Need high IQ, but lightweight camera for backpacking - what would you recommend?

Started Mar 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
GXRuser Contributing Member • Posts: 656
Re: Need high IQ, but lightweight camera for backpacking - what would you recommend?

Gorpalm wrote:

Interesting criteria to selecting a camera, when it comes to equipment, I'm a bit fan of a small footprint!

I've been through a few iterations to find a happy solution, and what currently works best for me is two cams - A csc w a kit or prime lens, and a travel (not a super) zoom for those rare times I want a 15x plus reach. The csc gives me the IQ and DR I want for the majority of shots, the travel zoom lets me take those distant aspects I'd otherwise miss (and also incredibly small and light for the zoom capability).

Why might this work?

1) In this case, two small footprints does not make one big one.

2) You have versatility in zoom range from (35 equiv) 24-28 to 400+

3) As you're not likely to want a high-zoom shot at night, high-iso on the small sensor cam isn't so much a concern.

4) Using two cameras, you extend the time between battery charges.

5) You're in the middle of nowhere, weeks from civilisation. You drop one camera. Oh oh.  But you have another camera. Phew.

There are of course compromises - Namely the pic quality of a small sensor cam, some Canon SX and Panasonic TZ models I understand do a stellar job at low ISO, but of course can't match the output of an aps-c (but think of the Weight and Size savings over something like a hwuge 50-200mm lens! And guess what? You still get the shot).

This works for me because less than 10% of my shots are taken beyond the 75-84 range, and if I'm being extra lazy convenience-driven I'll *gasp* use CIZ for the 2x boost.  But otherwise the extra versatility of a travel zoom is great to have around, and I use it for my videos too.

OK, right now after a few initial learning difficulties with flash behaviour I'm having a good time with the NEX 3n - Great shooting and Small.  Battery tells you how much juice is left in %. Loving the 16-50 lens, appreciate the wider wide on this kit, and very happy with it's output.  Sensor is of course amazing, I've stopped sweating when in ISO auto mode the camera tells me its about to take the next shot at 3200. When feeling serious I pop on the Sigma 30mm. So if you need something small, great sensor, decent lens, the 3n could make your wishlist.

In the same bag is a Samsung WB250f - Looked at Sony, Fuji, Canon and Panasonic but the Samsung won my heart with the 'gadgetness' of it all at a decent price. If best-possible IQ is more a driver, then another brand might suit your needs better.

Must add a little bit of context, last year I'd tried to whittle two cams down to one to have an even smaller footprint. Sold an Samsung NX10 with lenses, sold my Sony HX5 travel zoom.  Got a Fuji X10 with its slightly-larger-than-premium-compact 2/3 chip - With it's digi zoom got me an effective reach of 28-224 (I know purists hate digi zoom but hey its there when you need it), a lot of DR techno-wizardry, EXR low-light wizardry, even background-defocus wizardry.  Guess what?  Realised all of that tech was to help it mimic an aps-c sensor, but that didn't make it an aps-c sensor.  So good luck if you can find the "Perfect One" (you can call it Edward) but otherwise a two-shooter solution can work a treat.

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You might also consider a Pentax Q... small sensor, great IQ. VERY compact. Battery life is short.

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