If you’re planning to backpack across someplace like Switzerland, rural Thailand or even the great city of New York or another any great destination around the world, you’ll surely want to capture the beautiful scenery, cityscapes, local culture, and more, preferably with a camera that produces digital and print results of the highest quality. Seriously, when your trip comes to a halt and all there’s left is memories, the images of you goofing around in the Irish pub, skydiving in Interlaken, and dining out in Avenue des Champs-Élysées become priceless to look at.
Unfortunately, when you’re navigating through the myriad of camera options available for backpackers, you can lose footing in a whirling alphabet soup of features. What’s better a mirrorless or a compact model? What is an F-Stop and what focal-length do I need? While technical specifications such as these are crucial, so is discovering the best cameras for backpackers – and the list below will help you start off on the right foot.
What Should Backpackers Look for in A Camera
Before providing you with the list of best cameras for backpackers, we’d like to take a couple of minutes and give you a primer on the things you should be looking at when making a buying decision.
F-Stop refers to the aperture, the lens’ hole that allows the light to come in. It’s calculated in numbers when the number is preceded by the letter ‘f’. For instance, a camera could have f/2.2 or f/1.8. The smaller the number, the bigger will be the hole, which will enable you to take good pictures even in low-light conditions.
2. Focal Length
Focal length is the official phrase used for optical zoom. This is a comprehensible number that backpackers would come across in point and shoot model. Focal length (listed in mm) is present on models with interchangeable lenses. Bigger focal lengths mean the lens of the camera offers greater magnification.
Even a mirrorless model might look like to you if you desire something that’ll fit in your purse or jeans. In that case, a compact model would be more suitable. However, if there’s space in your backpacking, and you’re fine with carrying spare tripods, lenses, and other accessories, a DSLR or mirrorless model could be the right fit for your needs.
4. Sensor Size
One of the most vital tech spec to be aware of is the sensor’s size. The larger the sensor, the better will be the camera’s ability to capture more light, so it’s bound to perform in environments where there is less or dim light.
Top Cameras for Backpackers
RX100 V from Sony is a hit amongst the backpacking community because of its super compact and lightweight without compromising performance in any aspect. Though it has a small sensor, it can take 4K videos in full HD and capture 20.1 MP pictures. Other capabilities include constant capture at 24 fps, AF points (315 phase detection), and more. The RX100 V also has the hybrid AF system (contrast + phase) which is the world’s fastest at 0.05 seconds. This makes the camera great for wildlife and action imagery. Lastly, the compact camera offers a 3.6x zoom, which should allow backpackers to make the most out of long-range imagery.
What makes it stand out? The Sony RX100 V comes with Tru-Finder EVF that’s retractable and offers bright self-illumination. A ZEISS T* coated eyepiece is also there to enable users to adjust settings.
The X-T2 by Fuji is a versatile camera with sealed compartments and buttons. Both these features make it ideal for weatherproof imagery, which should be useful for backpackers traveling across rainy continents. It also contains an X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor that’s 24.3MP and reduces false compare to enhance photo quality. The Pro X-Processor engine achieves quicker autofocus, reduces noise, and improves response time. It’s also capable of capturing 3840*2160 25/25/30P Full 4K videos with a UHS Speed Class 3 or higher. And with a 51,200 ISO Sensitivity, this mirrorless is a fierce contender for being an alternative to a DSLR. Additionally, the high exposure range implies that the kit lens (18-55mm) will ensure that wide-angle, as well as perspective in terms of portraits, can be captured, even if the lighting conditions are challenging.
What makes it stand out? The camera comes with Film Simulation modes that adopt Fujifilm’s colors legacy, ensuring high-quality 4Ks and unmatched photo quality, powered by the newest processing engine and sensor; it is perfected by the X series.
The rugged capability of the Olympus Tough TG-5 is outstanding. It can survive up to 50ft in water (15m) and can be dropped up till 2.1m from a height. Also, it can withstand extreme temperatures (as low as 10 degrees Celsius). But the Olympus Tough TG5’s standing as a camera is also pretty decent. At 12 megapixels, it offers good image quality as well as other macro features for capturing subjects at a close range.
Other than that, the Tough TG-5 contains TruPic VIII Image Processor (Dual Quad Core): Focus range is normal to infinity, beginning from 10 cm or 3.94 inches. The Macro goes from 1 cm (0.4 inches) to infinity. Buyers would also get a field sensor system equipped with temperature sensors, Manometer and GPS. And videos can be shot at full 60fps (1080p HD), or 30fps at the 4K quality. There’s also a slow-motion option, along with 4x optical zoom that can be bought separately to improve zooming capability.
What makes it stand out? The Olympus Tough TG-5 also includes WiFi connectivity that enables users to connect it to a handset and take pictures remotely. Backpacking alone? Set the Tough TG-5 up from any distance and use your smartphone to press the shutter of the camera.
The main problem with DSLRs for backpackers is usually their size, where general bulk and weight can take a toll on the backpack. We’ve placed the Nikon D5600 in this list because it does a great job at tackling this problem. It’s a bit bulky, but not as much as other DSLRs available on the market. The key benefit of the Nikon D5600 is the picture quality, with a 24-megapixel sensor producing enticing images. Also, the touchscreen (3.2in vari-angle) to view the images on is another advantage. The maximum video length of the clip is 29 minutes and 59 seconds, at 1920*1080. The video recording can be done at 60 fps at Full 1080 HD. Other features include NFC-equipped WiFi and SnapBridge Bluetooth.
What makes it stand out? Long battery life is its standout feature. Unlike other camera models, the battery can last more than 970 shots on each charge; expect to shoot 24-hours without any need to charge another cycle.
GoPro is a popular name when it comes to action cams for backpackers. The Hero6 has a built-in touchscreen and it’s totally waterproof without an extra case. It also has some of the leading specifications of all action cameras out there, with the capability of 60 fps shoots (4k video). And while certain backpackers won’t require that sort of resolution and speed, you’d really like the electronic image stabilization of this action camera. It generates smooth footage regardless of the user mounting the camera on the bike or holding it with their hands. All those performance enhancements are because of a GP1 processor, which was first introduced in Hero6. There are also a few post-processing features that’ll be extremely handy for backpackers. With the native GoPro application, users can enjoy automatic editing of their footage – and even integrate imagery from their camera roll. Other than that, there’s telemetry data to highlight all best moments. Moreover, the footage can be transferred to the person’s device every night, as they wake up to a polished edit of their former’s daily activities.
What makes it stand out? The GoPro Hero6 also includes an updated UI and a touch zoom, and a 2-inch display makes it convenient to replay footage, modify settings and frame shots.
The Canon PowerShot G16 offers complete manual controls that are fast and easy to adjust. Its high-quality optical zoom lets users capture extended, hard-to-see footage. Even if you’re 100 foot above someone, you’d be able to record/capture the subtleties of their expression. As a bonus, the PowerShot G16 comes with a natural density filter that allows users to produce striking effects in motion blur as well as minimize the depth of field on sunny days to further emphasize their subject matter. Other than that, the G16’s construction is solid, which keeps it running smoothly, even if it dings on your way to the Eifel Tower or Mouth Matterhorn.
What makes it stand out? It comes with a 28mm-140mm 5x optical zoom and a bright lens (f/1.8(W) to f/2.8(T)) that enables backpackers to capture more in the camera’s frame.
Ready to Make and Save Memories?
That brings Worldgoo’s list of best backpacking cameras to a close. Honestly, the model and type you end up choosing are down to your personal style and preference. However, pick something from one of the offerings above and you won’t go wrong with capturing your backpacking memories at any point.