need help choosing a first camera for climbing and mountain biking

Started May 15, 2013 | Discussions thread
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need help choosing a first camera for climbing and mountain biking
May 15, 2013

I do quite a bit of climbing and mountain biking, and I'd like to get into photography, I've always loved looking at good pictures of my sports and I think I've gotten some sense of what I like in a photo over the years. Over the summer I just want to take some decent pictures and videos of my sports and the places and mountains I see as I travel for them. Along the way, I'd like to pick up some books and such and be able to achieve some degree of proficiency with a digital camera (working with the various settings and such).
I'm afraid a point and shoot would offer quality that is unimpressive, or not much better than my iphone, which I'll have with me anyway. I'm also worried that a point and shoot won't be a good platform to learn about the technical aspects of photography on, due to having less control over the photos. On the other hand, I'm afraid a DSLR is just too bulky in sports where weight and space are both extremely limited (if it's too much of a pain in the ass to lug around I'll never take any photos). Furthermore, I could only spend $600 at the very most, which probably isn't much for a dslr. Would a mirrorless/micro 4/3 sort of camera be a good compromise? It'd be a platform with enough control to learn photography on, decent quality, smaller than a DSLR. For a mirrorless, the panasonic G5 looked cool, for a DSLR, I'd considered the Nikon D5100.

Any suggestions for what camera I should consider buying (or general noobie photography advice) would be awesome, I really want to get going with learning photography but I'm so confused by the different options and don't want to end up regretting a purchase. Thanks!

Nikon D5100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5
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