The pro on the go
CSCs boast many of the impressive features and high image-quality of a DSLR, but packed into a lighter, more compact design.
Why they're great
- Compact system cameras are lighter than DSLRs – ideal for taking high quality images on the go
- You can change manual controls, swap lenses and add filters for more creative photography
- Great autofocus means many models also let you shoot good quality videos
- A smaller camera means a smaller battery – so you may want to carry spare batteries in case you lose charge whilst out
- A compact system camera has smaller and possibly more fiddly buttons than its big brother the DSLR
Our best buys
Check out the top compact system cameras we want in our kit.
Complete your kit with cases, tripods, battery packs and more.
What you need to look for
All lenses have an aperture range, also called the f-stop number, which tells you how much control you have over the focus. The lower the f-stop number, e.g f/2.8, the higher maximum aperture, meaning you'll be able to shoot a small amount of the scene in focus with the background blurred. These lenses tend to have a faster exposure in low-light conditions, meaning you can shoot indoors without a flash. A higher f-stop number, e.g f/38, means the majority of the shot will be in focus.
Whatever lens you choose, it's important to pick one that is compatible with your cameras as many brands create lenses that only fit their own cameras. Also make sure you match by type of camera, as a CSC lens will not mount to a DSLR camera. It's also important that the sensor is compatible, as a camera with a full-frame sensor will not mount to a lens made for cameras with a cropped APS-C size sensor.
Prime Vs zoom lenses
Prime lenses only have one focal length so you can't zoom in and out. They have a simple design and therefore create higher quality images with less distortion. Zoom and super-zoom lenses have a variable focal length, letting you shoot subjects at different distances without having to change the lens.
These lenses have a focal length of 100mm or more. They're best used for portraits, sports or wildlife photography to focus in on the subject from a distance.
Typically with a focal length of between 35mm and 50mm, your camera will usually come with this type of lens. They are useful for everyday shooting,- a 'Jack of all trades'.
Wide angle lenses
Wide-angle lenses have a focal length of between 10 - 28mm and are designed to get as much of the scene in as possible - perfect for epic landscape shots and city skylines.
If you want to take close-up shots of flowers and insects and capture fine details, a macro lens lets you shoot close-ups from centimetres away.
More quick camera guides
Find the right camera for you with our snapshot summaries.