Updated (August 2011): Compare the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 vs Sony NEX-5N

Sony Alpha NEX-5 vs Olympus PEN E-PL3

Winner
Sony Alpha NEX-5

61

Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3

44

Runner-up

Reasons to buy the Sony Alpha NEX-5

High resolution screen
Screen resolution
920k dots
Almost no delay when powering up
Startup delay
1000 ms startup delay
In-camera HDR
HDR
Combines multiple exposures
Takes 3D photos
3D
View photos in 3D on 3D televisions
 

Reasons to buy the Olympus PEN E-PL3

Image stabilization
Image stabilization
  1. Sensor shift
Shutter lag
Barely any delay taking photos
241 ms shutter lag
Lens availability
Slightly more lenses available
108 lenses
Longest exposure
Long exposures
60 seconds

Items often bought with the Sony NEX-5 or Olympus E-PL3

galleries

Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3.
Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Sony Alpha NEX-5.

differences

Advantages of the Olympus E-PL3

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Shutter lag
Much less shutter lag
241 ms vs 670 ms
Help
2.8x less delay when taking photos
Image stabilization
Image stabilization
  1. Sensor shift
vs None
Help
Helps eliminate blur caused by small camera movements
Lens availability
More lenses available
108 lenses vs 62 lenses
Help
More than 70% more lenses available
Light sensitivity (boost)
Has boost ISO
12,800 ISO vs None
Help
Allows taking photos in darker situations, often at the cost of additional noise in the image
Longest exposure
Much longer exposures
60s vs 30s
Help
2x longer exposures
Focus points
Slightly more focus points
35 vs 25
Help
Set focus accurately within the frame
Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 Learn more about
the Olympus E-PL3

Advantages of the Sony NEX-5

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Dynamic range
More dynamic range
12.2 EV vs 10.3 EV
Help
3.5 f-stops more dynamic range
Screen resolution
Significantly higher resolution screen
920k dots vs 460k dots
Help
2x higher resolution screen
Overall image quality
Significantly better image quality
69.0 vs 52.0
Help
More than 30% better image quality
Color depth
Better color depth
22.2 bits vs 20.9 bits
Help
Distinguishes 1.3 more bits of color
HDR
Has in-camera HDR
Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple exposures to capture high dynamic range
Screen flips out
Has a flip-out screen
Yes vs No
Help
Flip-out screens can be helpful when composing tricky shots or taking movies
Startup delay
Significantly less startup delay
1000 ms vs 2100 ms
Help
2.1x less delay when turning on
Low light performance
Lower noise at high ISO
796 ISO vs 499 ISO
Help
The NEX-5 has a slight edge (0.7 f-stops) in low-noise, high-ISO performance
True resolution
Slightly higher true resolution
14 MP vs 12.2 MP
Help
Capture around 20% more detail in your photos
Battery life
Slightly longer battery life
330 shots vs 300 shots
Help
10% more shots per battery charge
Weight
Slightly lighter
287 g vs 313 g
Help
Around 10% lighter
Sony Alpha NEX-5 Learn more about
the Sony NEX-5
vs

recommendations

Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent mirrorless cameras, and ignoring price

Snapsort Recommends
Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 Olympus PEN E-PL3 44
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        61 Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony Alpha NEX-5
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              similarities

              Compared to recent mirrorless cameras

              Common Strengths
              3D Both can take 3D photos, many cameras like these don't Help
              View photos in 3D on 3D televisions
              Panorama In-camera panoramas Help
              Stitches together multiple photos into a panorama
              Size Fairly small Help
              E-PL3110×64×37 mm
              NEX-5111×59×38 mm
              Sensor cleaning Self cleaning sensors Help
              Avoids dust in your photos
              External flash Each supports an external flash Help
              Better lighting
              Lowest price Inexpensive Help
              E-PL3$229.99
              NEX-5$359.99
              Thickness Thin Help
              1.5"
              Common Weaknesses
              Built-in flash No built-in flash Help
              Professional
              Fastest shutter speed Slow max shutter speed Help
              1/4000 of a second
              Light sensitivity (boost) One has boost ISO Help
              E-PL312,800 ISO
              NEX-5None
              Supports 24p No support for 24p Help
              Missing that film look
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons
              External mic jack Neither has an external mic jack Help
              Limited to the in-camera mic
              True resolution Capture low resolution images Help
              E-PL312.2 MP
              NEX-514 MP
              Viewfinder No viewfinders Help
              Can only preview photos on the screen
              Focus points Few focus points Help
              E-PL335
              NEX-525
              Weather sealed Neither is weather sealed Help
              Need to shelter it from weather
              Autofocus Slower contrast detection autofocus Help
              slower focusing

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Sony NEX-5N

              Sony NEX-5N

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $605 body only

              $803 with 16-50mm lens

              Overall image quality Has slightly better image quality
              Color depth Has slightly more color depth
              Startup delay Has significantly more startup delay
              Sony Alpha A5000

              Sony Alpha A5000

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $280 body only

              $440 - $448 with 16-50mm lens

              Overall image quality Has slightly better image quality
              Color depth Has slightly more color depth
              External flash Doesn't support an external flash
              Sensor cleaning Lacks a self cleaning sensor
              Sony Alpha NEX-3N

              Sony Alpha NEX-3N

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $420 with 16-50mm lens

              Supports 24p Records movies in 24p
              Battery life Has a slightly longer battery life
              External flash Doesn't support an external flash
              Startup delay Has significantly more startup delay
              Nikon 1 J1

              Nikon 1 J1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $264 with 10-30mm lens

              High-speed framerate Records high-speed movies
              Continuous shooting Shoots faster continuously
              External flash Doesn't support an external flash
              Sensor cleaning Lacks a self cleaning sensor
              Canon EOS M

              Canon EOS M

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $290 body only

              $381 with 18-55mm lens

              Screen resolution Has a slightly higher resolution screen
              True resolution Takes slightly higher resolution photos
              Panorama Lacks built-in panoramas
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos
              Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2

              Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $177 body only

              $265 with 14mm lens

              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Built-in flash Has a built-in flash
              Panorama Lacks built-in panoramas
              Shutter lag Has slightly more shutter lag

              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

              Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
              Viewfinder Has a viewfinder
              Size Larger
              Thickness Thicker
              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $487 with 14-42mm lens

              Dynamic range More dynamic range
              Overall image quality Significantly better image quality
              Sensor type Has a CCD-family sensor
              Lowest price Slightly more expensive
              Olympus PEN E-P3

              Olympus PEN E-P3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $1,345 body only

              $499 with 14-42mm lens

              Screen type Has an OLED screen
              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Dynamic range Less dynamic range
              Light sensitivity Worse maximum light sensitivity
              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $199 body only

              $270 with 14-42mm lens

              Startup delay Less startup delay
              Battery life Slightly longer battery life
              Olympus PEN E-PL6

              Olympus PEN E-PL6

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $299 with 14-42mm lens

              HDR Has in-camera HDR
              Screen flips out Has a flip-out screen

              Sony Alpha NEX-5 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $539 body only

              $350 with 16mm lens

              External mic jack Has an external mic jack
              Thickness Thinner
              Movie format Lower resolution movies
              Dynamic range Less dynamic range
              Sony NEX-7

              Sony NEX-7

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $761 body only

              $660 with 18-55mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Viewfinder Has a viewfinder
              Startup delay More startup delay
              Weight Heavier
              Sony Alpha NEX-6

              Sony Alpha NEX-6

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $549 body only

              $879 with 16-50mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Viewfinder Has a viewfinder
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos
              Startup delay Significantly more startup delay
              Sony Alpha A6000

              Sony Alpha A6000

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $548 body only

              $648 - $698 with 16-50mm lens

              Image stabilization Image stabilization
              Viewfinder Has a viewfinder
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos
              Size Larger

              appearance

              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 Sony Alpha NEX-5

              discussion

              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3
              PEN E-PL3
              Olympus

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              Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Alpha NEX-5
              Sony

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