Updated (August, 2011): Compare the Olympus PEN E-PL2 vs Sony NEX-5N

Sony Alpha NEX-5 vs Olympus PEN E-PL1

Winner
Sony Alpha NEX-5

61

Olympus PEN E-PL1

39

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
Takes 3D photos
3D
View photos in 3D on 3D televisions
 

Reasons to buy the Olympus PEN E-PL1

Image stabilization
Image stabilization
  1. Sensor shift
Lens availability
Slightly more lenses available
40 lenses
Longest exposure
Long exposures
60 seconds
Built-in flash
Built-in flash
External flash not needed

galleries

Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Olympus PEN E-PL1.
Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Sony Alpha NEX-5.

differences

Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL1

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Image stabilization
Image stabilization
  1. Sensor shift
vs None
Help
Helps eliminate blur caused by small camera movements
Lens availability
More lenses available
40 lenses vs 21 lenses
Help
More than 90% more lenses available
Longest exposure
Much longer exposures
60s vs 30s
Help
2x longer exposures
Built-in flash
Built-in flash
Yes vs No
Help
A built-in flash is useful for taking indoor shots where there is little light
Olympus PEN E-PL1 Learn more about
the Olympus PEN E-PL1

Advantages of the Sony NEX-5

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Screen resolution
Much higher resolution screen
920k dots vs 230k dots
Help
4x higher resolution screen
Screen size
Much larger screen
3" vs 2.7"
Help
More than 10% larger screen
Dynamic range
More dynamic range
12.2 EV vs 10.1 EV
Help
3.9 f-stops more dynamic range
Overall image quality
Significantly better image quality
69.0 vs 54.0
Help
Around 30% better image quality
3D
Takes 3D photos
Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple photos into a 3D image
Panorama
Can create panoramas in-camera
Yes vs No
Help
Stitches together multiple photos for a wide perspective
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 2200 ms
Help
2.2x less delay when turning on
Color depth
Better color depth
22.2 bits vs 21.5 bits
Help
Distinguishes 0.7 more bits of color
Shutter lag
Significantly less shutter lag
670 ms vs 820 ms
Help
Around 20% less delay when taking photos
Movie format
Higher resolution movies
1080p @ 30fps vs 720p @ 30fps
Help
Shoots higher resolution Full HD (1080p) video
Low light performance
Lower noise at high ISO
796 ISO vs 487 ISO
Help
The NEX-5 has a slight edge (0.7 f-stops) in low-noise, high-ISO performance
Fastest shutter speed
Much faster max shutter speed
1/4000s vs 1/2000s
Help
2x faster max shutter speed
True resolution
Slightly higher true resolution
14 MP vs 12.2 MP
Help
Capture around 20% more detail in your photos
Continuous shooting
Shoots slightly faster
7 fps vs 3 fps
Help
Around 2.5x faster continuous shooting
Battery life
Slightly longer battery life
330 shots vs 290 shots
Help
More than 10% more shots per battery charge
Size
Smaller
111×59×38 mm vs 115×72×42 mm
Help
Around 30% smaller
Focus points
Slightly more focus points
25 vs 11
Help
Set focus accurately within the frame
Light sensitivity
Better maximum light sensitivity
12,800 ISO vs 3,200 ISO
Help
The NEX-5's maximum light sensitivity is 4 f-stops better
Weight
Slightly lighter
287 g vs 334 g
Help
More than 10% lighter
Thickness
Slightly thinner
1.5" vs 1.7"
Help
Around 10% thinner
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 E-PL1 Olympus PEN E-PL1 39
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        61 Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony Alpha NEX-5
        Retailer
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              similarities

              Compared to recent mirrorless cameras

              Common Strengths
              Sensor cleaning Self cleaning sensors Help
              Avoids dust in your photos
              External flash Each supports an external flash Help
              Better lighting
              Common Weaknesses
              Fastest shutter speed Slow max shutter speed Help
              PEN E-PL11/2000s
              NEX-51/4000s
              Light sensitivity (boost) No boost ISO Help
              Lacks boost light sensitivity
              Shutter lag Significant shutter lag Help
              PEN E-PL1820 ms
              NEX-5670 ms
              Supports 24p No support for 24p Help
              Missing that film look
              Cross type focus points Few cross-type focus points Help
              0
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons
              External mic jack Neither has an external mic jack Help
              Limited to the in-camera mic
              Focus points Few focus points Help
              PEN E-PL111
              NEX-525
              True resolution Capture low resolution images Help
              PEN E-PL112.2 MP
              NEX-514 MP
              Viewfinder No viewfinders Help
              Can only preview photos on the screen
              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 Alpha NEX-3

              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $181 body only

              $335 with 18-55mm lens

              External mic jack Has an external mic jack
              Canon EOS M

              Canon EOS M

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $240 body only

              $315 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Takes slightly higher resolution photos
              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Shutter lag Has slightly more shutter lag
              Lens availability Slightly fewer lenses available
              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $300 - $547 body only

              $379 - $447 with 18-55mm lens

              Overall image quality Has slightly better image quality
              Viewfinder Has a viewfinder
              Thickness Is thicker
              Weight Is significantly heavier
              Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

              Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $150 body only

              $280 with 14-42mm lens

              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Shutter lag Has much less shutter lag
              External flash Doesn't support an external flash
              Startup delay Has significantly more startup delay
              Nikon D3100

              Nikon D3100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $275 body only

              $484 with 18-55mm, 55-200mm lenses

              Viewfinder Has a viewfinder
              Supports 24p Records movies in 24p
              Thickness Is thicker
              Weight Is significantly heavier
              Olympus PEN E-P3

              Olympus PEN E-P3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $581 body only

              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Screen type Has an OLED screen
              Color depth Has slightly less color depth

              Olympus PEN E-PL1 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $493 with 14-42mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Screen size Much larger screen
              Sensor type Has a CCD-family sensor
              Built-in flash No built-in flash
              Olympus PEN E-P1

              Olympus PEN E-P1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $389 body only

              $400 with 14-42mm lens

              Screen size Much larger screen
              Dynamic range More dynamic range
              Shutter lag Much more shutter lag
              Startup delay More startup delay
              Olympus PEN E-PL2

              Olympus PEN E-PL2

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $472 body only

              $673 with 14-42mm lens

              Screen size Much larger screen
              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Color depth Worse color depth
              Weight Slightly heavier
              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3

              Olympus PEN E-PL3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $219 with 14-42mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Screen size Much larger screen
              Color depth Worse color depth
              Overall image quality Slightly worse image quality
              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $199 body only

              $440 with 14-42mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Screen size Much larger screen
              Color depth Worse color depth
              Overall image quality Slightly worse image quality

              Sony Alpha NEX-5 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Sony NEX-5N

              Sony NEX-5N

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $450 body only

              $803 with 16-50mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Startup delay Significantly more startup delay
              Sony Alpha A5000

              Sony Alpha A5000

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $289 body only

              $400 - $465 with 16-50mm lens

              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Overall image quality Better image quality
              Screen resolution Significantly lower resolution screen
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos
              Sony Alpha NEX-6

              Sony Alpha NEX-6

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $499 - $619 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 NEX-7

              Sony NEX-7

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $837 body only

              $589 with 18-55mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Viewfinder Has a viewfinder
              Startup delay More startup delay
              Weight Heavier
              Sony Alpha NEX-3N

              Sony Alpha NEX-3N

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $350 body only

              $420 with 16-50mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Screen resolution Significantly lower resolution screen
              Startup delay Significantly more startup delay

              appearance

              Olympus PEN E-PL1 Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Olympus PEN E-PL1 Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Olympus PEN E-PL1 Sony Alpha NEX-5

              discussion

              Olympus PEN E-PL1
              PEN E-PL1
              Olympus

              Report a correction
              Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Alpha NEX-5
              Sony

              Report a correction

              Showing 1 comments

              Guest (2:32 AM, August 23, 2011)
              The E-PL1 has two forms of continuous focus in video mode, Continuous Focus and Continuous Focus with Tracking. This should be corrected in the specs. The option isn't available using the quick button, one has to use the dial to switch to video, then the autofocus features work.