Our pick of the best Compact System Cameras (CSCs) currently on the market
Best Compact System Cameras of 2013
The Compact System Camera – or CSC – has been around since Panasonic kick-started the genre with its launch of the G1 in 2008. Since then the CSC market has grown to become the fastest growing of all the digital camera markets.
The market has grown to such an extent that it’s now one of the most camera-laden in all of photography, thus making it difficult to separate the good from the truly special.
To help you out, we’ve taken a look at what’s out there and come up with our Best Compact System Cameras of 2013 thus far.
Street price: £599 w/ kit lens
The Samsung NX300 is the flagship model in Samsung’s ‘NX’ range of Compact System Cameras and follows on from the popular Samsung NX210. The NX300 builds upon the impressive specification and performance of its predecessor with a few operational tweaks, making it a really impressive proposition.
The model features an APS-C sensor, fast burst rate, impressive AF performance and tiltable AMOLED touchscreen. Add to that Samsung’s clever ‘i-function’ technology, Wi-fi and NFC functionality and HD video capture and there’s very little that this impressive model is lacking.
Best CSC for: Those looking for a feature-packed specification
Read our full Samsung NX300 review
Street price: £500 w/ kit lens
Olympus’s ‘PEN’ range of CSCs has been in existence almost as long as the format itself. It’s long been popular thanks to the combination of impressive image quality and stylish design, and the Olympus PEN E-PL5 very much continues this tradition with eye-catching styling and an imaging specification to match.
The EPL-5 places a premium on size and, with a pancake lens attached, could almost be described as pocketable. It still features a large sensor, tiltable OLED screen and a host of other features that have made their way down the food chain from its high-end stablemates.
Best CSC for: Impressive results in a compact body
Read our full Olympus PEN E-PL5 review
Street price: £650 body only
Fujifilm has made great shakes in the CSC market with its X range, combining advanced features with a timeless retro-styled design and a premium on image quality. The X-E1 is a model that more than meets this X-series reputation and is well worthy of the tag of being one of the best CSCs available today.
The model features rangefinder-inspired design that’s sure to appeal to traditionalists, while a new sensor also debuted with the camera inheriting the impressive chip found in the high-end X-Pro1. The X-E1 also features an impressive 2.36m-dot OLED viewfinder that’s about as good as it gets in a CSC.
Best CSC for: Retro styling and impressive image quality
Read our full Fujifilm X-E1 review
Street price: £629 w/ kit lens
Panasonic shook up the camera market when it announced the very first CSC in 2008 – the Panasonic Lumix G1. The Lumix G6 is a continuation of this thread of Panasonic’s CSC range, and it benefits from the manufacturer’s years of experience in the market.
The G6 is a bit like a DSLR-lite in design, featuring a protruding handgrip and large viewfinder, albeit in a much smaller body. The camera features a beefy specification, with a 16MP Live MOS sensor, 7fps burst mode and Panasonic Light Speed AF system. As well as featuring Wi-fi and NFC, the G6 delivers a wide range of HD video recording options, including AVCHD and MP4 formats at a range of frame rates.
Best CSC for: Video shooting enthusiasts
Read our full Panasonic Lumix G6 review
Street price: £599 w/ kit lens
Sony’s range of Compact System Cameras features a wide variety of models which cater for everyone from those starting out in photography to those wanting to get more from their cameras. The Sony NEX-6 falls more into the latter of those categories, boasting a large APS-C sensor and a host of advanced features.
Alongside said imaging functionality sits Wi-fi connectivity, a large tiltable LCD screen an ample electronic viewfinder complete with a 2.4-million dot resolution. The NEX-6 backs up the specification with some serious performance, including a 10fps continuous shooting speed and full HD video capture.
Best CSC for: Advanced imaging performance
Read our full Sony NEX-6 review