Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Cameras, tripods, techniques, etc.
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Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby wayno » Wed 06 Jan, 2016 6:23 am

one persons opinion on the tradeoffs of selecting various camera formats
various other brands make cameras of similar format designs to those mentioned in the articles, but it gives you some idea around how to start choosing a camera

http://www.adventurealan.com/serious-li ... g-cameras/

http://www.adventurealan.com/why-sensor-size-matters/
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby cjhfield » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 2:06 pm

Interesting articles Wayno. I agree that the bigger the sensor the better the camera but not so much for the image quality, more that you have control over depth of field. I used to cart my Nikon with a bunch of lenses but as I get older I am constantly asking myself how much camera I need.

For a recent 10 day trip along the South Coast track in Tas I took my Fuji XE1. (I tend to buy my cameras when they are discounted with the new model so I am never cutting edge.) The XE1 handles really well. I had some issues with the focusing but that was user error - I have worked out better strategies now to get the best from the camera - a problem if you chop and change between them and forget the tricks each one needs. I took the 18-55 zoom that came with it along with a 14mm super wide. The XE1 doesn't focus really close so I take a Canon close up filter as well as a grad, a cpl and a 10 stop ND with an Ultrapod mini (very mini) tripod. All up it weighed about 1.6kg. Pretty good I thought.

There is a site called Lightroom Dashboard where you can drop your Lightroom catalogue onto it and see how often you use different focal lengths, lenses, shutter speeds, you name it. I discovered I shoot almost everything at the wide end of the zooms range. I think i used the 14mm twice. Knowing that, if I were to do the walk again I would take my Fuji X100. This handles even better, is fixed lens but has a great viewfinder and is a delight to use. I am chasing up the adapter so I can bolt on the same bits I had for the XE1 - my guess it would weigh about 750g all up.

The odd thing is I have a sneaking suspicion I take better photos with a fixed lens camera than a zoom. I might take different photos but better photos.

If weight was a real issue I would take my Sony RX100. For its size and weight it can't be beat. I think you have one so you know. Mine is version 1. Its big weakness for me is the lack of a viewfinder and I am a viewfinder kind of guy. The latest version of course has one but it is rather expensive. I think of my RX100 as the best travel camera but not the best bushwalking one unless weight is critical. I also don't enjoy using it as much with its menus though if you put in the effort and use magnetic filters its amazing what this little camera can do. I have never played with the version 4 but maybe I will get one when it is superseded.

It comes down to what is the main purpose of a trip. if you are walking on your own and happy to fart around for an hour or more getting a shot then the full monty and tripod may be the go. But I am walking with others and I might fiddle around for 10 minutes working a shot I can't take all day. There is a balance of the purpose of the photos between producing something artistically pleasing and documenting a story. When I travel the photos have more the quality of the latter and a point and shoot is OK, bushwalking the balance is a bit more towards the former.

But I am really questioning how much camera I need and the fixed lens X100 may be the best camera I own for bushwalking. The early versions are also pretty cheap second hand.

Chris
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby GPSGuided » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 2:20 pm

The problem with lens carriage is that when one calls for an ultra wide, there's no alternative but to have that ultra wide with you.
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby CasualNerd » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 2:49 pm

cjhfield wrote:If weight was a real issue I would take my Sony RX100. For its size and weight it can't be beat. I think you have one so you know. Mine is version 1. Its big weakness for me is the lack of a viewfinder and I am a viewfinder kind of guy. The latest version of course has one but it is rather expensive. I think of my RX100 as the best travel camera but not the best bushwalking one unless weight is critical. I also don't enjoy using it as much with its menus though if you put in the effort and use magnetic filters its amazing what this little camera can do. I have never played with the version 4 but maybe I will get one when it is superseded.

I have the Sony RX100 M3 and it's awesome. I've never owned an SLR so I can't compare to 'professional' gear, but the photos the Sony produces are hard to beat, especially when it's so compact and the battery life is great ! I imagine many (expensive) compact enthusiast cameras these days are the same.
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby cjhfield » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 3:07 pm

GPSGuided wrote:The problem with lens carriage is that when one calls for an ultra wide, there's no alternative but to have that ultra wide with you.


Well there is always the alternative of taking a different picture. Looking to play to the strengths of the fixed lens I have may make me take better photos than if I had a zoom or other lenses. While this seems counterintuitive it seems to be true for me. I seem to be only able to cope with one variable at a time. If I have a zoom I mess around with framing. If I have a fixed lens I mess around with composition which is usually more important. To some extent I can change the framing later. Its taken me a long time to come to this conclusion though and it is probably not true for everyone.

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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby wayno » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 3:44 pm

a zoom exponentially increases the possibilities for how many photos you take, you can end up spending all day working out what to shoot rather than just enjoying the walk, i like a zoom but i'm not fussed about big ones. and i can live without one.
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby cjhfield » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 3:45 pm

[/quote] I have the Sony RX100 M3 and it's awesome. I've never owned an SLR so I can't compare to 'professional' gear, but the photos the Sony produces are hard to beat, especially when it's so compact and the battery life is great ! I imagine many (expensive) compact enthusiast cameras these days are the same.[/quote]

It is awesome. But it is a fiddle to work with and it does not give a lot of control over depth of field. The smaller sensor and slower zoom sometimes put too much in focus.

I was trying to get focusing better on my XE1 and took this photo walking the dog a few days ago:

small.jpg


Not sure I could do that with my Sony. Everything has its strengths and weaknesses. Half the fun is maximising the strengths of what you have in your hand.

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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby CasualNerd » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 4:25 pm

cjhfield wrote:Not sure I could do that with my Sony. Everything has its strengths and weaknesses. Half the fun is maximising the strengths of what you have in your hand.

Chris

I guess for me I use auto settings and i don't have to worry about photos turning out terribly. That's a big deal when my fingers are cold and I don't want to miss a particular view !

I'm going to have to learn a lot more about photography to fully utilise this camera though, it's so easy to use on auto I haven't been forced to learn !
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby GPSGuided » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 5:09 pm

wayne wrote:...you can end up spending all day working out what to shoot rather than just enjoying the walk...

There lies the variables. Some are primarily focused on the walk while others may primarily focused on photography and then there's a mix in the middle of the two extremes. :D
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby highercountry » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 8:00 pm

CasualNerd wrote:I guess for me I use auto settings and i don't have to worry about photos turning out terribly. That's a big deal when my fingers are cold and I don't want to miss a particular view !

I'm going to have to learn a lot more about photography to fully utilise this camera though, it's so easy to use on auto I haven't been forced to learn !


I bought an RX100 M3 a while ago and like you relied on auto settings at first. Then I bought this book which really comprehensively covers the full capability of the camera. Mind-boggling. Learn the intricacies of the Sony and it opens up a whole new world of photographic discovery. A mere 490 pages of good bed time reading. I highly recommend buying it.


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http://www.amazon.com/Photographers-Guide-Sony-Dsc-Rx100-III/dp/1937986268
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby CasualNerd » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 8:37 pm

highercountry wrote:I bought an RX100 M3 a while ago and like you relied on auto settings at first. Then I bought this book which really comprehensively covers the full capability of the camera. Mind-boggling. Learn the intricacies of the Sony and it opens up a whole new world of photographic discovery. A mere 490 pages of good bed time reading. I highly recommend buying it.

That's awesome thanks. I've been meaning to find out more but it's difficult to know where to start ! This is a great option.
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby highercountry » Sat 06 Feb, 2016 9:04 pm

Be warned. The book is bigger and heavier than the camera. :D
It took me months to absorb most of it's content.
Take it slowly and learn the fundamentals of exposure; aperture, shutter speed and ISO and then apply it to your camera.
There are some very good beginners sites such as this one;
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/photography-light-fundamentals/
Learn how to scroll through the menus and the meaning and purpose of each menu item. Customise the camera for quick access to your preferred menu items and the camera then becomes an extremely versatile tool once you have a thorough knowledge of it's capability.
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Re: Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras

Postby GPSGuided » Sun 07 Feb, 2016 11:17 am

Then came Mk V, VI, VII...
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