10 best compact system cameras
Upgrade your point and shoot to a versatile gadget that will deliver envy-inducing photos
If you’re looking to trade up from a compact camera or smartphone, a compact system camera may suit. They are smaller and lighter than most SLRs because they omit the bulky reflex prism that gives the SLR (single lens reflex) its name, but, unlike compacts, have interchangeable lenses and deliver tremendous results. Not all have viewfinders, which may be an issue for some users, but all deliver tremendous results. Here are the latest and best.
1. Panasonic Lumix G7: £679, amazon.co.uk
Panasonic is something of a compact system pioneer and its cameras are hard to fault. Like the more expensive GH4, this is 16-megapixel and has ultra-high 4K resolution filming. The fast focus works well, the viewfinder is pin-sharp and it has a fold-out three-inch screen. Includes a 14-42mm lens.
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2. Fujifilm X-T10: £599, jessops.com
Nobody beats Fujifilm for retro styling. Thankfully, this new model works well, too. Similar to the previously released X-T1, but half the price, the 16.3-megapixel camera is light and compact, with a simple interface and wifi connectivity to send photos from your camera to other devices. Includes a 16-50mm lens.
3. Olympus PEN E-PL7: £399, johnlewis.com
This classically styled, well-built 16-megapixel camera has no viewfinder but the LCD screen cleverly folds down (and there are more than a dozen filters) so it’s ideal for selfies – if you really must. Includes a 14-42mm lens.
4. Samsung NX1: £1,299.95, johnlewis.com
The Korean giant makes some excellent cameras. This one is bigger than most here and it’s pricier than some, but it includes a whopping 28.2-megapixel sensor, incredibly fast auto-focus and the processor (Samsung’s most advanced yet) will capture super-clear images in low light. Body only.
5. Canon EOS M3: £599, currys.co.uk
This 24.2-megapixel camera packs many of the features of Canon’s DSLRs into a more compact body. It’s bigger than some of its rivals but fits in the hand and the build-quality is excellent. Like several here, there’s no viewfinder but the screen flips round for selfie-shooting. Includes a18-55mm lens.
6. Nikon 1 J5: £399, amazon.co.uk
This one is almost as small as a compact so does have a smaller sensor than some here, but its 20.8-megapixel resolution is enough to deliver the goods if you want to upgrade your point and shoot. Includes a 10-30mm lens.
7. Sony A5100: £429.21, amazon.co.uk
Another small put powerful device, this 24.3-megapixel camera offers the simplicity of a point and shoot but the results are far superior, particularly for shooting fast (it can manage an six frames a second). There’s no viewfinder but the LCD screen is touch-sensitive and folds out. Includes 16-50mm lens.
8. Fujifilm X-A2: £349.99, fujifilm.eu/uk
Another retro-style and affordable camera from Fujifilm, this has 16.3-megapixel resolution. There’s no viewfinder but you can turn up the brightness on the fold-out LCD for sunny days. Special film simulation modes make your photos look less, well, digital and there are a bunch of filters. Includes 16-50mm lens.
9. Olympus OM-D E-M5 II: £1,499, olympus.co.uk
This is a 16-megapixel camera but its clever ‘High Res Shot’ feature can produce photos up to 40-megapixel quality, depending on conditions. It also has a sophisticated pin-sharp electronic viewfinder and it works in temperatures down to -10C. Includes 12-40mm lens.
10. Sony A6000: £510, johnlewis.com
Another small camera from Sony, this one has fast autofocus and a 24.3-megapixel sensor which is responsive in low-light conditions. Despite the size, there’s an electronic viewfinder and wifi and NFC connectivity – you can even shoot remotely using a smartphone app. Includes 16-50mm lens.
The latest crop of compact system cameras have enough variety to ensure there’s one to suit everyone. The biggest and most serious camera, by some distance, is the Samsung NX1. It’s also one of the most expensive but has a lot to offer. Fujifilm’s X-T10 is easily the best for design and is a pleasure to use.
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