HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2013: Editor's Choice - Part 1


Best Mirrorless Camera

Best Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless system cameras have grown since their introduction in 2008; and with Canon's entry into the market with the EOS M last year, there are now eight mirrorless systems in the market.

The Micro Four Thirds standard currently has the largest selection of lenses, while those who aren't concerned about lenses will find cameras from the Sony NEX series rivaling the image quality of entry-level DSLRs, due to their equally big sensors. While Nikon hasn't entered the mirrorless game with large sensors, the Nikon 1 series introduces another variable to choose from, with their cameras' exceptionally quick auto-focus and burst shooting speeds. Canon's EOS M uses the same APS-C size CMOS sensor found in its mid-range DSLR camera, and offers easy compatibility with its DSLR lenses through an adapter.

This year, we've focused on the entry-level mirrorless system cameras, for those looking to ditch their tiny fixed lens point and shoot for a more powerful, but nonetheless compact mirrorless camera. With that in mind, we paid extra attention to pick out the ones that allow the beginners to get good images right from the get-go.

Nominees:

 

  • Canon EOS M
  • Nikon 1 J2
  • Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5
  • Samsung NX1000
  • Sony Alpha NEX-F3

 

And the Winner Is...

The 16.1MP Sony Alpha NEX-F3 wins with its performance, making best use of that large APS-C sensor to deliver detailed and colorful images. The body is beautiful, and the 3-inch swivel monitor gives you even more framing flexibility. ISO sensitivity ranges from 200 to a good 16,000. The NEX-F3 is also a capable camcorder replacement, as it shoots full HD video using the AVCHD format. But this is really an automatic camera best for entry-level users; to make any manual changes involves way too many trips into the menu. 

NEX lenses are huge, so if you want a smaller camera, you're better off looking at the Nikon 1 or a Micro Four Thirds system based camera. Sony's NEX system also has a smaller number of lenses, eleven today compared to Micro Four Third's 37, but Sony has said that they will increase the number to 15 lenses by the end of 2013. Otherwise, the NEX cameras' have the advantage of having large APS-C size sensors, which help them to produce beautiful-looking images. Even though both the Canon EOS M and the Samsung NX1000 also employ APS-C size sensors, the Canon EOS M has slow auto-focus and the Samsung NX1000 doesn't handle as well as the Sony.

Scoring Breakdown
 Criteria/Model Canon EOS M Nikon 1 J2 Olympus E-PL5 Panasonic GF5 Samsung NX1000 Sony NEX-F3
Physique 8.5 8.0 7.0 8.0 7.0 8.0
Features 9.0 8.0 8.0 9.0 8.0 8.0
User-Friendliness 7.5 8.0 7.5 9.0 7.5 8.0
Performance 7.0 8.0 9.0 8.0 7.0 9.0
Value 6.0 8.0 9.0 9.0 7.0 9.0
Overall 7.0 8.0 8.0 8.5 7.0 9.0
Price S$1,149 (with 18-55mm lens) S$919 (with 10-30mm lens) S$1,098 (with 14-42mm lens) S$1,099 (with 14-42mm lens) S$799 (with 20-50mm lens) S$949 (with 16mm & 18-55mm lens)

For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end.