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Article published at first in, wrote by us

If, like us, you intend to give priority to photography during your thru-hike, there are a few question to ask yourself before taking the plunge and buying expensive gear.

Reflex pro, semi-pro, Hybrids, Compacts… Nowadays, the offer in the photography market is dizzying and it is often difficult to find oneself!

What kind of camera do you need? Do you need lenses? Which ones? What about accessories?

The offer is gigantic but your needs are often well defined, so don’t get lost.

If you are going to Thru-hike or Section-hike for weeks or months, this adventure will probably be a positive upheaval and undoubtedly an episode of your life which you will be glad to have traces.

Before you invest in photo equipment, define your needs and constraints.

I have been fashion photographer for 8 years. Jumping to outdoor photography brought a new whole bunch of questions on the table.

Here, my goal will not be to convince you to invest in this or that camera, but to help you asking yourself the right questions and to address all the important criteria to choose your photo material for hiking. To serve as an example, I will share with you the questions we had in mind selecting the equipment for our photographic works

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Photo equipment - Hiking

Reflex, Compact, Hybrid: Whats are we talking about ?


Compacts cameras are known for their small dimensions. The lenses are non-removable and retract into the camera once it power off. The zoom capacity can vary from 3x to greater than 10x.

You'll be able to adjust exposure, however focusing is auto as it doesn't possess a manual focus ring because of its retracting lens.

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Photo equipment - Hiking - Compact

Compacts may be the cameras for novices but also for the weight concerned people and the majority of the thru-hiking photographers. Its very small format leads it to be a really handy tool and auto functions make its use quite simple in lots of conditions. These cameras can provide great outcomes for everyday usage. Some of the best Compacts are trully excellent.


The Hybrid Camera is a Compact with a larger sensor capable of accommodating interchangeable lenses. It takes again the format of Compact often small, but also inspired by the Reflex and its modular lenses system: quality of lenses, great aperture, depth of field…

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Photo equipment - Hiking - Hybrid Olympus

The Hybrid functions as a Compact: ease of use, electronic viewfinder, auto-focus with contrast measurement.

Lenses are often interchangeable but do not have an optical viewfinder. Each brand has its dedicated lenses park only compatible with the brand’s enclosures, which can be quite restrictive. But the hybrid lenses parks are growing, thus offering more and more choices.

The hybrid category is actually where we found our winner 🙂

Reflex / DSLR (Digital.Single.Lense.Reflex)

The main difference between a DSLR, a Compact and an Hybrid may be the direct purpose of the lenses. A mirror placed facing the sensor, returns the light picked up by the lens to the sensor. As soon as the shutter is hit, the mirror rises allowing the light reaching the sensor. It is the “click” that we hear. Unlike Compacts and Hybrids which gives you the opportunity to view the image on the screen, the viewfinder from the DSLR simply presents the truth.

The lens is changeable, allowing your camera to become adapted towards the particular requirements of each photograph type. Also, the sensor is a lot bigger compared to a Compact or Hybrid which enables greater picture quality and elevated abilities during the night or with poor light.

All settings could be controlled Manually, which provides great freedom in lots of conditions.

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Photo equipment - Hiking - Reflex

Since we speak now exactly the same language, listed here are the 8 essential factors you need to consider when you choose your ideal and particular photo gear:

1. Solidity

The durability from the devices are a vital qualifying criteria in most outside activities. We're most often afraid to bring a Reflex in this sort of hike, nonetheless, the pro Reflex continue to be utilized by greater than 90% from the photo reporters, and this is also for its sturdiness. Today, manufacturers are making cameras with excellent standards of waterproof resistance and solidity.

What to keep in mind ? :

In which conditions will I use this gear?

Will my camera be permanently inside a hiking bag or protected in the photo bag?

Am I going to face difficult climates?

Am I going to utilize it intensively every single day?

The choices to make

Don't neglect the significance of the sturdiness of the hardware, it is necessary that you have a blind trust in it!

For Hybrids and Compacts, you will find standards when it comes to water resistance and robustness, check it out prior to making your decision. On the majority of sites, comparators will help you to see clearer.

Within the situation of DSLR, in an equivalent cost, frequently it's easier to choose a former professional model, frequently stronger, rather than absolutely wish to acquire the most recent model with increased functions however a lower built.

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Photo equipment - Hiking

Prior to deciding, it's interesting also to consider the protective accessories that you could find for a specific camera.

What about us ? :

To thru-hike for a year and half, we all know that it'll be required for us to get solid, well-proven equipment, durable, stable with sufficient prestige to profit from your efficient after-sales service. When the very New Olympus - OMD Em1 MKii got a lot attention from us it's also due to its capability to face any weather!

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Photo equipment - Hiking - Olympus

2. The topics photographed

It may be very frustrating to become missing of the wide position lens to photograph a landscape or on the other hand not so that you can take pictures of those you mix without approaching within two meters. Selecting your objectives is going to be crucial.

Here is among the limits from the Compact: whether or not the zoom provides you with frequently a great variety, the lens isn't interchangeable. To some degree the Hybrid gives more freedom and a few brands have certainly great lenses options but, taht's why Reflex are great: how big the optical park is. If you go searching for a DSLR the options are going to be almost unlimited.

What to keep in mind ? :

What do I want to photograph?

Am I currently rather focused portraits, sport or do I want to get equiped for landscape?

Maybe both?

How about night?

Tips :

If the lenses offered your camera brand appear too limited, have a look at other manufacturers like Sigma or Tamron or at adaptations rings. They permit to interchange the frames between different brands, for instance you are able to mount a classic Nikon lens on the Olympus camera. They are occasionally supplied with a digital nick for that focus and may then present good alternatives, or perhaps fill gaps inside your lenses collection.

What about us ? :

Within our pictures, we love to combine portraits with landscapes and life scenes. In video we don't use a zoom and try to choose to work our frames with fixed focal lengths. Furthermore, we frequently find ourselves taking photos in low light conditions which naturally pushes us towards high aperture lenses and for that reason fixed focal lengths.

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Porquerolles - France

Side note concerning the Reflex:

There's two sensor sizes:

  • Full frame, what are same size because the usual 35mm (24×36)

  • The APS-C (Advanced Photo System type C) 25×16

All these sizes has advantages: when the large sensors really are a guarantee of quality, the APS-C possesses a bigger zoom factor while being less cumbersome.

For instance, to photograph wildlife or sports epic trails shot, it might be wise to go to an APS-C. With a sensor having a small area, the look is “cropped”: the focal length is multiplied (between x1.4 and x1.6 with respect to the manufacturers).

Example: A 200mm lens with an APS-C is the same as a 300mm on the full frame. And clearly, both of these lenses won't have exactly the same cost.

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Photo equipment - Reflex - Sensors

3. Picture Quality

Various factors lead towards the magic which makes a digital image what it is.

The amount of megapixels matches the amount of pixels around the sensor. It also matches the resolution of the image but additional factors have to be considered like the sensor size, the lenses quality, the device's processor…

As you can tell, megapixels are not everything. Today, we can see cell phones with more megapixels than professional devices, the difference continues to be quite obvious yet.

What to keep in mind ? :

What would be the medium of diffusion of the images?

Will I shoot images in large format or are they intended for a screen?

Will I shoot a great deal during the night or even with low light?

Do I wish to use large aperture (lots of blur)?

Megapixels? Size sensor? Processor? It can be hard to figure out what determines an image quality. This is a couple of lines that may as fast be described in a number of pages.

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Photo equipment - Sensors

Deux Pas Vers l'Autre - Photo equipment - Sensors

The sensor consists of photovoltaic cells that appraise the amount of light and its color. This luminous intensity will be changed into electric energy. The sensors capts the energy and transfer it as an image. A pixel thus remains comprised of several voltaic cells, known as photosites. Thus, with equal quantity of pixels, the photosites may have less space and will also be smaller sized on the small sensor than they are on a full frame sensor.