A camera for hiking?

Discussion in 'Help and Feedback' started by Tadgh78, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2013
    Hello, this is my first post. So first of all hi everyone and great forum! :smile:

    I'm looking for a camera to take with me on day hikes and possibly multi-day hikes.Currently I own a nikon D70 DSLR with the 18-55 kit lens (ancient I know) but in general I'm very happy with it, however the sad fact is that when I take it hiking I find it dimishes my pleasure considerably (oz's in the morning are pounds at night).

    I'd use a compact (I also have an old powershot) but I'm unhappy with the detail it produces for landscape and its low focus speed is frustrating when trying to take wildlife shots.

    In essence what I hope to find is a camera with all of the functionality of an SLR but in miniture. Does such a camera exist? If not, then what is the closest thing?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Real Name:
    Tadgh welcome to the forum. I can understand how the Nikon DSLR weighs down on you for a whole day hike especially at the end of the day.

    If you are going to areas with possible rains, dust and other outdoor elements - I suggest taking a look at the weather-sealed camera bodies like the OMD or the GH3. You mentioned the functionality of the DSLR but in smaller form factors - I think the GH3 fits the bill.

    Take a look at the G5 too.

    Or if you feel the above bodies are still big - you might want to consider the GX1 or the EPL5.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Real Name:
    I do good bit of hiking and use a an epl2. I think any mft camera would be suitable for hiking.
  4. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    I don't know your budget, and if you hike along or with others, but there's some good hiking lenses. There's the 9-18 or 7-14 for panorama type shots. Or, there's the 12mm lens which would work well, and also is good for lower light. I would also recommend like a good legacy 50mm for landscape details, or even the Olympus 75mm, which is really sharp and has a reasonable magnification power. If you shoot wildlife, the P100-300 could come in handy.
  5. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Real Name:
    Depending on just how much direct control you want/need (meaning how much you want to avoid diving into the menu vs. having external dials/buttons), I'd point you to three cameras: The Olympus E-PM2 or E-PL5... or the Panasonic GX1. All three cameras are rangefinder-styled and offer the latest sensors that Olympus and Panasonic offer in those body styles. None offer the weather resistance of the OM-D or GH3, but they are smaller and less expensive.

    The E-PM2 is likely the smallest of all of them and arguably offers the least amount of external controls. You can do just about everything you can do with a DSLR, but you have to either leave it on auto or dive into the menu to change settings. The E-PL5 is just a bit larger but offers more external dials and buttons, plus a tiltable rear LCD. Both cameras can accept external flashes and optional electronic viewfinders. In fact, neither has a built-in flash but both have a small flash unit included in the kit. If you're not using a viewfinder, you can lock the flash into the hot shoe and leave it there. Both cameras feature the newest 16mp micro four-thirds sensor from Sony that is also featured in the more-expensive Oly OM-D. The kit lens with both is the Oly Zuiko 14-42mm (28-84mm in full-frame/35mm terms) collapsable zoom.

    The Panasonic GX1 offers external controls that are at least the equal of the E-PL5 but does not have a tiltable or articulating rear LCD. The GX1 also accepts an optional electronic viewfinder (but can't use the Olympus EVFs). It can also accept an external flash but includes a built-in flash. The 16mp Panasonic sensor in this camera isn't quite as new as the Sony sensor in the Olympuses, but it's still considered current and offers quality not far behind the Olys. The kit lens is a non-collapsable 14-42mm Panansonic Lumix zoom. Because the GX1 is likely to be replaced late in 2013, some very attractive deals can be found on this camera in the $300-400 range.

    There are also deals to be found on the older Olympus E-PM1 and E-PL3, as well as the Panasonic GF3 and GF5. But all utilize the first-generation 12mp Panasonic micro four-thirds sensor that's getting a bit long in the tooth and offers less performance at higher ISOs (1600 and up). And, in truth, any of these will still give you far better results than almost any point-and-shoot camera.

    Hope this helps.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    The good news is that you have a lot of choices. The bad news is also that you have a lot choices.

    In terms of image quality, all of the m4/3 bodies will equal or surpass your DSLR. The main difference is handling and ergonomics. The Panasonic G5, GH3 and to some degree the Olympus E-M5 are built like small DSLRs. They have built-in eye-level viewfinders, handgrips (the E-M5's is optional) and so on. The other m4/3 bodies are built like compact cameras with large rear LCDs, but no built-in viewfinder (although you can add an external one in many cases).

    Personally I'm quite pleased with the Olympus E-M5. I think you'll find the E-M5 and 12-50 kit lens a very versatile combination, with excellent ergonomics and a much reduced weight over your existing DSLR.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    If OP was happy with a D70 + 18-55 but unhappy with the weight, any m4/3 body with a built-in viewfinder and kit lens will serve him/her well.

    The best bag for buck is probably the G3 or G5 and kit lenses. The best would be E-M5 or GH3 with the 12-35/2.8.

    The suggested E-M5 + 12-50 kit would function admirably.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Exposed

    Exposed Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 13, 2011
    Central Washington State
    Real Name:
    Randy dawson
    I have been using my e-pl2, 14-42 kit lens and VF-2 finder for about 2 years now and am loving it. It has been on day hikes and week long hikes into the central cascades of Washington State. But I think any of the small pens or panasonic cameras will do the trick. I really want the oly 12mm or the Panasonic 14mm as my next lens.

    • Like Like x 1
  9. Gillymaru

    Gillymaru Mu-43 Veteran

    If you want DSLR like features and handling I would recommend the Olympus OMD or in Panasonic the GH3 or G5.
    I think the G5 body represents excellent value and great handling, team it up with the Panasonic 14-45 lens (you may have to hunt around for a new 14-45, but it is worth it as they are much sharpener than current kit lenses) and you will have a great system that won't break the bank. It will leave you enough left over to put towards a a specialist lens such as the Panasonic 20 or 25 mm. Good luck with your search, there is plenty of choice and whatever you end up with will be much easier to carry than your Nikon.
  10. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2013
    Wow! thanks for all the suggestions this site really is a font of useful information!

    I'm sorry, should have given a bit more information on exactly what I'm looking for and my budget. My budget is about $600 for body and lens, so that should narrow it down a bit. My main concern is to lose a significant amount of weight from my camera system without sacrificing too much performance.

    My current setup of a Nikon D70 and the 18-55 nikkor kit lens weighs 944g total;

    (D70 body)...................679g.
    (18-55mm Nikkor lens)....265g.

    I want to try to reduce that weight as much as possible, therefor a camera with weather proofing is really out of the question (as well as being out of the budget ;)). I'll make do with a plastic rain sleeve.

    To handle dust, I would like with a camera that had a self-cleaning sensor. The G3 has one as do the GX1 and G5. The Olympus Pens seem mostly to be without this feature.

    The G5 looks good I like the fact that it has a self-cleaning sensor. I see that as a major plus. I've had to clean my D70's sensor several, times and I'd prefer to have to do it less often.

    The GX1 looks interesting.


    What is that lens? It looks almost like a pankake but its a 14-42mm zoom.

    Not all GX1's seems to be sold with that particular lens. Is this a different lens?


    The GX1 body weighs 318gs and the Lumix G vario lens weighs 110g so 428gms altogether! I expect I can add a EVF and still have something weighing in at less than half of the 944gms of my current system.

    The EPL5 seems to have no self-cleaning sensor, so that's a drawback. Also the flip down screen doesn't really appeal to me. I'd rather either a fully articulated screen, (so I could take video of myself) or else none at all. Now I sound like a narcissist, well can't be helped. :p
  11. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Real Name:
    I would presume the Olympus bodies have self-cleaning sensors considering that Olympus pioneered this technology.

    That is the 14-42 x pancake lens and the other one is the older 14-42 lens - both come as kit lenses.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2013
    A very informative post, Biro. Thank you very much indeed.

    Comming form an SLR background rather than a point and shoot, I like to have external controls.Plus there are times I might be wearing gloves, so that is another consideration. And I want a self-cleaning sensor. For all those reasons I find myself leaning towards the panasonic G series.

    The GH3 and OM-D although wonderful cameras, are almost as heavy as SLRs and really beyond my budget anyway.


    The E-PM2 seems to offer about the best image quality of any M43 camera and significently better than the GX1. Snapsort.com rates the E-PM2 IQ at 72.0 vs 55.0 for the GX1. Though I suspect that in practice the difference would not appear to be that great.

    Collapsible or not I think the form factor on the lens shown here seems seems plenty low to me;

    I think I would certainly go for the GX1 over the GF3 or GF5. If nothing else because I prefer the grippier grip and external controls.

    Yes It helped a lot. Thanks again.

    I think really my choice is between the GX1 and either the G3 or G5. I like the GX1 mainly because of the really very low profile when combined with the panny lens.

    I like the G3/5 because of the articulating screen and I like all 3 because of the external controls and self-cleaning sensor. Can anyone help me pick between the 3 of them? The weight of all 3 + kit lens seem sot be within 150grams so thats not really an issue.
  13. Tadgh78

    Tadgh78 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 25, 2013
    According to Snapsort.com the E-PM2 doesn't have a self-cleaning sensor. But perhaps snapsort is not reliable?

    I'd still go for the panasonic though for the external controls; which are difficult operate with gloved hands but probably easier than a touch screen.

    Ah, mystery solved! Baby steps, baby steps. ;)
  14. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Real Name:
    I would omit the GX1 because of lack of EVF, and once added you lose the compactness and price advantage.
    Out of this G3/5 I would go with the G5 for the following reasons.

    1. Best IQ and higher usable ISO.
    2. Very good EVF with eye sensor.
    3. Better controls then the G3.
    4. More juice in the battery.
    5. Much better grip and ergonomics.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. tdekany

    tdekany Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 8, 2011
    +1 what elavon suggested. It is a no brainer.
  16. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Nope that source is definitely NOT reliable! As xdayv said, every single Olympus body does have a self-cleaning sensor, and Olympus was the first to ever have this technology. The other guys laughed and said it wasn't needed, but after they discovered they were wrong they all tried to make their own version. Olympus and Panasonic (who were partners in technology) however, remained the only ones to have a truly effective dust removal system. This has always been one of the highlights of owning an Olympus digital system camera.
  17. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I'd also recommend the G5 plus kit lens as the setup closest to being DSLR like but being significantly lighter than your current setup. Great prices on this camera recently.

    Out of the box thinking, if you want to go extra small and only plan on a kit lens anyway consider the Sony RX100. Not DSLR like at all, but very good IQ on par with m43 in a very small and light package.
  18. gsk3

    gsk3 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 29, 2012
    Not sure what kind of hiking you do, but if you're a titanium spork type (e.g. every ounce counts), the E-PM1/2 or GF3/5 are the absolute smallest. You can get a GF3 with 14/2.5 lens (tiny) for $300 right now, and I think with the 14-42x power zoom you liked above it's a little over $400. That leaves you in your budget for another prime, either the Panasonic 20/1.7 or the Olympus 45/1.8.

    In other words, it's tiny, and you're investing in the optics instead of in the camera body, which is generally the way to go.
  19. PMCC

    PMCC Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 18, 2013
    On the other hand, the G3 is lighter, 336g vs 396g. The GX1 weights 318g.
  20. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Just to put the weight thing in perspective, the E-M5 is significantly lighter than any decent or semi-decent DSLR (i.e. the all plastic super lightweight Canons and Nikons are only marginally heavier). My entire MFT kit comes in at less than my Canon with kit lens (OK, so that's a 5DII and a 24-105, i.e. heavy). I never regret taking the weight along, and would look somewhere other than camera gear to shave off a couple of ounces - the weight differences (few hundred grams) between various MFT options are pretty negligible, so let usability drive choice.