Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - COMPACT SYSTEM - BY NANDAGOPAL RA­JAN

If you own a DSLR but don’t really want to carry the heavy cam­era and its lenses all over the place, then maybe it is time you bought a mir­ror­less in­ter­change­able lens cam­era (MILC), also called a com­pact sys­tem cam­era. A rel­a­tively new seg­ment, th­ese cam­eras bridge the gap be­tween bulky, but ver­sa­tile, DSLRs and handy, but un­der­pow­ered, com­pacts. Trust us, you will be hear­ing a lot about th­ese cam­eras in the coming years. The first com­pact sys­tem cam­eras where launched in 2008 by Pana­sonic and Olym­pus. The idea was to pro­vide DSLR-like con­trol and pic­ture qual­ity in a much smaller build. So th­ese cam­eras have looked more like minia­turised DSLR than large com­pacts. On one hand, like DSLRs, they have large sen­sors – up to 12 times larger than point-and-shoots – and can take mul­ti­ple lenses. On the other hand, th­ese cam­eras are com­pact and give users features like LiveView and scenes; more com­mon in point and shoots. Some of the new models, like the Sony NEX-5R and the Sam­sung NX 1000, give ac­cess to Wi-Fi and apps, tremen­dously adding to the us­abil­ity of th­ese models. Al­most all models of com­pact sys­tem cam­eras pro­vide a pic­ture qual­ity akin to those of DSLRs. This USP of theirs is achieved by their large sen­sors. This fea­ture also gives them great per­for­mance in low-light. So most of th­ese cam­eras have high ISOs of 12800 or above and don’t al­ways bother to packs in a flash. Last year, we tested the Olym­pus OM-D EM-5 which had the best low-light re­sults we had ever seen, thanks to is amaz­ing 25600 ISO. Now, more models have this fea­ture. Plus, at least two models we tested this time have touch­screens, which make them much more eas­ier to use. Com­pact sys­tems cam­eras can be a bit in­tim­i­dat­ing as they have many features and tweaks. It is also a bit com­pli­cated to change the set­tings quickly if you are not in Auto mode. The Canon EOS M and the Pana­sonic Lumix DSC-GX1 lets users se­lect the area of fo­cus by just touch­ing the screen. This is a fea­ture that saves a lot of time while com­pos­ing frames. Also, LiveView lets you take pic­tures dis­creetly, es­pe­cially when the cam­era has a swivel LCD mon­i­tor.

How­ever, com­pact sys­tems cam­eras are yet to be­come really pop­u­lar, mostly be­cause they con­tinue to be costly. With most of the cam­eras in this seg­ment cost­ing as much as mid-level DSLRs, peo­ple haven’t really started pick­ing them up, at least not in In­dia. But in the longer run, they work out cheaper than a DSLR package as the lenses of a com­pact sys­tem are rel­a­tively cheaper.

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