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Sony NEX-5N Review

They’re all looking pretty much of a muchness. Peas in a pod. Hard to tell one from the other: mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras.

Sony NEX5N WH.jpg

Sony’s NEX approach broke from cover soon after Olympus and Sony had got going with their Micro Four Thirds models. It soon achieved some notice and not a little notoriety because of its large lens size, attached to a reasonably small magnesium alloy body. But it’s still a design worth well worth spending some time with. So I did. Spend time with the NEX-5N!

Sony NEX-5N BK.jpg

The review camera was fitted with the f3.5/18-55m lens.

Sony NEX-5N Features

An initial moment of pleasure was delivered, thanks to the articulated LCD screen, which moves vertically 80 degrees up or 45 degrees down.

Sony NEX-5N Right end controls.jpg

Then I found a handy carrying routine was to heft the camera around by holding the largish lens barrel. All controls are located at the camera’s right end, which gave me some angst when, during a fumble-full night shoot, I crashed into one of the camera’s major faults: its right end is crowded with controls, so much that occasionally, when trying to fire the shutter, I hit the assignable ‘soft keys’ or the control wheel … so firing up the viewfinder menu!

Sony NEX-5N Flash.jpg

The 16.1 megapixel CMOS carries a maximum image size of 4592×3056 pixels, delivering a print measuring 39x26cm.
Movies are in good shape: 1920×1080 in AVCHD format or 1440×1080 in MPEG4. The AF and auto exposure work faultlessly in movie mode but you cannot shoot stills at the same time.

Sony’s renowned panorama modes are there as well, enabling you to shoot wide, wide pictures out to 12,416×1856 pixels. The only challenge is to print them!

Sony NEX-5N Menu 1.jpg

Sony NEX-5N Menu 2.jpg

Sony NEX-5N Menu 3.jpg

Exposure modes are the full gamut: auto, Program AE, aperture and shutter priority as well as manual. There’s also a bundle of picture effects the please the newbie: HDR painting, soft focus, miniature, soft high key etc.

Sony NEX-5N People and canoes 6.JPG


As the company claims, this one is a fast one: from power on to first shot was a little under a second, follow-ons about a second apart.

(insert ISO 100 to 25,600)

Sony NEX-5N ISO Tests

I felt that the ISO settings, all the way up to 1600 were entirely useable. Only when ISO 3200 was reached did noise intrude. By ISO 25,600 it all came to a crashing halt.

Sony NEX-5N ISO 100.JPG

Sony NEX-5N ISO 800.JPG

Sony NEX-5N ISO 1600.JPG

Sony NEX-5N ISO 3200.JPG

Sony NEX-5N ISO 6400.JPG

Sony NEX-5N ISO 12800.jpg

Sony NEX-5N ISO 25600.JPG

Sony NEX-5N Harbour Bridge ISO 800.JPG

Sony NEX-5N Opera House ISO 25,600.JPG

Sony NEX-5N Review Verdict

Quality: superbly sharp and fully colour saturated.
Why you’d buy the NEX-5N: you want to enter the interchangeable lens world at a reasonable price.
Why you wouldn’t: attaching the lens make the combo a largish proposition.
I was also a little startled to see the PDF manual erroneously claim the CMOS sensor carried 14.2 megapixels, when it actually has a 16.1 million pixel population. Makes a reviewer’s life tough!

I could also argue with the habit of placing the memory card slot under the camera; makes it tricky when you need to un/reload the camera while on a tripod.

Sony NEX-5NDucks 5.JPG

Sony NEX-5N Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.4×15.6mm CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/4000 second, Bulb. Flash sync: 1/160 sec.
Sequential Shooting: 2.3/10 fps.
Memory: Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG, SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4592×3056 to 2288×1520. Movies: 1920×1080 to 640×480.
Viewfinder: 7.5cm LCD screen (921,600 pixels).
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200 to 25,600.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 110.8×58.7×38.2 WHDmm.
Weight: 287 g (inc battery and card).
Prices: Get a price on the Sony NEX-5N (Body Only) or on the Sony NEX-5N with 18-55mm Lens.

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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