This website began as a place to document my adventures through writing and photography. It’s a chronicle of journeys that will soon span the course of over 20 years. Over that time, I’ve owned more than a few cameras to capture these trips.
The evolution of cameras that I’ve used has been a journey all of its own, so I thought it would be fun and informative to elaborate on it here. I’ve spent thousands of dollars and a lot of time coming to the conclusions I have today. Maybe the opportunity to publish the process will make the parallel “electronic journey” a little more worthwhile through helping you and aiding in your own camera choices.
Let’s look at all the cameras I’ve used over the years.
My Old Toys
Here’s a simple list of all the cameras I’ve owned and ultimately tossed. More details are in the chronology below. With the exception of prehistoric times, the list spans from 2006 into 2018.
Kodak Disposable cameras (prehistoric)
Nikon Coolpix L4
Nikon Coolpix L3
Nikon Coolpix L12
Nikon D40 DSLR
Nikon D60 DSLR
Nikon D5000 DSLR
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS
Nikon D3100 DSLR
Nikon D5100 DSLR
Nikon D7100 DSLR
Nikon D5300 DSLR
Canon SL1 DSLR
Nikon D5500 DSLR
Olympus Tough TG-4
Nikon D5600 DSLR
GoPro Hero 5
Now before you have a heart attack, allow me to explain.
3 of these cameras I only owned for a week. I didn’t like them and got a full refund.
All the rest were usually in poor shape by the time I was through with them. With that in mind, I couldn’t resell them in good conscience. Fortunately Adorama and Amazon have trade-in programs that have allowed me to get some money back over the years.
Now for more details:
Ancient History (the 1990’s)
I’ve been taking pictures since I was in high school, in the late 1990’s. I used what I figured everyone used – the Kodak Disposable cameras.
I went on my first big adventure and hiked the Appalachian Trail soon afterward. I did it in two chunks, in 2001 and 2002. I used the old disposable cameras on both trips.
On Vermont’s Long Trail I used a Nikon Coolpix L12. This was still just a pocket camera, but I began to take my photography a little more seriously. I predominately used “sunset mode” to bring out the fall foliage.
I got my first DSLR before taking my first seasonal job at the Grand Canyon!
This was all a very big deal. Bigger than Ron Burgundy.
Oh my beloved Nikon D40, where had you been all my life???
After the new year I thought I’d try something a little lighter and more compact. I’m a backpacker at heart, usually seeking to shed unnecessary ounces wherever I can. A little research led me to the Canon G10 . I used it for one hike, didn’t like it, and sold it.
Instead I picked up a refurbished Nikon D60, an upgrade from the D40. The resolution was better but I’d become attached to the D40. The Nikon D60 got plenty of use, but I reverted to the tried-and-true D40 for the John Muir Trail.
In 2010 Nikon introduced a new series of DSLR’s – the D3000’s, the D5000’s, and the D7000’s. That roll-out is still ongoing today as Nikon puts out new releases in 2018. I picked up a D5000 for the Colorado Trail.
From this point into the next year I’d occasionally use a Canon PowerShot SX260 HS pocket camera. I still didn’t own a smart phone, so this served me well when the need for something smaller and lighter arose.
I traded my D5000 for the newer and lighter D3100. I also started using a polarizing filter for the first time, and wow! I wish I’d been using one all along.
The D3100 saw me through me all of 2012 and into 2013, when I went back to the 5000 series with the Nikon D5100.
2014 saw me ready to get even more serious about photography. That meant an even more serious camera, right? Right. The natural progression led me to the Nikon D7100. It was a “better” camera, but too heavy for my main purpose – backpacking! I returned it and opted for the Nikon D5300 instead.
In early 2016 I got my first phone with a quality camera, the iPhone 6s+ – an excellent pocket camera!
I was due for a new camera once again, and I hadn’t done any research in over two years! I looked into some mirrorless cameras but didn’t take the leap. The Nikon line seemed to have grown stale, and I turned to Canon.
I also had another Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip coming coming up in December. I wanted a waterproof camera to supplement my DSLR for the trip, and remembered the Olympus “Tough” line of cameras as solid and of good quality.
My girlfriend and I each got a brand new Olympus Tough TG-4, and they both died in only a matter of days!
In 2017 I finally caved and picked up my very own GoPro Hero (5) for a Grand Canyon rafting trip. It was handy for filming quality videos in such a harsh environment. I was hoping to use it more often as a point-and-shoot for still frames, but it fell short in this regard with just two buttons and a frustrating touch screen.
I’ll keep the GoPro for videos if another river opportunity comes up. For still frames I’d like to try a Sony RX100V w/ Underwater Housing but it’s currently a little out of my price range for such a specific niche.
I ended up replacing my Nikon D5500 with a the “newer and better” version, the D5600, just to keep up on things. This was ultimately a poor choice, since the D5500 is a few ounces lighter and takes the same photos.
In 2019 I decided I’d become too complacent with continually using the same series of Nikon DSLRs. Seeking to simplify things and to continue to challenge myself, I chose to upgrade my phone instead of buying a new camera.
They say that good photography is in the eye of the photographer (rather than in the tool), so I thought this would be a good opportunity to put that to the test. Additionally, I decided it doesn’t make sense to continue buying new cameras until I afford something like the Sony A7R IV.
That brings us into 2020…
What’s on your wish list?