Whenever I get out for a city hike or fall walk and photography shoot, I often end up stopping and admiring the scene and wishing I could spend all day in that gorgeous environment. but I can’t usually, because time is limited and often there’s a group of us. So I pause, appreciate the majesty of nature and push on.
It’s October as I write this, and fall is one of the best times to shoot and take a hike. Exploration in the outdoors is often a miracle of colour and inspiration in fall. However it can be arduous as we trek long distances and walk during cooler days and nights.
One thing that helps in these situations, and anytime throughout the year, is to carry compact cameras and gear or substitute heavy items for lighter equipment. I have some specialization in this area as I often want to travel and shoot light – carrying only the essentials, so I can focus on getting beautiful images and not on my tired legs and knees or strained back.
In this list I will look at 3 areas:
- Cameras (especially travel / compact, and action cams)
- Tripods (mini size)
- Bags and packs
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Cameras – lighter is beautiful
My main camera these days is a Lumix G9 but I also use my smartphone. Generally speaking I don’t regard the phone as a primary camera. So if I need to travel light I use a compact camera like my Nikon P7800. A smartphone is not really a substitute for a top-quality compact camera so read on for our recommendations and also consider the benefits of size and quality that come from action cameras like the GoPro!
Travel and compact cameras – consider Sony or Lumix
When you read guides to these small but powerful cameras they often comment on aspects like: large 1″ or better sensors, long optical zoom length, and features like manual modes and shooting in RAW or JPG.
What kinds of cameras can you buy in this category? Without going on a. tangent and looking at too many brands, I’ll recommend two of the stalwarts, Sony and Lumix. They’ve been making these beautiful and sophisticated cameras for a while.
Sony RX100 VI
One friend swears by the Sony RX100 (newest version is VII). Though he shoots with a Nikon full-frame mirrorless camera he appreciates his lightweight RX100. He remarks, “I have the model “RX100v” and I use it from time to time. I like it for its portability and manual options, which is very close to an SLR. My decision was between the RX100 and Lumix or Canon equivalent at the time, but the features on the Sony seemed like a more future proof option. I can’t remember the exact options that won me over, but definitely wasn’t the price tag since it was a few hundred dollars over the other options. I’d probably buy an updated one once this one is more dated.”
Our favourite details: Perhaps the zoom is one of the best things about this camera, with a staggering 24 – 200mm equivalent reach. This is a banger of a telephoto. The wide f2.8 is a top feature too. No doubt the 1-inch sensor ensures lots of light and detail in every capture.
RX100 VI model specs: the RX100 VI edition features 20.1 MP, with 1-inch sensor, 24-200mm ZEISS zoom lens and pop-up OLED EVF which is a truly handy pro-level feature. This is a premium camera at a premium price but if money is not a concern, you can’t go wrong with this beauty. Sony makes some of the best gear out there.
Panasonic Lumix TZ200 / ZS200
Apparently Panasonic are the pioneers in this category, having invented the compact travel zoom. We love the whole Lumix compact lineup, but this particular model represents the cream of the crop.
One benefit of this camera over the Sony RX100 VI is that it has very similar specs at about half the retail price. However keep in mind the Sony has a faster aperture for slightly brighter pics.
Our favourite details: how can you not love that little red racing style stripe? My Lumix G9 has some similar touches that really make the body pop. It looks hot.
The long zoom is quite a feat. The 15x zoom is a 360 mm equivalent which is significantly longer than the Sony though it will be f6.4 at that distance.
Panasonic Lumix TZ200 / ZS200 model specs: 20.1 Megapixel 1-Inch Sensor, 15X Leica DC Vario-Elmar Lens, F3.3-6.4 Aperture, Hybrid O.I.S. Stabilization, 3-Inch LCD.
Action cameras – we recommend GoPro
Do you know the GoPro brand? The video and images you can get from these cameras are phenomenal. The latest GoPro Hero series has a decent sensor/lens combo and can give you amazing pictures or stills from video. It’s durable and pocket sized. Grab an accessory and use it strapped or attached to your chest, helmet or bike handlebars, or just hold it in your hand. It’s so versatile.
Our favourite details: The GoPro Hero 12 Black (current model) is an upgrade from previous models, adding new features. The GoPro has a 27-megapixel 1/1.9-inch sensor. There is a new Full Frame mode for shooting videos in 8:7 aspect ratio. The idea of using the entire sensor is really cool (I use this full sensor or “open gate” mode when creating video with my Lumix G9).
More specs: GoPro HERO12 Black – Waterproof Action Camera with 5.3K60 Ultra HD Video, 27MP Photos, HDR, 1/1.9″ Image Sensor, Live Streaming, Webcam, Stabilization
Buy from Amazon.
This section gets interesting. For under $100 and often under $50 you can get accessories like tripods and backpacks that look stylish and up your photo-video game.
We should recommend something truly handy so in this category we favour the mini tripod style. Though some have the words “smartphone” or “vlogger” in their name, we can see from some of the specs that these little beauties may be able to accommodate weights of camera up to 1 kg. or more.
SmallRig Flexible Mini Tripod
Don’t be mistaken this so-called “Beautypod” tripod by Smallrig is a grippy, capable mini tripod that can be used for more than vlogging. Use its flexible legs to mount it on a fence or a tree. Set it up conventionally to use for long exposure shots or when you are recording video and need a steady position.
As you can see in the image, you can place a small mirrorless camera on it up to 1.5 kg. Many MFT or micro four thirds cameras can fit this weight class. To be safe we’d recommend any of the camera lens combos that max out at 0.75 kg – 1 kg or so.
This lightweight beauty is going to take up only a small part of your pack and be plenty handy for your photo hikes around the urban environment. Of course make sure to test it at home on the couch before you attach it to a tree.
Specs and description: SmallRig Phone Tripod – 3446, BT-15 BeautyPod 1.5K Flexible Mini Tripod, Compatible for iPhone 14 13 12, Holds Up to 1.5kg Tripod for Lightweight Cameras/for GoPros/Mobile Devices
Bags and Backpacks
Your bag is often your best friend on any kind of trip our outing, whether that’s a day trip or weekend adventure. When out shooting, the photographer should have a reliable weather-proof pack that can take some abuse and hold various types of cameras and accessories.
We’d always advise taking the most minimal bag, with just enough space for lunch and your main camera. However no normal backpack will compare with a specialized piece of gear like our recommended bag. Read on for details.
Tullio Sling Camera Bag
This bag has some strong positive reviews and definitely has a good price and feature set. This bag is going to be useful for a single camera and lens, perhaps an extra accessory or two and maybe a wallet or snack. It’s compact.
Our favourite details: as reviewers point out this bag doubles as a general day pack and conveniently doesn’t look like a camera gear bag – thus thieves may be less interested. It isn’t black and it isn’t a “name brand.”
We like that it claims to be water proof, as this will help protect your gear on a rainy day. There is an exterior pocket that some reviewers identify as small.
Also who doesn’t the army green have a certain classic look? Let’s be honest looks are part of a product purchase and this item is stylish.
If looking for a more traditional and technical camera sling bag you can also check out this Tarion model.
Specs: Canvas, water proof, only 450 grams (about half the weight of a regular small -medium size backpack)
Neewer Camera Backpack
Along with SmallRig, the company Neewer is one of the better photography accessory companies. they also have tripods, lighting equipment and various packs. Let’s look at one of their backpacks with dividers and features for the serious photographer.
Our favourite details: Without a doubt that bright orange is a great element of style but it’s the hardiness of this pack that most impresses. Rated as weather-proof and water-proof, this backpack will really protect your gear.
Keep in mind this bag is physically small so make sure, if you are a man or larger woman, that this will be sufficient.
This bag can accommodate multiple cameras and lenses. We imagine removing some of the dividers to pack a few other items including sweater, lunch or even your laptop.
Specs and features: Neewer Camera Bag Waterproof Shockproof Partition 11.8×5.5×14.6 inches/30x14x37 centimeters Protection Backpack for SLR, DSLR, Mirrorless Camera, Lens, Flash, Battery (Orange Interior)
What kind of camera are you using? Do you see the benefit of adding a top compact or action camera within your photo – video gear? No doubt many of us make great use of secondary and smaller format cameras and accessories.
When buying a second camera, some people might consider a drone or even something like the Insta360 cameras but for practical purposes we would argue the compact / travel zoom cameras by Sony and Lumix really are the perfect sweet spot between using a DSLR / mirrorless camera and a smartphone.
Good luck with your camera and accessory search and if you purchase one of the models we recommend be sure to click through our links.
Most of all, we leave you with this thought – have fun with your photography!
Cheers and enjoy your fall!
Products mentioned on this page (links to Amazon)
My name is Mike and I’m the editor of Tdot Shots and a passionate photographer / creator / educator from Toronto, Canada.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you want to support my work, please click through some of the affiliate links and look me up on Instagram: @tdot_shots / @tdot_mike.
Thanks and see you on the trails!