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Best Cheap Compact System Cameras under £500

It used to be that the natural step-up from a compact camera was a DSLR,
but things are a lot more complicated these days. The desire for the
better quality shots a larger sensor brings and flexibility of
interchangeable lenses remains, but the options are more varied and
interesting than ever before.

Nothing epitomises this better
than the Compact System Camera, or CSC, which has in recent years
presented greater opposition to the DSLR as an upgrade from a compact
camera, or even a smartphone. Not only do CSCs offer larger sensors than
compact cameras and smartphones, they do so with a lot less bulk than
a DSLR.

Better still are the prices. While there are expensive
CSCs, many compact system cameras cost less than £500. Some even cost
about the same as top-end compact and bridge cameras, two other
traditional upgrade paths for people looking to advance their
photography skills.

To help you decide what camera to buy we’ve
picked out six of the best cheap compact system cameras, all of which
retail for less than £500. We have a camera from each of the big brands, with one or two of the models representing outstanding value as they’ve come down in price significantly since their launch. This makes it the perfect time to take a second look to see which truly is the best cheap compact system camera going.

Jump to section:

The rest of this feature is split into sections, starting with features, design and performance and finally image quality. You can skip to any specific section using the links above, while below is a quick look at the specs of each of our best cheap CSC contenders.


Left to right: Canon EOS M (£349); Nikon 1 J3 (£439); Olympus PEN E-PL5 (£449)
Best Cheap Compact System Cameras


Left to right: Panasonic Lumix GF6 (£359); Samsung NX2000 (£499); Sony NEX-5R (£449)

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