Have you ever been on the trip of a lifetime, came home, and then found out that all the pictures you took of the Eiffel Tower are all blurry? How about returning from a trek to the Grand Canyon with your camera and then finding out that all your memories are overexposed? These are just some of the problems that plague vacationers, but by finding the best outdoor camera, you can avoid all of this.
When we talk about cameras, digital ones are most produced and used today, but there are still dedicated compact cameras on the market although their use is dwindling. With a digital camera you can take pictures, videos or sounds, keep them stored in the camera for to be uploaded to a computer later. Picking the right camera for your outdoor memories can be tricky, but don’t give up so easily, we are here to help you by giving you some useful advice for choosing the outdoor camera that won’t sell you out when you need it the most.
In this article. we will talk about features that are most important and on which you should keep an eye on when buying an outdoor camera. Also, you can read reviews of some of the best models on the market, and by the end of this article, you’ll be able to pick the perfect camera for safekeeping your memories.
|Product name|| Dimensions|
|Canon Powershot S120||3.94 x 2.32 x 1.14||12.1 MP high-sensitivity 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, 5x optical zoom, built-in WiFi||0.48||Check price on Amazon|
|Sony Alpha a6000||4.70 x 1.80 x 2.60||24 MP, ISO 100-25600, 3-inch tilting LCD with 921,000 dots||0.76||Check price on Amazon|
|Sony Alpha a6300||2 x 2 x 2||24.2 MP, world’s fastest autofocus speed, auto exposure||0.89||Check price on Amazon|
|Sony CyberShot RX100 IV||2.80 x 1.60 x 4||20.1 MP, WiFi with NFC capability, slow-motion movie recording||0.66||Check price on Amazon|
|SeaLife Micro 2.0||4.20 x 2.10 x 2.90||Micro 2.0 camera, lens cap, adjustable wrist strap||0.62||Check price on Amazon|
|Leica X-U (TYP 113)||11.4 x 9.20 x 7.10||16.2 MP, water, dust and shockproof construction, 35mm equivalent||1.3||Check price on Amazon|
|Olympus TG-4 16 MP||2.60 x 1.22 x 4.41||16 MP, 4x wide-angle optical zoom, WiFi / GPS / e. compass||0.54||Check price on Amazon|
|Nikon COOLPIX AW130||2.60 x 4.35 x 1.06||16 MP, 5x optical zoom, built-in WiFi and NFC||0.49||Check price on Amazon|
|PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FT5||4.30 x 2.65 x 1.14||16.1 MP, 4.6x optical zoom, WiFi||0.41||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
When it comes to buying a good backpacking camera to document your adventures, there are many different brands to choose from. But aside from choosing the best to suit your needs, buyers also need to consider the features of a camera to help narrow down their choices.
Below in this article, you will read about some of the specific features of outdoor cameras. It’s very important to have in mind those pointers when you go shopping.
Depending on the model you buy, you could end up using as many as 4 alkaline batteries. Bringing along extra batteries is recommended, especially if you take a lot of pictures. Luckily, there are digital cameras that have rechargeable batteries so you don’t have to worry about bringing spares.
For these kinds of cameras, you only need to plug the camera to the charger and you should be fine for another day. Digital cameras with rechargeable batteries are a better investment compared to battery operated ones, especially on backpacking trips where you don’t have a lot of room to carry extra supplies.
Just make sure you have a power source to plug in your camera at night if you don’t have access to a wall socket. In this case, you will need a power bank, which you can also use to charge other gadgets.
If you want to print your photos you will need a digital camera that is at least 7 megapixels. Some people are alright with 5 or 3 but we find that 7 is the minimum if you want clear looking 8×10 photographs to frame.
Some people want to store images that take up less memory space and are happy with cameras with lower megapixels, but cameras today can let you choose the setting to shoot pictures and videos so it is still better to get the most megapixels you can afford. As a general rule, however, the more megapixels a camera has, the more expensive it becomes.
Unlike the cameras of old where you peek through a small window to see your shot, digital cameras today have an LCD viewfinder that makes it easier for you to see your shot and take your photos. The size of the LCD differs from brand to brand. While your LCD size does not affect your pictures, having a large screen could be easier for you to take pictures.
LCD Viewfinders have good and not so good sides. The main pros are that you can see exactly how the images would look like, and the magnification feature also makes focusing easier. The cons are faster battery draining.
Zoom is another feature that has no effect on your picture. Basically, a zoom is just the stretching or contracting of an image. If you want a close-up or a wide picture you just adjust the zoom.
Cameras today usually come with a 5x optical zoom and even 20x optical zoom. The more zoom, the tighter the picture you can shoot. Having lots of zoom can be advantageous if you intend to take photographs from a distance.
Memory cards are the storage devices where you store your pictures. The standard today for memory cards is the MicroSD card. The more GB or gigabytes your memory card has, the more pictures and video you can store in it.
But aside from the storage capabilities, you also need to look at the memory card’s speed. For the best photographs, look for a camera that accepts a Class 10 for high-resolution photos and videos. If the camera of your choice does not accept MicroSD cards, don’t worry because you can buy an adapter for that.
Generally speaking, the wider the range of the ISO, the better the camera is at taking low light images. Cameras with low ISO sensors can still take pictures in the dark, but the result is usually photos that are noisier.
The image sensor is a component of your camera that can change the light sensitivity. This is very important part of a camera and it is responsible for gathering light and transforming it into an image. Your camera sensor should be able to capture images in low-light environments without using a flash, but with increased sensitivity.
Best Products on Today’s Market
Now that you have in mind the most important features, it’s time to learn about some cons and pros, some other specific features, and details about best digital camera models. We chose some of the best models on the market and reviewed them below. Take a few minutes to read them, as these reviews will be quite helpful when making the perfect final choice.
Price: Approx. $600
Weight: 0.48 lb
Dimensions: 3.94 x 2.32 x 1.14 in
Specific features: Built-in Wifi, upload in Android or iOS from anywhere, free download of Canon Camera Window app, 12.1 MP high-sensitivity 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, 5x optical zoom and 24 mm wide-angle view, 1080p full HD video with stereo sound
Best use: Serious photographers looking for a compact camera
Description: With 12 megapixels and a stylish design, the Canon Powershot S120 Digital Camera is quite a handsome looking and practical camera. The High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor delivers crystal clear images. By using a light-capturing design, it has high sensitivity for improved ISO making it a good choice if you want to capture images in low-light.
The camera looks understated and compact, so it can easily be slipped into your pocket or backpack. There are no hand grips on the camera, but it is covered in a tactile coating, which makes it easier to handle. It features a built-in WiFi, making it easier for the user to share on social media or with friends.
There is also automatic switching through the Image Sync function, which makes it easier to organize photos and videos. Aside from photographs, your videos will also look great thanks to the DIGIC 6 image processor, which can capture the videos in full HD.
The LCD panel of the PowerShot s120 is also a delight at 3 inches with touchscreen capabilities. It can easily respond to 1 or 2 finger touch operations, such as spreading and pinching, to change magnification during playback. You can also adjust the touchscreen sensitivity to your liking.
This camera also enables users to shoot in RAW mode, which records all info from the sensor so that you can have complete flexibility and control when editing images.
- Built-in WiFi
- RAW shooting
- Image stabilization
- Low battery life
- Poor low-light image quality
Related: We all know that the life of the batteries is rather short. If you need a replacement for old batteries, you can check out the Powerextra Upgraded Canon NB-6LH / NB-6L Battery. The batteries come in a two pack and are quite a good deal considering the quality, battery life, and the price.
Price: Approx. $630
Weight: 0.76 lb
Dimensions: 4.7 x 1.8 x 2.6 in
Specific features: Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, OLED electronic viewfinder, 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, up to 11 fps continuous shooting, hybrid AF with 179-point focal plane phase-detection, 3-inch tilting LCD, ISO 100-25600 (expandable to 51200)
Best use: Photographers that want something small but more capable
Description: The new Sony Alpha a6000 Digital Camera is actually an update from the well regarded Sony NEX-6. This new camera features the Bionz-X processor, which provides the user a three times increase in processing power.
This extra oomph is very notable when starting the camera. Simply turn on and shoot away even when using hi-speed burst mode. Autofocus is also faster at just 0.06 seconds, according to CIPA standard. You can use burst mode to shoot up to 11 fps continuous for 21 frames RAW JPEG, or 49 frames Fine JPEG, making this camera good tool when capturing sporting events and activities.
The in-camera ISO setting of the a6000 has also included multi-frame noise reduction rather than through an app which was the case with the NEX-6. It is deployed in low-light and fired in 6 rapid frames and then stacked together so that you get pictures with almost no noise. For those who like video, the camera can shoot Full HD AVCHD Ver.2.0.
But the biggest change to the a6000 is the sensor. The Exmor APS-C sensor that can capture 24.3-million-pixel images, have a gapless on-chip phase-detection design, which can cover a larger area of the frame. The improved light gathering capabilities of the sensor allow for improved low-light shooting and reduced noise.
- Incredibly fast autofocus
- Good high ISO performances
- Very high resolution 24 MP sensor
- Wi-Fi with NFC
- Slow startup
- Very sensitive eye sensor
- Some apps must be purchased
Related: If you need a camera bag for safe storage, the Case Logic DCB-304 Compact System bag is a great choice for you. Not only that you will be able to keep your camera in it, but there’s also room for lens caps, spare batteries, and it offers multiple carrying choices, which comes quite in handy when you are hiking.
Price: Approx. $1000
Weight: 0.89 lb
Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 2 in
Specific features: 32GB SDHC class 10 UHS-1, R94 W70 memory card, HDMI to Micro-HDMI gold audio/video cable, InfoLithium H series NP-FW50 camera battery with rapid battery charger
Best use: Multimedia makers
Description: Sony Alpha a6300 Camera is a versatile model, designed for multi-media image makers. It comes with a 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, with an ISO range of 100 to 51200. Coupled with the BIONZ X image processor, the A6300 can give users clean image quality, and up to 4K video quality.
The High-density Tracking AF Technology can track moving subjects in a variety of lighting conditions. The camera also uses a phase detection point which enables photographers to use the A-mount lenses, through lens adapters with the AF compatibility. The powerful processor also enables a fast response and true aim through the world’s fastest autofocus with less noise.
The other noteworthy camera features include silent shooting mode ideal for taking photos in noise sensitive areas, Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) that can help improve images in a backlit scene, with high contrast detail, you can also configure ISO Auto settings at minimum shutter speed to get sharper images, use Clear Image Zoom to magnify scenes and extend the reach of focal length lenses.
- 4K video capture
- Quick autofocus
- Very good JPEG quality
- 1 fps burst shooting
- Short battery life
- Underpowered LCD at default settings
- Overheating issues in direct sun
Related: More battery means more photos, right? To capture every important moment or scenery, you will need all your spare batteries to be full, and the RAVPower NP-FW50 Camera Battery Charger Set for Sony includes two replacement batteries and a dual battery charger to keep the empty ones charging. The ideal set for those who shoot plenty of photos or make videos.
Price: Approx. $900
Weight: 0.66 lb
Dimensions: 2.8 x 1.6 x 4 in
Best use: For capturing swiftly moving subjects
Specific features: WiFi with NFC capability, 20.1 MP stacked CMOS image sensor, contrast detection AF system, 4K movie recording up to 30 fps, slow-motion movie recording up to 1000 fps, up to 16 fps continuous shooting, tiltable 3-inch LCD, 280 shot battery life, 2.36 million dot OLED viewfinder
Description: The Sony CyberShot RX100 IV Digital Camera is so compact you will sometimes forget that it’s in your pocket. You can even shoot crystal clear images in low-light, thanks to the new Exmor RS CMOS sensor.
With an unbelievably fast shutter speed of 1/32000, the camera allows for detailed 20.1-megapixel photos and breathtaking 4K movies. Aside from this, the RX100 can capture slow-motion HFR movies up to 40 times slower than regular time.
It can be hard to take photographs of fast-moving subjects like Usain Bolt running or the motion of a swinging golf club, but with the RX100’s blazing fast Anti-Distortion Shutter system, it is now possible to get a clear shot of a pretty much every fast moving object.
But, this camera is also perfect for taking stills and portraits thanks to the ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 24 – 70 mm zoom (35 mm equivalent), which you can use to take macro shots and defocused backgrounds.
Capture fleeting moments and decisive opportunities faster than any other camera. With its autofocusing system that enables high-speed contrast detection, the RX100 brilliant quality images and movies.
- Incredible image and video quality
- Fast autofocusing
- USB charging
- Short zoom range
- Low battery life
Related: If you need an extra secure grip for the camera, you can check out the Sony AGR2 Attachment Grip. After this upgrade, you will have a much better grip on your camera, therefore you will feel much more secure when moving with it in your hand.
Price: Approx. $550
Weight: 0.62 lb
Dimensions: 4.2 x 2.1 x 2.9 in
Specific features: SeaLife 10x lens and screen protector, waterproof, Full 1080p HD video at 60 fps or 30 fps, 16MP SONY® CMOS image sensor, WiFi to wirelessly preview
Best use: Underwater operations, wet locations
Description: Are you looking for an easy-to-use underwater camera? If you are, the SeaLife Micro 2.0 Digital Camera is one of the best choices. Built around a 16 MP Sony CMOS image sensor, this camera can deliver beautiful, clear images and full HD video. It also features a 130° field of view lens and is coupled with SeaLife’s piano key dials, which makes this camera a joy to use underwater.
Unlike other underwater cameras, the SeaLife Micro is permanently sealed so there are no O-rings to maintain. It features Full 1080p HD video and 60 fps for slow-motion. The piano keys make it easy to operate and its adjustable ISO settings can handle low-light images. Choose between 32 or 64 GB internal memory for storage. It is waterproof up to 200 ft (60 m).
Featuring a shockproof rubber armored body; the SeaLife Micro is easy to hold. Transferring images is a cinch. Simply remove the rubber plug that covers the USB and then slide in the adapter. The camera is also WiFi capable so you can also transfer and share using this feature.
It also records video in Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps. This camera is ideal for divers who are looking for something easy to operate underwater and provide clear pictures. By the way, you can also add Sea Dragon or third-party lights for better-looking images in poor lighting conditions.
- Waterproof to 200 ft
- Ultra – wide lens
- Several modes for various shooting conditions
- Easy 3 piano key operation
- Ability to add Sea Dragon or 3rd party lights
- No manual controls for advanced photographers
- No RAW file recording for advanced post-processing
- No built-in flash or light
Related: For underwater shooting, you will need light in order to make the images vivid and clear. The SeaLife Sea Dragon Light Kit is exactly why you need to illuminate the dark depths. It is fully compatible with the SeaLife Micro 2.0, and it even makes holding the camera easier.
Price: Approx. $3,230
Weight: 1.3 lb
Dimensions: 11.4 x 9.2 x 7.1 in
Specific features: 16.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, Summilux 23 mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens, water, dust, and shockproof construction
Best use: Underwater photography
Description: The Leica X-U (Typ 113) Digital Camera is designed to be dust-proof, shockproof and waterproof, and can withstand extreme environments. Leica has been setting benchmarks for cameras for many years now and even today, Leica is still ahead of the pack with their first underwater camera with APS-C sensor.
This camera was built along similar lines with its predecessor the Leica X (Typ 113), it has the same interface and image quality for the most part. The difference between the two can be seen with the X-U’s bigger size. This is mainly due to the thermoplastic elastomer armor and larger dials of the X-U. The UW on the camera triggers the underwater mode, which automatically corrects for color cast and distortion of images when below water surface. Another difference between the earlier models is the placement of the flash.
Leica has moved the flash on top of the lens because light does not travel as far when in the water. With this new location, light can travel faster underwater and eliminate the chance of creating a lens shadow. It also has a failsafe double locking system so that the battery compartment and memory card slot remain safe at all times. If photographs are not enough to capture the moment, the X-U can take full HD videos.
- Long battery life
- External flash shoe
- 1920 x 1080 max video resolution
- Raw shooting
- No face detecting focusing
- No Wi-fi connection
- No image stabilization
Related: This type of camera doesn’t support Wi-Fi, so if you have a need to transfer photos wirelessly from your camera to mobile device, without the need for a computer Toshiba 32GB FlashAir III Wireless SD Memory Card is the best choice for you.
Price: Approx. $380
Weight: 0.54 lb
Dimensions: 2.6 x 1.22 x 4.41 in
Specific features: 4x wide-angle optical zoom, waterproof to depths of 50 ft, freezeproof to 14°F, shockproof to 7 ft, crushproof to 220 lb, RAW capture, Wi-Fi/GPS/e. compass, 1080P HD video
Best use: Underwater stills and video
Description: Good build quality, fast lens (at wide-angle), support for RAW pictures and superb performance, what else can you ask for with the Olympus TG-4 16 MP Digital Camera? It is built for extreme environment, and you don’t have to worry about this camera getting crushed when you’re packing for your diving trip.
Aside from underwater adventures, you can also bring this camera along when backpacking or hiking. Meaning you can go mountain today and the corals tomorrow. Furthermore, it is also freeze-proof to 14°F/-10°C? Yup, you can bring it with you to Mt. Everest after your vacation in the Great Barrier Reef.
One of the best things about the TG-4 is the super bright lens at wide angle. When shooting at 25 mm, the lens can bring in more light, allowing you to use a lower ISO to minimize noise. In order to get the best out of its 16 megapixels CMOS sensor, go to RAW in the highest resolution and then edit it for better results and creative control. Aside from giving users fantastic photographs, the camera can also embed location on photos, tell you the air pressure, altitude or direction.
- Image stabilization
- Long battery life
- RAW shooting
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Low screen resolution
- No external flash shoe
Related: You will probably need a case to carry your camera, not that it will get damaged without one, but why risk scratching it? The Olympus 202584 Tough Neoprene Case for Camera fits well and it will keep your camera scratch free, no matter where you go and what you do with it.
Price: Approx. $150
Weight: 0.49 lb
Dimensions: 2.6 x 4.35 x 1.06 in
Specific features: Waterproof up to 100 ft, freezeproof to 14°F, shockproof for drops up to 7 ft, 5x optical zoom with NIKKOR ED wide-angle glass lens, Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS
Best use: Adventures and people that go everywhere
Description: When you constantly travel and like to share your adventures, the Nikon Coolpix AW130 Digital Camera can do this easily with you. Not only does it take awesome pictures, it can also record full HD movies.
It is waterproof, shockproof and freeze-proof, so you can take it with you anywhere and is always ready for your next adventure. The built-in wifi and NFC technology, make it easy to transfer photos and videos as well as share them with family and friends on social media.
It also has a built-in GPS that can be enabled to embed your location on your photos and record coordinates and map your shots. Strap in your CoolPix to your chest and take amazing first-person photos and videos so that your friends can feel as if they were there.
When you’re on the top of a mountain or underwater and you want to capture the amazing view—all of it, The COOLPIX AW130’s wide-angle (24 mm f2.8 equivalent), 5x optical zoom NIKKOR glass lens provides a wide field of view that’s great for those moments.
- Wi-Fi with NFC
- Other cameras take brighter underwater photos
- Poor control layout
Related: If you decide to buy the Nikon Coolpix AW 130 camera, you will also need an accessory kit for it. We recommend you the 32GB Accessories Kit For Nikon COOLPIX AW130 Camera that contains 32 GB high-speed SD memory card, replacement EN-EL 12 battery, AC/DC charger, case and much more small gadgets that will make the overall experience much more enjoyable.
Price: Approx. $430
Weight: 0.41 lbs
Dimensions: 4.30 x 2.65 x 1.14 in
Specific features: Wi-Fi, 16.1 MP, 1/2.3 in MOS sensor, 4.6x optical zoom, 28 – 128 mm lens, 30 – 1/1300 sec. shutter speed
Best use: Adventures in extreme environment
Description: Take the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 Digital Camera with you anywhere you go on the planet, and it will survive thanks to its tough build. The camera is very easy to operate and hold, with the front grip and well-profiled shape.
The metal front and back covers, give the camera an extra protection so you won’t need to be extra careful when handling it on one of your backpacking adventures. The FT5 also performs well underwater with bright and clear images. Also, cold conditions are a non-issue, so you can take it with you when you’re skiing or mountain climbing in the Alps. It is freeze-proof up to -10°C.
Furthermore, you can expect rich color and great photographs with this camera. An inspection of a color chart will reveal that the images remain vibrant through the ISO range even when set to the highest setting of 6400. The FT5 also has great connectivity and is a good choice for adventurers who like to share on social media.
You can also use the GPS to geotag locations, as well as providing real-time information about the location of where you are shooting images. With up to 1 million landmarks stored, Panasonic has one of the most precise digital camera GPS antenna.
- Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS
- Image quality
- Excellent AWB performance
- Extremely tough
- Well stitched panoramas
- Screen scratches easily
- Images can lack vibrancy underwater
- Portraits have red-eye when shooting with the flash
Related: When you go swimming or snorkeling with your new waterproof camera, you will need something to prevent your waterproof camera from sinking and losing it to the sea or the ocean. The Tethys Waterproof Camera Float is a great solution for you as it attaches to the camera easily, and you can place it around your wrist, just to make sure your camera is close, or on the surface of the water if you somehow let go of it.
We have reached the end of the article, and by now, you should have gained a much better insight into the features you should keep an eye on when buying a new camera for your outdoor adventures. Now, you know which batteries to use, how the number of megapixels affect the pictures, why you should or shouldn’t choose cameras with LCD viewfinders, does the zoom affect the picture quality, and you have the basic knowledge about memory cards and ISO sensors for night shooting.
After making a list of the features that are most important to you, our reviews of the top digital cameras, where we wrote about prices, best uses, weight and dimensions for each model, will make your perfect, final choice, much easier. Thanks to the specs we included for each model, as well as specific features, in-depth descriptions, pros and cons, and related products, not only that you can make sure you end up with the perfect model, but you can also get the best available accessories, so that you get the absolute most of the camera you buy.
At the end, it all comes down to personal needs and taste, but, if you, for example, need a camera for extreme adventures that include diving and possible opportunities for the camera into be dropped on a hard surface, we would recommend getting the Olympus TG-4 as it offers the most features for the price. On the other hand, if you are looking for the best image and video quality, without water and shock-proofs, we recommend the Sony Alpha a6300 as it really is a professional tool for filmmakers.
Now, it is your turn to share some thoughts. Do you already have any of the reviewed camera models? If so, which one and how happy are you with it? Also, what do you think about the models we talked about? Let us know by leaving a comment in the comments section below. Thanks for reading and if you think that your friends will find this article interesting to read and useful, feel free to share it on social media.