Customer Reviews: Sony NEX-5N 16.1 MP Mirrorless Digital Camera with Touchscreen - Body Only (Black)
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on September 1, 2011
Update : Changed rating to 4 stars instead of 5, Original review remain below, So why i did that? it's because the video capture "audio" quality is awful if you shoot in silent environment (shooting a baby or at home with no noise around) the camera does a lot of UNAVOIDABLE annoying clicking sounds nonstop if you don't use a tripod, every NEX 5N is effected by that, until SONY fix this issue i don't recommend this camera for anyone who plan to take a lot of casual videos with it

Update 2 : Sony finally admitted the flaw of the issue and they offer a fix/upgrade according to them here : [...]

(Original review) : First of all i just gotta say that I'm extremely satisfied with the NEX 5n, If you are like me you will spend hours/days researching about Camera samples/reviews/etc before buying a new Camera, problem is many websites are biased or contradict each other, many fans of a system whether it's Micro Four thirds/Sony NEX series and others might say our system is the best but in reality none of these 2 are the best, M43 can be the best for you or NEX series can be the best for you, some even prefer Fuji X100 etc there are plenty of mirrorless cameras right now, i have just gathered all the facts about each system for you here so the final call is yours and i wont be biased i assure you my fellow photographers :)

*NEX 5n advantages over NEX 7 (I will speak about NEX 5n vs M43 and NEX5n vs previous Sony NEX Cameras in a second)

1-If portability and size is your biggest concern NEX 5n is actually smaller and fits much easier in your pocket, It's also lighter

2-Price wise, It cost about half the price of NEX7, and cameras advance so fast now, Investing in a body is not the best option if your budget is limited, Invest in better lenses is much better idea, like the Zeiss 24mm F1.8 E-Mount lens, you will get better results with NEX5n+CZ 24mm over NEX7+Kit lens, so if your budget is limited this can be a huge advantage

3-The external Viewfinder of the NEX5n have 2 advantages over the one in NEX 7 first it can be titled, so you can shoot while looking at your feet instead of looking at what is front of you (good for stealth shots) and the second it's more comfortable to use in my honest opinion because it's placed in much better position

4-Sensor Quality, Ignore the Mega pixels marketing race, Sony 16MP sensor is being used by Nikon D7000 which is a 1200 dollar camera yet the Sony NEX5n use an advanced 16mp sensor (better than the one in D7000) While the NEX7 got a 24mp it really lose to NEX5n performance in high ISO SO if HIGH ISO is a huge issue for you NEX 5n will win this round (It doesn't mean NEX7 performance is bad, It's just the NEX5n perform better at High ISO)

5-The TouchScreen, First thing in your mind now is properly Touchscreen = Toy camera and useless, Well it's not and here is why, You can access ISO/Shutter/UI/etc much faster with the touch screen, we are talking about cameras with bare minimum set of buttons here the NEX7 got 1 more button only over the NEX5n, you can customize your buttons as you wish too, That's not the only advantage of the touchscreen, Sony is using a new "track focus" you can basically touch your target on the screen and he will be AF Tracked, much faster than moving to track a target via none-touch methods, the Focus track combined with the touch screen deliver amazing results really.

6-NEX5n max ISO is 25.600 and MAX 16.000 ISO for NEX7 (for those who care about maximum ISO available)

*NEX 7 advantages over NEX 5n

1-24MP Sensor, this can be an advantage depends on your use, Do you do a lot of prints and low ISO? then this is the best option for you (over NEX5n) while NEX5n beat it at high iso, the NEX7 beat the NEX5n in low ISO, you will get more details,easier to crop/edit your photos due the higher details.

2-NEX5n External viewfinder cost 350box.... so you are already near NEX7 price Territory if you plan to get NEX5n EVF

3-With the NEX5n you can't use an external flash+EVF at the same time because both use the same propriety input slot, the NEX7 has a hot shoe (For Sony flashes) and Built in EVF so you can use both at the same time, even if you don't plan to use the hot shoe for a flash there is a built in flash which the NEX5n lack

4-The NEX7 got this new TRI dial UI (there are 3 dials on the NEX7 versus 1 only for the NEX5n, there is a second virtual dial though in the touchscreen but i don't count it as real dial) The UI for the NEX7 will be more professional while the NEX5n UI is mostly for amateurs,

So in Short it depends on the advantages of each camera, NEX7 might be better for you, however for me even after ignoring the price different a side the NEX5n is the better camera for me due the better high iso performance and portability mainly (I got access to a DSLR when needed but i want a smaller system for certain uses) if you want a more professional UI/hot shoe for flash/shoot in low ISO mostly and you want an EVF the NEX7 sounds like the better deal

About the NEX C3 ignore it and get NEX 5n because for little more you can get much better camera NEX 5n
-Touchscreen and option to use EVF (Nex C3 CANT use EVF)
-Faster AF+shutter lag speeds /AVCHD 2.0 1080p60 28MBPS video instead of 720p30
-AF track via touchscreen is amazing if you shoot kids, it will keep them on focus always
-IR R.control / 10FPS which is much faster than nex C3
-Better HIGH iso performance and range/ Much better Grip / Better battery life

NEX5n get better sharper corners with any previous lenses compared to the older NEX3/5, sony have used Offset microlenses for the sensor so the older 16mm lenses which was soft in the corners will be sharper now and using manual lenses will get you better results with NEX5n over older NEX5 in the corners, which is similar to latest Lecia high end cameras, in short if you use manual lenses upgrading is a must your pictures will look much better believe me i have already tested it and the results are improved over my older NEX 5

Shutter sound is quieter now when shooting if you set up electronic shutter through the menu, there is full manual control for video now which is not available in the old NEX 3/5, AF Micro Adjustment for up to 30 a-mount lenses with the LA-EA2, plus Auto-Correction of chromatic aberration/Vignetting/distortion with all Native E-mount lenses which can be turned on/off via menu settings

About NEX VS M43 i already own EPL1 and i will properly upgrade to EPL3 soon, i will not talk about M43 vs Sony cameras bodies because the advantage is clearly "mostly" for the NEX5n (bigger Dynamic range/ISO/etc)

Sony NEX lenses have 2 issues as of September 2011
1-They are limited in numbers specially compared to M43
2-Most of them are made with no portability factor in mind whatsoever

I will speak more about lenses now, If you want an ultra wide angle zoom lens for the E-MOUNT it doesn't exist (That's my favorite lens) with the M43 you actually got more than 1 Utra wide angle lenses so not only you can get 1 but you can chose which to chose, if you want a fast pancake? none exist for the Sony E-mount lenes for now and none in the future roadmap sadly, the only small sony lens that exist is the 16mm F2.8 but it's too wide for a main lens for most people and it's not as sharp as i like until stopped down so not very friendly to use at night, the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 is great lens (not the best but for Size/performance it's great) if you want a pancake zoom? this might sound crazy but Panasonic is making a Pancake zoom lens with image stabilization too and so on,
While it seems in theory that Sony can just release smaller lenses and win the best of both worlds, it doesn't seems like this is a concern for Sony right now, their 2012 lenses road map include 3 more huge zoom lenses and zero prime let alone a pancake lenses, the Sony upcoming 50mm F1.8 OSS while being very sharp from the samples i have seen (sharper than nikon/canon 50mm primes) it's actually BIGGER than both nikon and canon 50mm lenses for their DSLR which is puzzling to create a tiny body and never release tiny lenses for it at least as an option for those who rather use smaller lenses, Sony Officially unlocked their E-Mount to other lenses companies though so anyone can make Native E mount lens if they want, i only knows of Sigma upcoming E-Mount lens which is 30mm F2.8 small prime

So in short again depends on your use you might prefer m43 because of lenses choices over NEX, i can't get rid of m43 because wide shots is a MUST for me and none is available for sony as of now.
About Samsung Mirrorless system, while the sensor size is the same as sony it's not as good as sony sensor (not even close) Samsung support is nowhere near sony or M43 too so I'm not interested in it

For manual lenses users NEX offer the best possibilities for you, you can adapt almost every lens using an adapter for manual focus lenses, using the Focus peaking/zoom functions make focusing a breeze and easy, the Offset microlenses is a huge bonus too, and lets not forget the crop factor (1.5X for NEX versus 2X for M43)

Overall i recommend NEX 5n for anyone, it's hard to find anything similar in the market for the price right now (Amazing sensor/small camera/tilt LCD/shoots 1080p60 video/touchscreen/easy to use/etc), it does beat any Entry/mid range nikon/canon DSLR "IF" you are type of a person who just sticks to the zoom kit lens, NEX 5N got a better zoom Kit lens and the better sensor.

I hope my thoughts about the mirrorless market for now was fair enough and i hope that my review was helpful :)
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on September 18, 2011
I am writing this review from the point of view of a (Nikon) dSLR user. My review will consist primarily of reviewing how a dSLR owner would assess the qualities of the Sony NEX-5N, how it fits in and how it can be integrated into an ecosystem where continued ownership of a dSLR is a given. In the process, someone who does not own a dSLR will nonetheless get an understanding as to how the Sony NEX-5N is seen from the perspective of a dSLR owner, and will see its relative strengths and limitations vis-a-vis a dSLR.


The Sony NEX-5N uses a Sony 16mp APS-C sensor that is very similar to the sensor used in the Nikon D7000 and the Pentax K-5, both excellent performing dSLRs. In all respects, my initial testing showed that the sensor in the Sony NEX-5N is almost at parity as my Nikon D7000, e.g., excellent dynamic range at base ISO 100 and excellent S/N performance at ISO 1600, 3200 and even the occasional foray to ISO 6400.


As a long-time dSLR user now used to the size and weight of a dSLR with its fairly large and heavy weight lenses (e.g., Nikon D700+MB-D10 and 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II lens), the NEX-5N's most startling aspect for me was its small size and light weight. Holding the NEX-5N without any battery and lens, the NEX-5N is so light and compact that it is practically like holding a point and shoot camera, only that it comes with a hefty hand-grip that makes it possible to hold the camera more securely and quite comfortably.

Adding on the battery and the pancake 16mm f/2.8 prime lens adds substantially to its weight and heft but not to the extent as to be objectionable as a light carry compact camera. This combo however is no longer what one would consider as a camera that can comfortably carry in a pocket unless the pocket is in a jacket or cargo/tactical pants pocket. The Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is substantially an even bigger package but still fairly light weight.

Despite its decent grip, I highly recommend that one buys a wrist strap for use with this camera. While this camera comes with a shoulder strap, the light weight of this camera makes it very easy and comfortable to carry with one's hand and/or wrist. The wrist strap also ensures that the camera is immediately available for use. A shoulder strap is normally use to distribute the heavy weight of a camera over a bigger area but the light weight of this camera makes a shoulder strap unnecessary. Moreover, a shoulder strap allows the camera to sway and dangle dangerously unless one holds it down. This makes a wrist strap more ideal and convenient.


The NEX-5N does not come with the many dedicated buttons common to dSLRs but it functions well enough given its compact size and limited buttons. The NEX-5N is controlled primarily either through the touch screen, the rear-rotary dials or a combination of both. The touch screen lags a bit while the rotary dial is fast and instantaneous.

As someone who shoots primarily on Manual Mode and on Aperture Priority, it was fairly easy to set the camera on this preferred mode. Pressing the button above the rotary dial or touching the upper right hand corner of the touch-screen LCD will bring the user to the Menu Option. From there, the Shoot Mode is accessed.

What took a bit longer to find was where the controls are for the shutter and the aperture on manual mode. It is obvious that the documentation that Sony provided with the camera was not designed for an experienced dSLR user but once I figured out where the shutter and aperture mode was on manual mode, it was very easy to set and use.

On Manual Mode, the rotary dial controls the shutter setting. Pressing on the "Down" button shifts the rotary dial control to Aperture and turning the rotary button allows the user to change the aperture setting.

On Aperture Priority Mode, the rotary dial controls the aperture setting and pressing on the "Down" button allows the user to adjust the exposure compensation function.

On both modes, pressing the "Left" button allows the user to change the Shooting Mode (single, continuous, timer, remote, bracketing).

The ISO, White Balance and Metering Mode are easily accessed through the more ponderous menu option. For whatever reason, Sony chose to group these functions under the "Brightness/Color" menu instead of under the "Setup" menu.

Under the "Setup" Menu, there were a few goodies that are worth mentioning. This camera allows the user to choose from 3 grid lines in the EVF. The options available were: Rule of 3rds Grid (3 x 3 grid) , Square Grid (6 x 4 grid) and Diagonal + Square Grid (6 x 4 grid plus an x-grid). In addition, the NEX-5N has an AF Micro Focus Adjustment function. This is a very useful function when using prime lenses - something that the NEX-5N is well suited for.

The NEX-5N has several buttons that can be programmed for various uses when in P A S M Shooting Mode. I used 2 of these for ISO and White Balance. Under the "Setup" Menu", one can proceed to the Custom Key Settings. I then used the Right Key Setting on the rotary dial for White Balance, and the Soft Key B Setting for ISO. I used Custom for Soft Key C and was able to add Metering Mode, AF Mode, Autofocus Area, and AF/MF functions. Ignoring all these details on how to proceed with the setting, suffice to say that under my current setup, I have fast and very easy to shutter, aperture, ISO and WB - the minimum essential controls when using a dSLR.

As an aside, one reason why I have easily adjusted to the NEX-5N's controls is that I currently use different camera models. In contrast to my early experience when I used 2 cameras with similar controls (Nikon D300 and D700) which made switching between one camera to another easy and convenient, I have since sold my D300 and acquired a D7000 to use with my D700, as well as a Nikon D3100, Fujifulm X100 and Panasonic GH2. This change has made me more willing to learn and adopt to the different sets of controls in these cameras. My mindset is essentially that of learning and adopting to the different camera controls rather than one wanting to maintain a consistent set of controls among the different cameras. This background will help the reader to understand why I have no specific objection to the controls of the NEX-5N which is contrary to what a significant number of dSLR owners have complained of.


One can take photos with this camera in 3-ways. The first way is handheld, and using its rear LCD screen. The second way is handheld, using an optional viewfinder. The third way is on a tripod, using its rear LCD screen.

Having previously owned several point and shoot cameras (e.g, Panasonic LX-3, Canon S-90, etc.), I am acutely aware of the limitations of the limitations in aiming, composing and focusing while using the camera's rear LCD screen with the arms extended forward. This limitation eventually made me sell these cameras and made me choose the Fujifilm X100 and the Panasonic GH2, both of which features an integrated viewfinder.

So what makes the NEX-5N different? For one, an NEX-5N owner would have the choice of getting the optional electronic viewfinder for this camera. Expensive but otherwise excellent, the EVF gives an owner an alternative of brining a small compact camera with an external EVF, or an even more compact package without the EVF. Moreover, unlike cameras with built-in EVF (such as the X100, GH2 or the Sony NER-7), the optional external EVF in a Sony NEX-5N gives the owner an option to shoot with the EVF oriented 90-degrees upward.

Even without getting the optional external EVF, the NEX-5N has the added advantage vs point and shoot with fixed rear LCD screen because the NEX-5N has an articulated rear LCD screen of the NEX-5N that can be positioned to approx. 80-degrees upwards so that one can aim, compose and focus while looking down and while holding the camera with two hands and with both elbows firmly tucked to one's side. This is an eminently much more stable shooting position than a regular non-articulating LCD screen that requires the user to stretch out his arms, an inherently unstable shooting stance.

Finally, using a tripod, the articulating rear LCD screen makes it easy to aim the camera with no need to activate live view button or switch or periodically pressing live view as the camera automatically shut this down sooner than one would want. The camera can easily be positioned to the level of one's eye or at a lower position and flipped the camera screen upwards.

As a side note, anyone wishing to install a quick release tripod camera plate need to be aware that the NEX-5N may require a specialized adapter plate. Unless the quick-release camera plate is also narrow and slim, the quick-release plate will extend and unnecessarily enlarge the dimensions of this diminutive camera and thus sacrifice one of its advantages and attraction. For now, I am using the same Arca-plate that I am using with the Fujifilm X100 but a customized plate which will conform to better hold and support this camera may be a more ideal setup.


Except for the Sony/Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 and the recently released Sony 50mm f1/.8 OSS (and possibly the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 and the 30mm /2.8), there aren't currently (as of this time of edit, 2012 May 20) many good native E-mount lenses available for use with the NEX System. For this reason, it is inevitable and also advantageous to use one's dSLR lenses on the NEX-5N through an adapter.

I am able to use my Nikon F-mount lenses on the NEX-5N through an adapter. The adapter is almost as large as a Sony 16mm f/2.8 prime lens so using 3rd party lenses on the NEX-5N as I have done with my Nikkor lenses will result in a substantially bigger package than when using Sony's native designed for NEX E-mount lenses.

The bigger package aside, I find it easy to manually focus my Nikkor lenses on the NEX-5N. Sony has two features in the NEX-5N which makes manual focusing easy. The first is "peaking" and the second is through image-magnification. One has a choice of white, yellow or red to indicate which section is in sharpest focus. The ability to choose the color to indicate "peaking" or the area with the sharpest focus is very helpful. In addition to peaking, I also double check my manual focus accuracy by magnifying an image either by touching the touch screen at the point I want magnified or through one of the programmable buttons and using the scroll wheel. My procedure is to use magnify first and rely on the peaking second once the image is magnified (1st level magnify). In short, manual focus is easy, convenient and accurate.

The bottom-design of the NEX-5N does not lend itself well to the mounting of a quick-release Arca plate. While the lens mount of the NEX-5N is metal and quite sturdy, the NEX-5N is not particularly suited for use with bigger and heavier 3rd-party lenses without additional support. What I have done thus is to use the same support I currently use with my GH2 when mated with Nikkor lenses with the NEX-5N. This support makes use of an Arca plate supporting both body and lenses and thus relieving any pressure that would otherwise hang on the lens mount and the very thin tripod mount surface when using big and heavy lenses. Mounted on a tripod and using live-view to compose and to focus-manually, I am able to capture superlative photos. In this manner, I have no problem using my bigger Nikkor F-mount prime and zoom lens with the NEX-5N such as the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8, Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 or Zeiss 100mm f/2.0 despite these lenses not having any dedicated lens collar.

I have started testing the NEX-5N using my Nikkor lenses and comparing the image I captured using the same lens but mounted on the Nikon D7000. This is not easy as it may seem because of the different mounting point when both cameras are mounted on a tripod. It is early days yet but I would say that the images the NEX-5N produces are very close and is practically as good as the Nikon D7000. Surprisingly, the images from the NEX-5N post-processed from is slightly sharper. There may be several reasons for these ... such as a more stable tripod mount using the Arca-rail setup, a weaker AA filter, etc.


Clicking sound during video: I typically use a tripod when taking video so this has not been an issue for me. I do not foresee this becoming an issue unless I use the NEX-5N as a salt shaker while taking video. =)

Video is very good and is the closest in performance to my Panasonic DMC-GH2. I would however still give the edge to the GH2 in terms of video quality. Regrettably, the NEX-5N does not have the equivalent of the GH2's ETC which is essentially a 2mp 2.6x crop of the center-portion of the sensor. The GH2's ETC essentially transforms a single focal-length prime lens to 2 lenses.

The NEX-5N allows manual controls of the shutter, aperture and ISO setting during video. The best video quality is still at 1080 24 with a write-speed of 24Mbps which translates to about 1GB for every 5 minutes of video. 1080 60p with a write speed of 28Mbps is useful for slowing things down and translates to about 1GB for approx. 4 minutes of video.


Vibration free during shutter release: Despite the absence of a mirror that needs to flip out of the way, the shutter release of the NEX-5N is fairly loud and is nowhere as silent as the Fujifilm X100. The shutter release sound of the NEX-5N is similar to that of the Panasonic GH2 - metallic sounding and kludgy. The Nikon D7000 shutter sounds sounds better despite having have to flip up the mirror before shutter release. With mirror-up, the D7000 was virtually vibration free during shutter release. Beyond my concern for the sound, I am concerned as to how vibration free the NEX-5N is when mounted on a tripod during shutter release. All my test shots showed however that this is nothing to be concerned about. Then I learned about the electronic first curtain shutter of the NEX-5N. With this activated, all fears about any vibration during shutter actuation was completely eliminated. Very nice Sony!

Battery: Any dSLR owner will likely need an extra battery (or even two) for extended shooting with the NEX-5N. Unlike a dSLR which consumes very little energy when using the optical viewfinder, viewing and composing the NEX-5N drains the battery and any bit of extended use will require a spare battery or two.

Aspect Ratio: this camera allows the user to choose between a 3:2 or 16:9 aspect ratio for still photos. Video is always in 16:9 ratio.

ISO: The NEX-5N has ISO 100, and goes all the way to ISO 12,800. With fast lenses, I mostly stay at ISO 1600 and below but do go up to ISO 3200 and even 6400 when needed. In both cases, some delicate fine-tuning with noise reduction during post-processing will yield very good images still. Auto ISO is available as an option. I should add however that ISO adjustments can only be made in increments of 1-full stop instead of the usual 1/3-stop found in most dSLR (with the exception of my D3100 where ISO can be incremented only in 1-full stops like the NEX-5N). I found this a bit disappointing initially but like my Nikon D3100, I learned to cope with it and it became less of an issue.

WHITE BALANCE: What Sony takes in terms of limiting the ISO increment adjustment it gives back in the WB setting. I prefer to set my WB manually using the Kelvin setting and here, the Sony NEX-5N has smaller increments in its Kelvin setting adjustment than my dSLRs, including the Nikon D7000 and D700. Live view and manual WB Kelvin adjustment is a wonderful combo which allows finer WB adjustment where a custom WB may not work due to the fast changing light condition. I am very happy with this feature in the NEX-5N - which makes me wonder why the dSLRs do not have this capability.

16mm f/2.8 pancake prime lens: With a 35mm equivalent FOV of 24mm, it would have been nicer if this lens had a wider-opening aperture. Despite being a pancake lens, this prime lens is big enough that it actually is wider than the NEX-5N both at the top and at the bottom. Its center section is very good while the borders and corners require stepping down before these become acceptable. Due to its 24mm FOV, one needs to exercise a bit of care in aligning the horizontal and vertical axis of the image to minimize distortion when shooting people, specially those at the edge of the image. I personally would have preferred a faster 18 to 20mm pancake prime than 16mm lens to minimize distortion as the NEX-5N with a pancake prime would likely be carried and see a lot of action in many people gathering.

Integrated EVF: I also have a NEX-7 on pre-order but the 16mp sensor of this NEX-5N in a NEX-7 body would be an even better camera. The ability of this camera to shoot excellent photo at low ISO and clean images at ISO 1600-3200 would make it a much more versatile all-purpose camera (like the Nikon D7000) than a NEX-7 with its current 24mp sensor which is more than 1-stop lower in S/N at high ISO.

It is of course understood that the 24mp image from the NEX-7 down-sampled to a 16mp image like the NEX-5N would yield almost the same noise performance but one would first have to allocate more resources for a 24mp file size then downsample it to 16mp to get the same yield. I would much prefer to just stay with 16mp from the start as it is unlikely that I will be printing large files. When I do, I can just take several 16mp photos and merge these and get the high resolution image I need.

Moreover, the high pixel density of the NEX-7 sensor means that lens diffraction occurs earlier at practically a little past mid-aperture settings. The NEX-7 disadvantages means that one can use the NEX-5 more than 1-stop higher in ISO setting for low-light and/or 1-stop lower in aperture setting for greater DOF in landscape photography without hitting the lens diffraction zone.

While one can use the optional EVF and get the same image and functionality of the NEX-7, the fragile mount of the external EVF will require greater care in its use. An integrated EVF would be better. Nonetheless, I ordered the external EVF and will include a review of it here once I have more hands-on time with it.


The NEX-5N provides a dSLR owner with capabilities that is generally not as easily accessed with a dSLR. A small, compact and light body plus a small compact and light prime lens is an attraction in itself but is perhaps best appreciated when I can pack 3-4 of these in a bag that would normally accommodate only one dSLR with zoom (Nikon D7000, MB-D11 and 17-55mm f/2.8). It makes a very nice supplement to a dSLR but it will not and cannot replace a dSLR.

As a dSLR owner and using the NEX-5N without an electronic viewfinder (EVF), I see the he NEX-5N as best used for tripod-mounted live-view shooting where its articulating screen, peaking, image magnify in one-button push or a light touch on the touch-screen really plays to the NEX-5N strength. Its ability to mount larger zoom lenses that are without integrated lens collars is easily addressed using an Arca rail. So equipped, it is even more stable than a large dSLR for tripod shooting as it can be mounted at its center of gravity rather than the typical below the camera butt plate when using a dSLR. I regularly use my Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 and my Nikkor 180mm f/2.8D with the NEX-5N in this manner and the images are simply superb.

Without an EVF and shooting handheld, I typically hold the NEX-5N at waist level with both my arms tucked to my side to steady the camera. With the screen articulated to face up, taking photos is quick and easy. It's not as easy, fast and as intuitive when using a dSLR with an optical viewfinder but it works out pretty well after some degree of practice.

With an EVF and shooting handheld: I will be getting my EVF in 2 days and I will update this review. (To be continued)

Update: Feb. 11, 2012

I have been using the NEX-5N and the Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 with the Sony FDA-EV1S EVF for over a month now and it is a joy to use. The EVF is bright and clear and its ability to articulate to 90 degrees allows me to get low-angle shots without too much exertion in bending down. A little leg-bend is often enough to do the trick without need for me to get down on my knees to shoot low. For those times when I do get down on one knee to take a shot, I can take an even lower angle in my shots.

Coming immediately from using a dSLR, I do notice a short lag when compared to the optical viewfinder of a dSLR. But after a few minutes of use, I quickly adjust and hardly notice the lag. The EVF can be used for low-light shooting but there is room for improvement. But in comparison to the other EVF-equipped cameras I have (GH2 and X100), this is the best EVF I have used and have no qualms in rating the EVF performance a 5-star.

What makes me a bit more concerned is that the EVF is mounted rather precariously on the NEX-5N. This is a concern when carrying the camera on a shoulder strap. A hard side-swipe on the EVF could easily damage this rather expensive EVF. I have thus acquired a binocular strap for the NEX-5N that prevents swaying and keep it in my front and center just below my chest to better protect it.

The EVF also protrudes rather prominently from the NEX-5N and makes storing the erstwhile diminutive and compact NEX-5N a bit more difficult. I have had to rearrange the storage paddings in my Lowepro backpack and Pelican Bag and because of the EVF, the NEX-5N now needs a much bigger space than it did for storage.

This handling, carrying and packing concern notwithstanding, I still rate the EVF a 5-star because of its performance. Not being an integrated EVF, I accepted some of the fragility and difficulties that comes with using an EVF as this is easily outweighed by the benefit of being able to articulate to 90 degrees.
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on October 16, 2011
After dragging an 18MP dSLR with 18-200 lens to Disneyland and taking only 200 shots. I have realized that for somewhat serious amateurs like me, the dSLR is no longer the answer. I need the quality without the bulk. I need wide angles. I need smart focus, face focus, face exposure because, well, I have a 1 1/2 year old who is moving fast in many different situations. Pointing a fat dSLR lens at him which cannot track him only looks worse at 18MP. I have previously used the Sony Nex 5, which is a totally different camera. The 5N is much more a serious amateur camera with better high ISO, higher Auto ISO, corrects for lens distortion (huge benefit) and no longer automatically underexposes to save the highlights. Serious amateur photographers know that every camera has certain unique aspects about them. This model year camera underexposes a bit, this one overexposes a bit, etc. This only comes by experience using the camera. I have not used the 5N long enough, but I can already tell it is in a just a bit higher league than the 5. But all these new mirrorless camera are better for amateurs because they help us frame the shot. Many people will say that a viewfinder is critical for photography. I am not on that side. I think that during the brief moment from film SLRs to digital SLRs, many photographers were using compact cameras with their screens on the back. Like myself, many people learned to frame a picture better like this. Of course, the older photographers don't like this because their near sight is not good due to age, but by framing a larger view (from a screen on the back), you can still keep 2 eyes on the subjects and enviorns. I don't expect many people to understand this, but you get better framing with a large screen on the back, hence the inclusion of "live view" with dSLR. Also, with the Sony NEX cameras, the camera will easily and silently focus video, which a dSLR cannot. I've been seeing all these videos shot with dSLRs lately and can tell 2 things: 1. the focus doesn't move because they can't do it easily, 2. when there is motion, either panning or subject motions, everything is a blur. Forget all of that, with kids, you need wide angles because you want to catch a kid with their enviornment. Try finding an affordable wide angle (<28mm) on a cropped dSLR sensor. None of them cheap. With the Sony NEX you can get a 24mm for cheap and then add a cheap adapter and get 18mm. Try finding an 18mm lens for a dSLR, it'll cost as much as the body itself. The compactness, the lightness, the quality of the sensor (as good as my dSLR by all measures), the ease of wide angles makes this a no brainer. It has the latest tech all to help the photographer like Auto highlights to even out exposures because sometimes we have to shoot at noon. It has face recognition exposure to keep faces exposed correctly. It has a cool stop motion 6 merged shots to look even better than one with super high ISO. A fun auto stiching panorama mode. Before I forget, it has a touch screen to pinpoint focusing and to swipe playback like an Iphone. Sony has everyone beat at this point because they have more real feature to help the photographer and have the best performing sensor in the market. 10FPS! on a consumer camera- that is amazing. They should've called it the 'Amazing' 5.

EDIT: After a few months of becoming my standard carry with me camera, I have these thoughts: The ability to attach any lens is great but time consuming. Generally, the standard zoom is more revealing and more convenient. Technique is more important. The sensor quality is just as great as originally- Images have bite, but some may say that it is not Leica-like smudgey/creamy. Just wait for Sony's 35mm F1.8 E series. That will put the cream in your coffee. Not really a PRO camera as the spinning wheel is too easy to activate with your thumb. Really a good stealth camera like a Leica- "snick, snick" is all anyone will hear. Tech helps- faces expose better, tracks eyes better. Rarely use flash, but flash itself is good. Tough- I even dented the lens. Very stealth with the flipout screen. Feels like a more intimate camera to get creative with than a machine gun. My uncle has a Sony 900 with 85mm large aperature lens which he really enjoys, "shooting."

2014 update: Even though I had to send it in to get a dark piece of dust out of the sensor/AA filter stack, it still has the best video I have ever taken and can do quick snaps with the kids. It even looks good at 3200. The small size and the small size of the lenses trumps almost anything out there, even now. I use my 16mm+Fisheye to take all kinds of videos and amusement park photos. It cannot be beat- unless I get the 20mm which reportedly is better.
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on December 7, 2011
This camera has a well-documented design defect that others have commented on, in particular, a very noticeable "clicking" noise in the audio track when you do video recording. The defect does not affect the picture quality of still images or video, but it does make the video recording feature unusable as the clicking noise is very noticeable. It appears to be a mechanical defect inside the unit. The problem was first discovered and acknowledged immediately after the unit first began shipping in September 2011.

Sony acknowledged the defect and issued a weasel-like statement on its website saying that the "phenomenon" only occurs "if the camera undergoes sudden motion while recording; motion generally inconsistent with smooth video recording." An artful way of basically saying it's the user's fault for not holding the camera still during video recording. This is untrue, of course, as the clicking problem occurs if you move the camera at all during video recording. The only way to avoid the clicking sound is to record on a tripod; if you use it as a handheld at all, it will click. There are a ton of videos on YouTube showing examples of the clicking and how easily it can be triggered, even from a slow horizontal sweep of a landscape. Sony has offered what they call a "performance improvement" (translation: repair) that they say reduces the clicking sound resulting from motion during movie recording.

After calling Sony support, I learned that I had to send my brand new camera back to Sony, wait several business days for them to fix it and ship it back. They only do ground shipment (to/from Laredo, Texas), which means that my brand new camera will probably be out of service for quite a while.

To say the least, I'm disappointed with Sony. Any reasonable testing suite would have uncovered this defect before the units were shipped, so the only logical conclusion is that Sony knew of the defect but decided to ship it anyway. And then later, when the camera was released, the company played dumb, blamed its customers, and offered a "performance improvement" to pretend that it was doing them a favor. Wow, what a voyage Sony has traveled since its status as the iconic consumer electronics company it was in the 1980s and 1990s, and it is no surprise that today its most profitable business unit is from one of its subsidiaries that sells insurance.

I purchased the camera in December 2011, figuring that because the problem had been diagnosed many months ago, the company would have addressed the problem with all units in the channel that had not yet reached customers. But no, Sony is doing nothing to fix the problem on units that haven't reached customers -- they're just playing the numbers, hoping to save money because some percentage of customers may not use the video or demand that the defect be fixed.

*** UPDATE 01/16/2012 ***

This is an excellent camera when it comes to picture quality, so in the end, I did end up going through the Sony "support" program to get my "improvement" for the camera rather than returning it for a refund. But video recording is a major feature of this camera, and the clicking sound makes video recording largely useless, so keeping the camera in its current form was not an option for me.

I sent the camera to Sony's service center in Laredo, Texas, and it came back from Sony in a nice brown box, professionally packaged. The total turnaround was a couple of weeks, but I had to pay the shipping to Sony. It's the same unit (same serial number). A dust cap was placed over the sensor opening for shipment, but otherwise, as far as I can tell nothing was done to it. The clicking problem persists and I'm not sure the camera case was even opened. (I left the shoulder attached to the unit when I shipped it, and it was still attached to the camera in the exact same place, which makes me suspect the case wasn't even opened.) You can still hear the clicking even from outside the unit if you move it, even if it's not on, which confirms there's still some mechanical problem in there. Maybe a mix-up in Laredo. Who knows, and at this point, who cares.

After one more call to Sony, they said they would have a technician call me, but so far, no one has called. But back it goes to Sony for repair, since I'm now out of the return period. One star.


After dodging my calls, I finally gave up on Sony support. Craigslist, here I come! My next camera will probably be a Nikon or a Canon, from a company that actually takes pride in their cameras.
2626 comments| 134 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I first purchased Sony NEX-C3 and liked many things about it, but two problems caused me to trade it in for Sony NEX-5N, which addressed those two problems. I am very pleased with Sony NEX-5N. If someone is considering both of these cameras let me start with the differences between the two cameras that made me choose NEX-5N.

My main issue with C3 was seeing the LCD screen in the sun. SONY will have an OLED high resolution view finder for NEX series in November 2011. However the mount on the OLED electronic viewfinder is only compatible with NEX-5N and is not compatible with NEX-C3.
Update: I now own the OLED view finder. Love it. For more details you can see my review of it:

The second issue was ability to easily override the automatically chosen a focus point. NEX-5N has a touch screen which allows one to point where the focus should be, and sometimes this allows you to compose a photo which focal point off-center (automatic focus has a strong preference for items in the center).


The weight of the camera with 18-55mm lens, battery, memory card, and strap is 17.1 oz.

The body of the camera is 4 1/8 inches wide x 1 inch wide in the narrow part. It is small but not so small that is inconvenient to hold or operate. Overall the camera feels good in your hand, the mechanical parts (hinges and other controls) feel well made and pretty sturdy. The 18-55mm lens in its smallest configuration is 3 inches long.


Features that I loved, two features I never had in other cameras I owned:
* Sweeping panorama - I absolutely loved it! It worked fantastically even hand held taking photos
of night time skyline. (I am attaching a photo showing this feature)
* Anti blur - in addition to having Optical Steady Shot this camera has an option for hand-held night shots.
It takes 6 photos in quick succession and combines them to generate one shot reducing blur due to unsteady hands.
Note: these settings produce JPEG format even when the setting is set to RAW


I am pleased with the quality of the photos. I was very impressed with low light performance. I was able to take crisp hand-held pictures of New York skyline using the "anti blur" setting. With sweeping panorama option I do not feel the need for a wider lens. I do get significantly more barrel distortion from the SONY 18-55mm lens than from the Canon 17mm-85mm.


NEX-5N comes with a separate battery recharger, which is handy since the camera drains the battery rather fast it is nice to have a spare battery charging while the camera is being used. I purchased a 3-d party (Wasabi) battery pack (two NP-FW50 batteries, one Wasabi AC charger, one car charger converter for Wasabi AC charger, European converter) which works well with my NEX-5N. The entire pack costs less than one extra SONY battery: Wasabi Power Battery and Charger Kit for Sony NP-FW50, Alpha SLT-A33, SLT-A35, SLT-A55V, NEX-3, NEX-5, NEX-5N, NEX-7, NEX-C3


NEX-5N has a touch screen which allows one to point where the focus should be, and sometimes this allows you to compose a photo which focal point off-center (automatic focus has a strong preference for items in the center).

By twicking display options I was able to make the UI easy to navigate. The most helpful setting was "Big font" under Camera options. Not only did it make the text easy to read, it removed a larger number of least useful icons which de-clutters the display.

The changes I found helpful:
* Turned off pop up help (located under "Setup" and called "Help Guide Display")
Why: The pop-up help gets in the way of every operation, you cannot see the screen as it totally obscures
what you are looking at, when you get rid of pop-up then the screen you were looking at also goes away.
* Turned off object tracking (located under "Camera" top menu)
Why: When you are trying to compose a photo where the focus is NOT in the center, you can use the touch screen
to indicate where the focus should be. However, if the object tracking is turned on the focus begins moving
and shifting even though the thing you are trying to focus on is not moving. The camera prefers
items in the center of the photo, rather then a composition using 1/3 rule.
* Turned off face registration and smile shutter (located under "Set Up")
Why: these options got in the way of a good photo composition


I was able to use the tripod quick release I use for my SLR. The quick release plate is a wider than NEX-5N body. It extends both in the front and the back of the camera. You cannot balance the camera on it (it tips forward), however once it is on the tripod it is very secure. I am attaching a photo which demonstrates the fit of the quick release.


Edited 10/23/2011: When I originally purchased the camera Photoshop CS5 did not recognize the RAW format produced by NEX-5N. However today I downloaded the latest CS5 update and now it recognized ARW files generated by NEX-5N.

PHOTOS INCLUDED with this review (see under customer photos)

1) Hand-held panorama shot at twilight showing a sail boat leaving New York Seaport with the skyline on the right. Split image in the same photo is a portion of the sail boat mast in actual pixel size, so you can see the details of the noise.

2) A shot of the New York seaport taken with the camera on the tripod. In the split image you see three sections of the photo in actual pixel size. #1 is close to the left edge, #2 is center, and #3 is a section close to the right edge. You can see the difference in sharpness between the center and the edges in the close ups.

3) Photo shows the fit of the tripod quick release plate. I am able to use the same quick release I use for my DSLR.

Disclaimer: My interest is still photography and I have not used the movie option yet.

Overall, I am pleased with this camera. I found this camera to be a good substitute for my DSLR when I travel.

Ali Julia review
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11 comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 12, 2012
As an owner of Canon 7D and T3i with multiple "L" series lenses, I can honestly say this this little camera's capabilities completely rivals that of my Canon equipment at a fraction of the cost. In low light, without flash, it completely blows semi-pro DSLRs out of the water - making night shots look surreal, and giving 6400 ISO images a grain impact that is similar to if you shot at 800 ISO.

There is a learning curve with respect to navigating the menu and remembering where all the functions are, the record video button is easily pressed by accident, and the touch screen is not really needed with the exceptional plus of being able to selecting your focal point by touching it on the screen; however, that is where the cons ended as far as I was concerned.

It is also loaded with multiple play settings allowing effects such as selective single color, tilt shift, HDR, etc. It's sweep panorama mode is simple to use and flawless creating an image that shows no signs of stitching.

Don't take my word for it, just look at my 18 pictures that I posted starting with the one prior to the World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) and judge for yourself.
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on April 6, 2012
The Sony NEX-5N is absolutely amazing. The photos it produces are stunning. I can't believe how good this thing is in low light conditions. I barely ever have to use the flash. Even at night with nothing but moon light. I ordered my camera on March 26th and received it on March 28th. The first thing I noticed when taking it out of the Amazon box was that there was no factory seal on the camera box itself. When I took the camera out, I immediately noticed that there was no clicking noise at all and then thought it was weird that not only was their no seal on the box but there was no sticker on the LCD either. With a quick google search I found a forum explaining the lack of factory seals on some NEX-5N's. Basically, due to the recent tsunami in Japan, Sony had to move production to another factory which does not put factory seals nor LCD stickers on the cameras. However, camera's coming from that factory also have no "clicking" issues. So, don't freak out if your box doesn't come factory sealed. Most likely you got one that has had the clicking noise resolved and is indeed new and straight from the factory. If you still have doubts, make sure that the serial number on the bottom of the camera body matches the number on the box. If they match you're good. If not, send it back.

Now, back to the camera. Every photo is so crisp. About HDR painting mode (found in Menu > Brightness/Color > Picture Effect > Pntg) just in case you can't find it. It took me a few days to figure it out. Oh, and you can change the intensity to low, medium and high as well by first selecting HDR Pntg and clicking "Option" (it appears on the bottom right of the display). Photos using this setting, taken with under the right lighting conditions, produce stunning results.

I usually stay away from Intelligent Auto simply because I like to have more control. Aperture Priority is what I use most of the time. It's perfect for taking portraits with blurred backgrounds.

Battery life is what you would expect. Not the best, but not bad either. I have yet to run out of power before I get the photos I want.

That's about it for now. If I think of anything else, I'll update my review.

If you are on the fence, fall off (on the Sony NEX-5N side) and buy it already. You will NOT be disappointed. What you get for the price can't be matched by any other DSLR. Not to mention most Nikon DSLRs use Sony sensors anyway. Might as well just cut out the middle man.

Hope this helped some of you.

Peace out.
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on September 21, 2011
I'm a long time Nikon user, going back over 40 years. I work in technology, presently, and have owned digital cameras since 1990 when the first consumer digital camera, the Logitech Fotoman, came out which produced 320 x 240 pixel B&W images. Since that camera, I've owned over 35 digital cameras and have witnessed the evolution of digital imaging, with great excitement, to the present day.

All the while I've been waiting for the size and weight of digital SLR's to come down. This has now been accomplished by most manufacturers with some very small true SLR's from Nikon, Canon, etc., along with a huge amount of point-and-shoots from all manufacturers.

The challenge for me, which kept me buying, was to find the quality of a digital SLR (APS-C variety) to fill the void between the relatively low image quality of the P&S's and the ponderous size of high quality SLR cameras. I find that I really can't carry my Nikon D300 or even D90 all day on field trips to cities that I shoot without being worn out at the end of the day ("Father Time" isn't any help in this equation, either).

Enter the Sony Alpha NEX-5N. I passed on the original 5N do to the cost and the fact that I have 4 cameras presently in play. I got the 5N primarily as something to play around with, not thinking that it would rival or replace my Nikon SLRs. The high ISO quality and resolution at most ISO's really amazes me. Although the 18-55mm kit lens isn't the highest quality it is substantial enough to render some really nice images. Anything I'm not totally satisfied with can be tuned up in LightRoom, anyway, as are all of my images.

I carried the NEX-5N around New York City this past weekend and didn't even know I had a camera around my neck! It is that light! Some have written in their reviews that they want a wrist strap for their 5N's. Personally, I stay away from them. Once you strap something around your wrist you really lose the use of one hand, unless you want to bang the camera into everything. The neck strap allows you to pick the camera up when you need to shoot and have both hands free as you are moving around doing other things. I recommend the Optech Classic straps with the loop connectors. Not too bulky for such a small camera and only around $20.

I plan on getting the "Trufinder" OLED eye level viewfinder in November when it comes out, albeit with the Sony high price. Certainly, I don't plan on getting rid of my Nikons which are used for studio photography as well as field photography. As yet, there is no way to directly link my studio electronic flash to the 5N, other than tweaking down the power and using the photo eyes on the sudio flash to sync with it. The supplimental flash is actually pretty decent, by the way, and is really tiny, in keeping with the size of the camera.

A few negatives preventing the NEX-5N from achieving perfection are: The size being almost too small for some hands, (I've read that the 7N is slightly larger with better ergonomics, but at double the price, I'll wait), video audio clicking sounds that Sony has acknowledged are not just our imagination (I don't shoot enough "quiet video" for that to matter, but video HD qualtity on my Sony Bravia is stunning!), and the current lack of lenses which should improve over time. Also, the somewhat klugey menu interface is clumsy, but I have assigned the most used functions to the soft keys which makes changing ISO, white balance, metering methods, etc., direct.

Finally, with all the tech toys and tools coming out at the rate that they do, we should all remember the one golden rule of tools and technology: "The most flexible element in the interface between humans and machines is the person, him or herself." We forget that when we use something enough, we adapt, by nature. Nothing is perfect!

NYC Gallery of Sony NEX-5N photos here: [...]
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on October 18, 2011
I have been a Canon and Nikon DSLR owner for a long time. I have owned Canon 40D, Canon 5D Mark ii, Canon T2i and so on... I always though for best image quality/high ISO performance, these Canon/Nikon DSLRs are the only way to go. After seeing the excellent reviews of NEX-5N, I bought one with 18-55mm lens. I was shocked to see that bested my Canon T2i in over all IQ in different lightings) and beats the Canon T2i in high ISO/low light performance by a wide margin. It even beats my canon 5D mark ii in high ISO/low light.'s compare engine also confirmed this.

The video quality is excellent. It also have silent auto tracking focus, which allows me to video taping my fast moving 5 year old while the Canons can not "auto-focus" during video session.

As for the "clicking" video recording noise, Sony fixed my in ONE day and sent it back with Express and I received in 2 days. Problems fixed. The new bathes of the NEX-5N should have this issue resolved. THIS IS A NON-ISSUE going forward.

Overall, this is the only $700 compact camera that can beat much more expensive DSLRs in speed and IQ and high ISO/low light performance, as well as the overall video quality and performance especially the super silent focus tracking capability during video recording, which almost none of any much more expensive DSLRs can offer).

Way to go, Sony.
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on October 18, 2011
Most customer reviews already pointed out the advantages and disadvantages of NEX5N. The key concern is the video "clicking" noise issue. After sending back to SONY, it have been fixed on my NEX5N for your reference even SONY calling center is hard to communicate with and made many mistakes (It might located in other country). For most details, you can check my review on the sliver one.
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