Sony NEX-5N

$598
  • 16 MP
  • APS-C CMOS
  • 3" LCD
Released August, 2011
It is the smallest interchangeable lens camera on the market, but has outstanding build quality, plenty of useful features, excellent performance and the kind of still image and HD video quality you'd be lucky to get from a digital SLR.
Rated 90% by by TrustedReviews (Jun, 2014)

Conclusion Check out the Sony NEX-5N

90%
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89%
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67%
34%
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100%
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100%
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83%
84%
86%
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83
First reviewed December, 2011

Features Key features of the Sony NEX-5N

Back view of Sony NEX-5N
Video looks very good, with bright, saturated colors, relatively sharp edges, and with no rolling shutter or moiré, rock solid in 60p.
Rated 77% by by c|net (Sep, 2011)

megapixels

0 MP
24.2 MP

16 MP
24 MP
30 MP
The 16.1 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting.
NEX-5N by Photography Blog (Oct, 2011)
The new 16 megapixel sensor somehow offers more resolution and an expanded ISO range without introducing unwanted noise artifacts at the faster settings, while full 1080p video at 60fps is simply class-leading.
NEX-5N by Photography Blog (Oct, 2011)

sensor size

Sony NEX-5N
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1
Fujifilm Finepix X10
The 16.1MP sensor in the 5N is capable of capturing images that rival some of the best APS-C format DSLRs on the market, and up to ISO 6400 image quality is impressive.
NEX-5N by DPReview (Sep, 2011)
Indeed, the compact-sized dimensions of the NEX-5n even hold up quite well against its Micro Four Thirds and Nikon CX competitors as well – at least in terms of the actual camera body.
NEX-5N by TrustedReviews (Feb, 2012)

body size

111 x 59 x 38 mm
125 x 96 x 76.5 mm
113 x 65 x 70 mm
It's not easy to attach in a hurry, so we suspect most people will either leave it attached at all times (as it doesn't add too much bulk or weight), or just leave it at home.
NEX-5N by DPReview (Sep, 2011)
Though the flash can be stored flat to the body to aid portability and adds hardly any additional weight or bulk, when in use the head needs to be manually raised at a angle of approximately 45.
NEX-5N by Photography Blog (Oct, 2011)

focus points

0
135

25
135
200
Squeeze down halfway on the shutter release and the camera's auto focus does its stuff, the back screen display momentarily softening before snapping back into focus, AF points highlighted in green with a beep to confirm that the user is able to press down fully to take the shot.
NEX-5N by TechRadar (Nov, 2011)
Sony branding and DSLR-style lens release button aside, all we find on the faceplate is a small porthole-shaped window for AF assist/self timer lamp, rectangular CR3 battery-sized and shaped handgrip with lightly ridged surface for a firmer hold, plus shutter release button on the forward-sloping edge at its top.
NEX-5N by Photography Blog (Jul, 2010)
 

Performance Real world tests of Sony NEX-5N

DxOMark image quality

Sony NEX-5N
Fujifilm Finepix X10
Nikon 1 V1
Overall Sony has done a good job with the NEX series, creating a line of cameras that are capable of taking DLSR quality images in a package that is light and easy to handle and unintimidating to users upgrading from compacts.
NEX-5N by DPReview (Sep, 2011)
At ISO 6400 and up the noise reduction system in the 5N seems to focus more on preserving high-contrast detail at the expense of some 'graininess' in the low contrast areas.
NEX-5N by DPReview (Sep, 2011)

DxOMark low light performance

Sony NEX-5N
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1
Fujifilm Finepix X10
I was able to take night-time shots of a firework display with an exposure time of one second without using a tripod, and get good sharp results on most images.
NEX-5N by TrustedReviews (Jun, 2014)
In some cases when shooting in low light you may be better served by using the 5N's 'Hand-held Twilight' mode which can give you both better detail and less noise than using a high ISO setting alone.
NEX-5N by DPReview (Sep, 2011)

shutter lag

0 ms
94 ms

235 ms
97 ms
100 ms
While it looks almost identical to its predeccesor, faster focusing, less shutter lag, better video and stills, and an intuitive touchscreen interface are just some of the many improvements that have taken place under the hood, making this the best NEX camera and one of the best CSC's that we've reviewed.
NEX-5N by Photography Blog (Oct, 2011)
Like the co-announced NEX-7, the 5N also offers the option of using an electronic first-curtain shutter that promises to substantially reduce shutter lag.
NEX-5N by DPReview (Sep, 2011)

continuous shooting

10 fps
It can burst at about 3.3fps, which is sufficient for occasionally shooting kids and pets, as long as they're not moving too fast.
NEX-5N by c|net (Sep, 2011)
mode is limited to approximately 10 frames (when shooting in JPEG only) before the buffer fills up, after which the continuous shooting speed drops right down to about 2 fps.
NEX-5N by DPReview (Sep, 2011)

battery life

460 photos
230 photos
270 photos
Incidentally, power is good for up to 410 shots from a full charge, according to CIPA testing.
NEX-5N by TechRadar (Nov, 2011)
The grip itself is barely larger than the battery it houses, but its pitted rubber surface prevents slippage while offering sufficient space to wrap three small fingers around, while the thumb rests on a tiny curved rubber pad at the back.
NEX-5N by TechRadar (Nov, 2011)
 

Our analysis How does it stack up against its top 10 competitors

pros

  • Contrast detection focusing system
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60 fps
  • Proprietary
  • 77.0
  • Create 3D photos to view on a 3D TV
  • 460
  • Fewer buttons, interact directly with menus
  • Great for recording movies
  • 23.6 bits
  • 12.7 ev
  • For that film look
  • Stitches together multiple photos into a single ultra-wide view
  • Combines multiple photos together to capture both bright and dark areas
  • Prevents dust showing up in your photos
  • 111 x 59 x 38 mm
  • 269 g

cons

  • Aug, 2011
  • None
  • 1,900 ms
  • Taking quality photos in low-light will require external hardware
  • None
  • 1/4000 s

Reviews Word on the street

Rated 79%
Read the review (Sep, 2011)
The debate of EVF vs OVF is a complicated one but these new EVF offerings from Sony present possibly the first example that we've seen that may be 'good-enough' to actually compete with the visual clarity of a true OVF.
Rated 90%
Read the review (Oct, 2011)
Rated 80%
Read the review (Jul, 2010)
What Sony has also included here, again for the first time on an Alpha camera, is High Definition video shooting, at Full HD 1080i with stereo sound.
Rated 90%
Read the review (Jun, 2014)
Rated 90%
Read the review (Feb, 2012)
The control layout is much more akin to that of a compact camera than a digital SLR, with the main camera controls consisting of just two multi-function buttons, with a rotary-bezel D-pad for menu navigation and exposure adjustment.
Rated 80%
Read the review (Nov, 2011)
On paper at least, the NEX range has a key advantage to draw in the photo enthusiast - namely its incorporation of APS-C CMOS sensors, a size match for those found in DSLRs.
Rated 77%
Read the review (Sep, 2011)
Perhaps the kit lens could use some better coatings to improve clarity and brightness, though I shot with the 18-200mm lens as well (which performed better).

Lens

We have a sneaking suspicion that it need only exist to show that the NEX can be used with more than the handful of native E-mount lenses, rather than being a big seller.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 79% by by DPReview (Sep, 2011)
Chromatic aberrations were only really noticeable by their absence, a great credit to the 18-55mm kit lens.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 90% by by Photography Blog (Oct, 2011)
Of course it’s not so bad with the 16mm ‘pancake’ prime attached, but with the 18-55mm kit zoom on the front the NEX-5n’s compact-sized body can look and feel a bit unbalanced.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 90% by by TrustedReviews (Feb, 2012)

Sensor

Shooting in Raw, we were still able to reel off about eight shots inside ten seconds, while in Raw JPEG we managed seven shots inside ten seconds.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 90% by by TrustedReviews (Feb, 2012)
Featuring a 16.1 megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, 25-point contrast-detect autofocus system, 49-segment exposure meter and 3-inch tilting LCD panel with 921,000-dot resolution, the NEX-5N also offers a brand new touch-screen interface, an expanded ISO range of 100-25600 and both a mechanical and electronic shutter.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 90% by by Photography Blog (Oct, 2011)
Besides displaying the view from the sensor the EVF also shows all of the relevant shooting information on screen including focus peaking.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 79% by by DPReview (Sep, 2011)

Screen

In addition, the NEX-5n also offers 1080p Full HD video recording at 30fps and a 3inch 921k-dot touchscreen LCD that’s mounted on a two-way bracket that allows for upwards and downwards tilting - for easier overhead and waist-level photography - but no sideways adjustment unlike the Panasonic G3 for instance.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 90% by by TrustedReviews (Feb, 2012)
A bright background and a dark foreground is a problem for any exposure system.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 80% by by TechRadar (Nov, 2011)
The back screen LCD thankfully remains tilting, but this time it offers the touchscreen facility that we felt it should have had originally, the large onscreen function icons lending themselves to an inquisitive prod.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 80% by by TechRadar (Nov, 2011)

Video

Sony has also included High Definition video shooting, now at Full HD 1080p at 60fps with stereo sound with the welcome ability to control shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation during recording.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 90% by by Photography Blog (Oct, 2011)
With a 16 megapixel APS HD CMOS sensor, 1080p HD movies, high-res 3 inch tilting screen and external flash, the NEX-5N also adds a touchscreen user interface, faster auto-focus and reduced shutter-lag.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 90% by by Photography Blog (Oct, 2011)
While it is nice to see the addition of this level of flexibility while shooting video we're not certain that these features will be used to a large extent while recording, in many cases it is more useful to set all of your values before recording.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 79% by by DPReview (Sep, 2011)

Image quality

The usual Sony bugbear of pixel fringing was refreshingly absent here.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 80% by by TechRadar (Nov, 2011)
The NEX-5n offers the usual array of Creative Style image processing options and Picture Effect digital filters, which variously allow you to alter the contrast, saturation and sharpness levels of your JPEGs or to give them a miniaturisation or toy camera look.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 90% by by TrustedReviews (Feb, 2012)
CA compensation is applied by default in the NEX-5N and in our tests does a good job of removing green and purple fringing as you can see in the crop examples below.
Sony NEX-5N | Rated 79% by by DPReview (Sep, 2011)

Competition What else you should consider

Front view of Sony NEX-5N

New duel?

Let the battle continue or dare to compare.


Editions Editions of the Sony NEX-5N

Price Edition Area Resolution Megapixels Min Compare
$598
APS-C 920 k dots 16 MP 30 s
 
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Discussions Get involved, ask your question about the Sony NEX-5N

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Popular Questions

June 21, 2012
I need help deciding! Nikon D3200 vs. Sony NEX-5N

I'm a beginner but a lot of my friends have DSLR's and I have played around with theirs a lot of times. I was planning on buying the D3200 but when I went to the store to actually try it, I I...

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July 13, 2012
Does the NEX-7 viewfinder justify its cost vs. the NEX-5N?

I love the size and features of the NEX-7 but it is SO expensive.  The NEX-5N is almost as capable in all dimensions, but for 2.5x less.  The main thing I'm wondering about is the lack of  Is the...

Beginner II
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May 8, 2012
Ability to take good quality sports/action shots

I had an SLR many years ago and my first DSLR was a compact SONY DSC-H9 i bought 5 years ago, but am seriously considering the Nikon V1 combined with the Nikkor 30-110 lens. The price of this the...

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Latest Questions

May 11, 2012
The image quality for streetpictures or portraits...

I am a little bit less than an expert :-) and I love streetphotography and portraits

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December 11, 2012
An 8000 mile bicycle ride through South America with my son.

Hello,  I am a photographer and have been shooting photos for over 40 years.  Started with a Yashaka D, moved to Minolta and am currently using a cannon 20 D  I don't want to lug my SLR 8000 mi....

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December 21, 2012
Digital camera for HD indoor video with second hand price of £200/$300

I'm looking for a digital camera that shoots high quality HD video indoors. My budget is around £200/$300 for a used camera so it cant be a camera that's just out. A GH2 is just outside my I...

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Unanswered Questions

January 20, 2013
Starting to do photography

I am starting to do my own photography

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January 20, 2013
Baby photography

Want clear pictures when my baby is laughing, rolling, walking etc

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January 8, 2013
Vacation general photography

Which of the 3 will give me the most bang for my buck right out of the box? Nex-f3, Nex-5n, or the Nex-5r? want to take good pics on a trip to Disney and have a decent camera to possibly get into...

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Community Find out what the Sortable community is saying about the Sony NEX-5N

60

people have recommended the

Sony NEX-5N
Top Sony NEX-5N experts at Sortable
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Beginner II
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Expert I
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Supporter
Nikon D3200
  • 24.2 MP
  • APS-C CMOS
  • 3" LCD
Sony NEX-5N
Nikon D3200
5 more Sortable users recommended the Sony NEX-5N over the Nikon D3200.
View all discussions | View comparison
Beginner II
10
votes

I have loved my 5n and have used it for landscape and studio shoots incl wedding video actingheadshots at facebook.com <https://facebook.com/actingheadshots> i am always going to look at Nikon and...

Sony NEX-7
  • 24 MP
  • APS-C CMOS
  • 3" LCD
Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-7
3 more Sortable users recommended the NEX-5N over the NEX-7.
View all discussions | View comparison
Beginner II
2
votes

IMO, if you have the money, buy a 5n + SEL18200 (vs. a 7). And if you need more megapix, save for a D800. Tri-navi is nice, but you can program the 5n for easy function access and you can buy a a...

Expert I
0
votes

5N should satisfy all ur needs - get some good glass as recommended by others too