Sony NEX-5 review

Can Sony's compact DSLR create a shift in high-end consumer photography?

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  • Good image quality, particularly at high ISOs


  • As expensive as a DSLR
Slow autofocus
Permanently-exposed sensor means nerve-shredding lens changes

The 14.2-megapixel Sony NEX-5 is cut from a different cloth to most Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens (EVIL) cameras.

That much is true as soon as you pull it out of the box – impressive-looking beasts such as the Nikon D3S aside, there may not be a better-looking camera available today. The NEX-5 essentially looks like a wide compact with a DSLR lens grafted onto the front of it – which isn't far off what it is.

But looks aside, the NEX-5 could represent a sea-change in consumer DSLR photography. Inside the 110mm-wide body sits a comparatively huge sensor: at 23.4 x 15.6mm, it's an APS-C format sensor.

Sony nex 5

That's the same size and format as you'll find in every sub-£1,000 DSLR. So, in theory, Sony has produced a gorgeous-looking camera that takes images as good as those from a proper DSLR, without the accompanying size and weight.

Sony nex 5

Those are the headlines, but the NEX-5 has plenty more to offer serious photographers.

There's a 1080i HD video mode, as well as Sony's sweep panorama feature, which allows you to quickly stitch together a multiple-frame image without needing to dig into the software. Naturally, there's a fully manual mode, accompanied by shutter and aperture priority modes.

Best of all, the NEX-5 is a camera with some serious headroom for those learning the photographic ropes. It may come with a standard-spec 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, but you can buy the 16mm, f/2.8 "pancake" lens (around £200), or the rather slow-sounding 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 superzoom (around £700).

Sony nex 5

Alternatively, £149 gets you a mount adapter that enables you to use any of Sony's A-mount lenses.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution14.2 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product Familyalpha NEX
HD Movie ModeYes
3D Type3D
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick PRO High Speed Duo
Image StabilizationOptical
Brand NameSony
FeaturesFace Detection, Smile Detection, Aperture Priority, Manual White Balance, Live View
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)229 g
Image Sensor Size23.40 mm x 15.60 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4592 x 3056
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height58.8 mm
Width110.8 mm
Depth38.2 mm
Product SeriesNEX
Image FormatsRAW, JPEG
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelNEX-5
Product Namealpha NEX-5 Mirrorless Camera
Product Linealpha
Exposure Control
  • Auto
  • Program Auto
  • Shutter Priority
  • Aperture Priority
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberNEX5AS.CEH
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Capture stunning images with DSLR-like picture quality, plus the convenience of interchangeable lenses all without the size and weight of a DSLR. Compact, beautifully styled and brilliantly easy to use, with amazing features like 3D Sweep Panorama and 1080i HD video shooting.

Package Contents
  • alpha NEX-5 Mirrorless Camera
  • NP-FW50 Battery
  • SEL-16F28 Lens
  • Quick Reference Guide
  • Battery Charger
  • Instruction Manual
  • European Warranty Card
  • USB Cable
  • CD-ROM
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Case for Flash
  • Product Registration CD
  • Flash
Limited Warranty1 Year