IMG_8617Aside from taking away peace and happiness from an epic hiking trip, I also usually leave with at least 500 photos on each trip.  Capturing photos is something I love to do and make part of each adventure.  I wish I could capture every colorful flower, every dew drop on every blade of grass, every ray of sunshine and every alpenglow and bring it back with me.  Instead, I try to piece together a landscape in a photo that will later transport me back to that moment in time.

Let me be clear, I am no expert photographer here. I have never taken a class and consider myself novice at best but I do have a bit of hands on experience with a point and shoot camera only. Whether you want to get into photography or just like to take photos to capture the beautiful places you wander, getting that one magical photo, even out of the 1000 you took, will give you an amazing feeling of truly reliving that moment another day.  Having a camera that does that with ease will make all the difference.

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Capturing sunsets and enjoying a local brew in Michigan.

Cell phone cameras have come so far over the years that most hikers rely on their phones as their memory makers and capture some truely great shots. The phone serves more than one purpose so lightweight hikers prefer this.  Others love the versatility, size and ruggedness of the GoPro.  More professional photographers won’t leave home without their DSLRs and a bag of gear and lenses.  I would rather save that weight for wine and bring a small point and shoot.

My camera must haves:  Amazing photo clarity, detail and color capture.  Lightweight and small. Some zoom. A few options to play with my own settings on a “manual mode” and good battery life. 

After much research, I have found one that far surpasses my expectations. So, for what it’s worth, I thought I would share my favorite camera that I use on all my backpacking and hiking trips.  There are plenty of reviews out on the web about this camera, and I encourage you to read more about the technical specs elsewhere as that is not my forte. I am going to cover this from an amateur photographers hiking experience and share some of the photos that this camera has managed to capture for me so you can see for yourself how well it performs behind amateur hands 🙂


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My camera: Sony Cybershot DSC RX100 M2

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sony-DSCRX100M2-Cyber-shot-Digital-Camera/dp/B00DM8R866

Size: 102 x 58 x 38mm

Weight: 9.9oz


Pros:  Lightweight enough to hang around your neck, and also small and packable – fits in my hip pocket of my pack.  Takes photos with amazing crisp color and detail. Works well for close up shots and captures great detail in landscapes and portraits as well.  Takes very clear action/burst photos – perfect for my jump shots! This camera also takes amazing photos in low light, and works best with a tripod for night and low light settings.  I love the shutter priority feature on this camera; it allows me to get sweet night sky and waterfall photos and does most of the settings automatically for me to get the best shot. While it will never trump a DSLR, I love that I don’t have know much about cameras to get a good photo.  I can usually make it through a half week on a fully charged, single battery (if im not using flash or video) on a hiking trip.

Cons:  This camera doesn’t have the large zoom that would allow you to capture critters that are in the distance or people on a nearby summit.  While I love that this camera has a pano feature,  I find that the panos on my iPhone can capture a better angle in some instances.   You need to make sure you have spare batteries for longer trips because to charge the battery, you have to plug the camera in directly as there is no external battery charger.  You must treat this camera gently, as it is not an “adventure” camera and is not water or drop proof. This camera does come with a pretty hefty price tag, but I do believe it is well worth it.  To save some change, check out an older model (which is what I did) for a better price. The features are still pretty great in the older models.


 

Now, for some great captures:

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Night Sky over Longs Peak, CO. Shutter Priority Mode, Long Exposure Time.
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Sunrises on Cumberland Island, GA – Shot on Automode – Landscape.  Low light with a bright focal point.  Love the detail in the foreground and the blur of the sunrise.

 

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The Narrows, Utah. This was the most difficult place to take photos because of the depth of the canyon and the variety of the color from the bright top of the canyon to the darkness at the bottom. I let the camera do all the work on automode on this and came out with some great shots that captured the color of the canyon walls and the light patterns.

 

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Lake of Many Winds, CO. The black and white feature of this photo lets the detail in the mountains shine through. Shot in automode, landscape.
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Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, CA. Low light in the foreground contrasting the bright light in the trees. No tripod. Shot on Automode. I love that despite the light contrast in the photo, the colors are not washed out and the detail is soft in all the right places.
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Shingle Mill Pathway, MI. Shot in Auto-Landscape Mode. Perfect lighting allows the camera to capture incredible details in the trees, the silence of the water and the color variety.
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Wind River Range, WY. Great example of how the camera auto-focused on the flowers in the forefront and while still capturing the amazing landscape in the background.
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Sunrise in the Red River Gorge, KY.  I love how the camera captures glow, shadow and detail despite the low light without a tripod here. I also love how it autodetected where to focus so that my lovely friend Sarah is the most detailed subject in the photo.
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Tahquamenon Falls, MI. Shot on an overcast day on shutter priority without a tripod. Love the smooth cascade of the falls that shutter priority creates.
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Jump shots at sunset in Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario. Shot in Burst Mode without a tripod. Surprisingly not blurry even with low lighting.

 

Remember: Take only photographs, leave only footprints….

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