I would like to purchase a compact camera. But usually they are limited in optical zooming. So, I would like, if possible, to add/replace lens hardware with a different lens with better optical zooming capabilities.

My questions are:

  • is every camera capable of having its lens system replaced?
  • How do I know whether I can do it or not? So far, I have not come across it mentioned explicitly in a camera's description...
  • Anything to be aware off before replacing a camera's lens system?

Here it comes an example. Can you answer above questions on this photo camera: Casio Exilim ZR 1100?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "embedable external lens"? What amount of optical zoom would satisfy you? How compact would your ideal camera need to be? \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 14:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Embedable- replaceable by other lens, or extending already existing ones (if only possible). Let's say, 20x optical zoom would satisfy me, or more. If I can put the camera into my pocket, so it is compact, e.g., the link to one that I've provided. \$\endgroup\$
    – ucas
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've taken the liberty of editing the terminology in your question to better match what is typical in the field. Let me know if that makes sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 15:47

3 Answers 3


is every camera capable of having its lens system replaced?

No. Camera's described as "compact" generally have an integrated lens that cannot be replaced. Some may have threads or some other provision for attaching an auxiliary lens in front of the built-in lens, but that's quite different from having replaceable lenses.

Replaceable lenses are found on MILCs (mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras), SLRs and DSLRs (digital single lens reflex cameras), and more exotic cameras like medium format and large format cameras.

How do I know whether I can do it or not? So far, I did not come across it mentioned explicitly at camera's description

Knowing that integrated lenses are a hallmark of compact cameras (including the one you linked), it's a safe bet to guess that any camera in that style and price range will not have interchangeable lenses.

If you're looking for something that's small enough to fit in a coat pocket and still offers interchangeable lenses, you'll probably want a MILC, as cameras in that category are both the smallest and least expensive interchangeable lens cameras. The cameras in Canon's EOS M line are a good example of the MILC category: they're fairly small, like a compact camera, but they have relatively large sensors and interchangeable lenses. The EOS M10 is similar in price to the Casio that you're looking at, but that's just for the body -- you'll also need to purchase at least one lens. (Kits are available that include both the body and a lens.)


Even if you are able to disassemble such a camera and get to the lens module, you probably will only have luck with replacing it with the same thing if the manufacturer offers it as a some kind of a spare part (or if you buy someone's old camera for parts). Even if we suppose you succeed in that, you still end up with a camera with one lens that's fixed to it (unless you disassemble it again) - unlike the flexibility you'd get if you purchase an interchangeable lens camera.

If your main aim is to have something compact, your best bet would be to go for something like the Nikon 1 series (with 1" sensor), Olympus PEN, Panasonic (some of their G series) or another compact body with micro 4/3 sensor - this would get you better image quality than a typical compact, more flexibility because you can use different lenses and still a compact enough package.

DPReview is a good resource - it lists almost every consume digital camera that has been released in the last 10+ years - and if a camera has an interchange lens mount, it will be mentioned in the specs as "Lens mount".


The phrase you are looking for is interchangeable lenses. If you look at Digital Photography Review's camera search page, you will see this as the primary distinction.

This almost always means a larger camera, though — few interchangeable lens cameras ("ILCs") are truly compact. The exception for that might be the Pentax Q series, like the Q-S1, although that does it by having a very small sensor. Most ILCs have larger sensors than your typical built-in-lens compact, resulting in better image quality — and of course larger size. You might narrow down the search results to cameras under 400g to get a first-pass cut, and then decide if the results fit your needs.

If you are looking for extraordinary zoom in a single lens, you may be disappointed in size there — the amazingly compact folded optics found in some travel zooms don't normally exist as changeable lenses. In fact, given that, you might want to instead just look for cameras with a built-in zoom lens that fits your needs — something in Panasonic's TZ/ZS series will give you a 10× zoom (with a field of view equal to that given by 25mm to 250mm on a 35mm camera) in a much smaller package that you'll find an any camera that lets you swap lenses. (Or, for that matter, the Casio camera you link — although I'd be super-skeptical of that seller, as this is Japanese back-stock, not a current model, and the listed spec gives "25× zoom" when you can see from the pictures that it's really 12.5×, and from 24mm to 300mm equivalent.)

Of course, in going with a built-in-lens travel zoom, you're giving up the opportunity to switch that long zoom for a portrait-specific lens, or a fast normal, or a fisheye effect lens. But, it doesn't sound like that's really your goal, anyway.


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