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Compact System Camera Reviews

Updated: Apr 18, 2015 23:32
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alaScore
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Sensor
#1
alaScore 100

Samsung SMART CAMERA NX1

Mirrorless system cameras have come a long way since the first Micro Four Thirds models debuted in 2008. Early models were compact and leaders in image quality, but suffered from slow focus and burst rates. Some entry-level models still suffer from...

21 expert reviews | 6 user reviews

#2
alaScore 99

Fujifilm X-T1

Fujifilm X-T1 is without doubt the best mirrorless camera we have tested so far. It satisfies on all fronts: build quality, ergonomics, handling, ISO performance, image quality, low light performance and AF performance. One thing is crystal clear:...

61 expert reviews | 241 user reviews

#3
alaScore 98

Olympus OM-D E-M1

If you really need need the much larger files, slightly better exposure range or low-light performance of a full-frame camera, or if you can’t live without 1024p or 1060p video, then the E-M1 may not be for you. By the same token, if you just want to...

83 expert reviews | 207 user reviews

#4
alaScore 98

Sony Alpha 7

The Alpha 7 II continues to push Sony's full frame mirrorless line of cameras into ground-breaking territory. It is the only full frame mirrorless camera to offer in-body image stabilization systems and its performance is excellent. The body is...

50 expert reviews | 94 user reviews

#5
alaScore 97

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4

The Panasonic Lumix GH4 is a powerful ILC that produces excellent quality still images and leads the way in video recording. Loaded with features and creative shooting modes, you will always be looking for new situations to shoot in. Read more in our

36 expert reviews | 4 user reviews

#6
alaScore 97

Samsung SMART CAMERA NX30

The Samsung NX30 is a strong contender in the upper end of the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera category. It offers plenty of great photography features, including all of the advanced shooting modes you'd expect, along with fast performance and...

58 expert reviews | 93 user reviews

#7
alaScore 96

Fujifilm X-E2

Fujifilm X-E2 is an impressive camera and we have very little to complain about. It offers excellent image quality, great build, wonderful handling thanks to the ergonomics and placement of dials and buttons, fast AF performance and so on. The wireless...

54 expert reviews | 197 user reviews

#8
alaScore 96

Olympus OM-D E-M10

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is a portable and compact ILC with great performance and image quality. Loaded with useful features and coming in at $700 for the basic kit, this is a fantastic entry-level ILC or travel camera. Read more in our

57 expert reviews | 188 user reviews

#9
alaScore 96

Olympus PEN E-PL7

A likeable interchangeable-lens model, the Olympus PEN E-PL7's overall package makes an attractive alternative to an advanced compact and has quite a bit to offer as a first ILC.

23 expert reviews | 19 user reviews

#10
alaScore 95

Sony Alpha 7S

Its 1080p footage is the cleanest, most detailed we've yet seen, with virtually no moiré and often jaw-dropping low-light performance. Some of the low light advantage is undercut if you need to stop-down to achieve sufficient depth-of-field but, unlike...

20 expert reviews | 7 user reviews

#11
alaScore 95

Sony Alpha a5000

The A5000 provides one of the easiest and most accessible routes to achieving more professional-looking shots for anyone upgrading from a smartphone.

34 expert reviews | 364 user reviews

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#12
alaScore 95

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

Panasonic Lumix GX7 has been a wonderful camera and it has everything going for it – beautiful build, great handling, a high-res EVF which can tilt, an overdose of features, wireless connectivity, great image quality and so on. The silent mode,...

64 expert reviews | 58 user reviews

#13
alaScore 94

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1

Panasonic deserves a round of applause for designing a very compact and lightweight interchangeable lens camera. Overall, the camera is capable of taking good pictures, but performance is a bit uneven. With that said, we feel you’re giving up way too...

50 expert reviews | 38 user reviews

#14
alaScore 94

Olympus OM-D E-M5

If the OM-D E-M5 were a couple of hundred dollars or euros cheaper I would not hesitate to recommend it as a great all-round camera and masterful feat of digital-image engineering. As it is, potential buyers will have to answer for themselves if the...

149 expert reviews | 778 user reviews

#15
alaScore 94

Samsung NX300

Ultimately, the NX300 gives the impression of an aspiring champ that isn’t quite there yet – just like Samsung’s NX system in general. If you can live with the restrictions, the NX300 is an attractive upgrade from your old point-and-shoot camera or a...

84 expert reviews | 753 user reviews

#16
alaScore 94

Sony Alpha 7 II

We highly recommend the Sony A7 Mark II. While you can now get a great deal on the original model and get equally pleasing photos, it is worth spending that extra $400 for better video capture and the terrific five-axis stabilization system. The newer...

9 expert reviews

#17
alaScore 93

Sony Alpha 5100 / A5100

The predecessors to the a5100 had a lot going for them: they were very compact, feature-packed, and produced good quality photos and videos. The a5100 is a much more compelling camera, taking the 'guts' from the more expensive a6000 and putting them...

11 expert reviews | 125 user reviews

#18
alaScore 93

Sony Alpha 7R

Sony has gone above and beyond with both the a7 and a7R, bringing Professional image quality and performance to a much more compact ILC. If the price does not scare you away, you will be thrilled with the performance and image quality from these...

40 expert reviews | 50 user reviews

#19
alaScore 93

Fujifilm X-M1

Whether you’re a pro photographer or one that never moves out of automatic mode, the Fujifilm X-M1’s image quality will astound you.

62 expert reviews | 232 user reviews

#20
alaScore 93

Samsung NX mini

This small Wi-Fi camera has a flip-up "selfie" LCD, but offers few native lenses. Auto focus is a little lazy, and low-light performance is so-so - but burst modes go gangbusters. If you only take simple shots, you will enjoy the otherwise high image...

34 expert reviews | 115 user reviews

#21
alaScore 92

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 ($1,299.99 direct, body only) is Panasonic's top-end Micro Four Thirds camera. It's a 16-megapixel design that is quite popular for videographers, but at its heart it's a very capable still camera. It focuses quickly, offers...

74 expert reviews | 168 user reviews

#22
alaScore 92

Olympus PEN E-P5

The Olympus E-P5 is an outstanding ILC combining Rangefinder styling, top of the line components, outstanding image quality and amazing performance into a compact package. It also features the largest collection of available lenses for an ILC. Read...

67 expert reviews | 51 user reviews

#23
alaScore 92

Fujifilm X-A1

If you’ve been seduced by the premium look and feel of previous Fujifilm X cameras but haven’t been able to justify the expense until now, the X-A1 is a great value-added place to start.

43 expert reviews | 82 user reviews

#24
alaScore 92

Canon EOS-M

I hope that this review gave you a good idea of how it is to use the Canon EOS M in the real-world. Instead of trying to review *everything* I tried to narrow things to the most useful/popular aspects of the camera. If you would like to ask a question,...

96 expert reviews | 321 user reviews

#25
alaScore 92

Nikon 1 AW1

The Nikon 1 AW1 is the company’s most fully realized compact system camera of the past three years. It’s a rugged model that, unusually, takes really good photographs, and with consistency. Perhaps that’s something worth paying a premium.

49 expert reviews | 104 user reviews

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    Buying Guide

    Buying Guide - Compact System Cameras

    Compact System Cameras, sometimes referred to as MILCs (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras), are a relatively new category in the digital camera market space. You can think of them as a sort of hybrid cross between Compact Cameras and Digital SLRs; however, Compact System Cameras come in a lot of shapes and sizes (and more importantly, sensor formats). Some offer SLR performance with a bit less bulk, while others are like slightly larger Sub Compacts with a few lens choices.

    What is a Compact System Camera?

    In the days of film, SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras were created to allow the photographer to use the viewfinder to look directly through the lens. Because there was film behind the lens, a mirror was used to bounce the image up to the viewfinder. Digital SLRs followed this traditional design, but with digital image sensors, you don’t have to worry about exposing the film, and the mirror becomes optional.

    Many Compact System Cameras use the same APS size image sensors you’d find in a quality digital SLR camera. In fact, most high end models rival similarly priced SLRs in terms of performance and image quality. This, combined with their more compact size, makes them very desirable cameras.

    One defining factor of these Compact “System” Cameras is their interchangeable lenses. Just like their SLR counterparts, each manufacturer uses its own lens mount system. Unlike SLRs, Compact System Cameras do not currently offer a wide selection of lenses (most models feature around three different lenses). As the Compact System format becomes more popular, we’ll likely start seeing more lens choices.

    What to Look for in a Compact System Camera

    There is a lot of variety in the Compact System market, but there are some important factors you should consider to help make sure you’re making a solid purchase.

    Sensor Size/Type: If you’re expecting SLR-quality images, make sure it has an SLR-quality image sensor. These will be APS-type sensors and typically offer at least 16MP. Unless you’re looking for a particularly small Compact System Camera, stay away from 1/2.3” size sensors (this is the same size you’d find in your typical compact camera).

    Size: One of the main benefits of the Compact System format is their smaller size; however, this can be a bit of a juggling act. As they get smaller, they tend to sacrifice features and image quality.

    Lenses: Most Compact Systems currently have a fairly limited selection of lenses. Make sure the camera you’re getting offers the types of lenses you’re interested in – or at least adapters for the lenses you already own.

    Viewfinder: Many Compact System Cameras lack a viewfinder or only offer a rangefinder. If you want an SLR-like experience, choose one with an electronic viewfinder. It allows you to view images through the lens and can actually offer some improvements over the SLR system.

    Who is a Compact System Camera Right For?

    Compact System Cameras make and excellent choice for anyone looking for a digital SLR but doesn’t plan on getting more than a few different lenses. This would include budding amateur photographers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. Many professional photographers may also be interested for those shots where a large camera just isn’t practical.

    Some Compact System Camera Recommendations

    With all of the major camera manufacturers entering the Compact System market, it’s tough to know just who has the best to offer.

    Olympus was among the first to popularize the category with its PEN line, which remains a popular choice for those looking for something affordable and exceptionally compact.

    Sony’s NEX line is arguably the best the Compact System category has to offer, with excellent features, image quality, and lenses. Unfortunately, their popularity has made them hard to find and slightly overpriced, though many would say that it’s worth it. Canon’s entry into the market with its EOS M will be a very welcomed alternative.

    Nikon, the other major player in the photography game, has yet to impress with its 1-Series which, with a much smaller image sensor than the competition, offers little more than what you’d find in a nice compact camera.

    Popular Compact System Camera products

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    Compact System Cameras on alaTest

    alaTest.com has collected and analyzed millions of reviews from 2919 sources to help you choose the best Compact System Camera from top brands like Panasonic, Sony, Olympus, Samsung, Nikon and more.

    Buying Tips Read our Buying Guide
    before you make your purchase
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