For a while I had a nice little Olympus micro four thirds camera. But of late, it has not had a lot of use. As a compact backup for the K5 it is a bit too bulky. For me, a compact camera needs to fit in a pocket. The Olympus did not. The image quality in good light was fine, but there was never the ability to pull back the amount of detail from the shadows or use a single raw image for serious tone mapping. And despite being a serious quality camera, there was no eye level viewfinder without doubling the price of the camera.

So the Olympus had to go. Despite having a high ‘I am not sure about the sale yet’ price, it sold a couple of weeks ago. The hunt for a realistic compact began. Despite wanting a cheap compact, I had a range of demands.

  • Wide lens (around 24mm equivalent)
  • Compact but solid
  • Reasonable image control, e.g. for night shots
  • Decent image quality from the lens
  • Less than half the price I got for the Olympus

For a while it looked like I was going to have to go above budget for a refurb Panasonic Tz18. I have had a Panny in the past and like the night modes and the image quality. Canon compacts are nice too, but tend not to be wide and not generally good enough at the price I want to spend. Fuji EXR and the higher Samsung range had the lens and would have done in a pinch. In the end I opted for an older model refurbished Sony HX5. 25mm G lens, so sample images were nice and clear across the frame. It has enough low light ability and features. I would have preferred an A or S mode, but at least I get M. The ‘handheld twilight’ and back light hdr modes look promising, but have not had a proper play with them. Best of all, image quality seems pretty good