Best compact system camera 2011: 10 reviewed and rated

Written By technotheory on Thursday, June 2, 2011 | 5:54 AM

Buying Guide: Get the best compact system camera for your budget - There can be no doubt: it's an exciting time to be drooling over camera gear.

Photography buffs - whether they're pros or serious amateurs - are falling over themselves to embrace a new but rapidly maturing breed of new equipment: compact system cameras.

The internet is so thrown for a loop over this gadget that photographers can't even quite agree on what to call this new offspring of the ever-popular DSLR cameras and the cheeky, high-end breed of clever compacts.

Whether you call them MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera), EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable lens) or just 'fancy bridge cameras', you could do a lot worse than sticking one of these on your shopping list. It just might completely change the way you take pictures.

We've had a look at what's out there and compiled our list of the ten best compact system cameras available today.

The cameras below are ranked in no particular order. Prices are the best street price, body only (unless noted), as of the time of writing.

1. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2
Price: Around £450 Specs: 12.1MP, Micro Four-Thirds format, Full HD video mode

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The Lumix GF2 is an astonishing little beast. Even though it's Panasonic's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera to date, the company certainly hasn't skimped on features: the camera packs a 3-inch touch screen and a built-in flash.

The Panasonic GF2 has a video mode, shooting full 1080i (or 720p, if that's your thing), and a solid optical image stabilisation helps you get the crispest stills and video. Best of all, the Panasonic GF2 is compatible with all Micro Four Thirds lenses, so you've got plenty of choice of glass to choose from, too.

2. Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3
Price: £549 Specs: 16MP, Built-in EVF, HD video mode

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The Panasonic G2 was one of the first new-breed cameras that felt 'right', with its 3in swiveled touch-screen display, Micro Four Thirds compatibility and a built in 60fps electronic viewfinder.

The G2's successor, the recently announced Panasonic G3, takes this foundation and adds even more improvements, making it a serious competitor to DSLR cameras.

Like the G2, the Panasonic G3 offers a built-in electronic EVF and an articulated LCD screen, but it adds touchscreen functionality, 20fps continuous shooting at 4MP, subject-tracking AF, improved AF speeds and a new 16.7MP sensor.

Panasonic appears to have a real winner on its hands with the Lumix G3. The camera combines the best elements of the G2 and Lumix GF2 and produces high-quality images.

3. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
Price: £649 Specs: 18MP, Full HD 1080p video mode

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You may not appreciate it before you hold one, as at first glance the Panasonic GH2 looks a lot like an SLR. Hold one if you get the chance, and you'll realise how impossibly small it is.

The Panasonic GH2 has an 18-megapixel sensor which it uses to capture gorgeous 16MP images. The 'missing pixels' are used to enable the user to pick their favourite aspect ratio for their images.

Between its incredible ISO range (160-12,800), a touchscreen LCD display and its built-in stereo microphone, the Lumix GH2 is definitely worth a closer look if you're planning to drop some serious cash, especially if you're into video as well as stills photography.

4. Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10
Price: £179 Specs: 12.1MP, video mode

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The Panasonic G10 is a cheaper, slightly stripped down version of the G2. Sadly, the Panasonic G10 is being discontinued and won't be around forever, but for now you can still get a great compact system camera at an affordable price.

However, by paying less for the Panasonic G10 you're losing the G2's rather fancy swivel touchscreen, replacing it instead with a fixed, non-touchscreen version. The electronic viewfinder in the Lumix G10 is also not as good as the one found in the the Panasonic G2.

Don't get us wrong, the Pansonic G10 is an impressive image-making machine, but the fact remains that a lot of online retailers have slashed the price of the G2 model in the wake of the Panasonic G3 release (the G2 isn't being discontinued; rather, it is moving down in the Panasonic line-up to replace the Lumix G10).

If the G10 seems like a good choice for you, then you could save a bit of extra cash and pick up a G2 instead. On the other hand, with the Panasonic G10 now on its way out, prices may fall even further making this camera a real bargain.

5. Olympus PEN EP-2
Price: £600 Specs: 12.3MP, video mode

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The Olympus PEN EP-2 is a great camera. It's quite heavy compared to some of its stablemates in the compact system camera stable, but it feels very much like a solid rangefinder camera of years gone by. Use the 17mm 'pancake' lens, and you can't help but feel like a jaded, 1940s wartime photographer - with image quality to match its fantastic looks.

One tip though: the PEN EP-2 is such a minor update over the wildly popular Olympus PEN EP-1 that if you aren't fussed about the optional electronic viewfinders and can find a PEN EP-1 at a good price, you may as well go for the Olympus PEN EP-1 instead.

6. Olympus PEN E-PL2
Price: Around £450 (plus 14-42mm lens) Specs: 12MP, built-in flash, 720p video mode

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With the popularity of the EP-series among professionals and serious amateurs, Olympus decided to widen the net it was casting, to try and reel in some newbies as well. The E-PL1 was the answer, and packs most of the EP-2's functionality into a more compact-camera-like shell.

The PEN E-PL2 loses the control dial built into the EP-2, but gains a built-in flash. The latter doesn't sound like a big deal, but in low light, we have missed the option to use a flash surprisingly often.

7. Sony NEX-5
Price: £440 (plus 16mm lens) Specs: 14.2MP, APS-C type HD CMOS sensor, 1080i HD video mode

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Sony is a relative late-comer to the compact system camera scene, but when it launched its NEX-3 and NEX-5 cameras, they made quite an impact. Compared to the other MILC/EVIL cameras, the Sony NEX camera bodies are less DSLR-like, instead building on Sony's compact camera pedigree.

Whilst the Sony NEX cameras are small, Sony strikes back with imaging sensors that are huge compared to the Micro Four Thirds sensors. The result is less digital noise, and great quality photos.

The NEX-5 Is very easy to use, has a cleverly built-in user manual for additional guidance to photographers and sports a fantastic LCD screen.

8. Samsung NX10
Price: £379 (plus 18-55mm lens) Specs: 15.1MP, APS-C CMOS sensor, 720p HD video mode

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The NX10 was one of the first DSLR-like interchangeable lens cameras, but it's still worth a closer look if you're looking at leaping up the ladder from compact-camera-world.

Whilst Samsung's NX-universe is still pretty small (you don't get the selection of lenses you get with, say, Canon's or Nikon's camera systems), it is promising.

If you're not the type to add to your camera system every six weeks, the Samsung NX10 could be a tempting way to get a lot of camera equipment, in a small package, for not a lot of money.

9. Samsung NX11
Price: £459 (plus 18-55mm lens) Specs: 14.6MP, APS-C sensor, 720p HD video mode

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Evolving from the already promising NX10, Samsung's recently launched NX11 takes a few important strides forward.

A couple of new lenses mean that you now have a choice of five, but the big news is the i-function lenses, a novel idea that integrates ability to control certain camera functions (shutter speed, ISO, etc) directly from the camera lens.

In use, the NX11 feels like a small SLR, and it has the image quality to match its ambition. It seems to strike the perfect balance between price and image quality - and Samsung really deserves to sell a lot of these cameras.

10. Ricoh GXR
Price: £460 (body unit plus 28-300mm lens, 10MP sensor kit) Specs: Various sensors available

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The Ricoh GRX is one of the coolest cameras to have been launched in recent memory.

Instead of being an interchangeable lens camera, it's a body where you can replace the whole lens-and-sensor assembly. This means that one unit can be 12 megapixels, and another can have higher or lower resolution.

The lens-and-sensor assemblies have motors, processors, sensors, shutters and aperture all built in, and the lens will pass the information captured to the camera body for storage and display.

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We think the GRX is a great idea, and we're merrily cheering them on from the sidelines. Having said that, given that you are essentially buying a whole new camera for every lens you buy, you're looking at taking a big gamble at largely unproven technology - and it may be a more prudent idea to spend your money elsewhere.

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1 komentar:

Security System Camera said...

Hi,

The cheaper devices are just as accurate and just as easy to use and provide connectivity to security sensors, thermostats, lighting controls, door locks and more to you. Ricoh GRX cameras are also famous to provide security in the home and office. Thanks a lot.

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