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

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For the first time, we find ourselves seriously considering the possibility that an EVIL camera could have dealt a serious blow to the consumer DSLR market.

Similarly-priced DSLRs may offer an extra notch of quality, but for many consumers, the NEX-5 offers a knockout punch of advantages.

It's better-looking, smaller and lighter, and that means it's much easier way to get high-quality images from your next holiday. And, while the lenses available for the platform aren't going to trouble Canon or Nikon, they'll do everything consumers want.

Aspiring professionals should still throw in their lot with the likes of the Canon 500D or Nikon D5000, simply because there's a lens for all occasions and either platform offers more headroom and upgradeability than the NEX-5.

We liked:

The NEX-5 is a truly good-looking camera, and apart from being satisfying to look at, the fact that it isn't big, black and chunky means it's a little more user-friendly than most.

We're big fans of the superb screen and good build-quality, and we remain seriously impressed by its performance.

We disliked:

Speaking of performance, we're not wild about the NEX-5's dated-feeling contrast detection autofocus, which can be a little slow, particularly in poor light.

There's also still a very good argument for buying a proper DSLR – you'll get a slight lift in image quality, and, if you buy Canon or Nikon, a vastly superior range of high-end lenses.


If you simply want to take good pictures now, without turning into a DSLR bore, or turning your hobby into either a career, or something that swallows all your spare cash, we can't help but like the NEX-5.

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.