Choosing a compact system camera

Also known as Micro System Cameras, the newest system to enter the digital camera market, the compact system camera, offers an impressive combination of compact size and removable lenses. We offer advice on choosing a compact system camera...

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Also known as Micro System Cameras, the newest system to enter the digital camera market, the compact system camera, offers an impressive combination of compact size and removable lenses.

Much like DSLRs, there are a number of different fittings and mounts available, and plenty of models now offer high- definition video too.

What are compact system cameras?

Compact system cameras (or hybrid cameras) are developed to appeal to an audience wanting to upgrade from a compact camera but don't want the bulk of a full DSLR. They share much of the creative potential as their full-size cousins but with smaller bodies and smaller lenses. The compact system camera's design makes it impossible to include a pentaprism mirror which also defines a camera as an SLR.

Movie function on a compact system camera

The lack of mirror system in compact system cameras mean they are much more suited to shooting video - as your view is coming straight from the sensor anyway. For this reason they are able to give DSLRs a run for their money in the HD video stakes.

Compact system camera's autofocus limitations

Without a mirror, autofocus is achieved using a contrast-detect system from the sensor which, while vastly improved from early live view offerings, has still not matched some of the more advanced dedicated AF systems featured on DSLRs.

The compact system camera viewfinder

Another symptom of lacking a mirror is that compact system cameras have either a separate optical viewfinder which sits on top of the camera, or an Electronic View Finder.

Although the quality from an EVF won't be as good as the through-the-lens option on a DSLR, it does offer a worthy alternative to the LCD.

 

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