Updated (August 2011): Compare the Olympus PEN E-PL1 vs Sony NEX-5N

Sony Alpha NEX-5 vs Olympus PEN E-PL1

Winner
Sony Alpha NEX-5

61

Olympus PEN E-PL1

40

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
108 lenses
Longest exposure
Long exposures
60 seconds
Built-in flash
Built-in flash
External flash not needed

Items often bought with the Sony NEX-5 or Olympus PEN E-PL1

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
108 lenses vs 62 lenses
Help
More than 70% 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
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
HDR
Has in-camera HDR
Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple exposures to capture high dynamic range
Panorama
Can create panoramas in-camera
Yes vs No
Help
Stitches together multiple photos for a wide perspective
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 40
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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
              Lowest price Inexpensive Help
              PEN E-PL1$253.23
              NEX-5$359.99
              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

              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
              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $289 body only

              $349 - $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

              $109 body only

              $290 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
              Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2

              Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $177 body only

              $265 with 14mm lens

              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Shutter lag Has much less shutter lag

              Olympus PEN E-PL1 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $199 body only

              $270 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-PL2

              Olympus PEN E-PL2

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $379 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 E-PL5

              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $486 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-PL6

              Olympus PEN E-PL6

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $299 with 14-42mm lens

              Screen size Much larger screen
              3D Takes 3D photos
              Built-in flash No built-in flash
              Olympus PEN E-PL7

              Olympus PEN E-PL7

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $499 body only

              $599 with 14-42mm lens

              Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Sensor type Has a CCD-family sensor
              Built-in flash No built-in flash

              Sony Alpha NEX-5 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Sony NEX-5N

              Sony NEX-5N

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $399 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

              $279 body only

              $350 - $448 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-3

              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $400 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

              $760 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

              $849 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

              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.