Life Through a Lens: Compact System Camera Review

The furore surrounding DSLR cameras may be dying down a bit, but what’s sure to replace it is the CSC – Compact System Camera – which offers all of the versatility and quality of a top of the range DSLR.

30 May 2014


The furore surrounding DSLR cameras may be dying down a bit, but what's sure to replace it is the CSC - Compact System Camera - which offers all of the versatility and quality of a top of the range DSLR but in a smaller, often lighter, and certainly cheaper compact body.  We got our hands on a whole bunch in the Currys range and picked out three of our favourites.  Let us guide you through them.



Entry-level: Canon EOS-M

If you're looking for a solid entry-level Compact System Camera then the Canon EOS M Compact System Camera with 18-55mm Telephoto Zoom Lens could be just the one for you.  With its 18-megapixel APS-C sized sensor you can shoot DSLR quality images from a truly compact unit.  Its 18-55mm lens lets you capture images in extreme detail too - with a level of clarity that you'd normally expect from a high-quality DSLR camera.

Aside from its great picture quality, the Canon EOS-M is also a real doddle to use and perfect for beginners.  With a 3" Clear View II LCD touch screen, the intuitive controls make for a fast and simple shooting experience. In Camera mode a touch of an icon on the screen brings up the various options including manual, aperture and shutter priority, as well as Creative Auto and a selection of scene modes. There's also an in-built video facility, which lets you capture the live action and audio in full HD (1080p).  For a camera at this price point, the clarity of the video is surprisingly good quality.

One of the best features of this model is the Scene Intelligent Auto technology that analyses the subject and scene, ensuring that colour, brightness, movement and subject are all captured with the best possible results.  There's no built-in flash, but at this price point that's no surprise - it does have a hotshoe that is compatible with all of the flashes in the Canon range.

Another notable feature is the Hyprid autofocus that works to capture bright and distinct photographs.  Exposure metering selects the shutter speed and aperture to capture high quality, hand-held images even in very low-light so it's great for evening and night-time shooting.  Weighing in at just 298g and with a two year manufacturers guarantee this is a smart little Canon Compact System Camera that is great for easy shooting on the move.

Price:  £299.00

Perfect for:  Beginners, shooting on the go


Compact System Panasonic Camera

Mid-level:  Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6KEB-K

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6KEB-K Compact System Camera with 14-42mm Telephoto Zoom Lens is a great camera to go for if you're an amateur photographer looking to take your photography skills to the next level.  Incorporating an advanced 16 megapixel Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine with sophisticated noise reduction technology, it delivers high-resolution image quality and accurate detail reproduction.

A great little feature of this model is its quick loading speed - it starts up in less than half a second, meaning you will always be on hand to capture the moment with this Panasonic Compact System Camera.  It also comes with a powerful 14-42mm wide-angle lens, perfect for capturing a broad range of subjects clearly and with depth, colour and detail.

This model is also equipped with really easy sharing capabilities.  You can connect it to your smartphone or tablet anywhere using one touch Wi-Fi, which makes it great for sharing images on the go without the need for connecting it up to a PC.

You can also record high-quality full HD videos in both AVCHD and MP4 formats, with high quality stereo sound.  You can even add an external microphone for professional grade recording using P/A/S/M mode.  The video quality isn't quite professional but it's very good and when combined with the excellent audio makes for a very impressive end result.

Price:  £509.00

Perfect for:  Amateurs looking to go up a gear, video recording


Compact System Olympus Camera

High-end: Olympus OM-D E-M1

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Compact System Camera with 12-40mm Zoom Lens boasts an incredible combination of premium DSLR performance in a compact system frame, making it fully transportable and light.  Weighing in at 497g it's heavier than some other Compact System Cameras out there (the Canon EOS-M is only 298g for example) but when you discover the full range of features that this very high-quality camera has you'll be amazed at how Olympus were able to pack as much into its small case.

One of the real standout features of this model is its customisability.  It comes fully equipped with sophisticated, user-friendly features that are fully customisable to suit your personal preferences, making this your camera, rather than just a camera you own.  One downside of its functionality is the fact that you can't navigate the options on the main menu by touch, you have to use the physical controls.  Nevertheless, this is really only a minor quibble.  The fact that you can really customise and make use of its smart features means that you can start taking photos exactly as you want them, which removes the need to spend lots of time making adjustments using editing software. 

Capable of shooting up to 10 frames per second, it's excellent for capturing fast moving subjects.  The impressive shutter speed of just 1/8000th and an ISO range of 100-25600 means the photographic possibilities are extremely versatile, making it a great option for enthusiasts or a high-quality back up for professionals.

Price: £1,899.00

Perfect for:  Photography aficionados, professionals as a back-up