Olympus E-P3 vs Sony NEX-5T
The Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5T are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2011 and August 2013. Both the E-P3 and the NEX-5T are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-P3) and an APS-C (NEX-5T) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5T? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P3 and the Sony NEX-5T. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-P3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the NEX-5T is available in two color-versions (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5T is notably smaller (22 percent) than the Olympus E-P3. Moreover, the NEX-5T is markedly lighter (25 percent) than the E-P3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P3 nor the NEX-5T are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P3) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-5T). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|2.||Sony NEX-5T||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2013||699|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|12.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|15.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-5T was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the E-P3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-P3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-5T an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5T is 62 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-P3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-5T offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 16MP, the NEX-5T offers a higher resolution than the E-P3 (12.2MP), but the NEX-5T nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 4.29μm for the E-P3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the NEX-5T is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 1 month) than the E-P3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-5T implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-5T for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-P3 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus PEN E-P3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5T are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the NEX-5T offers substantially better image quality than the E-P3 (overall score 27 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.8 bits higher color depth, 2.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|12.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the NEX-5T provides a faster frame rate than the E-P3. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The E-P3 and the NEX-5T are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. However, optional viewfinders – the VF-3 for the E-P3 and the FDA-EV1S for the NEX-5T – are available as accessories. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-P3 and Sony NEX-5T along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony NEX-5T||optional||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2/s||Y||n|
|12.||Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|15.||Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-P3 has one, while the NEX-5T does not. While the built-in flash of the E-P3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The NEX-5T has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the E-P3 does not have a selfie-screen.
The E-P3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5T uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The E-P3 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5T cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus PEN E-P3 and Sony Alpha NEX-5T and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-5T||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic G10||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the NEX-5T offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-P3 does not provide wifi capability.
Both the E-P3 and the NEX-5T have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P3 was replaced by the Olympus E-P5, while the NEX-5T was followed by the Sony A5100. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-P3 and the Sony NEX-5T? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-P3:
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2011).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-5T:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 17%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (27 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 614k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 122x69mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 93g or 25 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the E-P3 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5T is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 4 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-P3 and the Sony NEX-5T place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-P3 and the NEX-5T in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|2.||Sony NEX-5T||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||699|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||..||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|12.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|15.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon G9 X Mark II vs Sony NEX-5T
- Canon SX510 vs Sony NEX-5T
- Fujifilm X-E3 vs Sony NEX-5T
- Fujifilm X-S10 vs Olympus E-P3
- Leica Q Typ 116 vs Olympus E-P3
- Leica X2 vs Sony NEX-5T
- Nikon D3300 vs Sony NEX-5T
- Nikon D50 vs Olympus E-P3
- Nikon D90 vs Sony NEX-5T
- Olympus E-P3 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Olympus E-P3 vs Sony A77
- Olympus E-P3 vs Sony A7R III
Specifications: Olympus E-P3 vs Sony NEX-5T
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-5T|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2011||August 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-5T|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||51||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.8||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.1||13.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||536||1015|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-5T|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||614k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-5T|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-5T|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-5T|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
122 x 69 x 34 mm
(4.8 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
111 x 59 x 39 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||369 g (13.0 oz)||276 g (9.7 oz)|
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