The age-old mantra that a great photograph is about the person standing next to the camera and not the camera itself has always been true. Whether you take retro large format film cameras or modern mirrorless cameras, the chances of capturing a banger image increase exponentially when you’ve got what it takes to deliver.
However, it’s not to say that you cannot fine-tune your gear so that it fits your needs perfectly. That might include a high-sensitivity camera for astrophotography, medium format camera for huge billboard prints, or a weather-sealed camera for hiking trips.
Hiking and camping are the most inherent parts of landscape photography. But they require a very specific set of camera gear. You cannot just take a 1 kilogram DSLR and cram three-four lenses that weigh way over 500 grams. And that’s not even the whole picture; you need to take into account all of the pieces of camping equipment, be it a tent, food, or medicine.
But the problem isn’t just about the weight of the whole gear. When you go hiking in the mountains, seaside, or just about anywhere else, the chances of getting your camera and lenses dirty are pretty high. Therefore, you need weather-sealed equipment that’s protected from dust and moist.
In this guide, I’ll try to account for photographers with various camera types, be it point-and-shoot, mirrorless, or full-fledged DSLR. So, let’s not waste any more time and get right to it.
Now, before you roll your eyes and scold me for even considering point-and-shoot cameras for landscape photography, let me tell you that these seemingly low-end cameras have gotten really complicated over the recent years. Yes, they were crap back in the days when your grandma used to own one, but today, you can definitely get impressive results with a decent point-and-shoot camera.
For hiking and camping trips, the best recommendation would be the Sony RX100 V, which goes up to just 300 grams. And it’s not even the best feature of this camera: it packs an industry-standard Carl Zeiss lens, extra-large sensor, the ability to shoot RAW and record 4K video, among many others.
But it’s a bit of a pricey gadget; buying one will set you back some 1,000 USD. But you can always go for its cheaper brother, Sony RX100, which also boasts a high-quality sensor and glass, even though there’s no 4K video or EVF.
And for just below 400 USD, Sony RX100 is one of the most affordable point-and-shoot cameras you can take in the wild. In fact, there have been many occasions where it was used as a reward camera. For example, when PlayAmo held their “camping in the wilderness corporate event,” they gave each of their employees a Sony RX100, simply because it was an affordable and durable present.
As it turned out, this top online casino later added the same cameras into their promotion prizes. Let me reiterate: the same camera used by a PlayAmo employee during the corporate event made it into the full-blown promotion, just because it retained its original cosmetics and offered a great value.
Moving on from point-and-shoot cameras, let’s now talk about what value mirrorless cameras have for your camping photography. First things first, I need to put this out there: mirrorless cameras are significantly better than point-and-shoot cameras in virtually every aspect, be it image quality, sensitivity, or lens flexibility.
Today, as many mainstream manufacturers make a transition towards the mirrorless realm, many professional landscape photographers, as well as the ones in other genres, are also following the trend. One of my personal favorites, Thomas Heaton, is often ditching his full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and his all-mighty lens trinity, which are pretty much undisputed in this area, for a more lightweight and affordable Fujifilm X-T3, which is by no means bad for producing stunning images.
So, Fujifilm mirrorless cameras are apparently pretty good for camping trips. But if we’re talking mirrorless cameras, there’s no way to steer off of Sony. Its a7 series, be it aII or aIII, have long been considered as industry standard mirrorless cameras. And it’s for a variety of reasons, including their full-frame sensor, incredible ISO range, quality Carl Zeiss lenses, and, of course, portability.
And now, we need to finally address the elephant in the room: the DSLR realm. And while there are many heavy options on this side of the spectrum, you can definitely find much lighter and cheaper alternatives that can do the trick just as fine.
For example, if you’re a Canon aficionado, you can go for the Rebel series, which have gotten pretty powerful over the years. For instance, the Canon Rebel T8i comes with a 24.1MP APS-C sensor, the ISO range between 100 and 25,600 (expanded to 51,200), up to 7 frames per second, and a 4K video recording at 8-bit encoding. And while it’s certainly not the cheapest DSLR at 900 USD, it’s quite lightweight and allows for greater flexibility when it comes to attaching either EF or EF-S lenses.
As for the Nikon side, you can go for the Nikon D3500, which is a couple of years older than the Canon T8i but it is almost 200 grams lighter, which is a significant benefit for a camping photographer. And the specs are relatively the same: 24MP APS-C sensor, iso from 100 to 25,500, 1080p video recording, and 5 frames per second.
But if you want to go full-in with the DSLR equipment, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or Nikon D850 is the ultimate choice for you. And while they’re pretty heavy, even without any lens attachment, the results you get by using them will be out of this world, granted, you know what you’re doing.
So, regardless of which camera type you go for, whether it’s point-and-shoot, mirrorless, or a DSLR camera, you need to make sure that your camping equipment stays relatively lightweight, as well as durable under some extreme conditions.