Lightweight Digital Cameras

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    Blake Morstad


    I’m going to buy a digital camera soon and was wondering what units some of you are currently using that would be suitable for LW backpacking. I’m looking for a camera at around 3 MP’s with a small/lightweight design. Also what are your opinions regarding choosing SD or CompactFlash memory cards.

    Ken Bennett


    Locale: southeastern usa

    I carry a Nikon 3100, which is (of course) discontinued in favor of the 3200. The only major difference is that the older camera took Compact Flash cards, and the newer one takes SD cards. Both take 2-AA batteries, so you can use rechargeable NiMH batteries at home, and AA Lithium on the trail. The camera is small, light, and takes decent photos under most conditions.

    You might also look at the Pentax Optio waterproof camera (I forget the model number), which takes 2-AA batteries and SD cards, and its extremely water resistant, might be useful outdoors. Also a very small camera. Pentax also makes an Optio model that fits in an Altoids tin — kind of impressive when you pull it out, but maybe not all that useful.

    There’s not much difference between CF and SD cards anymore. I like CF cards only because I already have about 8 gigabytes of them (I make a living as a photographer when not hiking).

    In reality, you can safely buy on features — most digital cameras are excellent. I like AA batteries, 3-4 megapixels, small and lightweight, and an optical viewfinder (saves batteries).

    Hope this helps.

    Bill Ferriot


    Locale: Ohio

    I use the Nikon Coolpix 2100, although you will want the model up if you need 3+ MPs. I don’t need to print anything larger than an 8.5 x 11, so I can get by with 2 MPs.

    The Nikons have a great white balance and macro lens. I use it for super close-ups quite a bit and the whites are brighter.

    As for a memory card, I bought a 512 MB card for around $30 bucks and it holds about 400 pictures at it’s highest resolution, plus 15 second movies (with no sound). Movies are another cool feature I use for some of those panoramic shots.

    I would research more about the battery than the memory card, personally. Good luck!


    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    I was a longtime fan of the little Minolta Dimage X for its supreme pocketability, then upgraded to an Olympus Stylus Epic 400 for its water resistance and better optics, and I now have a Pentax Optio WR43 which takes even better pics than the Olympus. For mountaineering and winter photography, none of those cameras do very well on snow or in the shadows of a couloir, so I use a Canon S70, which is bigger but takes fabulous photos.

    Kim Skaarup


    Locale: Cold, wet and windy Scandinavia

    If you dont need those MP++ for paper output, but could do with VGA(640×480) for internet/PC, then look at NOKIA 5140 GSM Phone.
    It gives you:
    * GSM Phone for worldwide use,
    * Electronic compass,
    * VGA Camera,
    * LED light,
    * FM stereo phone,
    * Ruggerdized design. Weatherproff.
    * Watch
    * Alarm (with clockradio!)
    * Rechargeable lithium battery, (Bring an xtra!)
    * Notebook,
    * weight 3.3 oz incl. batt.
    * Etc etc.
    Soon to come (this week in Europe, later on USA) an xpress shell cover with GPS:!! + ½ oz.

    Actually these days I only bring my phone and leave my Suuntowatch behind. I only turn on the phone to take a picture!!, look at the “watch”, take a note , listen to the radio or make a phone call. I also have a fixed timeslot for fam and friends to call. (I tell them not to worry if Im out of range.!)

    Im looking forward to the GPS Shell as this could prove to be the ultimate multiple tool to bring as an ultralight fan.

    Here in Denmark we have nearly 100% GSM coverage and a lot of features. I can get an instand SAT/rain radar and weather report with an animated map-picture directly to my phone.

    Btw. I really enjoy BPL. Thanks.

    Greatings from Denmark.

    Bernard Shaw


    Locale: Upstate New York


    Where might I find more information on the GPS shell for the Nikia 5140 GSM phone?

    I am both a mountain and sea kayaker and this might be quite useful.


    John S.
    BPL Member


    Nokia 5140 (at top it said Europe, Middle East, Africa, so not sure it’s available here or not),8764,48663,00.html

    Nokia Xpress-on™ GPS shell (Planned availability in the 1st quarter of 2005.),5184,53751,00.html

    Kim Skaarup


    Locale: Cold, wet and windy Scandinavia

    Okay, It seem that we have a new thread. :-)

    The Nokia 5140 is available at the US market:

    For a nice demo of the GPS shell look at,4879,53754,00.html

    A very nice and complete Nokia GPS userguide is available here

    For demo and spec. of phone look at,8764,48663,00.html

    However it looks as the GPS xpress-shells is not available at the moment i USA. But there has also been delays here in Europe. It should have arrived before xmas but only a few if any will hit the shops before xmas. However the GPS Shell is announced at a very nice price less than $150.-
    As soon as I can lay hands on one I will keep you updated on performance etc. :-)

    If it takes a while before the GPS shell arrive in US you should be able to use one from GB or other countries.

    Its best for you to buy an american phone with GSM 850. We use GSM 900 here in europe. However the other networks are the same (GSM 1800/1900)
    Thats why a triband phone work everywhere. 850/900 will have a longer range than 1800/1900, nearly twice as long actually.

    For GSM coverage etc. look at

    Try to email NokiaUSA for there plans.!

    Kim Skaarup


    Locale: Cold, wet and windy Scandinavia
    David Smith


    One of the lightest weight and best quality digital camers is the Pentax Optio S4i. It weighs in at 4oz. and is 4 mega pixals. It is a very feature rich camera. The only drawback is the proprietary battery…you would need to bring another if you use the camera alot. It has a nice video capability also that I find to be alot of fun. Since I am a professional photographer, the qaulity IMHO is best suited for snapshots…documentation and memories. Interestingly enough, I originaly purchased this camera for use on a radio controlled airplane for low altitude arial photography. This was the camera that had the consensus among RC arial photographers as having the best combination between image quality and weight. Thats been over a year ago now so there might very well be better options available.

    Franco Darioli


    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    The Pentax Optio wr33/43 is a a good optio n (could not resist this one)good weather resistance and AA batt,(buy lithium disposables for the hike) also the Olympus Mju/Stylus, smaller but they use Lithium batt (get a spare one)
    Good pics up to A4 from any of the above.
    If you can spend more look at the Sony L1 with housing,water proof to 3m, fast start up.
    I sell all of the top brands, feel free to ask for more details.

    Kim Skaarup


    Locale: Cold, wet and windy Scandinavia

    The Sony L1 is 5.0 Oz with batt. and not even weatherproff.! Add a good plasticbag 0.5 Oz or more. The waterproff housing is optional = extra weight.

    Its a nice camera and Sonies are good stuff, but the winner is still Mini Olympus Mju Stylus.

    4 MP & 3.7 Oz + 0.5 Oz batt = 4.2 Oz AND weatherproff.!

    Franco Darioli


    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    Olympus Verve for size and weight.
    However 2x zoom
    320×240 15FPS movies

    Sony L1 with SPKLA 3 oz heavier,30% bigger
    3x zoom
    640×480 30fps movies (unlimited)
    Waterproof to 10 feet

    By the way, I would not choose a camera by the type of card it uses

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