Sony NEX-5 review

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

Sony NEX-5
Sony's NEX-5 brings a big DSLR sensor to a compact body

TechRadar Verdict


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    Good image quality, particularly at high ISOs

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    As expensive as a DSLR

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    Slow autofocus

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    Permanently-exposed sensor means nerve-shredding lens changes

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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.

Dave is a professional photographer whose work has appeared everywhere from National Geographic to the Guardian. Along the way he’s been commissioned to shoot zoo animals, luxury tech, the occasional car, countless headshots and the Northern Lights. As a videographer he’s filmed gorillas, talking heads, corporate events and the occasional penguin. He loves a good gadget but his favourite bit of kit (at the moment) is a Canon EOS T80 35mm film camera he picked up on eBay for £18.