High-quality compact camera – is that really hiking gear?
I admit that when people say „hiking gear” a photo camera might not be the first thing you think about. But how many people hike today without taking at least a few photos? Many of us take a lot of joy and pleasure from travel photography hence a good camera became an as important piece of gear as a comfortable sleeping mat or a good camp mug. Might not be a life-saver, but a seriously important addition. But there is the obvious obstacle: how to compromise between acceptable quality of photos and the camera’s size? For a weight-conscious hiker, the choice doesn’t have to be limited to your phone built-in camera!
Photography my love
I love photography. Both my parents used to be photographers with my father even being a professional one for a while. My first camera was my father’s old one with full manual settings. I had to learn how to use light measurements to set all the important settings. I don’t remember how to do this anymore as there is no need to know it. For a long time I was swearing I would never move on to digital cameras – but with time the technology improved so much, I did the switch and never looked back. I own an entry-level DSLR from Canon and I am still really happy with it. It takes wonderful macro photos with the depth of details that astonishes me. But it’s just not for travel or hiking. It’s big and heavy.
Leave the DSLR for special photo ops
Regular DSLR might be the way to go for a short day hike where photography is the main goal of the trek. You can take a special camera backpack and just a few extra things. But when you have to make a longer hike, carrying DSLR camera in your hands is not only uncomfortable – it can actually lead to neck and back pain. You can’t use your trekking poles and risk breaking your camera when you slip or lose balance. And you can’t really take selfies with it 😉
Among many others a clear winner:
Sony DSC rx100M3
When I decided I needed something smaller for long hiking trips, I spent hours reading on a variety of available cameras. The competition is huge! Finally, I was convinced by the constant no.1 position in multiple rankings by reputable sources. So – here’s the winner: Sony DSCRX100M3 (US) . Am I happy with this choice? In short: ABSOLUTELY.
It is quite astonishing what the manufacturer was able to fit in such a small body.
SONY DSC rx100M3’s key features:
- Compact size: it feels heavy (290g) but is tiny and easy to carry and pack. It fits easily in my backpack’s belt pocket. It’s only 102 mm wide!
- 1.0-inch type Exmor R BSI-CMOS sensor and BIONZ X processor provide superb image quality even in low light. Such large sensor is the best in its class.
- 20.1 MP
- Customizable front lens ring
- Very bright ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* lens F1.8 – 2.8, 24 – 70mm. It doesn’t have a strong zoom, but I prefer high-quality photos and bright lens than the zoom. Such bright lens offers large aperture even in zoom.
- EVF/electronic viewfinder (I hardly use it, even when it’s bright I can see what I need on the LCD screen)
- 180*-flip LCD for selfies – I absolutely love this feature! When you flip the screen it automatically sets in selfie mode with a 3s timer. Have you ever tried taking selfies with a DSLR? Exactly.
- Pop-up flash you can tilt up or down to fill in darker areas.
- Wi-Fi and One-Touch NFC make transferring photos really easy! I was able to make a backup of the photos to my phone and also choose one or two photos for fast sharing on FB when on my way. No more taking good photos on your camera and bad ones on your phones only to have a fast-sharing option!
- The range of modes, functions, and options to choose and set for your own style of taking photos. The menu is intuitive, easy to navigate and figure out. It’s highly customizable and you can set a quick-access menu by yourself. I liked the panorama mode which was easy to do and gave an opportunity to shot beautiful wide landscapes.
PRICE. That’s really the only one I found! It is expensive, but I hope now with the next generation models out there the price of mark3 might go down. I was paying it off for ten months, but I don’t regret it. As my father used to say: “We are too poor to buy cheap“. In the long run buying best you can afford is always a good way to go. I want a gear for years of heavy usage, I don’t want to buy a new piece each season. I really hope that this little fella keeps me company for many hikes to come 🙂
I don’t know much about its ability to make movies as I just don’t do them. But I’ve read very good opinions on it.
In conclusion: I highly recommend Sony rx100M3 (US) if you are interested in taking beautiful pictures but have to hike light.
I’ve been using it for two years now. I’ve taken thousands of photos and can’t complain much! It survived the wet weather in Scotland, daily usage at work, and basically living in my work backpack. It’s a good investment if you are passionate about photography and light travel!
Grade: 4.5/5: Absolutely amazing quality and compact, but expensive.
Note: The links above contain affiliate links, meaning if you purchase an item, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Here you can see a few sample photos taken with this camera in a variety of situations/conditions. All You can also check my other posts – all photos from Scotland were taken with Sony rx100mIII.
Check out my other gear reviews and musings here and full on gear and clothing resource page right here.