Aug 22, 2012 at 10:10 am #1293236
Nikon has just announced a couple new cameras that look highly of interest to me in terms of backpacking light.
I've stopped using a camera until I can get one that's worth the weight. My cell phone camera is poor quality, but its what I'm using.
Firstly, the ultralight camera: Coolpix S01
A super cool 96g/3.4 oz compact camera that looks to be pretty good quality in terms of pictures (although I'm not an expert). Cost is supposed to be about $180.
Secondly, a camera with wifi and GPS:
For $350 and 184g/6.5 oz, this one weighs twice as much and costs twice as much. Where it might save you weight comes in terms of the fact that it has GPS included, and wifi (if you're near a hotspot).
I've got no idea how these compare to a smartphone or whatever alternatives are otherwise out there–but I know that I'm interested in buying an inexpensive device that will do better than my phone.
What do you guys use?Aug 22, 2012 at 10:29 am #1904931
Call me a picture snob, but I take my DSLR camera with me despite the weight issue. I guess I just figure that while I am going to some of the most gorgeous areas left on our planet, I don't want to skimp on the quality of the pics or my options while taking said pics.
You are on the right company though… in terms of being light weight and being dependable, nikon offers the best options in both the point and shoot world and the DSLR in my humble opinion of course. My issue is I have thousands of dollars into cannon, and there is nothing light about cannon whatsoever (I purchased all of this prior to becoming a gram weenie).Aug 22, 2012 at 11:26 am #1904948
It sucks in terms of weight that these cameras and devices have a lot of non-shared components.
– GPS (real GPS) on a camera would be GREAT to also share with your smart phone as you could use it to navigate GPS/topo maps and get rid of your Garmin
– having shared storage would be nice because you could do things like download the full wikipedia and store it on the same 10GB as your phone.
– you're now carrying TWO LCD screens, two batteries, etc
Basically if you could get an optical lens on a smart phone which had GPS you would be SET.
The problem is I have NOT yet seen a smart phone that competes with Garmin in terms of GPS maps. There are smart phones that had an optical zoom lens but they aren't very good.
Hopefully we will see a solution to this problem some day.
Right now I carry an iphone and, kindle. I don't want to carry a camera. The iPhone does (decent) HDR which none of these smaller cameras do just yet.Aug 22, 2012 at 11:35 am #1904951
> There are smart phones that had an optical zoom lens but they aren't very good.
For an interesting look at a phone with a camera that does zoom well take a look at the Nokia 808. Its zoom is digital, but manages to be competitive with optical zooms. You may not like its current OS, but the claim is that is due to get fixed.
> The iPhone does (decent) HDR which none of these smaller cameras do just yet.
Actually a number of the small digital cameras do in-camera HDR pretty well.
Expect a number of new phone announcements in the next month or two — Photokina is in September.Aug 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm #1905043
I'm using my cell phone (Samsung Epic 4g Touch) for both my still and video camera until I can get one that's reasonably light and has a large sensor. I never use the zoom, as it's a poor zoom that seriously degrades the quality. I get better quality if I blow up the image in my computer when I get back.
I'm a serious video hobbyist but my video camera is far too heavy to take on the trail. I don't feel that I will get enough improvement over my cell phone camera until I invest in a decent camera with a large sensor (probably a DSLR, although large sensors can be found in other types), otherwise you are still dealing with a poor dynamic range, poor quality in low light, etc. I'm looking at the Panasonic GH-2 or the Canon D60. Samsung has some new cameras that look interesting as well. A lady we hiked the JMT with for a bit had a new Samsung that seemed lighter than any DSLR I've tried and had interchangeable lenses. I want to see some samples of both still and video images first though.
Another thing to keep in mind is compression formats, especially if you shoot video. I would like to be able to shoot more than 20 minutes of video on a 32g card as I don't want to carry a bunch of cards with me, but at the same time I want efficient compression that doesn't degrade the image too far. Most decent cameras now have a RAW format of some kind for still photos.Aug 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm #1905046
Have you considered the Sony RX100? Pricey, but interesting. Its sensor is large for its class (1"). It is very light for its class (7.5 oz). 1080p60 video with MPEG4 and AVCHD compressions. Internet reports are that its low light performance is decent — better than others in its class.Aug 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm #1905054
Some of us go down the video+still road using a DSLR with APS-C sensor, a high-quality short zoom lens and a high-quality long zoom lens (for wildlife). Full HD video @60, if you want, although many viewers want lower resolution to make a more compact file to transfer.
You probably are not talking about the Canon D60, since that was a 6-megapixel DSLR from about ten years ago. Maybe the Canon 60D, which is new and current.
–B.G.–Aug 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm #1905506
My guess is that the GPS in that second Nikon is not a functional navigation aid, but a way in which to "geotag" your photos. My Canon S100 has something similar, though I keep it turned off because it eats the battery (and, quite frankly, most of the time I can remember where I took the photo… I don't need a GPS to tell me). On mine the GPS is embedded into the camera, and there is no navigational software to use it with, neither can you add waypoints or follow tracks as you can with a conventional GPS.
I used to carry a DSLR with the thought that I want to capture the best possible pictures if I'm taking the effort to walk somewhere. However, I found out that I would get so tired at the end of the day's hike that I lacked the motivation to use it, so I switched to a compact and mini tripod. My current set-up is a Canon S100 paired with an Ultrapod. It is not as versatile as my DSLR & full size tripod, but since it saves me at least 6lbs (more if I was going to take multiple lenses), I really can't complain.
My advice if you're looking into getting something for serious but lightweight photography is to buy a compact that allows you to shoot in RAW format. RAW allows you to bring so much more out of your photos in post processing than the standard jpeg format. Here is an example of the kind of thing I have been able to achieve with my just my S100 and Ultrapod… not bad at all for a compact :)Aug 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm #1905542
I have the Nikon AW100 camera with a built in GPS and it's pretty useless. The maps are super poor since they're a generic global map and the camera will not display your co-ordinates, so it's of no use as a navigational aid. I believe all it does is add the lat/long co-ordinates into the picture file for use later, which is not appealing since having the GPS eats battery life.
Nice camera, just don't buy it for the GPS.Aug 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm #1905545
drowning in spamMember
Nikon recently released a camera using Android OS. It doesn't have GPS, but it gives me hope that soon we'll see cameras with GPS that we can mod to suit our needs.Aug 23, 2012 at 10:54 pm #1905549
"You probably are not talking about the Canon D60, since that was a 6-megapixel DSLR from about ten years ago. Maybe the Canon 60D, which is new and current."
Yes, the 60D is the one I was thinking of. My mistake. Same optical block as the 7D but with a few less features.Aug 23, 2012 at 10:56 pm #1905550
Yes, Tom, I have quite a Canon museum collection. We've come a long way.
–B.G.–Aug 24, 2012 at 6:31 am #1905582
@dustydevaLocale: Columbia River Gorge
Hey Tom, Betsy (Gadget Girl) here from the JMT –
Just wanted to respond to your comment about my new camera, the Samsung NX20, that I used during my JMT trip. I just finished loading the photos on to my SmugMug and I have to say they turned out fabulous. I am extremely happy with this camera and will take it on all my backpacking trips. No, it's not ultralight, but it is much lighter than all the other large sensor cameras. It has a APS-C sensor and it did a bang-up job.
Here's the link to my SmugMug photos of my JMT trip if you want to see more examples of what the camera can do. http://bafrazier.smugmug.com/Backpacking/JMT-2012-Section-Hike/JMT-2012-Section-Hike/24906172_bFV5tN#!i=2039657506Aug 24, 2012 at 7:20 am #1905590
Jen: Awesome photo! You used HDR I assume?Aug 24, 2012 at 7:24 am #1905593
the S01 (96 grams) looks like a very viable replacement for my older Olympus FE-360 (138 grams)- I'm not looking for large sensors or any other high end features- just want something light and small that takes decent pictures, thus far the 360 has performed that role very well- overall size is as important to me as weight, it's nice when a camera fits easily in a side belt pocket or a pocket in your pants or shortsAug 24, 2012 at 9:24 am #1905623
>Jen: Awesome photo! You used HDR I assume?
Andy: Yes, it's HDR. I didn't use the built-in HDR feature as I prefer to have more control over the final image. This was 3 shots at -2, 0 and +2 EV. Cropping, sharpening and noise reduction were done in Lightroom, then I used Photomatix for the HDR processing. I'm glad of the RAW format capability though as it's a lot harder to get it right in camera with the S100 than it is with a DSLR… I find I spend much more time messing with the results in Lightroom.Aug 24, 2012 at 10:17 am #1905648
"I'm glad of the RAW format capability though as it's a lot harder to get it right in camera with the S100 than it is with a DSLR"
That is primarily because of the lack of exposure metering options in the compact camera.
–B.G.–Aug 24, 2012 at 11:22 am #1905671
@carlbeckerLocale: Northern Virginia
Unfortunately size matters-sensor size that is. I sometimes make large prints and would like to keep as much detail in them as I can afford or willing to carry. I will carry my full frame DSLR some distance but decided to spend 16 ounces on a Fuji X100. I still spend 20 ounces on a short very stable tripod for the magic hours. I have saved much weight and bulk so I am happy with my compromise.Aug 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm #1905707
@dianodaLocale: Chicago, IL
Unless your goal is wildlife, I can heartily second the Sony RX100 for UL backpacking photographers looking to replace a DSLR with something lighter and more compact.
I brought one with on a recent trip to Olympic NP (North Fork Quinault River Trail to Low Divide, looping back via the Skyline Trail) and come back thoroughly impressed.
The image quality to size/weight ratio of the RX100 is very high, and the camera has just about every useful feature and control you could want, including a well-implemented manual focusing option. Auto-focus is fast, shutter lag is minimal, the camera doesn't leave you waiting very often, and you can customize controls for quick access to useful options such as AF mode, HDR, exposure compensation, flash mode, etc. Other than the lack of a filter mount (third party options are coming), I didn't miss my 7D at all. My only request for improvement to the operation of the camera would be an option to set a minimum shutter speed in aperture priority mode or the option to use auto-ISO in manual mode.
I'd rate base ISO image quality at about 85-90% as clean compared to what my 7D delivers at base ISO, but the RX100 RAW files seem to capture a wider dynamic range. At wide angle, the lens is pretty impressive stopped down, very sharp in the center, with good (but not great) corner performance, the few detractors being a bit of CA in the corners and the lens is somewhat susceptible to flare and suffers from loss of contrast when subject to harsh near-out-of-frame light sources (a lens hood would help, but it's generally easy enough to shade the lens with your hand/hat). Battery life was great – I took about 400 photos and still had 2 of 4 bars remaining on the battery when I got off trail.
The camera also fits perfectly in a Pelican 1010 case, which despite being somewhat bulkier than the bare camera, does a great job protecting it from bumps and water/dust/humidity.Aug 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm #1905764
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
LESSEE… point-and-shoot, (relatively) light weight, waterproof, impact proof. F2 lens, capable of fitting filters and proprietary lenses. Thats' my Olympus TG 1.
The new Olympus TG 1 ruggedized camera has -in expert reviews- beaten out ALL other waterproof "ruggedized" point-and-shoot cameras. And this is a camera your can use snorkeling to 40 ft., record 1080P video WITH sound and has many special effects and shooting options.
I got one and just returned yesterday from a two week vacation in Denmark. The camera performed perfectly. I really appreciated its VERY low light abilities in museums and cstle interiors where no flash was permitted.
While heavier than my old Panasonic Lumix it is so much better in every way that the TG 1's few extra ounces are a trade I gladly make.
This camera has two underwater exposure settings for better photos and several contrast options (work like built-in digital filters) for say, bright snowy days or senic panoramas you want to make more dramatic.Aug 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm #1905899
"Hey Tom, Betsy (Gadget Girl) here from the JMT –
Just wanted to respond to your comment about my new camera, the Samsung NX20, that I used during my JMT trip. I just finished loading the photos on to my SmugMug and I have to say they turned out fabulous."
Great stuff Betsy, the pictures turned out great. Also, thanks for posting the model as well, I wasn't sure which one you had. The pics look great and I'm going to look further into getting one.
P.S. I recognize those funny looking guys in the pics.Aug 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm #1905985
I found an interesting site that you might find interesting – seems to be geared towards the outdoorsy type camera user:
I'm a long time photo-buff but I don't have enough interest anymore to be hauling my Ansel Adams equipment around. I'd rather pack my fly pole. So I've been using ruggedized point&shoots for "capture the moment" photography and a little video work. "Ruggedized" is code for "sucky picture quality" in my experience.
Recently I had a chance to play with a Sony DSC HX20V, which retails in the $300'ish range. This isn't a ruggedized camera, so you need a case and some aptitude for keeping things alive. But it had darn near every feature I would ever want and it takes stellar HD video. The only thing it didn't have (or I couldn't find) was a focus lock for video.
The HX20V isn't going to replace my Nikon-goodies for Ansel Adams work, but it comes pretty close for a lightweight non-DSLR camera. And it is more in my price range for a camera that I'm packing into the brush.
Here's a pretty good review you might find helpful –
http://backcountrycamera.com/sony-cyber-shot-dsc-hx20v/Aug 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm #1905987
Picked up a Sony RX100 a week or two ago. Cannot be happier with it. It's almost exactly the camera I've wanted in the backcountry since I got into backpacking.
My only wish is that it had mild weathersealing, but its still a fantastic camera.Aug 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm #1905989
For anyone interested: DPReview review of the Sony DSC HX20V
They have not reviewed the RX100 yet.Aug 26, 2012 at 5:11 am #1906099
@tauneutrinoLocale: Upper Galilee
Unfortunately, I'm very serious about photo.
This causes me to take my DSLR and lenses.
I want to switch to a smaller format camera to take less weight, but all pictures I saw from, say Sony RX100, Sony Nex 3-5-7 or whatever small/mirrorless camera hasn't that good quality.
You guys post here photos you took with these cameras, but these are not a full-size pictures. When pictures are sized to that small you can't judge the quality.
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