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.