Either what I'm looking for doesn't exist, or it's called something different than what I'm currently searching for.

I'd like to buy a camera for a friend of mine who spends a lot of time backpacking. In this situation, replaceable batteries (e.g. AA, AAA) are better than rechargeable batteries because most places worth hiking to don't have electricity. Even durability is nothing compared to having battery power available while on a long trip, and replaceable batteries provide that.

Most people shop for cameras based on image quality, megapixels, features, lenses, etc. So, I don't find it surprising that it's difficult to find/filter a list of cameras based on what kind of batteries they take.

But is there a different way to find what I'm looking for, or a special name for replaceable-battery cameras that I could use when I search?

  • 3
    If replaceable batteries are the only factor you're looking for in a camera you could buy a DSLR with an additional battery grip. This grip can contain AA batteries that provide the DSLR with power. However, DSLR's are rather bulky and expensive and might not suit the current situation well. Sep 16, 2013 at 19:58
  • I'm trying to make a personal judgment on what replaceable-battery camera is best for me, but just getting a list of all the replaceable-battery cameras currently on the market has been really difficult... so I'm just checking whether I'm searching the wrong way.
    – Ian
    Sep 16, 2013 at 20:01
  • I did a quick lookout and it seems even the camera manufacturers don't let us search on battery type basis. Olympus SP-820UZ is one compact camera using 4xAA size batteries. I knew to check them, because my previous camera was an Olympus SP model. Sep 16, 2013 at 20:11
  • 8
    You could use the camera feature search on DP Review, it lets you filter by battery type (on advanced filters). dpreview.com/products/search/cameras
    – vclaw
    Sep 16, 2013 at 20:37
  • 1
    I marked this as a dupe of the High-end compact camera with swivel screen and running on AA batteries, and in particular my answer is exactly what I would say here. Sep 16, 2013 at 22:51

4 Answers 4


There aren't any particular terms for a "backpack friendly" camera other than portable. With hiking, space and weight are always the two primary factors, so it's up to the user to decide what is worth carrying. Some will cart a full DSLR and big optics for the performance they give and others will use their cellphone because it is already with them and has a "good enough" camera.

As for the idea that AA/AAA batteries are a better way to go than rechargeable batteries for the camera, you couldn't be further from correct. The weight and size to power ratio of most rechargeable batteries is FAR better than that of conventional AA/AAAs. I get significantly more power out of two LP-E6 batteries for my Canon 5D Mark iii than I get from 6 AAs and the two LP-E6 batteries are both smaller and lighter. It is more expensive to get enough of them to cover multiple days of shooting, but at around 4000 exposures for two of them, having even 4 is enough for a pretty significant amount of use. (Granted, a 5D mark iii is on the heavier side for hiking, but the same principals apply for smaller cameras.)

In terms of best quality for the size and weight, it's one of the few times that mirrorless can really shine. They have very light weight bodies and while not quite as capable as a DSLR, they can support solid quality optics. They aren't as rugged as professional grade DSLRs though, so if they are going to take abuse, a good ruggedized point and shoot may also be a decent option. Bringing a full DSLR may still be worth the weight though if you want the maximum quality.

You can also look into alternate power sources such as solar or there are even hydrogen fuel cell options that can provide sufficient power for most electronics and have an even better weight to power ratio for longer trips.

Update: seeing that this is for a friend rather than for yourself, the best option that will be cheaply available is probably to look for a cheap viewfinder camera if you can find one that will allow them to take photos without needing to use the screen. The screen is the biggest power drain on any camera that requires their use and most point and shoots require it for framing a shot. A viewfinder camera gives the general idea without needing to use the screen by approximating what the shot will look like, but tend to have a fairly basic feature set as the viewfinder doesn't look through the lens and thus can't zoom. The upside to that is that it means that the optics can be fairly simple and most of the money likely goes in to the sensor. It makes the camera a little less versatile, but probably increases quality of images (for the price) and durability (fewer moving parts).

  • 4
    I think you're missing the appeal of AA batteries, which is that you can carry an unlimited supply of power in a single 5-gram package, usually labelled "Visa", "Mastercard", or "Discover".
    – Caleb
    Sep 16, 2013 at 22:02
  • 2
    @Caleb - Where there are stores, there is either a) normally electricity to recharge or b) a carry in/carry out policy that means you have to continue to carry all those batteries. Also, if the durability really has to be that high, then solar or hydrogen is still a better option for the weight in the majority of cases. (And rechargeable batteries will last for days if not weeks in a good camera depending on usage level.)
    – AJ Henderson
    Sep 16, 2013 at 22:04
  • 1
    Yes, but then you have to carry the 130g charger with you, and sit around for a couple hours while the battery charges. You can dispose of your old AA's and buy new ones in minutes anytime you run into a gas station or convenience store. I'm not saying that you're wrong about power density, but you really have to admit that the ubiquity of the AA battery can be helpful. A spare or used pair of AA's weigh in at 30-60g, depending on type.
    – Caleb
    Sep 16, 2013 at 22:09
  • 2
    Most decent cameras would take 4 to 6 AAs though and the set wouldn't last a day, so I guess it ultimately depends on what kind of performance and longevity you are looking for. If you are going with a very basic camera that can run on 2 AAs you have a good argument though. When it gets up in to having to carry 12+ AAs for a day, that goes out the window.
    – AJ Henderson
    Sep 16, 2013 at 22:12
  • 1
    I think a DSLR isn't the kind of thing you buy "for a friend" without consulting them first, so I'm assuming point & shoot here. BTW, do you really get 2000 exposures per LP-E6 on your 5Dmk3? I get around 700 on my 6D, more (but not nearly 1300 more) if I turn off the rear LCD. Does turning off AF & IS make that much difference?
    – Caleb
    Sep 16, 2013 at 22:18

Using the link @vclaw suggested, here's a list of cameras that take AA batteries.


I have taken many backpacking trips and used several cameras. I don't think there is a special term for them, but look for one that is shock resistant. I took a video camera on the Continental Divide Trail, and a little stumble outside of the Ghost Ranch was all it took to shatter the display. so, my advice get a good case a be prepared for falls and weather that you might not need to consider if not backpacking.

Re: rechargeable batteries, solar charging units are getting pretty good and would provide a better long term use than having to carry multiple heavy batteries. Everything has to be carried and every ounce counts.

Continental Divide Pictures


There are many cameras that can take either special batteries or standard sizes, often using an adapter. There's no special name for them. Reading product spec sheets is your best option (and should also tell you other things like size, weight, etc. etc. that can be very important).

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