Tynan and I had a chance to check each other's cameras out this past weekend. He's pretty passionate about the Sony NEX5 (and some newer versions coming out by Sony). You can read Tynan's blog on the NEX5 here. I'll ask Tynan to provide a few more thoughts on this thread regarding what he likes about it.
One thing Tynan specifically mentioned was the size of the sensor, which is measurably larger than the GX1's (see comparison photos below). As I learn to take great pictures, I've determined that there are a few things that determine how good a photo can possibly be:
1) The skill of the photographer: This, obviously must be learned. A secondary point to this is the preparation that the photographer does to have the right camera with him or her at the right time to be prepared to take the photo. As they say, "the best camera is the one you have with you to take the shot."
2) The specific camera, and it's capabilities: This is where the GX1 vs. NEX5 debate comes into play. And to me, the most important part of the camera is the sensor size. Tynan pointed out that the NEX5's sensor is measurably larger than the GX1's, and he's right. Another factor is the lens used. This is an area where I feel the GX1 beats the NEX5, because it uses the Micro 4/3 standard wehre Sony uses its own proprietary lenses, so you'll likely find much more lens variety with the GX1 over the NEX5 over time.
3) The amount and style of post-processing: Just taking the shot gets you a ticket to the game, but being willing to cull through a lot of bad shots to find the great shot, and then being willing to tease out of the shot the best characteristics of the shot all require patience. And it's also a very arbitrary thing. For example, here's the raw picture of a sunflower I took at a recent Farmer's Market shoot:
And here's the same picture after I've run it through Photmatix Pro to tease out the features of the picture:
Now, I like the bottom picture much more than the top one, but others (my wife included) would say it's overdone. Regardless, taking the time to get the picture to turn out exactly the way you want it to be requires time, patience and dedication.
OK, back to the GX1 vs. NEX5 debate -- here are pictures of the two cameras, and I'd love feedback from anyone else who has an opinion on the two. I've been loving the GX1 but I'm willing to listen to others who would argue for the NEX5.
Sony used to have some major gaps in its lens lineup (and still has minor gaps), but the new 16-50mm pancake power zoom pretty much filled the last big gap. Micro 4/3 still has a wider selection, but I'm not aware of any great lens on the 4/3 system that doesn't have an equivalent for NEX.
My ideal lens setup is a pancake power zoom, like the one you have or Sony's new one, and a high quality Leica lens with an adapter. My first good digital camera was a rangefinder with a manual aperture/focus, and I still prefer the feel of that. Leica lenses hold their value extremely well (I upgraded last year and sold my old one for a profit) and will work on any camera with an adapter.
That said, sensor size matters most in low light. Outside of that, I think your other two factors are the most important.
BTW, I think the sunflower pic would look great if it was somewhere in between the two your posted. I love the detail of the second one, but I think leaving some strong blacks in it would give it better contrast.
There's a great BusinessInsider article about how Facebook has recently begun focusing heavily on retargeted ads. The crux of the story is this: The holy grail in advertising is knowing a user's "intent," because if you know what they intend to do, you can influence their behavior through advertising. Facebook has been working for years to discern "intent" via a complex formula that creates a social graph for each user, with big data mining algorithms that seek to divine what a user will be interested in based on that graph, so ads can be targeted in real-time to those users.
And instead, what's proving best at monetizing off "intent" is good, old-fashioned ad retargeting, which Facebook has recently started doing.
What struck me is that for the first time in years, a Facebook ad recently caught my eye. And it was a retargeted ad.
I spent $1800 on my first high quality camera. I was on the brink of Life Nomadic, and I justified the purchase with two ideas. The first was that I would be seeing a lot of things for the first, and possibly the only, time. Second, the particular camera I bought, an Epson R-D1s, seemed to hold its value well.
It came as a shock to a lot of people how primitive my camera was in many ways. It had no autofocus, no flash, no video recording capabilities, no self timer, and the only thing it could do automatically was light metering. It did that poorly. After each shot it was necessary to thumb a switch, which mechanically reset the spring for the shutter.
I bought a single lens for it, a Nokton 40mm/1.4. It had no zoom, and the aperture was set mechanically by rotating a ring on the lens. The lens was gorgeous. For those who don't know, a 1.4 F-Stop means that the lens is very fast: it lets in a lot of light. The average camera lens is probably around an f/3.5, which lets in only an eighth as much light as mine did. That's how I got amazing low-light pictures like this one.