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

Want to get serious about photography? Then step up to the next level with either a DSLR or compact system camera – here’s how to choose…

Compact system vs DSLR

If you want to start taking photos that will ‘wow’ family and friends, then having the right camera is a must. But do you go for a DSLR or a compact system camera?

Let’s take a look at the options...


DSLR Cameras

In a nutshell: A camera used by pros – gives you total control over your photography

Professionals and amateur photography enthusiasts love this camera. If you want precision control then a DSLR is your best option.


Create different effects with different lenses – there's a huge range to choose from. Then adjust your camera settings for that perfect shot. 

Learn more about different effects that can be achieved with lenses

What can I do with a DSLR?

You can:

  • Take photosthat are rich in detail – all thanks to the large image sensor
  • Change lenses – pick a wide-angle lens for landscapes or a telephoto lens for fast-moving action shots
  • Adjust aperture, shutter speed, ISO levels, white balance and more
  • Take steady, blur-free pictures with stabilisation tech
  • See everything in the frame thanks to an optical viewfinder with a wide field of view


How does it work?

'D' stands for 'digital' and ‘SLR’ means single-lens reflex. Inside the camera sits a mirror that reflects the image seen through the lens up to the viewfinder when taking a picture. 

When choosing a DSLR you might want to consider…

  1. Sensor size – the bigger the sensor the better the image quality. It will differ between entry-level and high-end cameras.
  2. Rotatable screen – DSLRs usually come with an optical viewfinder for framing shots. Choose a rotatable LCD screen if you plan on shooting from awkward angles.
  3. 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 800D – A DSLR we love

Canon EOS 800D

Looking for your first DSLR? This Canon is a great choice.

Take spontaneous shots with its responsive handling and bright optical viewfinder. Capture every detail and get shallow-focus results like a pro with its large 24.4-megapixel sensor.

Fancy trying your hand at movies as well as still photography? Well you can do them both with the EOS 800D. Produce silky smooth HD movies with its 18-55mm lens and image stabilising tech.

When you’re done, sharing the results with friends and family couldn’t be easier. Use its inbuilt Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC technology to pair it with smart devices and upload files with ease. Perfect for when you want to show-off your photographic prowess.

Check out the Canon EOS 800D

See our full range of DSLR cameras


Compact system cameras

In a nutshell: Small, light and easy to use – the perfect camera for snapping high quality shots when you’re out and about

Compact system cameras are ideal if you want to just point-and-click without getting too bogged down in the details.


They’re smaller and easier to use than a DSLR but with the same great picture quality. This is all thanks to their clever design.

While DSLRs contain a mirror and prism system – making them large and heavy – compact cams are mirrorless, so can be smaller in size.

Perfect for those that like to take photos on the go.

What can I do with a compact system camera?

You can…

  • Change lenses – as you would a DSLR – to create different types of photography
  • Take high-quality images – their image sensors can be as large as those in a DSLR
  • Choose to point-and-shoot or take control of settings like shutter speed, white balance and aperture

Compact system

When choosing a compact system camera you might want to consider…

  1. Lenses – does it have the ones you need? Compact system cameras often have less lens choice than DSLRs
  2. Viewfinder – does it have an optical one? Not all compact system cameras do - they rely on the screen on the back of the camera instead
  3. Sharing – do you need to be able to do this from the camera? Then look for one with built-in Wi-Fi


Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless – a compact system camera we love

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless

This compact cam is packed with a powerful punch.

With a 24.1-megapixel censor that rivals even the top DSLRs, it produces outstanding image quality. While its wide-angle lens, fast autofocus and optical image stabilisation makes capturing smooth shots from any angle a breeze.

Always catching your subject with their eyes closed? Or wildlife as it runs out of shot? Well with 10 fps continuous shooting you will never miss a moment again.

Total control is right at your fingertips. Use its intuitive touchscreen to drag autofocus and create bold and vivid results.

You can even produce impressive home movies in detailed 4K, and when you’re done Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity let you share the results with ease.

Check out the Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless camera

Still need help choosing between the two? Take a look at our online buying guide.

Check out our compact system cameras


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