/ Compact campera for the mountains

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glenn0010 10 Feb 2020

Hi All,

So I'm looking at a compact camera for my trips on mountains. I have a YI 4k+ but this is pretty terrible a still photos esepcially in lower light. 

I'd be looking a t a small compact camera which if I take any photos, they'd be good enough to blow up and fame on a wall.

The Olympus TG-6 looks tough which would be good, however the image sensor looks quite small compared to other camers of similar prices. Is the toughness worth the smaller sensor?

I want something compacty and relativley simple to use.

Any reccomendations?

Gary Latter 10 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

Sony RX100 - currently £250 from John Lewis. Quality is superb, easily as good as most entry level SLRs. Compact enough to slip into a shirt pocket, and around 300 grammes, so light enough to take up most routes.

The newer models from mark IV upwards all have a pop up electronic viewfinder, which I find really useful. 

Check out camerapricebuster.co.uk for best UK prices - useful website. 

Many reviews rave about the latest mark VII version, but its over £1000!

Graeme G 10 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

What’s your budget? And would you consider mirrorless?

I bought a Sony A5100 last year and am very impressed with the results. As mentioned above you’ll find newer versions but they don’t necessarily add anything more than bells and whistles, for a lot more cash.

kevin stephens 10 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:I have the Olympus TG4, predecessor of the TG6. The sensor size can be a limitation in poor light but this is mitigated a bit by the TG6 having a less greedy pixel count. The TG4/6 can shoot in RAW which can help to improve images a lot by editing, indeed the in camera JPEG processing of the TG4 is not very good The TG4 takes good pictures but not as good as my Canon G15 compact or Pentax DSLR. I bought the TG4 for sea kayaking but tend to use it also for climbing and skiing in preference to my G15 due to its slimmer profile and weather proofing.

At the end of the day the best camera is the one you have with you! It would be a shame to miss a great shot if you felt your chosen camera was too bulky to take with you

i took this with my TG4  edited in RAW, the out of camera jpeg was a lot flatter


Post edited at 18:27
Robert Durran 10 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

Be aware that the RX100 can have problems with dampness. I am not the only one on here to have knackered one in the wet. I don't know whether later models are better. Takes great photos though.

Mike-W-99 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Gary Latter:

Great camera but I'd be careful getting an original(and I think mkII) rx-100 as theres an issue with the way some of the delicate cabling is routed resulting in a camera that wont always retract the lens correctly.

glenn0010 10 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

Hi all! Thanks for all your info, some really good stuff! 

I'm looking to spend around £300. Durability is definetly near the top of my list as I'll be using these mainly for outdoors trips.  

The photo in the TG 4 look pretty good! I was wondering wether there was something in between, maybe a bit better photo quality than the TG 4/6 but still relaitvley durable.

With the comments about the Rx100's durability, maybe I'd go for something else

ali_colquhoun 10 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

At that price and for your needs I would have a look at a DJI Osmo action which is like a go pro but better. It takes 12mp stills and does great video too. Also tiny enough to carry on a route. I have two! I also have a DSLR, horses for courses and all that. Like others have said it is the camera you are prepared to carry with you that you will end up using most! 

The compact camera market has collapsed a bit due to smartphones etc. 

glenn0010 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ali_colquhoun:

I have a Yi 4k+ apart from the improved image stabilization of the new actioms cams I'm not sure it's worth upgrading. I don't know how much better the video quality is?

BStar 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

They also don’t like small knocks either, I would say I’m very careful with my gear but I’ve owned 4 RX100 cameras between myself and the Mrs, 2 have been written off one of which we have no idea why, and one of the ones we still use has a lens cap that needs manually opening. Excellent quality images but a little fragile. 

Post edited at 21:38
jethro kiernan 10 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

For durability the Olympus OMD em5 is a tough camera, series II models can be picked up second hand within your budget.

with the right lens it will fit in a jacket pocket and will take great pictures.

glenn0010 10 Feb 2020
In reply to jethro kiernan:

What lense would you reccomend for general photos? I am looking at mountineering and climbing

jethro kiernan 11 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

The lenses I use in the mountains are the 12-40 2.8 an awesome lens but not the smallest MFT lens.

I also have the 9-18mm which is pretty compact and gives a 18-36 equivalent

I’ve also used a 15mm Panasonic lens which gives the same field of view as a iPhone 😏optically very very good and a compact and versatile lens.

I've started using the Olympus a little bit more in the mountains (I also use Nikon full frame) it can capture great pictures, compared to the Nikon full frame it will struggle a little with dynamic range when pushed but it will beat any compact camera.

The mega pixel count doesn’t really matter unless you routinely dramatically crop pictures and even then you would be surprised what you can do.

The weather proofing and image stabilisation are top notch and I routinely get the camera out in shit weather.

As for simplicity a few minutes with the menu and you can set it up in point and shoot mode.


optically I personally think MFT are among the best lenses I’ve used and there are enough out there to cover your needs. Some of the ultra compact zooms are optically compromised and a little soft so I would avoid those and take the small penalty in size.


Good article here by Ben on cameras and the Olympus

Post edited at 07:37
Gavalanche 11 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

Personally use Panasonic tz70, good image quality and huge zoom range(30x optical) . If buying again would likely go for a Panasonic one with only 10x optical zoom max. 

Pyreneenemec 15 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

My Panasonic TZ5 went on the blink, so instead of buying a new compact, I went for a photo-phone :

a Pixel 3a.  Sure, not as versatile as a  decent quality compact but it will shoot RAW; awesome results, both photo and video and always in your pocket.

mondite 15 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

I have a TG-6 which I got for kayaking trips. I might need to spend more time with it but I find it somewhat limited in terms of options and clunky to switch around. Still tend to use my ancient canon instead for general bimbling when I dont want to take the dslr.

Worth trying it out to see if you like it but overall I think the toughness is overkill unless you are going to be playing near water a lot.

LucaC 15 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

OMD EM5ii with the 9-18mm as already mentioned, is a great almost-slr quality camera robust enough for mountaineering. I sort of miss having one after upgrading to an A7, and now think I might get a Sony a6xxx of some description for more compact shooting. I've been really impressed with the APS-C shots I've seen recently.

Personally I don't think the TG-6 shoots any better than my iPhone most of the time!

CathS 15 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

I had a Panasonic Lumix DMC FX40 (which dates from 2009) and it took fantastic pictures as well as being really compact. I won several club photo competitions with pictures taken on it, despite me being a 'point and press' punter. It survived many years of abuse in the mountains before the auto-focus finally packed in this year.

Looking for a replacement, I couldn't find anything quite as compact with a comparable spec, and the nearest alternatives were in the £250+ price bracket.

So I was delighted to find a replacement DMC FX40 in mint condition for £25 on eBay.  There are still one or two knocking around out there

James_D 16 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

If you're looking at an Olympus check out John Griffith's comments about halfway down this page - https://alpineexposures.com/phototips/tips-from-the-pros-which-camera-gear

I bought one on the back of this review and love it.  The mark 3 is out now so the mark 2 will be quite cheap. 

Mike_d78 17 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:


You could also consider full frame mirrorless options...size wise for equivalent lenses there's not much difference between the Olympus and Sony cameras.


You get a low light benefit with full frame.

Steff 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Mike_d78:

> Hi,

> You could also consider full frame mirrorless options...size wise for equivalent lenses there's not much difference between the Olympus and Sony cameras.

The difference is not so much in body size, but in lense size. You can get amazing zoom ranges in relatively small format on MFT

Toerag 17 Feb 2020
In reply to LucaC:

>  Personally I don't think the TG-6 shoots any better than my iPhone most of the time!

Lots easier to use and not drop though!

to the OP - Olympus E-M5 mk1 and 17mm f.18 would be a great first/cheap combo for the mountains. The lens is wide enough for landscape, fast enough for low light and gives shallow enough depth of field for portraity pics of your mates.  The Mk2 and 3 versions offer more things, but the mk1 is going to give you an idea of what the newer ones are capable of whilst being pretty cheap.  I'm a cheapskate and mine is still going strong, although I use the 12-40 zoom when walking nowadays (it's a bit big for dangling round my neck on VFs)

glenn0010 18 Feb 2020
In reply to glenn0010:

That was my worry with the TG 6 is the I phone style quality, so I don't see it as being worth the £350.

Looks like evry one is in consensus that the Olympus E-M5 mk 1 or 2 is the best choice.

I have started taking some still shots with my action cam just to see if enjoy the process of messing with raw files before I drop a few hundred quid. 

Also that aritcle that you guys linked was a fantastic read. Thank you! 

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