Basic Guide to Compact System Cameras

Share it with your friends Like

Thanks! Share it with your friends!


Nigel Atherton of WhatDigitalCamera takes a crack at explaining the basic differences between the various types of Compact System Cameras, aka ILCs or Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Cameras.

In part 1 (above), Nigel discusses the smaller sensored Pentax Q and Nikon 1 systems.  In part 2 (below), Nigel tackles micro 4/3 and APS-C sensored cameras.

My 2 Cents

Nigel does a good job explaining the basic differences between the systems and gets extra points for his effective use of Legos 😉 – But it’s important to remember to not get caught up in the sensor size marketing hype (for more on that, check out our post Does Sensor Size Really Matter…?).  While I’m not going to pretend that the sensor in the Pentax Q will give you the same quality as a 35 mm full frame sensor, it’s important to note that even the Q’s tiny little sensor will produce tremendous results that will be more than enough for 95% of photographers (and you can slip that little bad boy and 3 or 4 lenses into your pockets).

Sensor size is only one part of the equation where image quality is concerned.  You also have to consider the technology that’s built into each sensor, the processor that converts the information into high quality images, the lenses that direct the light onto the sensor and the skill of the photographer.  Indeed, when considering the more advanced mirrorless systems like the micro 4/3 efforts from Panasonic and Olympus and APS-C offerings from Fuji and Sony, you’ll see that the technological advances of these sensors, processors and lenses has brought them up to par with, and in many respects surpassing full frame DSLRs.

Here are Our Picks of some of the Top Mirrorless Camera Systems on the market today

Panasonic Lumix GH3 – Best in Class for both stills and video, Pro Level Lenses and Wi-Fi make this the Best Hybrid Camera on the Planet today.


Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Classic styling with top notch performance and revolutionary 5 point IBIS make this one of the breakthrough cameras of the last year.


Sony NEX 6 –  Hybrid Autofocus, Wi-Fi and most of the main features of the flagship NEX 7 make this the most advanced NEX camera yet.


Fuji X-Pro1 – Hybrid Viewfinder combined Fuji’s X-Trans Sensor and EXR Processing Technology deliver some of the best quality still photos you’ll get from ANY camera (35mm or smaller).


Fuji X-E1 – Same Sensor and Processing Technology as the X-Pro 1 in a smaller, more stylish frame.


Panasonic Lumix G5 – One of the best mirrorless camera values today.  Delivers many pro level features and performance at a mid level price.


Panasonic Lumix GH2 – The former flagship of the GH lineup.  This model is a few years old, but it’s still one of the best hybrid/video cameras you’ll get anywhere.


Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 – Same sensor and image processor as the flagship OM-D E-M5 have many calling this the OM-D Lite.


Panasonic Lumix GX1 – Top level performance in a small, go anywhere body (SPECIAL DEAL – Get the GX1 for only $300 USD Body Only)


Sony RX100 – fixed lens compact named by Time Magazine as one of the Best Inventions of 2012.


Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 – Sensor and processor of the OM-D E-M5, now in mini form



Michael Topham says:

Thank you for the comment FuzzyWasHeBear. It’s always good to receive positive feedback on what people enjoy seeing on the channel.

Ronaldo Roda says:

stupid low amount of views, im really sorry guys

Minh Huynh says:

as long as theres lego

AndrewTGreen says:

360p and no EVIL? Wut?

izwan8383 says:

@whatdigitalcamera Sony Rx-1.

WhatDigitalCamera says:

There isn;t a full frame CSC – unless you count Leica M I suppose – but we’ll be doing a separate video just about sensors, using the lego, which will include full frame.

0630562 says:

360p !??

175myles says:

You forgot to mention the EVIL cameras. Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens Camera.

masticina says:

That makes allot of sense, with the lego sizes 😉

FuzzyWasHeBear says:

Very very VERY good video! best yet. Just the kind of stuff people should be thinking about when spending their money. Hope the good advice continues. Thanks!

izwan8383 says:

Good review… In my opinion, Should include full frame compact camera too.

Comments are disabled for this post.