We used the Olympus PEN E-P3 with the standard 14-42mm kit lens attached for the shootout. Many will see compact system cameras as the "compromise", allowing you to have full manual control and creative options at a fraction of the size and bulk of a DSLR. Using something that has a touchscreen with touch-focus or touch-shutter is great for quick shooting environments such as a market.
Compact system cameras, especially newer models such as the Olympus PEN and Panasonic Lumix GX1 also boast exceptionally quick autofocusing (in good light), meaning you can grab pictures and go.
While not as big as the DSLR, using a CSC is also not the most discreet of options, and you may find you take up more space as you extend your arms to compose a shot using the screen. Most CSCs don't come with a viewfinder as standard, but several have the option to add one as an added extra purchase.
- (Some have) touch screen/touch shutter/touch focus
- Small and portable
- (Some have) an articulated screen
- Can change lens if necessary
- Super quick autofocus system in good light
- Control over depth of field
- Art filters (on some models)
- Can shoot in raw format
- Higher noise output at night
- No viewfinder or EVF (on most models)
- Shadows/highlights tend to be poorer than DSLRs
- Unable to quickly change to manual focus
We found shooting with a compact system camera allowed us to be the most creative and focus on the composition of images, rather than worrying about a myriad of different settings. That said, those options were quickly and easily available should we need them. As we were using the Olympus PEN E-P3, we had the option of a range of creative filters which were great in this situation.
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Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.