Compact System CamerasCompact system cameras are the ideal combination of manual control with a light, versatile design. If you want to get creative with your photography and use different lenses for different subjects, a compact system camera (CSC) makes a smaller, lighter alternative to a DSLR.
CSCs all feature large image sensors, so you can be sure of high-quality photographs. Look out for models with full frame sensors for the ultimate in image quality.
CSCs provide manual control over all settings including shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance. However, you can also enjoy intelligent auto modes for easy point-and-shoot photography, and many models include in-camera effects and filters to help you get creative and put your own stamp on each image.
Choose from our range of dedicated accessories for compact system cameras, including flash guns, battery grips, lens filters and tripods – to name a few.
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- Image Quality
- Electronic Viewfinder
- Continuous Shooting
- Manual Control
- Size and Weight
Compact system cameras feature larger image sensors which produce very high image quality. Models with full frame sensors offer the ultimate in image quality, especially when you’re shooting in low light.
Lenses play an important part in image quality. The ‘f number’ represents how wide the aperture can be set, so lenses rated f/2.8, f/1.8 and lower let more light in, enabling the sensor to capture more detail. A wider aperture also allows you to achieve soft-focus background effects (bokeh).
Look out for the maximum ISO rating too: the higher the maximum ISO - e.g. 25600 - the more sensitive the camera sensor will be to light, producing better results in low light conditions.
View compact system cameras
CSCs are interchangeable lens cameras, allowing you to use many different lenses to achieve the results that you want. Wide angle lenses make things seem further away and allow you to include more in your frame, great for sweeping landscape shots and grandiose architecture.
Telephoto zoom lenses allow you to zoom in close to your subject whilst maintaining image quality, making them great for wildlife and sports shots. Look for lenses featuring image stabilisation and silent focus for more precise results at full zoom.
Prime lenses have a fixed focal length and are ideal for portraits as they let in lots of light and can produce images with professional-looking soft-focus backgrounds.
Explore other visual effects with fisheye, macro and 3D lens types, which allow you to create unique perspectives, shoot extreme close-ups and capture 3D images respectively.
View telephoto lenses for compact system cameras
View prime lenses for compact system cameras
Many compact system cameras feature an electronic viewfinder, which lets you frame shots without having to rely on the camera’s screen. The viewfinder is a small glass interface which you place one eye against to compose your scene.
This gives the CSC a DSLR-like feel and allows you to be more accurate and creative, rather than using the general framing style of the screen.
The viewfinder is particularly useful in bright sunlight when it’s hard to see the screen, and gives you much better control over your photography.
Compact system cameras are capable of continuous shooting, which means they can shoot multiple images or ‘frames’ per second (fps). This feature is great when you want to capture a fast-moving subject without motion blur and is ideal for wildlife, sports or even your children running in the garden.
Look out for a camera’s fps rate – the higher the number, the more shots you can capture per second.
Remember, to fully benefit from these high fps rates, you will need a high speed memory card to avoid buffering when your camera is saving images.
All compact system cameras feature a screen on the reverse which you can use to frame your shot, check out what you’ve just taken and navigate menu options.
Most screens are between 2-3 inches in size but certain models offer larger screens much like those featured on smartphones. Some cameras have easy-to-use touchscreens, which make it easy to apply settings, interact with menus and even zoom. These intuitive displays are often favoured by users familiar with smartphones.
Some models also feature vari-angle or tilting screens, which are great for taking selfies and framing shots from difficult angles. If you’re in a crowd, around a corner or in an awkward position, an adjustable screen allows you to achieve clear results – or you can use your vantage point to get creative with perspective.
A compact system camera is a great option if you want the manual control of a DSLR camera, without having to worry about changing lenses or a bulky design.
You will typically have manual control over the same settings as those on a DSLR, with the ability to adjust aperture, shutter speed, ISO and other values to get the results that you want. Achieve different depth of field, exposure and motion effects as you apply combinations of settings to suit the subject you’re shooting.
Intelligent auto modes allow for easy ‘point and shoot’ photography, and most cameras have a range of built-in artistic effects such as monochrome, selective colour and miniature effect, so you can personalise images as you like.
Some compact system cameras feature a hot shoe adapter on top of the camera, which allows you to mount accessories such as external flash guns or mini flash diffusers.
Size and Weight
While compact system cameras offer very similar features to DSLRs, they can afford to be smaller and lighter as their electronic viewfinders do not take up as much space in the camera as with the optical viewfinders in DSLRs.
As a result, the size and weight of a compact system camera is somewhere between that of a compact camera and a DSLR. While you might be carrying extra lenses to keep your photographic options open, the slim camera build allows for very practical transportation.
A CSC gives you the ideal combination of practical design and high-quality control, whether you’re travelling, shooting portraits or enjoying some creative street photography.
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