For a hobbyist photographer wanting to venture into the world of mirrorless camera systems, there are some tough choices to be made. If you were to ask an experienced photographer, he would tell you to select a camera system with a good selection of lenses and accessories that will grow with your photography skills.
I totally agree with him.
However, I think the camera price is the most important concern of the hobbyist photographer.
Panasonic GX1 vs Olympus EP3 vs Sony NEX-5N Price
with X PZ 14-42mm
Mirrorless Camera System: Micro Four Thirds vs APS-C
Olympus and Panasonic mirrorless cameras use the Micro Four Thirds (m4/3) and have many followers. The Olympus EP3 and the Panasonic GX1 are the latest offerings for the m4/3 format. As for the mirrorless APS-C cameras, Sony and Samsung have launched several new models last years. The Sony NEX-5N being the current hot favorite of all APS-C format mirrorless cameras.
Sensor Size Comparison: APS-C vs Micro Four Thirds
(The yellow line is the new Nikon’s 1″ CX-format)
Larger Sensor, Better Low-light Performance
In terms of sensor size and resolution, Sony NEX-5N has better specs. The APS-C sensor is 60% larger than micro four thirds. Typically, larger sensor gives better image quality at higher ISO so photos taken in low-light condition look better.
For people who have no preference on the brands and the subtle differences in color rendering and sharpening, the Sony NEX-5N is the superior choice.
Mirrorless Camera Price Comparison
Honestly, it is not fair to compare the prices of the Sony NEX-5N, Olympus EP3 and Panasonic GX1.
Because older models are priced lower than newer models. Panasonic GX1 is the newest, follows by Olympus EP3 and Sony NEX-5N. The GX1 started shipping in early 2012. The EP3 and NEX-5N were available in late 2011. So the street price of Sony NEX-5N has dropped significantly. Olympus has started to slash price of the EP3 by as much as $100 to compete with the newer Panasonic GX1 that comes with the X PZ 14-42mm lens.