NEX vs. EP1: Ergo & build comparison

Started Oct 12, 2010 | Discussions thread
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WT21 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,240
NEX vs. EP1: Ergo & build comparison

With reluctance I post this, as I've been someone who hasn't much appreciated the NEX threads here on m43 forum. Maybe this should go in the Open Forum, but I am writing this for m43 folks mainly.

I was pretty upset with Oly for their seeming lack of direction and their lame (for my needs) Photokina show. I need a portrait lens and I could really use an EP3 that is just like the EP1 but with a higher res LCD and better legacy lens MF implementation (of course, better DR, lower noise and the EPL1 weak AA filter). Add to that some toys on the NEX (tilt LCD and panorama sweep, which I would certainly use), and I've succumbed to trying out a NEX5.

Here's my initial impression on one of the key selling points on the NEX: it's tiny size and supposedly better ergonomics than an EP1. To this I say, "not so fast!"

GRIP and FEEL:

First, for me (and grip is always personal), the NEX5 has a very well implemented grip. It's very natural. However, for me, the EP1 was never uncomfortable or lacking. Comparing the two, I give a very slight edge to the NEX in comfort, but it's only if I concentrate on the differences. If I didn't have them side by side, I wouldn't notice the difference. I wouldn't buy the NEX for this reason.

Side note: when the EP1 has the 14-150 attached, it feels more center-weighted than the NEX with the kit lens, which pulls down and to the left. See below for more details on the Oly with super zoom.

BUILD QUALITY:

The NEX is supposed to have metal lenses and great build quality. I'm not sold on that. There is some metal-like substance to the kit lens, but it is not "metal" to my thinking. In fact, the inner, extending barrel of the zoom is decidedly plastic, with a big old plastic seam showing! Do I think this is important? No. But I'd give the nod to the EP1 body in build quality over the NEX, and while the NEX lenses are solid, there's nothing earth shattering here. Again, I'd give the nod to my EP1.

HANDLING:

I don't think it would be fair for me to comment on this yet. In terms of pointing and shooting, the NEX is fine, as is the EP1. I know my EP1 better, so I shouldn't comment on anything else at this point (in terms of making adjustments). But overall, the controls on the NEX are not nearly as bad as some have posted. I found them very intuitive. I don't think my new NEX has the firmware update, so I'll have to do that after the battery recharges.

SHUTTER SOUND:

I expected a much quieter shutter from the NEX. It is not only loud from what you might expect, it is also odd. A single frame sounds to me like a multi-frame shot (there are three distinctive click sounds, all at the same volume in rapid fire). The EP1 also has three distinctive click sounds, but the first and third are softer than the middle one, so on the whole it "sounds" quieter to me. My preference is for BOTH of them to be quieter. But in terms of perhaps blending in better with ambiant noise in a quieter setting, I would think the EP1 would be better, but I wouldn't say this should be a buying criteria for either one.

HEAT:

The Sony body got warm in my shooting in a way that the EP1 did not. Noticeably warm (though not uncomfortably so). This has got to be a side effect of the tiny body. Sony should really consider a BIGGER NEX body with room for IBIS and better heat handling. They could probably possibly get even a little more ISO performance if the body didn't get warm.

SIZE:

This is the one that I have to laugh at. The NEX is supposedly soooo much smaller. Not at all. The body is, but that's it. Take a look at these shots of the two cameras in carry mode (i.e. without lens extended) and then with the primes, and then the NEX with 18-55 kit vs. EP1 with 14-150 zoom! I have never been an all-in-one zoom person, but this EP1 w/14-150 is so lightweight and so small, it's a joy to use. It's only slightly larger than NEX+Kit, and it has so much more reach.

Also, not in the first pic, to my eye, the Oly seems smaller than the NEX.

Now, I am ASSUMING that higher ISO will be better on NEX. If that doesn't turn out to be the case, then this is a waste of time, but juding from what I've seen elsewhere, and my own initial snaps, it seems the higher ISO performance is the real deal. From my tests so far, the NEX ISO1600 is a tad better than my EP1 at ISO1250, so I'd say about a stop better, though I'll test that later.

It also seems in my quick testing that the NEX kit lens is a bit sharper than the Oly 14-42 (in the center), but is only noticeable at 100%. Still, that's something. I mostly shoot with the 14-150, 20mm 1.7 and OM 50mm 2.0 macro, so kit comparisons are mentioned here for others (and because that's one of the only NEX lenses I have). It's not really fair to compare the 16mm to the 20mm. In terms of FOV they're very different lenses.

Here are a couple of boring, around-the-house comparison shots for grins and giggles. btw -- I haven't really found the purported limited DR on the Oly to be that much of an issue in these quick shots, though shallower DOF has been a bit in favor of the NEX (see the picture with the apples and the radio in the background. The NEX blurs out the radio a bit better).

So far, I would not say either camera is a clear winner yet. I like some of the NEX toys, but for me I prefer the

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I refuse to wed myself to any of these vendors. I'm just having fun taking pictures,
and watching the technology develop.

 WT21's gear list:WT21's gear list
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-150mm F4-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS Panasonic G85 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.8 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 +3 more
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