Buying a Hiking Camera

Researching for a new camera to take along on hikes

I am looking for a new point and shoot digital camera to take along with me on hikes with my kids. My older son broke the camera that I have been using for the last three years during our hike up Mt. Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap. He didn’t break the digital camera on purpose. It was just a matter of time that the camera would break.

The camera is a Konica Minolta DiMAGE G400. My son had the camera in one of his cargo pants’ pocket, and during the hike, the camera’s lens cover, which also serves as the camera’s on and off switch, worked itself to the open position and activated the camera and extended the lens. But since the camera was in his pocket that didn’t have enough room for the lens to extend, the lens jammed.

The lens had jammed a few times before. The first time was a couple of years ago when my older son was playing with the camera turned on and its lens extended. The camera slipped from his hands and dropped to the ground. The camera’s battery/card compartment door was knocked off track a bit and the lens jammed. But I was able to free the lens by applying some side pressure on it. The lens jammed a few more times from the camera being dropped and each time I was able to un-jam it. But this time, I can’t seem to fix it short of opening up the camera body.

It’s a great pocket digital camera. You can read a review of the Konica Minolta DiMAGE G400 here. The camera is only a 4.0 MP (mega pixel) but that is plenty enough for my purposes. Four megapixel is all you really need for prints under 8×10. Besides, it’s the quality of the lens and the CCD that matters, not the number of mega pixels.

But what I liked most about the Konica Minolta DiMAGE G400 is the quick set up time and lack of shutter lag. I was able to turn on the camera and take pictures in fraction of a second. It was great to be able to do that with a camera when you what to take action/candid pictures of two kids who won’t cooperate when they know you are taking their picture.

I also own a Canon G3 and a Canon Rebel XT DSLR. The two cameras take quality pictures but they just can’t compete with the Konica Minolta DiMAGE G400 for size and convenience during a hike.

Here is a picture of the Konica Minolta DiMAGE G400 with the Canon PowerShot G3 with a 3rd party lens adapter:

Konica Minolta DiMAGE G400 and Canon PowerShot G3

The Canon G3’s lens also extends but the lens adapter encloses the lens and protected it from damage and dust.

Here is what found: “…From power-on until the first image was captured took only 7/10 second, so responsive that it will likely be ready to shoot before you are; you’ll rarely miss that un-posed spontaneous photo opportunity. Shutter lag, the time between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, measured less than 1/10 second when pre-focused, a remarkable performance for a consumer digicam; shutter lag including auto focus was an equally impressive 4/10 second. In single shot mode I was able to capture images at a rate of 1 every 2.5 seconds….”

But like all digital camera that have a lens that extend out of the camera body, the lens of the Konica Minolta DiMAGE G400 was prone to being damaged, especially if the camera is used as a hiking camera or outdoor activities.

So I am looking for a new hiking camera: it will be a small digital camera, in the ultra compact category, a point and shoot with enough manual controls for my artistic moments, an internal lens so nothing is sticking out, a wide angle (24mmm – 28mm 35mm film camera equivalents), 3x to 5x zoom, fast setup time and near zero shutter lag.

I will most likely look at no less than 5MP digital cameras, only because new cameras come out each year with ever-higher mega pixels and improvements. While I won’t buy a digital camera just because it’s the latest and “greatest” model and pay a premium, I do want a camera that has the useful innovations and the “bugs” already worked out of it, and get it at a great price.

I’ll post as soon as I find a new hiking camera.

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