Top Five Mountain Bike Digital Cameras

Most mountain bikers I know ride with a digital camera. If they don’t, they should. We get to play in such beautiful places and have such a good time riding that every ride needs to be documented. But how do you choose an mtb-worthy digital camera? A camera that would be fine for the average person might not last a day in Moab. Since I’ve ridden in a lot of places and used a few digital cameras I thought I’d take it upon myself to compile a list of what I think are the Top Five Digital Cameras For Mountain Bikers (and other outdoor enthusiasts).

Best Mountain Bike Digital Cameras

I’m going to keep this article short and sweet. But I do want to give a little overview. Basically, there are four kinds of digital cameras that mountain bikers and other outdoor types care about: point-and-shoots, hybrids, high-end compacts and digital SLRs. Of course, there are other subcategories and variations but for the purposes of this article, we’ll leave it at those four.

Point-and-shoot digital cameras usually fit in your pocket and offer minimal control. They’re inexpensive, convenient and there is no size or weight penalty for carrying one when you ride. Many of them also have HD video modes now so you can shoot stills and video with the same little pocket-sized camera.

Hybrid digital cameras are designed to be equally good at video and still photography. Some will fit in your pocket and look like mini camcorders. In the past couple of years, small POV (point-of-view) hybrid cameras (aka helmet cameras) designed specifically for action sports enthusiasts have been hitting the market. The image quality of hybrid cameras is compromised for both video and stills. But if helmet cam action is number one, these cameras are the way to go.

High-end compact digital cameras often offer as much control as a digital SLR In a smaller, lighter package. However, they don’t have changeable lenses and they use the same small sensors as point-and-shoot digital cameras, which means they can never match the image quality of a DSLR.

Digital SLRs are the mack daddy of digital cameras. A digital SLR offers ultimate control, changeable lenses, quick response and the best possible image quality. Some digital SLRs can even shoot HD video now. However, they’re large, heavy and expensive compared to point-and-shoots and other compact digital cameras. For good reason, most mountain bikers don’t want to carry the extra weight or risk breaking a $1000 DSLR in a fall.

Photo-John’s Digital Camera Recommendations For Mountain Bikers
Based on my own experience as Managing Editor of, on the bike and talking to lots of mountain bikers, here is a list of five current digital cameras that I think will be great for mountain bikers and other outdoor sports junkies. There are so many good cameras now that it was tough to narrow it down to just five cameras. I didn’t include any hybrids or high-end compacts in the list because I don’t have any experience with hybrid digital cameras and when it comes to taking a camera on the trail it has to fit in my pocket or I’m packing the DSLR. So note my acknowledged bias upfront. If you have your own favorite digital camera or disagree with any of my choices, please speak up and add your thoughts in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.
So with no further ado, here are my top five digital cameras for mountain bikers:

Mountain Bike Digital Camera Number Five >>
Mountain Bike Digital Camera Number Four >>
Mountain Bike Digital Camera Number Three >>
Mountain Bike Digital Camera Number Two >>
Mountain Bike Digital Camera Number One >>

Photo-John is Managing Editor for Mtbr’s photography and digital camera sister site,

Mountain Bike Digital Camera Number Five:
Panasonic Lumix ZS3 / TZ7 Digital Camera

Panasonic Lumix ZS3 / TZ7

Price: $350

I got to use Panasonic Lumix ZS3 for a day at the official Lumix introduction this past January. What makes the Panasonic Lumix ZS3 / TZ7 special is that it packs a 12x zoom lens into a pocket-sized (a big pocket) package. It also has very nice 720p HD video as well as an impressive iA Intelligent Auto mode. The iA mode is available for the movie mode as well as stills and the camera has a sports mode to help you stop action on the trail or at the jump park. The bottom line? The Panasonic Lumix ZS3 / TZ7 is a great mountain bike camera because it’s so versatile and small enough to fit in a jersey pocket or small camera case on the shoulder strap of your hydration pack.

Read Panasonic Lumix ZS3 / TZ7 Reviews Write An Panasonic Lumix ZS3 / TZ7 Review
Key Specs:

  • Resolution: 10 megapixels
  • Lens: 12x 25-300mm f/3.3-4.9 with O.I.S. image stabilization
  • Video: 720p at 30 frames per second
  • Image Stabilization: optical
  • LCD Display: 3 inches
  • Waterproof: no
  • Shockproof: no
  • Size: 1.29 x 4.07 x 2.35 inches (3.27 x 10.34 x 5.97cm)
  • Weight: 0.45 lb. (204g)
More Panasonic Lumix ZS3 / TZ7 Related Content:
Panasonic Lumix ZS3 / TZ7 Introduction
All Panasonic Digital Camera User Reviews
All Digital Camera User Reviews
Digital Cameras Forum
More Panasonic Digital Camera News & Articles
Panasonic Digital Cameras Web Site

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MTB Digital Camera Five MTB Digital Camera Four MTB Digital Camera Three MTB Digital Camera Two MTB Digital Camera One

Photo-John is Managing Editor for Mtbr’s photography and digital camera sister site,

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympics, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the Mtbr staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.

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  • slownsteady says:

    great stuff…I actually have a slight preference to the xt over my current xtr because they’re so light they don’t have the feedback the xt’s have. XT’s also don’t have brake fade like my current xtr’s.

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