Quick Test – 3 Shots – Sony NEX-5, Leica X1, Olympus E-P2

Was sitting in my hotel room in Florence, Italy and decided to do a quick test of these three cameras. The Sony NEX-5, Olympus E-P2 and Leica X1. I set each camera on the balcony and set each to their base ISO and F4. These are just JPEGS so we can see what comes out of the camera. Plus the Sony does not have much RAW support yet. Anyway, this will give you an idea on lens performance on the Sony (soft) but you have to click on the images to view them full size.

SONY NEX-5 – JPEG – ISO 200 – F4


OLYMPUS E-P2 – ISO 200 (base ISO) – F4


and finally the Leica X1 – ISO 100 (base ISO) at F4


Ahhh, woke up to a beautiful HOT and muggy day. Decided to also shoot a daylight scene from the balcony, I mean, why not?!? These are direct from the  camera, all on AWB at F5.6.

First, the Sony NEX-5






So what are you thoughts? More updates either later today or tomorrow. Stay tuned…


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  1. An X1 comparison is not useful if the DNGs are not used. JPEGs in the X1 are poor in comparison to the DNG files. I wish the camera would shoot just DNGs. I have to delete all the JPEGs before downloading which is tedious. The DNGs are pretty remarkable. Only an M9 or a top DSLR have better detail and the color is gorgeous.

    But the X1 is limited with fixed lens, slow focus and no IS. I also have a Panasonic GH1 which has very sharp lenses, good IQ, fast auto focus, face recognition, good IS and excellent video. With two excellent zooms, the 7-14 and the 14-140, the camera covers 14mm to 280 mm (35mm equivalent) in a still compact package. I bought a NEX 5 but returned it because of poor IQ and I thought some things like panorama were mostly a gimmick that did not make good photos. The Panasonic G and GH cameras are slightly larger than a NEX but better cameras IMO. I have not shot the EP-2 but I can highly recommend the G and GH cameras in 4/3.

  2. and just to add, of the three the Oly and the Leica were the best to my eyes. The Sony really does not do much for me.

  3. I think the X1 does best of the 3 in the first shot, night-time, but the daylight shot they look pretty close to me. I would like to see it compared with a Ricoh GXR with A12 module.

  4. Hello Steve, and greatings from from the Garda-lake, just north-west of Verone……
    Only by the X1 you can read “Piazza” on the sign of the building, and only the X1 can read clearly “Uscita” on the sign on the road….
    have a nice Italy-stay, Steve…
    Thorkil (Denmark…normally..)
    Ps. Make a trip to Venice when you are here, and walk around in the evenings in this town…!

  5. Scolling through the responses I wonder who actually look at the image full size in a (color managed) browser or photo-app… 😀

  6. steve…

    nice shots by the way.

    and enjoy every bit of air everyday.
    its hope…

    …and dont forget to smile, it will bring you good luck, and you will bring happiness to other people.

    just a word of love.

  7. well, for me all 3 cameras perform on their on way.

    they are all great, and they produce very nice results.

    why compare when you cant have 3 at the same time?

    choose x1 if you want something so CLASSY.
    choose EP2 if you want PRO quality.
    choose NEX5 for overall portability.

    they are all good.

    none is good in the other.
    both are made for people like us, enthusiasts and pros.

    there is no perfect camera.
    only perfectionist people.

    people, let us be content.

    there is nothing wrong if i choose the other over the other.

    the most important part is we are happy.


  8. The buildings were in the mid day sun and did appear washed out anyway. The Oly renders a bit more on the warm side, while the X1 is more neutral/cool. But, the X1 kills the E-P2 and the NEX5 for detail, and IQ in real world shots. These were just quick shots out of my hotel window, not really the most optimal testing but because I could, I did.

  9. I have LIMITED internet access right now but have to say there is NO camera shake on the NEX shot as it was sitting on a stone ledge. Was not handheld. All were sitting on the same ledge and I let the camera choose its own exposure so I could see how each one not only exposed the same shot, but also how it managed color and detail. The Sony kit zoom is borderline garbage IMO.

    • Steve, on of the posters asked you to return to the crime site and confirm the colour of the building on the right. Whatever the use of that would be (different time, different lighting, etc etc), as I remember Italian towns in the heat of summer, the “washed out” look might well be the natural look.

      Memory plays tricks on us and I agree that the E-P2 gives a warmer and more pleasing image, but not necessarily a more natural or truthful one.

      Just my 2cts… 🙂

    • Did you turn off the image stabilization in the nex5 before you took the photo?
      Doubt it, so what do you think caused the blur, it’s widely known that image stabilization will cause blur when left on needlessly, as in this case. the leica does not have this problem because it has no real image stabilization. Like when you shoot a dslr on a tripod you turn OFF image stabilization because it can introduce blur. I guess your argument will be that “this is how a normal user would take the shot” so you must be a normal user?
      So there is shake on the nex shot, it just came within the lens itself due to the shooter not turning off the image stabilization.
      Live and learn.
      Please do more accurate real world test before you decide that the lens is garbage. I agree it’s not the best lens in the world, neither is the x1’s, but if you truly believe that it’s as bad as that image shows and don’t believe it was caused by the image stabilization then you should stop using the camera.

  10. Elaine – I’ve just returned from Florence (7days) and Pisa (3 days) and can say that Florence is a magical city and very photogenic. Having said that my wife captured the tourist scenes on her Canon Ixus while I concentrated on photographing bicycles (there are thousands of them all over the place in different states of decay and all colours), graffiti (lots of this as well) and old Fiat 500s – I had great fun! All my shots were taken on the M9 with a 50mm Summicron – this was my first lengthy outing with the M9 since buying it. I have to say I’m very pleased with it – the quality of the images, the colour rendition etc – all fantastic. I’ve only looked at Raw and JPEG files on my monitor so far and haven’t had the time to do any post processing but I’m very pleased with the results. So much so that I’m considering selling the other gear I have & use for most of my professional work (Hasselblad V system plus Phase One back) and buying another M9 but before committing to this path I want to process the images and use the M9 for a bit longer.

    I’ve never used the M8/M8.2 so can’t do a comparison but I prefer the full frame of the M9 and couldn’t be doing with the filters the M8/M8.2 requires. The only advantage of the M8.2 that I can see is that it’s got the better quality screen (the M9 does have a tendency to mark fairly easily e.g. by just rubbing across shirt buttons whilst worn around the neck).

    • Steve, I’d be very curious to see the photos of your trip. I also wonder what would be your second choice of lens if you were to get a 2nd M9 camera. I’ve always wanted to visit Italy. I love seeing other people’s perspectives of the countries they travel.

      Yeah, I was kind of wondering what Seal thought of the M8, M8.2 VS the M9 camera. I know he has a collection to reference. It would be interesting to note. Maybe Steve can get Seal to write about hi views on the pluses and minuses of each.

  11. Steve have you thought of getting the M adapter for NEX? Would be an interesting read for sure!

    Enjoy the rest of your European trip, crazy hot in here! 🙂

  12. Add:
    Gosh, I just had a second good look at the images full size. The different WB & saturation aside, the X1 files are in a different league from the others. Detail, noise, sharpness in both the night and daylight shot are beyond any comparison imo. Buy maybe my eyes are deceiving me. 🙂

    • I’d have to agree with you but I still feel that the EP2 shots look more natural, I also suspect that printed up the EP2 shots may look better, the X1 is a superb compact camera

  13. Leica fanclub or anti Leica spasm aside, these results are in line with what is already widely known about these cameras.

    The EP2 turns out great looking (daylight) JPGs while the X1 isn’t as pleasing looking on standard settings. But with JPGs your looking at 50% camera and 50% JPG engine. A quick scroll through the menu, change a few settings, and the JPG look from the X1 is very close or equal to the EP2. The quality of the lens and sensor remain though. Regardless the JPG settings. The Sony looks simply crap to me no matter how you look at it.

    And as we’re standing in wood chips up to our knees from the kicked-in open doors I’ll do one too. When the quality of the RAW files comes into the equation the dice rolls very different (the Sony excepted for now). With this type of cameras RAW is at least as important – I think much more important – than 8 bit JPG cookies. With the same image (post) processing/JPG conversion there is a level playing field that shows what a camera is really capable of. Not mainly how the in-camera JPG engine and its standard settings look. Then the X1 does wipe the floor with the EPx at anything above base ISO.

    But the results in RAW are as widely known, tested and put on the web as this JPG comparison…

  14. Steve, can you please confirm the real color of the buildings in the day time shot. The ep2 looks the most natural. The nex5 is not far off. The X1 seems grey and very unnatural.

    I suggest doing a blind test next time. Identify each image as taken by camera A, B, and C. Let the commenters vote and see which camera prevails. This will take any brand name bias out of the equation. It would be a very interesting experiment!

  15. Both shake and different exposure on the NEX night shot. The sharpness of the kit lens JPGs isn’t there on the 18-55, it is there on the 16 in the center area only but put the Leica or CV glass on it and it is a whole different league. Very sharp images. Next, the out of camera JPGs are off on color. Bibble 5 pro renders the RAW files much closer to true colors that match what I see. Steve, stick a $400 40/2 lens on it with an adapter and you will be amazed. Here is a 50% crop from the camera JPG no PP using 40/2 Leica (no additional sharpening).[img]http://dpreview.com/galleries/3593516344/photos/406326[/img]

    • Not sure why the image doesn’t show but you can right click on it and tell it to open in a new window and it works.

  16. Elaine,

    Stephen is 100% correcto there. With that crop factor, you are pretty much out of luck trying to shoot wide. My suggestion…A nice, clean Leica M3 and a 21mm Voigtlander. If you shop carefully, you are looking at $1,250 and you have a killer set up. Get a cheap meter and you are off to the races 🙂

  17. @Elaine, unfortunately I don’t think there is a solution for you there. Two times crop whatever you do so 24 is 48. If you want to shoot wide and you want to shoot Leica M glass. M9 or film M’s are the way to go…

  18. Darell, Doesn’t the 4/3rd system make the crop factor huge? What will a 28mm be on it? I’m curious. I think that would be the reason I wouldn’t get that camera. I would like to shoot wide angle. I don’t know what I could use on it that would make a 24mm lens a 24mm lens. Do you?

  19. @ Elaine. I have the EP2 and I can definitely say it’s great camera as even some of my mediocre efforts in jpeg look great on it. I’ve just picked up a couple of old Leica lenses, Summicron 40 and Elmarit 28 pre asph both originally from CL I believe. Once my adaptor arrives I’ll happily send you some standard shots if it gives you an idea of what the EP2 is like. Just don’t judge me on the composition as I haven’t reached that part of Thorsten Ovegaard’s course yet!

  20. WOW!!
    thank you so much Steve !!!
    God! I love these side-by-side tests !!!

    Do you guys think the EP-2 is better than the Panasonic GF1 ?!
    Hesitating between the EP-2 & GF1 …

  21. Elaine,

    If I was in the market for a compact digital, that would be the one. Some of the best straight out of cameras images I have seen are from the EP2. Nice selection of lenses and great IQ. Pretty unbeatable in my book.

  22. Overall, the EP2 has the best and most realistic rendition of the three. The X1 shot renders the buildings and street pavement a dull gray, while the EP2 gives a much warmer, more realistic look of the actual lighting. The side and roof of the building to the right, for example, should indeed be a warm tone, considering what it looks to be the early morning sun. As always, I just do not like Leica JPEGS. The Sony seems to be somewhere in the middle but again, the EP2 is dead on.

        • Well, some people get excited about a particular camera (brand), and lose sight of the finer detail and nuance (their camera probably doesn’t…). Other people get excited about the images captured with cameras. 🙂

          • P.s.: early morning? Look at the (almost non-existent) shadows. Still looks like a flat image though.

      • talking about colors Oly seems better..but also has more noise(even in the sky)…and even at at webs size(not 100%) the Leicas seem better sharper and with more details….the NEX fro me is the worse…

    • Max says: ….. while the EP2 gives a much warmer, more realistic look of the actual lighting.

      Do you mean that red color cast??

      • Damian,

        It may be color cast but it still looks better to my eyes. If it is color cast, then the X1 is removing it, along with everything else and what we have is a washed out, dull, grey looking JPEG. Look at the facade of the building to the right and the EP2 is delivering better separation and detail of black soot and gray, while the X1 is kind of washed out. Always a matter of taste but, to me, without post processing involved, I’d rather have the EP2 JPEG than the X1. Raw is a different story but let’s remember that many of these cameras are not bought by hardcore enthusiasts who love love to spend hours in front of a screen manipulating files.

  23. There is no doubt that the JPEGs from the NEX3/5 look worse than E-P2 and E-PL1. However, I used “Bibble 5” to process the RAW files from NEX5 and found that the results are MUCH better and sharper. That said, even though I love the features (such as the Panorama mode, twilight hand held–both which work very well), as well as the high ISO results from the NEX5, like most NEX3/5 owners, I am disappointed with the kit lens (I have the 18-55) IQ. I am contemplating on returning the camera and waiting until better, E-mount prime lenses to come out. Here are just a few NEX5 shots:

  24. looking at the daylight images I must say that even though the x1 shows slightly more detail I prefer the color and rendering from the E-P2 (a bit more contrast and pop). Are those with preselect WB or AWB?
    Also own both x1 and E-P2 and I am one of the few which does find the difference between those 2 cameras IQ not as clear as some other people. I clearly prefer the x1 user interface (wheels and buttons) but the E-P2 response being much better and AF more reliable. Still I grab the x1 all the time, but I am sometimes disappointed by faulty AF and I have to say that I find the IQ of the M9 over the x1 bigger than that between E-P2 and x1.
    Steve-which is your favorite and why?

  25. Steve, thanks so much for taking a few shots of Florence. I was curious to see what it looked like. It looks like a beautiful place. I like the X1 shots the best. Olympus is no slouch either. THe X1 has the “it” factor though, IMHO. I don’t care so much for the Sony camera.

    Off subject a bit: I know that you love your M9, but I was wondering what Seal though of his M9 VS his M8/M8.2 camera. Which does he prefer? Most people end up liking the M9, but I’ve had a few people say they preferred the M8 and M8.2. I’m curious to know. Heck, I’m curious to know from people in here as well.

    I hope you have a lovely trip and get more shots of Florence. It’s gorgeous! I’m so envious right now, but happy for you. Your spirits have definitely picked up.

    • Hi Elaine, 6 here.

      In answer to your question about my thoughts towards the M9 over the M8/.2, it’s a better camera! Plain and simple, it’s files are more refined as are the feature set on the camera itself and it’s FF which makes a huge difference.

      Anyone who tells you they prefer the 8/.2 over the M9 either doesn’t have a 9, is being dishonest, or is just plain blind.

      Hope this helps answer your query.


      • It took me this long to see this. LOL! Thanks, ‘6’! I was curious. I have the M8.2 and I am on a list for the M9. I’m debating about selling the M8.2 and grabbing the M9 when it does arrive, but I’ve heard a few people who hated the camera and ended up going back to the M8.2. I know of two people who sold their M9s. one went back to Canon, and the other swears by the M8.2. Go figure. It’s a big jump in cost for me to upgrade, so i thought I’d ask your opinion on it. I already know Steve’s and other people’s replies in the channel. they love their M9s. But, there were a few who hated them. Anyway, thanks for the reply. I only saw this today, like I said, and today is the day the dealer called to say my m9 is in, so I have to decide about getting one. LOL! Talk about pressure.

  26. The Leica seems a bit sharper than the other two. However, there’s camera shake in the first Sony pic so it’s not really a fair comparison.

    • Not camera shake, someone just left the image stabilization on when it should of been turned off that’s all. i guess it’s a flaw in the camera design, it should know when to turn this feature off, the user shouldn’t have to do anything, know anything or even be there to hit the shutter button. Stupid Sony for putting image stabilization in a zoom lens. It’s a very easy mistake to make with this camera.

      • But that’s what other manufacturers do as well. Olympus has in-body IS which also requires user’s manual deactivation. Panasonic’s mega O.I.S. is equipped on zoom lenses and have a dedicated switch to manually switch it on / off.

  27. I’m using a 28mm elmarit asph on my nex5 and it is simply awesome, highly recommend it. Gives you aperture control in movies too..

  28. Hi Steve, I noticed that the details (horizontal lines) in the shutters on the left building are gone in the X1 night shot, where the EP shows them nicely. I’m surprised, any idea? Overall the X1 shot looks a little sharper and contrastier.
    Have fun in Europe!

  29. I have to admit the Leica X1 blows away the competition and I have none of the subject cameras. (My only rangefinder/compact is a Yashica Electro35, a fixed-lens film camera, and my DSLRs are older D2h bodies that I have found suit me even at ISO1600 (with a little help from Nik Dfine).

  30. No surprise here, the X1 wipes the floor with the other two. Would be interesting to see how the raw files compare. Since I presently have all three cameras, I consider myself not biased. But as a serious compact photographic tool, the X1 sets the standard. The NEX has a lot to like (sensor, sensor, sensor, af speed, 7fps, panorama, did I say sensor?), but is more on the gadgetry side, which I enjoy as well. But please Sony, give it some decent (AF Zeiss) lenses, the kit zoom stinks. First NEX shots on the web with m lenses look promising.
    The EP2 is somewhere in between, if I could have one compact system only, the EP2 would be it, though its sensor starts to look a little dated, and on the premium prime side Oly has not delivered yet. As things are, I plan to sell the EP2 and have the NEX accompanying the X1.

      • Johnny,

        I also have all three cameras and on account of the X1’s AF issues alone, I would LOVE to have a camera so small and powerful both on the IQ and movie side of things that would serve as a worthy alternative, i.e the Sony.

        It’s really simple, forget sharpness and the other irrelevant aspects that mean nothing especially on the Internet. The X1 is in a conversation by itself and cannot be compared to the other two, it’s a matter of plain image quality, not file but image quality. More specifically, it’s the thing that when you look at a series of the same or even different images in succession from three different camares, you stop at one, ask e rhetorical question and go “Ooooo….which one was that?” At which point both Steve and I look at each other, shaking our heads and go “of course…the X1”.

        Steve’s right! It isn’t even close and it’s kinda annoying to tell the truth because I just wish those other cameras were better. But they’re not and that’s why Leica gear costs what it costs. You either get over it or get with it. Cruel but fair.


        • Soooo… (@6): IQ is great (I’ll grant you that, and I’ll pass over the flatness of the Jpeg’s), and that compensates for it’s rather eyecatching flaws?

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