This installation of Head to Head pits two APS sensor-toting, interchangeable lens cameras against each other: the Sony alpha NEX-5 and the Samsung NX10. They may be lightweights compared to DSLRs, but they pack serious picture-taking power into their compact camera bodies.
Panasonic and Olympus were the first to introduce the compact interchangeable lens concept to the world. Their Micro Four Thirds E-P1 and GF1 put larger sensors into camera bodies not much bigger than large point-and-shoots. While the Four Thirds sensor is much larger than a typical point-and-shoot's, Samsung and Sony's APS-C sensors are significantly larger than the Four Thirds chip. A larger sensor usually means better performance in low light.
There's a lot more than just sensor size to consider when buying a camera. The look and feel of it, the feature set, the system of lenses - it's important to find a camera to match your needs and your style.
Both the NEX-5 and NX10 are the frontrunners in their respective product lines, so it seems reasonable to assume that many more advancements are on the way. However, now that we've got full reviews in for both the NX10 and NEX-5, there's no harm in a little friendly competition Head to Head style.
Sophistication and Style
Neither camera comes up short in the style department. The Samsung NX10 offers a whittled-down version of a full-fledged DSLR with a rounded handgrip, viewfinder, and a selection of dedicated control buttons on the top and back panels. With the 30mm pancake lens attached, the camera takes on a very svelte appearance. It fits easily into a small bag or purse, though it's still too bulky for coat pockets.
The NX10 is offered as a lighter and smaller alternative to a DSLR, and that's exactly how it comes across. The styling is traditional, but the compact form is decidedly modern.
The NEX-5, however, takes a different approach and ditches the classic DLSR look. It's angular, modern and sparsely furnished with buttons - the camera equivalent of an Ikea-decorated apartment. The lens mount extends past the camera body itself, making room for that large sensor. The mount is steel and the lens barrels themselves are brushed aluminum, adding to the slightly industrial look of the system.
A control wheel and three "soft keys" are on the back panel. As different menus and shooting modes are accessed by the user, the keys are assigned different functions. It's a very non-traditional control layout for a non-traditional camera.
The NEX-5 is available in silver and black, and the NX10 is offered in black.
Judging on looks alone, the Sony is a standout. It's attractive and it deserves recognition based on sheer smallness - you really couldn't make a camera with an APS-C sensor any more compact than the NEX-5. The NX10 is sure to please those with more traditional tastes, but the NEX-5 employs a sleek, minimalist style and innovative design.
Advantage: Sony alpha NEX-5
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