Summary

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1st Place: Sony NEX-5

While Panasonic may have proven that mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras can work, it is Sony's debut into the compact system camera market that has shown what is really possible. With a camera body not much bigger than a normal compact camera, but sporting a full-sized 14.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and a fast growing range of lenses and other accessories, the NEX-5 provides DSLR performance, versatility and image quality in a lighter and more compact package than any of its rivals. Advanced features include 1080i AVCHD video recording with stereo sound, 7fps continuous shooting, an articulated 7.5cm 921k monitor and an innovative control interface providing a wide range of creative control, made even better by a recent free firmware update. The NEX-5 is one of the highlights of the year, and a brilliant camera by any standard.

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2nd Place: Samsung NX10

Another new entry into the compact system camera market is Samsung's NX system, and its launch model, the NX10. Obviously similar in concept to rival Panasonic's G-micro system, the NX10 has the advantage of a 14.6-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, giving it better image quality than many full-size DSLRs. It offers all of the features, performance and creative versatility of a good mid-range digital SLR but with a much smaller, lighter body, and at a very competitive price. Samsung is putting a lot of effort into the NX range, so expect more models and a wider range of accessories to appear next year.

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3rd Place: Olympus Pen E-PL1

Following on from the classy but expensive Pen E-P2, Olympus has launched what is effectively an entry-level model into the Pen range in the shape of the smaller, lighter Pen E-PL1. Drawing obvious comparisons with Panasonic's gorgeous Lumix GF1, the E-PL1 is a true bridge camera, even more so than the E-P2, the GF1 or even the Sony NEX-5. It is exactly mid-way between a compact camera and a DSLR, offering a well-balanced compromise between convenience and creativity, with good performance and superior image quality at a reasonably affordable price.

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