UKC

/ Good beginner camera for mountaineering

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
asdf123 on 31 Dec 2017
Hi

So a lot of my climbing partners are into photography and I've been thinking about getting myself a proper camera sometime. As a newcomer I find the enormous range of different cameras rather intimidating, which is why I thought someone around here may have some helpful tips.

So far I found a couple of cameras which seem interesting. Firstly the Nikon D3400, which seems to be the classic beginner DSLR. Also I found the Mirrorless Olympus EM-10 mark ii, which may be quite good for climbing as it is very compact.

What would you recommend? Would be happy to hear you thoughts!
Tall Clare - on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to asdf123:

As the cliche goes, the best camera is the one to hand, so to my mind, if you're just starting out, the most important thing is to have a camera that's easy to access whilst mountaineering. For me, the camera I use most whilst on the hill is a (now obsolete) Canon G16 compact, because it sits neatly on my rucksack chest strap and is easily accessible whatever I'm doing, without having to stop and rummage in my pack. My DSLR only comes out with me in the hills if I'm on a specifically photographic day out, mostly because it's bulky.
teh_mark on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to asdf123:

I have a Nikon D3200 (forerunner to the D3400), and I quite like it. It's relatively compact and light for a DSLR, I appreciate the degree of control it gives me over a compact, and with a Peak Design Capture clip I have options for carrying it on a rucksack strap, harness, etc. As Clare says having a great camera is no use if it's difficult to get to because you'll never use it, so having a system for keeping it close to hand is very important.

The Fuji range of compact system cameras are also interesting, and if I was to buy a new camera now it'd be one of those without any doubt.
asdf123 on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to teh_mark:

I've actually been using compact cameras before while climbing (although maybe not the higher end ones you may be thinking of), and I've gotten been pretty good results. Yet I still think I would prefer a DSLR or Mirrorless one (although rather bulky) as I would probably be taking it mainly on shorter trips, when rucksack space is abundant. Also as said before some of my climbing partners take their bulky 3000+ £ cameras on climbs regularly and the results are usually quite extraordinary.
nathan79 - on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to asdf123:

I've had a play with my girlfriend's Olympus EM-10 mark I and it's a nice bit of kit. Not really that much bigger than a compact (minus the lens of course but you get a nice pancake zoom for it that does a good job).
Dr.S at work - on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to nathan79:
> I've had a play with my girlfriend's Olympus EM-10 mark I and it's a nice bit of kit. Not really that much bigger than a compact (minus the lens of course but you get a nice pancake zoom for it that does a good job).

I had a play in Jessops and found the OM 10 just too small to feel right in my hands - and if it’s not tactilely pleasurable I’m not going to use it. Currently swithering between a Fuji xt20 and a Nikon D5600 - happily cant afford either at the mo but enjoying a good bit of window shopping!

I think that the top end DSLR and CSC cameras are getting quite mature now, so second hand starts to get really attractive.
Post edited at 15:27
1
Jonny on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to asdf123:

I'll put a good word in for the Canon 100D. It's unbelievably tiny for a DSLR, and combined with a fixed 24mm 'pancake' lens you can just stick it in a jacket pocket beacuse of its miniature profile. It's very comfortable to use despite its size, and can be picked up for very cheap.

As others say, if you've got a bulky DSLR in your rucksack, it'll just be dead weight, or bother you while you just want to be running free in the hills.
Rich Ellis - on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to asdf123:

I agree with Tall Clare , a nice small camera that sits within easy reach and you can use with one hand . I was recommended by a friend to go for a cannon ixus a few years ago and will get another updated one soon.
its light compact and easy to use with great results. and it goes everywhere with me . cheap enough to replace easily if damaged . though it has been robust in use.
jethro kiernan - on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to asdf123:
I use an Olympus OM-D EM-5 when I don't want to take the dslr into the hills
https://www.mpb.com/en-uk/used-equipment/used-photo-and-video/used-compact-system-cameras/used-olymp...

Tough little weather proofed camera and small enough to fit in a large jacket pocket or clip onto a harness, good picture quality and a decent selection of lenses available.
Post edited at 16:59
Alpenglow - on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to asdf123:

I shoot with and Olympus E-M10 II with a M.Zuiko 9-18mm ultra wide zoom lens.
I also carry a Lumix 35-100mm telephoto zoom.

Both are ultra compact and really good for mountaineering photography.
Shots from my Olympus system are on my flickr (and ones from my old Canon G16 if you go back far enough!)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/141680726@N06/

Jonathan Griffith shoots with an E-M5 II and the 9-18mm for his personal photography.
http://alpineexposures.com/phototips/tips-from-the-pros-which-camera-gear
nathan79 - on 31 Dec 2017
In reply to Dr.S at work:

I understand your experience with these Olympus. I'm currently pondering camera options and I don't think it'll be anything other than a DSLR. Second hand option for me but deciding which is the hard bit. 90% certain it'll be Nikon.
alx on 01 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

I believe a bonus with the Olympus is that is has option to have a silent shutter.

The noises shutter on my canon has spoiled more than a few wildlife shots
The Lemming - on 01 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

If you are going dSLR then I'd suggest second-hand and then buy the best glass that you can afford for the camera. And if its a budget dSLR then you can't go wrong with a sigma lens for it.

However I have now sold my dSLR stuff and moved over to mirrorless, and I am very pleased with the move. My neck also appreciates the smaller weight hanging around it.

Its all horses for coarses.
Si Withington - on 01 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

I sold all my DSLR kit and now pretty much solely take the Olympus E-M5 II with the M.Zuiko 9-18mm 4-5.6 lens into the mountains. I can climb, bike, ski and work with it either clipped to my harness in a small bag or just stuffed into my jacket. Works fine. Pretty robust, weather sealed, pin sharp lens, light etc etc. Lens not that 'fast' but doesn't matter at those focal lengths. Recommended. Message me if you want more info. Si
pjm on 02 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:
I do a lot of photography including up in the mountains. Having carried a variety of cameras and gear up (including a 4kg medium format film camera with a selection of 2kg lenses as well as a full portrait studio on two different trips!) there are some important observations I'd make:

1. The quality of your photos will likely not be dictated by the gear you are carrying - it will be defined by the light conditions when you shoot (and what you make of them).
2. Being able to get to your camera easily and being willing to use it massively increases the chances of good photos - if you're shooting 100 photos then simply by the law of averages you should end up with some keepers, no matter what skill levels are!
3. To that end, slow-to-operate, complicated and/or bulky are going to hinder you. Not having a weatherproofed camera will mean you're less inclined to leave it "accessible" and might not even use it when it's drizzling etc. Shooting more will lead to shooting better, so get a camera which you are comfortable using in all conditions
4. Learn some basics (if you haven't already)... exposure triangle, DSLR limitations (highlight clipping in particular), what can be achieved with simple post processing, composition basics - these will make more of your shots better quality. Some stuff such as the effect of depth of field is less relevant when you're shooting "typical landscape" stuff, but interesting to know.
5. Spending £s on gear will not lead to better photos, but it will likely make you think you're taking better photos. Been there and done that! It can also have a negative - having a £2000 camera and lens hanging from your rucksack strap when clambering up/down a chimney isn't going to make you more relaxed...

Having said all that, it's really about what works for you. The above are things I've taken away from my own experiences, but everyone's different. If you want actual recommendations, I'd pluck the two following possibilities out of my posterior (because opinions are just like AHs - everone has one):

a Sony RX100 with some sort of waterproof cover; or
a second hand Pentax K3/K5 with the weather resistant wide-angle "kit" zoom lens

I restarted my DSLR shooting with the latter but would probably recommend the former as a cheaper, lighter and more straightforward solution. If you do think you'll want more shooting options then the DSLR (e.g. Pentax) will allow additional lens choices, but TBH I'd be inclined to have a dedicated "mountain camera".

HTH.
Post edited at 22:07
asdf123 on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

I certainly agree with pjm that a compact and more portable camera would enable me to to make more shots (and therefore increase the likelihood of a few good ones). That is why I like the Olympus EM-10 (especially after seeing Alpenglow's shots!).

As I have neither the experience or budget to get a really good lens from the beginning, I thought I would start out by using the kit lens of whatever camera I buy (and upgrading later on). The kit lens of the Olympus would be the Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5 -5.6 EZ lens. Do you think that lens would work as an all-round lens for mountaineering? (at least to begin with)
asdf123 on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

Any opinions on lenses? What types do you generally bring on mountaineering trips? (assuming you are not prepared to take more than one lens with you)
Toerag - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

> I certainly agree with pjm that a compact and more portable camera would enable me to to make more shots (and therefore increase the likelihood of a few good ones). That is why I like the Olympus EM-10 (especially after seeing Alpenglow's shots!).

> As I have neither the experience or budget to get a really good lens from the beginning, I thought I would start out by using the kit lens of whatever camera I buy (and upgrading later on). The kit lens of the Olympus would be the Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5 -5.6 EZ lens. Do you think that lens would work as an all-round lens for mountaineering? (at least to begin with)

The OM10 is very portable, but isn't weathersealed - that may or may not be an issue for a climbing camera. If it is, then consider the weathersealed E-M5, it's not much bigger and certainly goes in a jacket pocket with a small lens. Has better stabilisation too. The 14-42 kit lens isn't the sharpest or fastest lens in the grand scheme of things, but will be fine for a beginner like yourself. It's wide enough for landscape shots, but will still do portraits and blur the background a bit if you're close to your subject. If you find it lacking then there's always the 12-40Pro to work up to. I'm currently using the 12-40 as my mountain lens, it's only lacking the ability to zoom into something hundreds of metres away, and that's not much of a mountaineering shot. As you're a beginner, the important thing is learning how to manage aperture, focal length and shutterspeed to get the effect you want. Any camera with manual options to set these things will do this, if you can find a compact with zoom or 'bridge' camera that will do those things then that may be a better option for you.
Toerag - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:


> Any opinions on lenses? What types do you generally bring on mountaineering trips? (assuming you are not prepared to take more than one lens with you)

You'll find wide (18-24mm full-frame equivalent) is good for a mountain lens - good for landscapes, and good for a climber and decent bit of background in shot. Look at the exif data for climbing pics you like to see the camera and lens used. The Rushforth link above has more on lenses, and I think Alexander Buisse has a webpage somewhere too.
asdf123 on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

Thanks for all of your answers! I have to say I like the Olympus EM-10 as it is very compact and would probably fit in a pocket (unlike most DSLRs). Also the kit lens is very small.

As someone very new to photography, I still wonder what the downsides to such a small lens are? For example the kit lens on a Nikon d3400 has comparable specs to the kit lens of the Olympus and yet is enormous in comparison...
pjm on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

I'd bear in mind that composition also plays a significant part in capturing a good photo. Composing a strong image with a wide angle is generally considered "harder" than with longer lenses - in part because it exaggerates perspective so massively compared with what we're used to.

I'd recommend practising with whatever you have first in normal outdoor conditions (shoot some lochs/lakes, rivers etc.) and start to develop your skills before shooting up high and potentially being frustrated with the output.

Just speaking from personal (bitter) experience!
planetmarshall on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

I take my EM-10 everywhere, multipitch, scottish winter, usually with the 9-18mm zoom but I may take a couple of extra lenses if cragging, like the 45mm 1.8

I plan to upgrade to the weather-sealed EM-5, but the EM-10 stubbornly refuses to break.

cousin nick on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

I certainly wouldn't describe myself as a photographer, but I do take a lot of photos when climbing, walking, kayaking, biking etc.

Firstly, I think its worth asking yourself a basic question - will you be going out to take photographs, or will you be going for a walk/climb etc and maybe take some photos while you're at it?

I am generally in the latter group, i.e. photography is not the main aim, generally.

However, I do occasionally go with photography as the main aim, and it is then that I take the dSLR and some decent glass (an old Olympus E3 in my case) tripod etc.  As you suggest, a Nikon d3400 would be a good starter in this case, and has the added advantage of being able to shoot video too.  Nikon/Canon also tend to have many more secondhand lenses available than the 4/3 lens mount family, if you want to expand your kit later.

On all activities I always take a compact 'tough' camera. I currently have a Nikon AW100, but may change soon to the Olympus TG5. The advantage of such a camera is that it can be hung around your neck and tucked inside jacket/fleece/t-shirt and whipped out for that quick shot of your heroic partner, when doing so with a dSLR might be less practical. A compact, easy to operate, weatherproof, shockproof camera will often enable you to capture images that you'd miss if reliant on bigger/better(?) equipment.

 

N

Post edited at 09:17
Toerag - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to asdf123:

>  For example the kit lens on a Nikon d3400 has comparable specs to the kit lens of the Olympus and yet is enormous in comparison...

The sensor in the olympus is smaller, thus the lenses needed are smaller. A 25mm lens on the EM10 gives the same field of view as a 50mm lens on a full frame camera. This is why many photographers needing to carry their kit around are downsizing from full frame or APS-C size sensor cameras to m43 cameras, especially if they carry many lenses. It's not a free lunch though - larger sensors exhibit less noise for the same exposure/ISO parameters and are better in low light for moving subjects. The image stabilisation in the OMD series can compensate for this for static subjects. Larger sensors can offer more megapixels, but that's only really an issue if printing massive prints or if you have to crop an image heavily.  Look up 'sensor crop factor'

 

malk - on 11 Jan 2018

In reply:

yes, all oly m43 users would love to have the 9-18 or 12-40 pro - they are good lenses- but expensive.

 i'm using the oly 12-50 (w-sealed, bulky, nice macro), the panasonic 12-32 (sharper, tiny, but CA issues on older oly bodies) and the oly 40-150mm with my EM5. (all for less than either of above)

 

Post edited at 14:46

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.