What is a compact system camera? Is it still even a thing?

What are compact system cameras?

Wondering what is a compact system camera? It's a term that came into use some time ago, in that crossover period when DSLRs were still dominant but mirrorless cameras were starting to make headway… but they weren't commonly known as mirrorless cameras back then. 

Instead, pundits started to refer to mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras – at that point, predominantly the super-compact Micro Four Thirds cameras released by Panasonic and Olympus – as "compact system cameras" (or "CSCs").

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.