Dec 7, 20168141 views

5 Most Important Features for a Backpacking Camera

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Alert! as a backpacker you are not well served by mainstream camera reviews like DPReview.
That is, the 5 Most Important Features for a Backpacking Camera are quite different than those for a general use camera in mainstream reviews. Here are the major differences.
  • CAMERA WEIGHT – In mainstream reviews, the weight of the camera with a sharp zoom lens is not factored into their ratings. In fact, they routinely think that hefty cameras are better!
  • ZOOM LENSES – Many zoom lenses commonly sold with good cameras can only resolve 6 to 9 perceptual megapixels (https://goo.gl/t2mY90) of the camera’s 24 MP sensor! Something not highlighted in mainstream reviews.
  • Bottom line: a great camera with a mediocre lens will give you mediocre results.
  • IMAGE QUALITY HANDHELD – Mainstream review image quality assessment is done with the camera on a tripod using the highest quality (expensive and heavy) non-zoom lenses in the controlled environment of a test facility. While lightweight backpackers and hikers usually shoot in the field, handheld using a single zoom lens. (This saves the weight of a carrying a heavy tripod and multiple lenses.)
  • DAWN/DUSK PERFORMANCE – A backpacking photographer is further challenged by taking handheld photos in the dim light of dawn and dusk. This is the golden hour when the light is perfect for that great backcountry photo. Unfortunately, these are also conditions particularly vulnerable to images being completely ruined by blur from low shutter speeds and camera shake. This is not well covered in mainstream reviews.
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A great backpacking camera is light but equally important, it gives you sharp photos even when handheld using a zoom lens in the low light of dawn and dusk. Pictured the environmentally sealed Olympus OM-D EM-5 ii with 12-40 f/2.8 PRO lens.
5 Most Important Features for a Backpacking Camera – Summary
  1. Light and compact with ruggedness and environmental sealing a plus
  2. Sharp, wide angle zoom lens that is also light. These can be very difficult to find!
  3. Takes sharp, high quality photos HANDHELD
  4. Fast and easy to use in manual or semi-manual mode  (many light/compact cameras are not!)
  5. Bright viewfinder with all essential information displayed on one screen
And at the end I list What Cameras I take Backpacking that meet these criteria.

Surprised you don’t see any point and shoot cameras in here?
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In The Point and Shoot Camera is Dead for Hikers (http://www.adventurealan.com/point-and-shoot-camera-is-dead/), I discuss why I believe the point and shoot camera is dead (or approaching non relevance) for hikers and backpackers. But to summarize, the point and shoot (p/s) camera is being squeezed into the grave from two sides: 1) On the inexpensive side by constantly improving smartphone cameras, and 2) on the more expensive side by very light mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras.
If photography is a serious objective of your trip, their near “pro-level” performance justifies their cost/weight vs. carrying just your smartphone. I am covering very light mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras in this post. And I will cover smartphone cameras, accessories, and techniques in a future post.

Top 5 Most Important Features for a Backpacking Camera – Detail 1) Light and compact with ruggedness and environmental sealing a plus
  • Yes number 1 is weight, but not in the way you might expect. First, this is the weight of the camera with a sharp zoom lens. And second, as long as it’s below a critical weight I don’t worry about it so much. After that, capturing a good photograph is my primary concern. Criteria 2 through 5 below all contribute to getting the best possible photo when backpacking.
  • For me, the critical weight for a backpacking camera is determined by what I comfortably carry all day mounted to the shoulder strap of my pack. That is around 24 oz (1.5 lb) for camera and lens. And around 30 oz when I need an environmentally sealed camera/lens system, e.g. the Olympus OM-D EM-5 ii with 12-40 f/2.8 PRO lens.
  • Environment sealing is important in some situations but not others. It adds significant cost and weight to a camera. Dust resistance is probably the most important since blown dust from dry and windy environments is quite common.
  • If you are hiking on trail and take reasonable care of your camera, ruggedness is not a big deal. On the other hand, if you are bushwhacking, scrambling, or outright climbing and frequently using your camera, ruggedness may be a very good feature.
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For me the maximum weight of a camera is determined by what I an comfortably carry all day on the shoulder strap of my pack. Pictured is a Sony a6000 camera with the stellar Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art lens (22 oz total wt). They are mounted to a Peak Designs CapturePRO on the shoulder strap of my pack. See 15 second video below to see this fast system in action.
2) It has a sharp*, lightweight wide angle zoom lens
  • This is number 2 for a reason. And one could argue it should be number 1. The lens, not the camera is the limiting factor for image quality. Unfortunately, most light and inexpensive zoom lenses sold with cameras (“kit lenses”) can only resolve 6 to 9 perceptual megapixels of a 24 MP camera sensor! And sharp zoom lenses light enough for backpacking are few and far between. As such, it pays to do your research to find zoom lens and camera combinations that produce the best image quality.
  • *See more on sharp below…
  • Zoom lenses save weight by not having to carry multiple prime (fixed focal length) lenses. Wide zoom lenses are well suited to the sweeping landscapes of the backcountry and and allow for dramatic perspectives. They speed up work by not having to change lenses. In addition the lens stays on the camera protecting the sensor from dust and moisture.
  • And for prime lens aficionados, yes there is an argument for them. Two good primes; one wide angle (around 35mm equivalent) for most work and supplemented by a fast and super sharp normal lens is a a great setup. Your feet do a great job of lens zooming! (Or I have used a light zoom supplemented by a fast and super sharp prime lens for critical shots.)
  • For both zoom and prime lenses make sure you consider 3rd party lenses from the likes of Sigma, Tokina, Tamron, and even Zeiss. Many times these lenses will significantly outperform your your camera’s native lenses. Personally, I’ve had great results from Sigma lenses.
  • Bottom line: a great camera with a mediocre lens will give you mediocre results.
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An example of two sharp wide angle zoom lenses for Olympus’ u4/3 system. 1) To the left of the camera, the compact, wide and sharp 9-18mm f4.0-5.6 lens weighing only 5 oz! 2) On the right the very sharp environmentally sealed, 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens. Far left is the sharpest lens of the bunch, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 prime.
The Olympus ED 9-18mm f4.0-5.6 lens is a great example of a light, sharp zoom lens well suited to backpacking. This lens is exceptionally wide-angle (18-36mm equivalent) for dramatic perspectives and sweeping landscapes. Compact and only 5 ounces, it is a marvel optical engineering.
3) It takes sharp, high quality photos handheld Especially in situations encountered backpacking like the dim light of dawn and dusk. Contributors are:
  • Excellent image stabilization (in-camera is preferred.). A tripod is a last resort for most backpacking photos—it’s both heavy, and time consuming.
  • High ISO performance gives you sharper images in low light, gaining you 2-4 shutter speeds  This is with only a slight decrease in image quality. After that, image quality increasingly degrades as you go higher.
  • Note: for handheld shots at dawn or dusk the shutter speeds gained from a & b above,  may have more impact on image sharpness than the camera’s sensor and lens!
  • Fast and light lenses are usually primes (fixed focal length) and will gain you 1-2 shutter speeds. Fast zoom lens with good image quality are very expensive and sometimes weigh more than the camera they are mounted to. But some of these zooms have image quality that equals the best prime lenses. This makes them a tempting option if photography is a major objective for your trip.
  • Fast accurate focusing on the correct subject is essential to quickly getting sharp photos.
  • Good DRO (digital range optimization). DRO deals-with the less than flattering, high-contrast light of midday when we take most of our photographs. It automatically brings up shadow detail without blowing out highlights. DRO is faster and easier to use than high dynamic range (HDR) photography which takes multiple images and must be done on a tripod.
  • Finally but by no means least, good quality JPEGs out of the camera: This greatly speeds getting photos into publication—the single largest time consumer/bottleneck in the whole photographic production process. (I am only going to edit RAW images for the few critical shots that need it.)
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Sometimes to get the highest image quality you need a sharp prime and a small tripod. In this case the Sony a6000 camera with the super sharp Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art lens.  At only 22 oz,  this camera/lens combo has image quality equal to or exceeding the very best, and much heavier APS-C camera systems.
4) It is is fast and easy to use in manual or semi-manual mode By the nature of backpacking we are moving—we have places to go and other things to do besides fiddling with a camera. That is, we need to quickly take our best photo and move on. To do this:
  • You should be able to adjust all critical functions without taking your eye away from the viewfinder.
  • Fast easily accessed controls are key. Ideally at least two knobs on the top of the camera do the bulk of the work. And a number of customizable function buttons do the rest. You use all of these to quickly modify your major camera settings: exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO setting, activate manual focus, manage DRO (digital range optimization), timed shutter release, etc. All in a matter of seconds, not minutes.
  • Small dials on the camera back, critical items buried in nested menus, etc. all slow down picture taking.
  • A touchscreen, while not essential, has its advantages, particularly when focusing and making adjustments when shooting from a tripod.
5) Bright viewfinder with all essential information displayed on one screen A Good viewfinder allows for faster photo taking, better photos, and fewer re-takes. That is, the better you see your image and the more information you have before you take your photo, the better the photo.
  • Cameras without viewfinders are close to non-starters. Rear screen displays are almost impossible to see in bright daylight. And even if visible, the image is usually far too small to see essential details well enough to assess the quality of the picture before taking it.
  • In the viewfinder, you should be able see all your critical settings (including histogram). This enables you to quickly assess your photo and make the necessary adjustments before you take it.
  • A good viewfinder also helps with manual focus.
What is Sharp? Sharp as I use it is the “perceptual megapixels” of the final image.  This is a combination of both lens and camera—not simply the native resolution of the camera sensor! As an example, for most 24 MP, APS-C (crop sensor cameras like the Sony a6300 and a6500Nikon D7200 or Canon EOS 80D) the perceptual megapixel resolution final image maxes out at around 17 MP or around  70% of the native 24 MP sensor resolution, even with the best and most expensive prime lenses.Almost all of the loss of the camera sensor’s 24 megapixels is due to the lens. Compared to primes, most zoom lenses do worse, with image resolutions well below 50% of the camera’s sensor. Some going as low as 25% or only 6 MP of your camera’s 24 MP sensor.  So it’s important to consider the camera lens combination with a major focus on the lens image quality. One could even argue to select your lens first, and get a camera body that works it.
Bottom line: a great camera with a mediocre lens will give you mediocre results.
For more reading see DxOMark on Perceptual Megapixels (https://goo.gl/LM6nHK), and take a look at a sample table of the Perceptual Megapixels for Nikon DX lenses on various camera bodies (https://goo.gl/LM6nHK).
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The full Sony a6000/a6500 kit: Peak Designs CapturePRO (mounts to backpack shoulder strap), Peak Designs Micro Plate (mounts to camera bottom), Pedco utra-pod II (small tripod), Sony NP-FW50 Battery, and Newer® Fish Bone quick release for tripod head.
What Backpacking Cameras I Use Most of the Time On most of my backpacking trips and on international travel, I carry:
Lenses for Sony Cameras - a6000 or a6500 Lenses for Olympus Camera - EM-10 Mark II or EM-5 Mark II For astro/star photographers The lens for this is probably the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Fixed Lens available in Sony-E and u4/3 mount. Excellent value, fast and reasonably sharp. Manual focus though, not that it is a big deal when doing astro work, just set it to infinity and go.
How I Carry my Backpacking Camera – or how to get more photos For me, its all about the speed and ease of taking a photo. Since I changed to using the Peak Designs CapturePRO (https://goo.gl/AQ4tD3) mounting system on the shoulder strap of my pack, I get 2 to 3 x more photos per trip. More than I ever got with a point and shoot camera in my pocket!Note in the video how quickly easily I put my pack on with the camera already attached to my shoulder strap. No camera spinning around and twisting up the shoulder strap.
The Fastest Way to Ruin a Backpacking Photo
Camera Shake can quickly blur a 24 megapixel image down to essentially zero megapixels! Lightweight backpackers are particularly vulnerable to camera shake since they take most of their photos handheld. Factors that combat camera shake all involve increasing shutter speed:
  • First is image stabilization from the lens (or in the camera body—better since it works with any lens). Image stabilization will usually give you an extra 2-3 shutter speeds with little downside.
  • Second is high ISO performance which uses less light to the sensor for the photo. High ISO performance will usually give you an extra 2-4 shutter speeds with minimal image degradation.
  • Third is a faster (wider aperture) lens. This might get you 1-2 shutter speeds. Downside is buying a heavier and more expensive lens.
If you combine all three above, you can gain a 5-9x increase in shutter speed with minimal impact on image quality. This is what makes handheld shots possible at dawn or dusk. Even so, bracing your camera against a tree, rock, trekking pole or even using a small, 1-3 oz tripod are all improvements over handheld. All Olympus camera bodies and now the new Sony a6500 have in-body image stabilization.
Bad Focus – Another Way to Ruin a Backpacking Photo
Occasionally the camera’s “smart” auto-focus algorithm fails and puts the focus in the wrong place, leaving your “intended” subject all blurry. And sometimes in the low light of dawn and dusk there may not be enough light or contrast to get reliable focus. In either case, the resulting photo is useless.
  • A camera with more focus points and a fast, sophisticated focus algorithm is highly desirable. Some of the newer mirrorless cameras like the Sony a6300 and a6500 are rivaling the very best cameras for both speed and accuracy of focusing.
  • Consider using manual focus some of the time. Mirrorless cameras have an advantage with their fast, and easy to use manual focus. A key to this is the “focus assist function,” with auto-zoom and/or focus peaking options. These options make it fast and easy to get sharp focus exactly where you want it. I suggest you program one of you cameras functions button to toggle between auto & manual focus.
  • Another great “manual focus” option is a touchscreen that allows you to put your finger where you want focus. This is particularly effective when shooting off of a 1-3 oz tripod.



Alan Dixon co-founded Backpacking Light, is a co-author of “Lightweight Backpacking and Camping: A Field Guide to Wilderness Equipment…,” as well as numerous reviews, and technical articles. A jack of all trades, Alan is a writer, photographer, outdoor guide, nationally competitive masters triathlete, and a national champion masters kayaker. Read more at www.adventurealan.com and his articles on backpacking photography at www.adventurealan.com/category/camera-photography/
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Copyright 2016.
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swimify, bertman4, and 35 others
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Canon 400D with youngnuo 50mm f/1.8, worked well for me.
Excellent writeup. Im keeping it as a reference. I still use my Olympus tg-5 though because it ‘is waterproof and easilt carried while fly fishing. If you had a better suggestion for that I would certainly take notice of it..
Any thoughts for a guy who don't understand any of all this info that's not converted to layman's terms.... Here's what I've been looking at. Canon SX60 HS. OR a cheaper better option... As this is very near the highest I'm willing to go.. thank you all in advance n
Bigcountry
Honestly, a recent phone will work fine, specially compared to a SX60HS - the only reason I'd get it is if i really wanted the zoom - but honestly - I just would not, I'd get the G3X instead (which is about 100USD more at the moment I think). Otherwise, again, I just take my phone. Most of what make many pictures great is how you take them, not what you take them with. You can learn good composition, placement, lighting with a phone - and that way you'll figure out what kind of a bigger camera you'd want and if you'd want one.
kangster
Thank you so much! I've been wanting a better phone so maybe this will be there push! And I will check that camera out just to see it..
I like all your choices, that said, in the end, I prefer just carrying the Canon G3X. It's lighter, smaller, weatherproofed and very very versatile. Kind of the jack of all trades even thus of course master of none. I find this especially great for backpacking since you get all the range you need to shot wildlife as well as landscapes with decent quality. Even long exposure milky way shoots come out alright. It's also much much smaller and lighter than the FZ1000 series and RX10 series for similarish IQ (the RX10 is a bit better).
Certainly, if I was to make pictures for a magazine, or prints, I'd consider you choices instead. But for web and all around pics it's great (and to be honest, just like the RX100's, with good light you can absolutely do small prints)
I've carried mine on a peak clip while mountain biking for several days, in the rain, fully exposed to the elements and it's been great.
Its also less money than any of these, so id feel less bad to break it (though its still about 7-800USD on ebay)
Great article. I used to have sony a6000. Until It drowned when i went kayaking :(. Currently when I hike I take Fujifilm X-Pro1 + XF 27mm f/2.8. Camera body is quite heavier than a6000. But it still a very compact option. 27mm seems to be most versatile focus distance on APS-C. X-Pro1 has a great hybrid viewfinder. Using hybrid view finder saves energy. So I can go camping for a week without any access to electricity grid and only a couple of spare batteries.
This is a really good article. I backpacked the Upper Uintas this summer and brought the exact set-up shown in the first photo: OM-D E-M5 Mark II + Olympus 12-40mm.
It's a dream combo, great focal range for landscapes, not featherlight, but totally weather sealed and awesome for astrophotraphy as well.
Point and shoots are dead? Seriously? Have you used a Sony RX100IV? I am an avid hiker/backpacker/climber, and enjoy amateur photography as well. I have hiked/backpacked with a 6D, A6300, and an RX100IV. I think the important thing people need to really ask themselves is are you shooting to document or shooting to potentially print and put extensive editing into. Equally important is the time/distance/pace in which you plan on backpacking. Are you on a backpacking trip that you want to take some pictures? Or, are you on a photography trip where you're backpacking as a means of travel. HUGE difference there. I like to cover a lot of distance and travel light when I climb/backpack and the RX100IV absolutely dominates at this. There is simply not a more capable camera on the market for the weight. It stays on my shoulder strap in a LowePro case protected with a short 12" leash. This is perfect for blog or just general documentary photography. It will last for 3 full days on a single charge taking around a couple hundred images. Now if I want to backpack into a location for the purpose of taking pictures then the A6300 with a couple lenses is the way to go, but to say point and shoots are dead is just foolish.
I've personally never understood how people go out into the field for more than a couple of days with a bunch of devices that need to be recharged constantly.
In my opinion (which is probably in the minority), backpacking is one area where film photography really shines. You're no longer constrained by battery life, and the thoughtful, deliberate attitude that film photography cultivates goes well with hiking. Film cameras also tend to be much lighter than their digital counterparts, which really helps on the trail.
A piece of kit that you might have to add to this setup is a tripod for dawn and dusk photography, but really light ones can be had these days. That, and a waterproof container for your film (which doesn't weigh much at all).
Finally, zoom lenses are nice but really add to the bulk and weight. More experienced photographers will eventually find a couple of focal lengths they like (28mm and 35mm are classics) and just bring out one or two prime lenses.
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I'm glad that you've managed to make a digital system work for you.
Interestingly though, it sounds like your style of photography is quite suited for film, except for the manual focus aspect. Have you considered trying out a rangefinder like a Leica M6 or similar? That could be the most weight-efficient system for you.
I don't have perfect eyesight myself and find it much easier getting critical focus with a rangefinder than with an SLR. Alternatively, if you shoot at F8 and above, critical focus becomes not very important.
Daisy_Cutter
Indeed. If one day I manage to make the budget I will probably add a Leica to my available choices!
what do you do to clean/protect your lens out there? Mine seems to get grimy almost instantly.
Point and shoot definitely isn't dead in the backcountry. The low end P&S of yesteryear - 1/2.3" sensor, about 3x zoom, not waterproof - is, of course, and it's dead in the overall market now too. But compacts with larger sensors and long and/or fast lenses make all kinds of shots possible that a cell phone simply can't take, and an interchangeable lens camera only has a real advantage if you bring great additional lenses to interchange (esp. primes, which are brighter/faster than any zoom), which is going to cost weight.
Compare e.g. the Panasonic ZS100 P&S (1" sensor, 25-250mm equiv, F2.8-5.9) with an equivalent mirrorless ILC setup e.g. G7+14-42 zoom+ 45-150 zoom. The latter will only get you an advantage of one f-stop (11 vs 16 equiv aperture at max). But it will weigh 3 times as much (about 2 lb).
HYOH, but that's a lot to take for little benefit unless either your photos are part of your day job or you're hiking with a group in which gear sharing is giving you plenty of room for luxuries.
To be honest, I love photography and I carry an xt10 (fujifilm) because I have a really old phone that doesn't take good pictures. After a while on my hikes, I end up putting the camera in my pack because it ends up distracting me from just enjoying the hike. I get caught up in taking pictures rather than putting on miles and moving quick. But still, wouldn't leave home with out it.
Still... looking for a better system.
smokeyrabbit17
My old man uses a fuji xpro 1 with a 27mm prime, that lenns is a very nice pancake (very flat lens) he can now put the camera in one of his front pockets.
Dude, what a coincidence! I stumbled upon your article on a Massdrop email, and then realized I'm using the same camera system (Oly EM-1), same lens (12-40, 9-18), same clip (Capture pro), same Rokinon for stars, even the same BACKPACK (ArcBlast)! I guess after all these years of making choices on ultralight camping gear and camera systems, it really narrows down to these very very few choices eh :)
Such a great article and so much great info!!!!!!!
I have a Pentax K10D and K3, the latter of which I'm still learning how to use. These have small bodies compared to dSLRs if not to micro 4/3 or mirrorless cameras and Pentax were early weather sealed cameras (excluding very expensive models). I have a jumble of lenses but often carry just a prime wide angl or that and a waterproof zoom tele. I used to shoot with an OM1n in film days. Good article. I think that many people would be happy with the offerings from Pentax, which are less expensive than your recommended (excellent) models. Peace. Jim
Good article. Love the Peak Designs Capture Pro. I normally hike with my Canon SL1 + 24mm pancake lens. Super light and compact and takes fantastic photos. 24mm on a crop serves me very to capture a suddenly interesting moment. On dedicated photo trips, I'll bring a more versatile setup, but otherwise, too much gear means it all stays in my pack and doesn't get used.
wow...i cant afford any of this
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You could also look at the new Panasonic GX85. Adorama/B&H Photo are having a tremendous sale on them right now. Camera with a second lens, so you get 12-32 (24-64mm effective) and 40-150 (80-300mm effective) and also $100 off regular price.
http://www.adorama.com/ipcgx85bk.html
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1243845-REG/panasonic_dmc_gx85kk_dmc_gx85_mirrorless_micro_four.html
akirasoy
Other wise you can get used lenses and camera bodies. Many photographers take good care of their work horses and like to stay ahead of the game. I got my lenses at a third of the price on the equivalent of craigslist. It does take some time to get your setup that way but it is much cheaper by far!
I agree that the point and shoot is almost dead or irrelevant, except for the high end of that market. I have decent DSLR and mirrorless cameras with a selection of fantastic lenses, but the Sony rx100 mk IV has become my go to backpacking camera for its amazing performance, compact size, and fantastic zoom lens
weggs
But bring a spare battery or two, the battery life on the rx100 is not great.
weggs
For the average backpacker it's really hard to beat the RX100 in any of its versions.
For the shear compactness, weight and relative quality, I would prefer the Ricoh GR.
amorshed
I have a Fuji X70 and agree for quality/size/weight it's amazing, however you do lose the ability to zoom which is important to most people.
Excellent writing my friend, and perfect timing! I am looking into buying a travel camera - probably the a6000.
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zilla925
I have the Sony Nex 6 which is the model replaced by the A6000 and love it.
When I got it, I also got the Sigma lens in 60mm and 30mm and they have served me more than adequately. The portability of it is fantastic and I think it would fit in a coat pocket with the pancake lens.
I mostly take pictures of my pets cause I'm a weirdo, but I've taken it camping, to the beach, zoo, etc and it hasn't disappointed me yet. Would definitely recommend.
Major downside is its weird lens format. You can only buy the e-mount lenses and they only work with Sony alpha series cameras.
AlexPk
Thanks Alex!
Point and shoot cameras aren't completely dead. My Fuji X70 makes a perfect backpacking/hiking camera, with an APS-C sensor and tack-sharp prime lens. It's not a zoom, but at 28mm equivalent, it's a fairly versatile fixed focal length for this use.
FunkyJunk
Nothing wrong with the Fuji. And if you already own the camera and are not carrying a smartphone, then a p/s still makes sense. But if you are already bringing your smartphone, then in at least in my opinion the extra weight of the p/s is better used to add something else to your kit. And if you already own a smartphone, then your money's better spent on something besides a p/s. Just my opinion tho. Best wishes, -a
Thanks, very thorough article. Appreciate the background, and not just "buy this model camera". One thing I also might consider, depending on the trip length, is battery life. For many backcountry trips now I just bring my phone, but it I were out for a week and taking lots of photos this wouldn't work very well, unless I had a way to charge it. For other trips I still bring an SLR, because that is what I have. It is not a great backpacking camera, but it is a good camera, and with a single, small lens, does okay while stashed in the top of my pack. Certainly not going ultralight in that case though.
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Like all things this depends on usage. If you take pictures while you hike, the camera will last longer. I personally hike to take pictures and I find that a mirrorless camera battery will last about a day for me while a SLR will give me 4-5 days. That being said I can carry my mirrorless kit and 4-5 batteries with less weight than my SLR kit.
Rinji
Thanks, that helps @AlanDixon. When I use my iPhone I keep it on airplane mode, and have a small external battery if I will be out for more than a day. I have found I get around 600 shots on my SLR, plus can carry an extra battery, so a week or more depending on usage. I certainly see the appeal of a mirrorless set up for high quality pictures in the backcountry. I have had an SLR for several years and it is still going strong, so will stick with that for the foreseeable future. But, for anyone purchasing a new setup, and needing to go beyond a phone, mirrorless seems like the way to go.
Thanks Danny. I hope folks find this useful. -Alan