Olympus E-P5 vs Sony NEX-5N
The Olympus PEN E-P5 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5N are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2013 and August 2011. Both the E-P5 and the NEX-5N are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-P5) and an APS-C (NEX-5N) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 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-P5 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5N? 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-P5 and the Sony NEX-5N. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-P5 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the NEX-5N 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-5N is notably smaller (22 percent) than the Olympus E-P5. Moreover, the NEX-5N is substantially lighter (36 percent) than the E-P5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P5 nor the NEX-5N 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-P5) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-5N). 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. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The NEX-5N was launched at a markedly lower price (by 30 percent) than the E-P5, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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-P5 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-5N an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5N 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-P5 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-5N offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 16MP, the NEX-5N offers a higher resolution than the E-P5 (15.9MP), but the NEX-5N nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 3.76μm for the E-P5) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-P5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the NEX-5N, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The Olympus PEN E-P5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5N are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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-5N has a markedly higher DXO score than the E-P5 (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|3.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|4.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|5.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|7.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|11.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|12.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the NEX-5N provides a faster frame rate than the E-P5. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-P5 and the NEX-5N 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-4 for the E-P5 and the FDA-EV1S for the NEX-5N – are available as accessories. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-P5 and Sony NEX-5N along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Olympus PEN-F||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M10||1440||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-M1||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||1440||n||3.0 / 610||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Panasonic GX7||2760||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||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-P5 has one, while the NEX-5N does not. While the built-in flash of the E-P5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The NEX-5N 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-P5 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Olympus E-P5 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The E-P5 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The E-P5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5N 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-P5 and Sony Alpha NEX-5N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Olympus PEN-F||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-M10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-M1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic GX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||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 E-P5 offers wifi support, while the NEX-5N does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the E-P5 and the NEX-5N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The NEX-5N was replaced by the Sony NEX-5R, while the E-P5 was followed by the Olympus E-P7. Further information on the features and operation of the E-P5 and NEX-5N can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-P5 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony NEX-5N Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-P5 or the Sony NEX-5N – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P5:
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 920k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- 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.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 8 months after the NEX-5N).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-5N:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 122x69mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 151g or 36 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (460 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (30 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2011).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (8 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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-P5 and the Sony NEX-5N 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-P5 and the NEX-5N in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||..||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||3/5||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1300D vs Sony NEX-5N
- Fujifilm GFX 50S vs Sony NEX-5N
- Hasselblad X1D II vs Sony NEX-5N
- Nikon Z50 vs Olympus E-P5
- Nikon Z6 II vs Sony NEX-5N
- Olympus E-M1 vs Olympus E-P5
- Olympus E-P5 vs Olympus E-P7
- Olympus E-P5 vs Panasonic GM1
- Olympus E-P5 vs Panasonic GX7
- Olympus E-P5 vs Sony HX99
- Sony HX90V vs Sony NEX-5N
- Sony NEX-5N vs Sony NEX-7
Specifications: Olympus E-P5 vs Sony NEX-5N
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-P5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||May 2013||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 999||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-P5||Sony NEX-5N|
|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||15.9 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||77|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.4||12.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||895||1079|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-P5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-P5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|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|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-P5||Sony NEX-5N|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-P5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||460 shots per charge|
122 x 69 x 37 mm
(4.8 x 2.7 x 1.5 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||420 g (14.8 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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