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Best Mirrorless Compact System Cameras 2013 (CSC)

Updated on August 20, 2013

Top 10 Compact Interchangeable Lens Cameras

DSLR cameras are very popular because they're so versatile thanks to interchangeable lenses, extensive accessories and numerous advanced features. On the other hand, they're also quite bulky and heavy. That's why Panasonic and Olympus introduced an entirely new category of camera in 2012: the compact system camera (CSC). Eliminating the pentaprism and reflex mirror mechanism, the new design allowed for a much smaller, slimmer, lighter body with an interchangeable lens mount and many modes, functions and overrides.

Without a reflex mirror, the distance from the lens mount to the sensor is less, decreasing the diameter of the lens mount. Hence, the lenses are also smaller and lighter for greater overall portability when compared to a DSLR system. Sony and Samsung also entered this market, making their own CSCs. (Ricoh also makes a mirrorless GXR series. Pentax introduced the Q platform, which strictly speaking isn't a CSC but does offer interchangeable lenses.) This post includes the latest and most noteworthy models.

Image: Fujifilm X100 12.3 MP APS-C CMOS EXR Digital Camera with 23mm Fujinon Lens and 2.8-Inch LCD

 

Olympus PEN E-P3
Olympus PEN E-P3

Olympus PEN E-P3

The most advanced model of the line, this one features a dual-core processor, very fast 35-point autofocus with Tracking AF and many other options, a 3-fps drive mode and the numerous DSLR-style functions and overrides. In addition to external controls, the touchscreen LCD allows for convenient navigation with a touch or swipe of your finger. Useful amenities include a 3D Photo mode and 10 Art Filters with customization options.

There's a built-in flash and a hot shoe for optional flash units (with wireless off-camera TTL if desired) and a slot for an optional electronic viewfinder.

Sensor: 12.3-MP Live MOS

Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, MPO (3D), Video

Dimensions/Weight: 122 x 69.1 X 34.2 MM, 369 G

Video Recording: 1920 x 1080 AVCHD, 1280 x 720 Motion JPEG

LCD: Fixed 3 inch, Touch-Screen OLED, 614,000 Dots

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

While it's the oldest current model in Panasonic's line, it is still the flagship (if you notice, the rest of Panasonic's models are designated "3"). The GH2 is styled like a small SLR, and includes a built-in 1.5-million-dot electronic viewfinder. It uses a 16-megapixel liveMOS sensor with ISO sensitivity to 12,800. It can shoot up to 5 fps at full resolution, or up to 40 fps at reduced (4-MP) resolution.

The double-articulated LCD panel is touch-enabled, both for menu selection and camera operation - touch to select focus point and fire the shutter, for example. This camera also excels at video, offering full HD video and 24p cinema mode.

Sensor: 16-MP Live MOS

Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, MPO (3D), Video

Dimensions/Weight: 124 x 89.5 x 75.8 MM, 900 G (With 14-149 MM Lens)

Video Recording: 1920 x 1080 AVCHD, Quicktime Motion JPEG

LCD: Articulated 3 inch, Touchscreen, 460,000 Dots

Samsung NX200
Samsung NX200

Samsung NX200

This camera is much smaller, slimmer, lighter than the NX11 because the built-in flash and EVF were omitted. Unlike the earlier NX100, the NX200 does not accept an optional EVF but it ships with a tiny flash unit and accepts larger optional flashguns too.

This model boasts very high resolution and many new features, including greater versatility in Movie mode, 7-fps burst shooting, more special effects options, and new Panorama and 3D modes.

Sensor: 20.3-MP Live MOS

Lens Mount: Samsung NX

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, Video

Dimensions/Weight: 117 x 63 x 36 MM, 220 G

Video Recording: 1920 x 1080 MP-4

LCD: Fixed 3 inch, AMOLED, 614,000 Dots

Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-5N

Sony NEX-5N

Much smaller and targeting novices, the 5N includes many NEX-7 features and the same speed but fewer controls and a very simple graphical interface. Its touch-screen LCD provides another method for camera control. There's no built-in flash but a small external unit is included; the 5N is also compatible with a new optional 2.4-million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder.

Like the NEX-7, this camera offers a 10-fps burst mode, a 2D and 3D Sweep Panorama mode, and extras such as special effects modes, Dynamic Range Optimizer and HDR for maximum highlight/shadow detail.

Sensor: 16.1-MP CMOS

Lens Mount: Sony E

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, Video

Dimensions/Weight: 110.8 x 58,8 x 38.7 MM, 210 G

Video Recording: 1920 x 1080 AVCHD 2.0, 1440 x 1080 MP-4

LCD: Tilting 3in; 921,000 Dots

Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PL3

Olympus E-PL3

Employing the same processor and AF system as the E-P3, this model is smaller/lighter and it's equipped with a conventional but articulated LCD. It's a 16:9-format screen, ideal for video. However the display area is a bit small in conventional still photography. Continuous drive is fast at 4.1 fps, or at 5.5 fps with the in-camera stabilizer off.

There's no built-in flash, but a small external flash unit is provided; a larger optional flash unit or an EVF accessory can also be used.

Sensor: 12.3-MP Live MOS

Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, MPO (3D), Video

Dimensions/Weight: 109.5 x 63.7 x 37.3 ; 313 G

Video Recording: 1920 x 1080 AVCHD, 1280 x 720 Motion JPEG

LCD: Fixed 3 inch, Touch-Screen OLED, 614,000 Dots

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3

Acceptably small and lightweight but full-featured, the new G3 is equipped a built-in 1,44-million-dot EVF, a larger than average built-in flash tube plus hot shoe and some DSLR-style controls.

It offers advanced modes, functions and overrides for enthusiasts, five filters for special effects, a 4-fps drive mode and 23-point autofocus with unusually fast/reliable Tracking AF. The G3 also offers a great deal of intelligent automation and a fully articulated LCD with touch-screen control.

Sensor: 15.8-MP Live MOS

Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, MPO (3D), Video

Dimensions/Weight: 115 x 84 x 47 MM, 336 G

Video Recording: 1920 x 1080 AVCHD, 1280 x 720 Motion JPEG

LCD: Articulated 3 inch, Touchscreen, 460,000 Dots

Sony Alpha NEX-C3
Sony Alpha NEX-C3

Sony Alpha NEX-C3

When announced in mid 2011, Sony called the NEX-C3 the world's smallest, lightest interchangeable lens camera with an APS-C sensor. The 5N, announced a few months later, is even lighter but nevertheless the C3 is one of the smallest CSC cameras around.

It uses a 16.2-megapixel sensor and has a movable 920K-dot LCD screen. It offers automated as well as manual exposure controls, ISO sensitivity up to 12800 and Sweep Panorama 3D image creation.

Sensor: 16.2-MP CMOS

Lens Mount: Sony E

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, Video

Dimensions/Weight: 109.6 x 60 x 33 MM; 225 G

Video Recording: 1280 x 720 MP-4

LCD: Tilting 3-IN. - 921,000 Dots

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

More likely to appeal to point-and-shoot camera owners who want to upgrade to a CSC, the GF3 is very compact and equipped with few external controls that might intimidate novices. Aside from the external differences, it benefits from most G3 features, including a built-in flash.

Due to the smaller size however, the GF3 employs a conventional LCD and omits a viewfinder; as well, there's no port for connecting an EVF accessory or an external flash unit.

Sensor: 12-MP Live MOS

Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, MPO (3D), Video

Dimensions/Weight: 115 x 84 x 47 MM - 336 G

Video Recording: 1920 x 1080 AVCHD, 1280 x 720 Motion JPEG

LCD: Fixed 3 inch, 460,000 Dots

Olympus Pen E-PM1
Olympus Pen E-PM1

Olympus Pen E-PM1

The smallest and thinnest (and newest) PEN model - also without built-in flash - this one features a new simplified Live Guide interface for novices, with intuitive adjustment of important aspects. It's well equipped with advanced capabilities, including many modes, overrides and a 3D Photo option.

The Mini also offers six Art Filters for special effects, 35-point AF with many options and fast 4.1-fps drive, or 5.5 fps with the stabilizer off. It's the same as the E-PL3 in terms of flash and EVF.

Sensor: 12.3-MP Live MOS

Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, MPO (3D), Video

Dimensions/Weight: 109.5 x 63.7 x 34 MM - 254 G

Video Recording: 1920 x 1080 AVCHD, 1280 x 720 Motion JPEG

LCD: Fixed 3 inch, Touch-Screen OLED, 460,000 Dots

Sony NEX-7
Sony NEX-7

Sony NEX-7

Ideal for serious photo enthusiasts, this 24-megapixel model offers plenty of external controls, a built-in 2.4-milliondot OLED viewfinder and flash plus a hot shoe for external flash.

As versatile as many DSLRs, the NEX-7 boasts an unusually fast 25-point AF system, special effects options, a 10-fps drive mode and a brand new AVCHD 2.0 video mode with an option for an ultra fast 60-fps framing rate, ideal for movies of fast action.

Sensor: 24.3-MP CMOS

Lens Mount: Sony E

Capture Formats: JPEG, RAW, Video

Dimensions/Weight: 120 x 67 x 43 MM, 291 G

Video Recording: 1920 x 1080 AVCHD 2.0, 1440 x 1080 MP-4

LCD: Tilting 3-IN. - 921,000 Dots

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