to handle digital SLR
- Powerful resolution quality for great images and dependable click quality
- Offers a wide range of photographic opportunity even when you are on the move
- Guarantees accurate and colorful pictures
- Durability seems to be a concern with this product. Though not a recurring complaint, there are select reviews that highlight a decisive dip in the performance quality within months of buying this product. Buyers are well advised to undertake a thorough check about the warranty and other provisions before buying this product.
Best Backpacking Camera Buyer’s Guide
So there are several detailed requisites for buying the best backpacking camera. Every feature encompasses a story in itself. Whether you are looking for simply lightweight ones or additional features, choosing the one that fits the bill in every possible way is crucial. Of course, the budget you have allocated is crucial, but that cannot be the only consideration while buying a camera. It is extremely important that you arrive at a convenient price to features combination. Here is a quick look at the alternatives that you must consider before buying.
The size and the weight of the camera are important when you are selecting the best backpacking camera. Make a mental note of how heavy a camera you are comfortable with. Moreover, also think of how you are going to carry the camera? Are you comfortable sliding it in your pocket or would you prefer a separate bag for it? That will help you make a realistic estimate of the size.
The next most important element is decidedly the sensor. Normally large sized sensors can capture more light and record a greater amount of data. That means these would perform better in low light and other challenging conditions. But the bigger the sensor is, the larger is your camera.
The resolution of the camera is also crucial. This is ultimately what decides the megapixel strength and the resultant clarity of the images. The normal thumb rule is that more the megapixels, better the picture quality.
The Right Lens
The lens quality is also crucial. Depending on the place where you are going and the subject you are going to shoot, you can take a call on that. But having the option of changing lenses always enhances the scope and opportunity of the variety of clicks that you can have.
Last but not the least important factor is weatherproofing. You need a sturdy and durable camera that can withstand the vagaries of nature and challenges of a tough trail. The best backpacking cameras are decidedly the ones that are weatherproof, shockproof and can perform well in extreme weather conditions as well.
Therefore if you are keen on getting the best possible backpacking camera, it is best to undertake a detailed study of all the possible alternatives. That alone will be able to throw up a dependable and value for money option for you. You have to carefully match the features with the cost to decide on the most compelling options. But remember ease of use is also important. You do not want to end up with a mind-numbing jumble of buttons and instruction while clicking your special shot.