Sony NEX-5N review

Comes with touchscreen and two million more pixels

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Sony nex 5n

There's very little with the Sony NEX-5N to find fault with, other than perhaps the niggle that its minimalist design and lack of physical buttons sometimes necessitates a little searching on behalf of the user. Enthusiasts may also find it a pain that the likes of ISO aren't given a dedicated button or placed immediately at their fingertips.

Once familiar with the quirks of its menu system, however, using the Sony NEX-5N became more of a pleasure than we expected.

It still looks a little odd with the 18-5mm lens bolted on the front, but it's a good catch-all lens for anyone buying into compact system cameras for the first time.

The price, although not cheap, nevertheless seems reasonable in the wake of some of the most recent additions to the compact system camera market, such as Nikon's 1 system cameras the Nikon V1 and Nikon J1, and the Pentax Q.

It may not look as attractive to us as most of its more conventionally styled rival cameras, but you only have to look at the Sony NEX-5N's images to realise that it knocks spots off most of the competition.

We look forward to comparing to the new flagship Panasonic, with its expected resolution hike. For the moment we'd have to say that in purchasing this Sony NEX-5N you can't go far wrong.

We liked

Its body design may be slightly drab, but where it counts this camera has got it. The Sony NEX-5N's combination of a large sensor and large lens delivers detail-rich images that knock spots off even long-awaited rivals such as Nikon's new 1 system cameras, the V1 and J1. Plus most of the current must-have features we'd want are here.

We disliked

What makes the NEX system a different proposition among compact system cameras - with the exception of Samsung NX, which also uses an APS-C sensor - has also led to the rather odd-looking combination of a slim body and unwieldy lens if going for the kit zoom on test here.

Also, photography newcomers will require a period of familiarisation with the quirks of Sony's menu system.

Final verdict

It's hard to knock the Sony NEX-5N at its suggested price of £599 with 18-55mm kit zoom. Yes, this is more than an entry-level digital SLR, but the NEX is going for a different market, and in that respect delivers most of what it sets out to do.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution16.1 Megapixel
Product Familyalpha NEX
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom3.1x
Digital Zoom10x
Brand NameSony
FeaturesFace Detection, Continuous Shooting Mode, Self-timer, Live View
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsAVCHD, MPEG-4
Weight (Approximate)210 g
Image Sensor Size23.50 mm x 15.60 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4912 x 3264
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height58.8 mm
Width110.8 mm
Depth38.2 mm
Product SeriesNEX
Focal Length18 mm to 55 mm (Lens 1)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
External FlashIncluded
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelNEX-5N
Product Namealpha NEX-5N Mirrorless Camera
Product Linealpha
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Aperture Priority AE
  • Shutter Priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberNEX5NK/B
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

It's all the performance of a DSLR in about half the size and half the weight. Get a perfectly pocket-sized 16.1MP interchangeable lens camera made for capturing beautiful stills on the go at up to 10 frames per second. Record in Full HD 1080/60p or 24p video, take astonishing pictures in low-light with the large Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor or get beautiful panoramic shots in 2D or 3D. Put control at your fingertips with the highly responsive, conveniently tiltable 3.0" Live View touch screen LCD.