Micro 4/3 cameras are quickly becoming popular among photography enthusiasts who want DSLR quality without the bulk. Panasonic, the “mother” of micro 4/3, just announced their updated flagship camera, the Lumix GF2. We’ll take a look at some of the micro 4/3 options out there, as well as some other comparable mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

Micro 4/3 was a standard created by Panasonic and Olympus, but other companies like Samsung and Sony are making mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras with their own standard. Micro 4/3 and compact mirrorless cameras are in the middle ground somewhere between prosumer point and shoots (like the Canon G12) and entry DSLRs (like the Nikon D3000). The advantage to these lightweight cameras is that you’re able to get high quality photos comparable to a DSLR, minus the heft. The lenses are also interchangeable.

  • Panasonic Lumix GF2 ($TBD) - The GF2 was announced just last week and is the updated version of the GF1. It's equipped with a new touch screen UI, 1080i AVCHD video recording, and a 23-area focus. The camera is compatible with all of Panasonic and Olympus’ micro 4/3 lenses, including Panasonic's upcoming micro 4/3 3D lens (hello 3D home movies!). The only cons I see so far are that the new 14mm pancake lens is a bit slower than the original GF1 20mm pancake—2.5 vs 1.7 aperture. The GF2 will be coming in silver, black, and red. It will be available in January and the price has yet to be determined.
  • Samsung NX100 ($584) - The new NX100 is Samsung’s micro 4/3 challenger and has a few interesting features that helps it stand out from the rest, featuring a 3.0” AMOLED screen similar to the ones found in their Galaxy smartphones. Samsung has the least amount of alternate lenses compared to the other cameras on our list. However, their lenses have a useful i-function button where you can control different parameters such as ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and white balance, simply by turning the lens.
  • Sony NEX-5 ($649) - The NEX-5 and the NEX-3 are Sony’s mirrorless cameras. Both work with Sony’s E-mount lens or an A-mount lens with an adapter, so the lens options are comparable to Olympus and Panasonic. Sony also sells a NEX handycam camcorder which extends the versatility of its lenses. The NEX has an articulating screen that will help you get those low shots of your pets and kids without having to crouch or lay down on the floor. It also comes with some interesting photo effects, like Sony’s sweep panorama mode (stitches pictures into a panorama right on the camera screen).
  • Olympus Pen E-P1 ($499) - The Pen is one of the first micro 4/3 cameras to come out—I own one and am now a huge fan of micro 4/3. Olympus currently has 3 different micro 4/3 cameras—the E-P1, E-P2, and the consumer friendly E-PL1. The E-PL1 is one of the only compact interchangeable lens cameras with a built-in flash. The Pen series works with all micro 4/3 lenses from Panasonic and Olympus and can be used with older film cameras using cheap adapters.