Top 5 Ultralight Mirrorless Cameras for Thru-hiking in 2021

Top 5 Ultralight Mirrorless Cameras for Thru-hiking in 2021

Introduction

I love hiking and I love photography, but they don’t always love each other. I used to take my trusty DLSR with me everywhere when I was hiking. The 1.5kg setup was perfectly fine for short 5km hikes to the top of a mountain for some sunset & sunrise photography.

However when I attempted to take my DSLR on my 268 mile hike along the Pennine Way I quickly realized that heavy cameras and long distance hiking don’t make a happy fit. I mailed it back home at the first opportunity and settled for using my Nexus 7 phone camera instead.

Over the next couple of weeks I took what seemed like lovely photos, but when I got back to civilization I remembered what I really knew all along – smart phones will never take the same photos as dedicated cameras, especially when I came to landscape photography.

I realized that if I was going to combine long distance thru-hiking with landscape photography I was going to need an ultralight camera. As such I began researching new cameras and I came up with a list of requirements.

Must-have Features

  • Under 500g including battery , lens cover & kit lens
  • In-body or in-lens stabilization
  • Weather Sealing *

* It turns out there are no weather sealed cameras currently available under 500g

Nice-to-have Features

  • Good battery life
  • External View Finder
  • Wide exposure bracketing range
  • External Mic Input
  • Higher Megapixel Count
  • USB Charging

The shortlist

After a good deal searching around narrowed my selection down to the following 5 cameras as of May 2021

  1. Fuji X-E4
  2. Canon M200
  3. Fuji X-A7
  4. Sony A6000
  5. Panasonic GTX 850

All the cameras that made the shortlist are under 500g and have image stabilization, but sadly none have weather sealing.


Fuji X E4 | Premium camera for enthusiasts

Weight: 497g / 17.5 Ounces

Price: £900 – Amazon

Pros

  • All the required features
  • Good Battery life

Cons

  • The heaviest of all the cameras
  • Expensive

If you have plenty of cash and are will to carry the weight then this is probably the camera for you. The Fuji X-E4 is a fully featured camera with all the features that that amateur photographers and videographers are going to need. 

Full Review


Canon M200 | High resolution smart phone upgrade

Weight: 429g / 15.1 Ounces (Plus charger 50g-70g)

Price: £550 Amazon.co.uk

Pros

  • Great for large prints and heavy cropping
  • One of the more affordable cameras
  • Easy step up from using a phone camera

Cons

  • No electronic view finder
  • Limited exposure bracketing range
  • No USB Charging means carrying extra charge cables

Canon’s M200 is a lightweight and compact camera that provides a familiar interface for anyone upgrading from a smart phone camera. It’s only really let down by its lack of USB charging which means that you have to carry around an extra charge cable, undermining its ultralight credentials and adding an extra item to carry.

Video Review


Fuji X A7 | Great photos and video on a budget

Weight: 455g /16 Ounces

Price: £599 Amazon.co.uk

Pros

  • Excellent Battery Life
  • Plenty of features crammed in

Cons

  • No electronic view finder

This great little camera crams in a lot of technology and an excellent sensor into a light weight package. The only limitation really is that it doesn’t have an EVF, which is a must-have for many people.

Video Review


Sony A6000 | A classic that still holds its own

Price: £460 Amazon.co.uk

Weight: 468g / 16.5 ounces

Pros

  • Great value as it has been officially replaced by the newer 6000 series models
  • Good battery life
  • Excellent build quality
  • Sturdy Grip

Cons

  • One of the heavier cameras
  • EVF is showing its age with only 1.4M dot display

It’s rare that a camera would still make the shortlist for a top thru-hiking camera 7 years after it was originally released, but this camera is going no-where soon. High quality images, robust design 

Full Review


Panasonic GX 850 / GX 800 | Truly Ultralight Camera

Weight: 336g / 11.8 Ounces

Price: £349 Amazon.co.uk

Pros

  • The lightest weight mirrorless camera around
  • Only camera on the list to have focus stacking

Cons

  • Mediocre resolution at 16 megapixels
  • Limited video capabilities

This camera makes a lot of sacrifices to get the weight down – no EVF and only 16 megapixels, but for ultralight purists this may well be the camera to go for. The in-camera focus bracketing & stacking are a very strong selling point if you are only interested in shooting landscape photography.


Camera Specs Comparison Table

ModelWeightShotsEVFMPMic inUSB ChargeEx Bracket +/-
Panasonic GX 850336g210No16NoYes5
Canon M200495g315No24NoNo2
Fuji X-A7455g440No24Yes*Yes5
Sony a6000468g360Yes24Yes*Yes3
Fuji X-E4497g380Yes26Yes*Yes3
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