Holiday 2012: The Best Bang For Your Buck Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras

Mirrorless cameras have grown tremendously in popularity. Not everyone has jumped on board yet though; but luckily enough for you there are tons of them that excel in features and image quality and are now really affordable.

Here’s a quick rundown for you for Sony NEX and Micro Four Thirds cameras: the two most developed camera systems. But if you’re already locked in, consider this post on essential upgrades for M 4/3. Want even more? Check out our reviews index.


Micro Four Thirds

Panasonic GX1

The Panasonic GX1 is the true successor to the original cult camera of the system: the GF1. Compact, well built, fast to focus, and with great image quality as well as a lineup of some really stellar lenses, you really can’t go wrong with the camera. Though it doesn’t have a built in viewfinder, you can get an electronic one for it.

Now, this camera wasn’t as well publicized as it should’ve been partially because of the fact that Olympus had come out with som extremely heavy hitting cameras at the time and Sony has also started to eat into the mirrorless camera industry. Still though, it absolutely deserves a mention here.

Olympus EP3

Coupled with fast glass, the Olympus EP3 is the camera that turned heads in the photo industry with world record achieving autofocus speed. The sensor was also slightly improved over the previous versions of the camera, but future versions would indeed put the sensor technology in the stone age. However, it still produces some generally excellent image quality up to ISO 3200 and when coupled with Olympus Fast Focusing lenses, it can be an excellent tool in the hands of a quick street photographer.

If you won’t miss the viewfinder (though an electronic one can be had) and you prefer to run and gun while shooting, this may be the camera for you. The touchscreen makes this extremely fast due to the fact that one can tell it exactly where to focus and it will immediately shoot right after.

Be sure to check out our review of the camera as well.

Olympus EPM2

The Olympus EPM1 was a very interesting little camera that I never thought I’d end up liking. However, the fast focusing abilities coupled with the fact that it was just so small made it a no-brainer for me. This camera will best find its place amongst those in your family that want to take great pictures without the need for, “excessive knowledge” of metering and such.

However, in the hands of an experienced user, this can be a great camera for documentary work. I used it during my visit to Occupy Wall St’s first stint, and it didn’t intimidate anyone. Let alone the small size of the camera will make people not even give you a second look or question your motives; so that means that in real life you can sit there and concentrate on just shooting.

With all that said and done, the EPM2 adds a touchscreen interface for even faster shooting abilities plus the new OMD sensor. Better pictures have literally never been this easy.

Panasonic GH2

The Panasonic GH2 is the camera that has been trusted amongst videographers that wanted some of the best image quality from a DSLR style camera. In many tests, it has outdone many other more expensive options. To be fair, this is because of the fact that it has been hacked many times. The camera can produce some very good video quality straight out of the box; though it admittedly can lack a bit in the stills department.

If you or someone you know is considering getting into video, why not spring for this?

Olympus EPL5

The Olympus EPL5 is the successor to what has probably been the company’s best selling Micro Four Thirds camera ever, the EPL3. The newest iteration takes the sensor from its bigger brother, the Olympus EM5 OMD, and removes the AA filter: effectively giving you sharper images.

We currently have it in for review and we have to say that the images are indeed really sharp. But if you’re going to spring for this one, we recommend that you put only the best of the Micro Four Thirds lenses on it to take advantage of the sensor’s capabilities.

Sony NEX

Sony NEX 5n

When it was first announced, the Sony NEX 5n had a bunch of quirks such as the inherent clicking noise that annoyed users who shot video with it. However, it was fixed and the 5n quickly became one of the cameras that really put Sony on the spot in the mirrorless world along with the NEX 7. With its modest 16MP sensor, the low light abilities combined with portable size and fast focusing, it makes total sense as to why many people loved it. In fact, the BBC ended up using the camera for some of its online work.

If it’s good enough for them, it should be for you as well. We gave it a glowing review when we hand our time to fondle it. Indeed, it held its own quite well against the Canon 5D Mk II too.

Sony NEX F3

Sony’s NEX F3 is a camera that is perhaps best set to aperture mode and pointed at whatever subject you’ve got in mind. The image quality from it is absolutely stellar and for the user that wants a second camera that they want to leave in easy mode or to get images with a ton of versatility in the post-production phase, they should spring for the F3

Be sure to check out our review.

Sony NEX C3

As I sit here writing this, I remembered every single moment with the Sony NEX C3 and some of the gorgeous photos I shot with it during the golden hour as well as just how the high ISO abilities made my jaw drop. Indeed, I thought it was the first time that Sony proved to a snob like me that they really cared about their imaging division and though the higher end cameras may have been the turning point for others, the C3 is what made me seriously consider Sony.

Even now, I am still very impressed by its abilities for the budget. See why in our review.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.