So you’ve decided to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world? Good for you! With all of the trekking and hiking you’ll be doing, you’ll need a good camera to capture any wildlife encounters or those epic natural landscapes. To help get you on the right track, we’ve created a list of the best cameras for hiking and trekking.
Whether you’re a veteran-photographer or a newbie looking to dabble in photography, the right camera can make a world of difference to your travels.
Travel to: Hiking and trekking in Europe
Best Cameras for Hiking and Trekking
Firstly, a quick word on choosing the right camera. Manufacturers offer a wide variety of technologies that can be utilized in a number of different ways, and for a first-timer, this can be incredibly confusing. Before you go any further, the most important decision you’ll have to make is whether you go for a compact camera, or if you take the leap into the world of interchangeable lenses.
Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately it’s up to you to decide what is the best for you.
Best mirrorless camera for both video and photos
- Most suitable for: Fast-paced wildlife shots, landscapes, portraits and general travel due to its small size.
- Pros: Interchangeable lenses, fast frame rate, 4K video and an incredible autofocus system.
- Cons: Short battery life (although it can be charged via an external power bank).
- Water Resistant: No.
- Zoom: Interchangeable lenses available depending on budget.
The Sony a6500 takes the best technology from the previous generation of a6000’s and combines it into one incredible package. With a large 24mp APS-C sized sensor and interchangeable lenses, this camera is both versatile and practical given its small body size – perfect for hiking and trekking!
Much like its little brother, the RX100M5 (also featured below), the a6500 features 4K video, 425 focus points and shoots up to 11 frames per second which is great for taking wildlife snaps while you’re hiking. The larger sensor not only delivers a greater resolution, it provides a much better image in low light where you would use higher ISO settings.
Coupled with a wide angled lens, this would be perfect for capturing those elusive dark skies only found when you escape the city. Just add a campfire and good friends.
Best entry level compact camera
- Most suitable for: Easy shooting for beginners, or for anyone looking to take a step up from a smartphone camera.
- Pros: Massive zoom, the ability to control exposure manually, Wi-Fi connectivity and a small pocketable size.
- Cons: The resolution won’t keep up with larger sensors and is not ideal for low light conditions.
- Water Resistant: No.
- Zoom: 24-960mm (40x).
The Canon SX730HS provides hikers and travellers with an easy way to increase your photography skills without carrying a bulky camera. Featuring a 40x zoom, this camera allows you to take close-up photos of animals without putting yourself, or your camera at risk. The SX730HS also features a flip screen, allowing for creative angle use or taking selfies.
This option is perfect for anyone searching for a lightweight, sturdy camera.
Travel to: Hiking and trekking in Asia
Best compact camera for video and photos
- Most suitable for: Landscapes, fast-moving subjects and general travel photography.
- Pros: 4K video, fast frame rate, fast lens, compact body, Wi-Fi capability.
- Cons: 4x zoom can be limiting for wildlife photography.
- Water Resistant: No.
- Lens: 4x zoom.
The Sony RX100M5 represents the best technology available in the compact camera market. It packs an unbelievable 20MP 1” sensor in a pocket-sized body capable of producing a 4K video. Perhaps the biggest highlight of this camera is the unbelievable frame rate this camera can achieve – a whopping 24 FPS still shooting, which makes it a handy camera for capturing fast-moving subjects while you’re hiking and exploring.
The screen is bright, it flips 180˚and it’s a damn fine choice if you’re looking to boost your photo game for your next hike or trek.
Best entry level DSLR
- Most suitable for: Long hikes and low-light scenes.
- Pros: Lightweight, wide variety of suitable lenses, amazing performance and resolution.
- Cons: Battery life is not as great as other DSLRs available.
- Water Resistant: Yes and no.
- Zoom: Relevant to lens selection and dependant on budget.
The Canon SL2 is the smallest DSLR available on the market. Featuring Canon’s tried and tested 24mp sensor that provides incredible resolution and low light performance, the SL2’s brand new focusing system keeps up with the best DSLR’s available. The SL2 benefits from a massive catalogue of Canon lenses, particularly some of the cheaper options which make for the perfect companion when hiking.
Whether you’re a lover of landscapes or keen on wildlife photography, the Canon SL2 has you covered.
Best top end DSLR
- Most suitable for: Everything! From landscapes to wildlife and daily travel images, this camera is simply the best.
- Pros: Huge resolution, amazing low-light capabilities, fast frame rates and 4K video. Suitable for all types of photography and video capability.
- Cons: Weight and price.
- Water Resistant: Weather sealed.
- Zoom: Depending on which lenses you select.
The new Nikon D850 is beyond deserving of the title as the best DSLR on the market. The 45mp full frame sensor gives incredible detail and captures it all at a whopping 9 frames per second, thanks to the use of the battery from the D5.
This is going to give wildlife photographers amazing results, combining the resolution and speed for the perfect combination. The D850 is capable of 4K video without a crop, which is a huge bonus to the video and photography-lovers out there. From luscious landscapes to dreamy trails, the D850 is the perfect DSLR to accompany you on those beautiful hikes across the globe.
Best action camera
GoPro Hero 6 Black
- Most suitable for: Anyone looking for a complete solution above and below the water in a pocketable camera.
- Pros: Versatile, compact, 4K video at 60 frames per second, easy to navigate.
- Cons: Small sensor size, limited resolution and the native lens are very wide.
- Water Resistant: Yes, up to 10 metres without a housing and 60 metres with a housing.
- Zoom: Depending on image crop selected.
When it comes to lightweight cameras perfect for hiking, it’s hard to look past a GoPro. These cameras have continued to improve over the last five years and the most recent iteration is spot on. With 4K video at 60 frames per second, crop modes for a field of view and a waterproof and shockproof body make this the ultimate hiking option.
The versatility of these cameras are insane – you can shoot anything above and below the water and the myriad of accessories available makes the GoPro a fantastic camera for capturing unique travel memories.
My favorite feature on the GoPro is it’s slow-motion video capabilities. For a tiny camera, the quality is absolutely astounding, and it is the perfect device for capturing all the adrenaline-fueled activities I get up to on my travels!
I would definitely recommend the GoPro to travelers. It’s super compact and affordable, yet so powerful in what it can do. The video and photo quality is truly outstanding and it is so versatile in terms of how you can use it! It is also great having a camera that is waterproof and durable so you can take it with you on any and every adventure without having to worry about getting it damaged. – Nicola, Polkadot Passport
Hands down, the best feature about GoPro cameras is their portability. Since there are no additional lenses or attachments, they’re easy to travel with and can be thrown in a backpack when you’re on the go. The functionality is also what’s really perfect for travelers. I know when I’m exploring a new place I don’t always have time to play around with my camera settings; I just want to soak in the moment! GoPro’s user friendly system and one-click photo shooting let you soak in your new destination while easily capturing memories to last once the moment’s over. – Emily, Airplanes and Avocados
DJI Mavic Pro
- Most suitable for: Adding a new perspective to your hikes.
- Pros: Versatile, compact and provides a unique angle and can also be used to help find your way back to your car.
- Cons: Small sensor size, limited flight time, not allowed in some national parks.
- Water Resistant: No.
- Zoom: None.
Great photos are no longer limited to the ground, and drones have quickly become a very important and versatile tool for photographers and videographers. Small drones such as the Mavic Pro make a very cool alternative camera and due to its small size and it’s the perfect tool to take on those long hikes.
With a 25 minute flight time and 4K video capability, it’s a surefire way to add a different perspective to your photos and videos.
As for editing, once you’ve uploaded your photos to your phone, consider the likes of smartphone apps such as Snapseed and VSCO to fine tune things like exposure and colour to make your photos pop. Try a few different edits and find a workflow that suits your style. When you’re on the computer, make use of Adobe’s’ Photoshop and Lightroom to add the finishing touch. It can be daunting at first, but it is well worth the steep learning curve.
Most importantly, whichever camera you choose will be sure to serve you well. It’s only as good as the effort you put in and the places you visit, so get out there, start planning your next hike and off you go!