View Full Version : seeking suggestions for good camera for upcoming AT thru hike

08-27-2005, 21:41

I plan to attempt a south tonorth thru hike of the AT starting late next march. I would like to be able to take photos along the way..hence need for a camera.

I would want something that is light as possible (under a pound) easy to use, durable and reliable. I am thinking digitial. I have no experience with digital photography but with film cameras one can be sure to run out of film at the worst time (Muphy's law). Can one carry enough of those memory chips to last a whole hike?

While I want something inexpensive (if only!) and simple (ie a point and shoot type) ..I amnot interested in some el cheapo camera.

Any suggestions on camera type/models to look at? How much would I have to spend?

also...should I go with a digital camera or do you think film is better?

I am by no means pro and don't want to fuss with all the techie stuff.. just want good memories in pictures!!


08-27-2005, 21:52

you could pop a 2gb SD card in it and have room for a gazillion photos or half a gazillion photos and video but the best part is not having to worry about water at all...
the down of this camera is no optical viewfinder which the older Optio 43WR had and speaking of you might find of of them on ebay (new, maybe an overstock item a vendor is trying to unload).....good luck on your camera choice and your hike...

08-28-2005, 00:49
I think you'll find that most people tend to love the digital camera that they have.

In my case, it's the Fuji FinePix A330. Very simple, has all the function I need for 6.5oz or so with batteries. I don't use the LCD screen, always preferring the optical viewfinder when possible. On my last trip I took about 300 photos on 1 set of lithium AAs on a 256M memory card, on the 3M picture quality setting.

I think I got mine on sale for $120 or so.

C'est La Vie
08-28-2005, 05:08
We used the Pentax Optio 43WR last year with no complaints. It's advertised as submersible but, we never tried it. However, we never worried about rain etc. It uses two AA batteries so you can replace them easily and not carry a charger. You can buy the biggest memory card your budget allows and take many many pictures. When near full, go to a drug store and transfer the photos to a CD. Mail the CD home and start over again. Of course if the memory card is full and you want to take that perfect photo, you can delete an earlier picture. Good luck!

08-28-2005, 05:57
I'll put in my vote for a nice digital I just purchased; Pentax Optio WP. This is a fully automatic compact digital still camera with built in zoom lens. It has 5.0 Megapixels (effective). With a 512 SD memory card, you can take hundreds of pictures. The camera is supposed to be water proof to a depth of 1.5 metres. I have no intention of testing this, but it's nice to know that it can survive an accidental dunking or a hard rain storm. At 4.5 ounces the camera sits nicely in the hip belt pocket of my ULA P2, or more commonly in my shorts pocket.

This is my first digital camera and I'm still getting used to it, but I know already that I love the thing, and that it is going be a 4.5 oz chunk of my base weight from now on. I think I can live with that.



08-28-2005, 09:00
Well, for what it's worth,

When I thru-hiked in 2001 & 2002, I carried a pocket Olympus Stylus camera, with slide film. That's because I wanted to be able to do a slide show afterwards. The camera worked great for me.

However, at least for me, cameras take a beating, so it died after a few drops, falls, and getting damp.

I started using digital this summer. My criteria was at least 4 megapixils, AA batteries, less than 6 ounces, and as rugged as possible. I was also steered to the SD type memory cards because they are becoming cheeper and more readily available then other types of cards. So, I'm now using a Nikon Coolpix 5600. Thus far, I have not done an extended backpacking trip with it, but have used it for a couple of week long trips, and seems to do just fine. I've probably taken well over 100 pictures, and have not had to change batteries yet, so I don't know what to expect in terms of battery life. (I keep the LCD screen off as much as possible and don't preview pictures)

Makes and models change fairly quickly, but this might give you some ideas of what to look for.

You might also look at www.dpreview.com.

The other part of your question is memory cards. First is to guess how many pictures you will be taking. I certainly tried to take at least 2 or 3 every day. So, for a 6 month hike, that would be 360 to 540 pictures overall. Stores have a little chart to tell you how many pictures will fit on a memory card. In any event, you will probably want 2 or 3 cards. Mail one home and have someone down load the card, and then put it in your next mail drop.

08-28-2005, 09:53
Just use a disposable camera. Mail it to family or friends to be developed and buy another one. Cheap, they take good pictures and no worries.

08-28-2005, 11:57
this is what we carry, very satisified!:)
Sony Cybershot DSCP200 7.2MP Digital Camera 3x Optical Zoom (http://www.hozt.com/items/sony_cybershot_dscp200_7_2mp_digital_camera_3x_opt ical_zoom_z70y.htm)
Manufacturer: Sony

great little camera http://www.hozt.com/shop/images/icons/4.gif
by: Anonymous On: 2005-08-12

I love my new camera, it's my second sony digital, I gave the old one to my husband so that I could get a newer one :-) It's small enough to stick in your pocket, you can zoom in and enlarge without losing quality. It would have been more convenient if it used rechargable AA batteries. Overall a great little camera, can't imagine how Sony's going to come up with a better one. Very good point N shoot and MORE
by: Anonymous On: 2005-08-04

When used with a tripod this camera produces very good exposures using manual, program, and auto modes. The small size makes for good pocket storage. Using the auto mode gives acceptable results however use of manual or program modes and adjustment of settings manually, this thing produces better results than most 35mm film cameras can.

Suprub tiny camera
by: markewhite On: 2005-08-01

Far exceeded our expectations. Perfect for point and shoot or taking short movies of the kids doing cute things when the spirits move them.

Yhe video and audio are amazing, but you cannot use the zoom features and it is easy to get shaky hands while taking these sequences.

If you are willing to risk disaster if it falls, go for this nearly perfect camera. Get the 2 MB pro membory stick from the chepest vendor. It is annoying that they sell it with a minute memory stick, which you cannot cash in on a better one. The Sony battery is amazing and seems to last forever, so you needen't buy a spare.

The Cyber-Shot station is a supurb accessory to keep the camera charged and uploaded. Myseteriously, it comes with a wireless remote that seems only to work in the station, allowing you to take pictures of you desk or visitors without them being aware, I guess. It would be infinitely more useful if this allowed you to connect to the camera and take self portraits from afar, but for some odd reason this did not apparently occur to the Sony engineers.

By snapping away and taking dozens of easy pictures of scenes from differnt angles, I have been able to capture amazing shots where everyboy's eyes are open and they are actually doing things rather than painfully posed. It is not clear if the huge 7Mpixel size really is any better than 3 or 5.

All in all, it is an astouding value for a picture that fits in your pocket. Just don't drop it! And keep it away from the kids. Otherwise perfect for parents of small children. Astonishing pictures http://www.hozt.com/shop/images/icons/5.gif
by: lizziemuse On: 2005-08-01

Bought this camera in June with a planned July trip to Alaska in mind. We have just been back a week and my pictures are amazing. The clarity, color and detail look professional. I am so happy with this camera. It was the right size to stick in my pocket yet large enough to feel secure in my hand. I bought the 1GB memory stick and took all my pictures on high (3.2) resolution. Took over 400 pictures on this memory stick and still some space left. Also the battery charge lasts over 2 hours so I could go on excursions with just my little camera. No need for batteries or extra memory sticks. HIghly recommend this camera While the big camera is away... http://www.hozt.com/shop/images/icons/5.gif
by: mmmousegirl On: 2005-07-25

...This little camera will PLAY.

This is definitely the little portable camera to have. I bought the Sony Cybershot after realizing that I needed to have a camera half the size of my "old-school" Minolta Maxxum 7 if I wanted to capture half of what I missed in not having the high quality big heavy thing stashed in my little chesire cat purse.

The picture quality of this Sony Cybershot is superb, especially for the size. Being able to record videos with the memory card pro is definitely a very cool at-your-service switch-it-up feature.

You must remember that I "went digital" not in an attempt for what I consider the true art of photography, but to merely always have a little camera with me that can somewhat live up to my standards of photographic quality while my big camera is away. This little Sony definitely has not failed and I am very happy with it.

This camera takes awesomely to the dark capturing low light images in a highly visible nature. It is easy to use too, and the range is great; you can easily take videos or still photos of you and your friends with your very own normal-length arm.;)

I've truly not been disappointed with this purchase.:P

08-28-2005, 17:09
Alot depends on what you want to do with your photos in the end. For example, if you want to put up a web page, go digital for sure. If you want to give slideshows, I'd buy a cheap point and shoot (Olympus Stylus Epic) and shoot slide film. But, a digital PS would be ok as well: LCD projectors are more and more common these days. If you want prints, then could either do digital or print film.

If you want to see some results, go to my web page at:


1) Print film, Olympus Stylus Epic: See the PCT pages in the Long Distance Hiking section. These were scanned in with a not so good scanner.

2) Slide film, same camera:




The slides were scanned in with a high quality scanner. I've made 11 by 14 blowups from these slides, but they were not super-duper. The camera is the limitation.

3) Point and Shoot digital (Olympus Camedia D-395): See






4) More advanced digital (Canon G6): See




Since you are not interested in SLRs, I won't direct you to samples of those.

If you are interested in only a webpage and don't want to learn much about photography, I would buy the cheapest digital point and shoot camera you can find. Megapixels won't be important on a computer screen because of resolution limitations. So, a 2 or 3 megapixel camera will be fine (the D-395 is a 3 megapixel camera). If you want to make normal sized prints, you should still be ok. If you think you might want to make prints up to 11 by 14, buy something in the 5 megapixel range. Anything by Canon, Nikon, or Olympus will be just fine, and I'd decide based on price.

Personally, I would buy two 1 GB memory cards and put one in a bounce box. When one fills up, send the other home. With a 2-3 MP camera, it is unlikely that you'll go through more than 2 GB worth of memory. And, if you do fill the second one, you can find places on the AT to burn a CD.

08-28-2005, 18:57
From experience ...something digital, small, light and very easy to use in the 3 - 4 mpixel range that runs on AA lithium batteries and uses an XD media card. Unless you're really brand loyal the operating characteristics are more important that who made the camera.

Also, either carry the wire that allows you to connect via USB directly to the camera or carry one of those extremely light weight (<2oz) XD card readers from Lexar. That way you can download them along the way, burn a CD and mail it home to avoid any loss of your pics.

Pics from a distance hike are precious. Pain in the azz at times to get but worth the effort when you are home after your hike and trying to get a trail "fix" and share the experience with friends/family.


08-28-2005, 21:11
Sony: DSC-W1 or W-5. Check out the consumer report ratings for these. I own one and my friend owns the other. Both are excellent and have large screens to view your pics with. Very reliable, very durable, and totally up-gradable. Even have the ability to select shutter speed, movie function, and the ability to add additional lenses. Way too many cool features to list, I really like the infra-red spot light for night pictures. Any Sony digital camera should work well for you.

08-29-2005, 21:45
There are lots of good digital cameras, and the price is coming down fast. I have a Canon SD 300. Things to look for..
Battery life needs to be looong..no place to recharge unless you can get to town. I carried a spare battery (extra $45) and each battery lasted about 10 days.
LCD screen needs to be useful on a sunny day. Mine is not, so I need to use the view finder..real pain since you can not see any of the settings in the view finder.
Small and light weight, mine is about 5 oz and fits in a shirt pocket.

No need to worry about how many photos the storge can hold. It is not expensive to by extra memory.

I suggest you get the camera from a place that will let you return it for a full refund. I think Best Buy does this.