Compact system camera vs. DSLR – which is right for me?

Want to get serious about photography? You can step up to the next level with either a DSLR or compact system camera. Find out which one is best for you.

DSLR cameras

In a nutshell: The camera used by professional photographers that gives you total control over your photography.

Chosen by professionals and amateur photography enthusiasts. A DSLR is the best option if you want precision control over your photography.

Use different types of lens to create different effects - there's a huge range of lenses to choose from. You can adjust your camera's settings to create the perfect shot. Learn more about different effects that can be achieved with lenses.


What can I do with a DSLR?

You can:

  • Take photographs that are rich in detail thanks to the large image sensor

  • Change lenses - pick a wide-angle lens for landscapes or a telephoto lens for fast-moving sports and wildlife.

  • Adjust aperture, shutter speed, ISO levels, white balance and more

  • Take steady, blur-free pictures thanks to image stabilisation technology

  • See everything in the frame with an optical viewfinder with a wide field of view


How does a DSLR work?

The 'D' in DSLR stands for 'digital'. SLR means single-lens reflex. Inside the camera sits a mirror, which reflects the image seen through the lens up to the viewfinder when taking a picture. 

Things to consider when choosing a DSLR

  • Sensor size. The bigger the sensor the better the image quality. Sensor size differs between entry-level and high-end DSLRs
  • Rotatable screen. DSLRs generally come with an optical viewfinder for framing your shots. You’ll want a rotatable LCD screen if you plan on shooting from awkward angles
  • Sensor cleaning. If you plan on changing your lens regularly, then look for cameras with a sensor cleaning feature. This helps keep the camera clean when you change lenses


Canon EOS 750D

Looking for your first DSLR? This Canon is a great choice. Enjoy total control over your photos' exposure, and change lenses for different effects. Photos will be packed with detail - the 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor is among the largest around. Canon EOS DSLR

Get great results when shooting fast-moving wildlife and sports with the 5-frames-per-second continuous shooting mode and improved autofocus.

Check out the Canon EOS 750D

After a different DSLR? View the full range here


Compact system cameras

In a nutshell: Perfect for taking high-quality images when out and about. Smaller, lighter and easier to understand than a DSLR, but with similar picture quality.

Compact system cameras are ideal for people wanting to step up from a point-and-click without getting too bogged down in the details.Compact System Camera

They offer similar picture quality to a DSLR but are smaller and easier to use. They can do this due to a unique design that's slightly different than that of a DSLR. 

DSLRs contain a mirror and prism, making them larger and heavier. But a compact camera doesn't have the mirror, meaning they're sometimes referred to as 'mirrorless' cameras.

This smaller, lighter design means they're perfect if you plan on taking photos on the go.


What can I do with a compact system camera?

You can:

  • Change lenses to create different types of photography, as you would with a DSLR.
  • Take high-quality images thanks to the large image sensors, sometimes as big as those on a DSLR.
  • Enjoy simple point-and-shoot photography or take control of the settings including shutterspeed, white balance and aperture.


Things to consider when choosing a Compact System Camera

  • Lenses: Make sure the type of lenses you require are available for your camera. DSLRs have a far greater range of interchangeable lenses.
  • Viewfinder: Not all compact system cameras have optical viewfinders - some rely on the screen on the back of the camera instead.
  • Sharing: Want to share your photos online directly from your camera? Look for one that has built-in WIFI for easy sharing.


A compact system camera we love

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 EBK 

With its retro stylings and lightweight design, this Panasonic is the perfect camera for shooting on the go. Picture quality is rich and detailed thanks to the large CMOS image sensor. Sharing images is easy thanks to the built-in WIFI and NFC.

Check out the Panasonic Lumix 

Want to see more cameras? Browse our full range