Sony NEX-5N 16.1Mp APS-C compact system camera
Review Sony's NEX range of compact system cameras have continued expand with the NEX-C3, reviewed recently, appealing to entry-level users keen to get to grips with Alpha optics and a DSLR-sized APS-C sensor. Adding to those niceties at the top end, if you've a grand to spare, there's the 24Mp NEX-7. Yet in the middle, away from the headline grabbers, is the NEX-5N – pretty much the same body as before, but with revamped specs.
Sony's revamped NEX-5N is now its mid-range E-mount model
The NEX-5N’s most obvious improvements over its predecessor are a new 16.1Mp CMOS sensor and the implementation of touchscreen technology. It also benefits from extended ISO sensitivity – between 100 and 25,600 – and an improved continuous shooting speed of 10fps. Sony has also included lens aberration correction that is active by default and an optional electronic viewfinder.
What's more, if you're a Minolta/Konica user of old or have a Sony Alpha DSLR – or translucent mirror model – then the NEX range can now make the most of those optics with the LA-EA2 accessory adaptor that allows full phase-detection autofocus compatibility with all A-mount lenses. The NEX-5N also improves its specs in other areas such as colour depth, dynamic range and battery life.
The body of the NEX-5N is virtually unchanged from the NEX-5 but it is worth mentioning that the magnesium alloy construction now extends to the top as well as the front plate, giving this new upgrade a slightly more luxurious and sleek look. The minor revamp also makes the 5N 18g lighter and 0.9mm slimmer than its older brother.
In terms of design the NEX-5N is still an odd fish. The body itself is tiny and despite its blocky, slightly uneven shape, it does have its charms. The problem is that Sony optics are very large and when mounted on the NEX-5N’s diminutive body they completely alter the look, feel and ergonomics of the camera.
Even with a pancake lens the instinctive grip is to hold the lens barrel
The front grip is deep and large enough to allow a firm handling but since the weight of the camera is mostly on the left of the body, where the lens is, I found I was mostly handling the camera by the lens barrel of the 18-55mm kit lens, despite their being a rubberised front grip. Not exactly the most ergonomic grasp if you want to make swift use of the lens zoom and focusing rings.
Next page: Not so flash
Re: ISO Test Images
"I am not a photgrapher ..."
Neither am I, but I've been in the industry for a long time first on the processing side and these days in software, and I'll try to explain.
ISO is a measure of light sensitivity. In the film days you basically achieved higher sensitivity (ie ISO) by using larger grains of silver halide, hence the grainy appearance of high ISO films (this is an oversimplification, but will suffice). In digital you increase the sensitivity by turning up the gain on the photosites (again a simplification) which introduces noise into the image. You can compensate for this with noise reduction, but this tends to introduce "smearing" so has to be applied carefully. The advantage of a larger sensor is that you can have larger photosites for any given pixel count, which means greater sensitivity, which in turn means you will get better results at any given ISO setting than a smaller sensor.
"For a static target wouldn't it be better to keep the exposure time the same (0.1 - 0.05 seconds?) whilst increasing the ISO. The images would then display an improvement in quality rather than a reduction!"
Doing this would simply result in grossly overexposed images - think about it: you turn up the sensitivity of the sensor by, say, a factor of 4 from ISO 100 to 800. If you keep the exposure time the same then the sensor records an image that is 4 stops overexposed.
The bottom line is that a high ISO image will always be less good than a low ISO image in decent lighting. A large sensor will have better high ISO performance than a small sensor (all other things being equal), and will generally be better in low light but to get a properly exposed image you can't just "turn up the ISO" and leave everything else the same, and expect magical low light performance.
This being the Reg I'm sure someone will be along at some point to tell me I'm wrong about everything in an amusingly cynical way, but I think i've got the basics right...
Re: Touch screen 100% optional - you never need touch it.
No, no it doesn't, unless your reading comprehension and understanding of how one uses a camera in modes other than program auto are entirely lacking. Have a nice day.
Re: Re: Included software
"The Sony camera group is producing excellent, innovative products."
Have you used a HX9V? The pictures look great until you zoom in and you see the awful washy watercolour effect from compression/noise reduction. Awesome video capture though :/ It has put me off buying another Sony camera for quite some time.
From the article: "I found I was mostly handling the camera by the lens barrel of the 18-55mm kit lens, despite their being a rubberised front grip. Not exactly the most ergonomic grasp if you want to make swift use of the lens zoom and focusing rings."
So you have to have your hand at the lens barrel, where the zoom ring is located? How is this slowing you down? That's the way you usually handle cameras with protruding lens barrels, especially those with controls on the barrel, isn't it?
This is like making it a negative point that you have to hold on to the steering wheel of a car, when you could also just as well be playing PSP Vita while driving. Yes, what a bummer.
Otherwise a really nice review once again.
The selection of E-mount lenses is still quite small, but with the widely available 3rd party lens adapters I can use my old manual focus lenses with this little gem.
The exceptionally short flange distance of the E-mount allows pretty much any lens to be easily adapted to it, from m39 to middle format mounts, and anything in between. No lenses needed in adapters, so optical quality won't suffer, you only have to take the 1.5 cropping factor into account.
Touch screen 100% optional - you never need touch it.
The NEX 5N has the same menu system as the cheaper NEX C3 and the more expensive NEX 7. All of its functions are available without ever needing to go near the touch screen.
Use of the the touch screen is entirely optional, thus makes your entire point about usability null and void.