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Sony NEX-5N Digital Camera Review
sony20121110aa.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Ashley Akers 

The thought of the reward after a long hard day, week or month of work is often the easiest thing to help get you through. Keeping your eye on the prize is motivation enough for most. When you finally achieve that prize the last thing you want to have to do is read the manual! All you’re longing for is to pick up your new toy and do what you’ve been wanting to for so long without even the slightest hassle. There is no hassle with the Sony NEX-5N digital camera. It’s ease of use, high quality and simple tips and user help sets it apart. This is the camera you can pick up and use instantly to get amazing photographs!

Appearance & Functionality

The body of the Sony NEX-5N is compact and stylish in design. While the detachable lens makes it a little less compact this will not be of concern to you. The design is a solid combination of metals and plastics and has been produced to the highest quality finish.  

sony20121110ab.jpgThe NEX-5N functions as if it were a higher end DSLR camera. The detachable lens system allows for interchanging of lenses giving you more options for capture and upgrade in the future. It also adds to the appeal and ease of use of this camera. Simply twist the lens to zoom in or out giving you much more control.

In addition to the NEX-5N’s DSLR similarities is the external flash. While having no built in flash may feel like a downside it’s likely due to the cameras large lens and compact design. The lens takes up most of the body size leaving no room for an inbuilt flash. The external flash positions itself much higher above the body allowing for better quality photos and easier use. It can be folded down to a slightly more compact version when it’s not in use. There is however every chance that you’ll be out shooting have left your bag in the car, or at home and not have the flash when you need it. However this can simply be overcome by either planning ahead and ensuring you have all the gear for your proposed lighting situation or by leaving it attached at all times in the closed position.

Another handy little point to note on this Sony is it’s instant shutter. While a lot of lower end and basic point and shoot cameras tend to have a delay from the time the shutter is pressed to the time the photo is taken the NEX-5N does not. The instant the shutter is pressed the instant the photos is taken and boy does that feel good. There’s something about being in control and capturing when you choose to that makes this camera feel all the more professional and trustworthy.

sony20121110ac.jpgThere are a variety of useful functions and features on the Sony NEX-5N that make it useful in all situations. The sweeping panorama mode is a great way to easily capture an amazing holiday, hotel view or a local cityscape. Simply start at one edge and follow the guidelines to sweep the camera across the scene. The NEX-5N will then seamlessly and automatically stitch your panorama image together for breathtaking results. Other common functions are included such as intelligent auto modes, scene selection, and full manual.

The handy touch screen LCD makes for easy menu navigation and camera control; a control that the modern world of smartphones and tablets makes all the more familiar to you. Never fear if you’re a more traditional buttons person as the scroll wheel and navigational buttons can still be used. It’s only slightly difficult to find settings to adjust as the simple and sleek menu design and minimalistic approach to physical button quantities means that a lot of submenus are used. sony20121110ad.jpg

Another point where the NEX-5N stands out from the overpopulated crowd is it’s ability to engage with a beginner. In addition to several tips as you navigate throughout the camera it has a dedicated help and tips menu. Upon bringing up this menu you’re able to choose from a range of different topics that’ll help you to achieve better photos. It explains why certain things happen in simple terms and how to improve.

In addition to it’s tips menu is the NEX-5N’s ability to allow you to easily shoot with the effects you desire. For example this Sony has a simple slider on the left of the touch panel LCD that allows you to change the effect and amount of effect from blurred defocused background and sharp subject, great for portraits to a crisper sharper overall scene great for landscapes. It’ll adjust the aperture and shutter speed automatically without you having to know what these numbers mean or how to adjust them and you still get the desired result!

Image Quality / Lens Quality

The image quality on the Sony NEX-5N is no doubt coupled with this camera’s high lens quality and image processing power. Images are crisp and clear and colours appear vivid and natural. Skin tones are also natural in a wide range of settings.

sony20121110af.jpgA major factor to consider in regards to digital cameras is low light capabilities. Where some cameras are capable the Sony NEX-5N is extra-capable. While the external flash itself will help any dark, under-lit scene or candlelit dinner, where this Sony NEX stands out is it’s ISO sensitivity. ISO settings of ISO100 to a useful ISO1600 show no to very little/unnoticeable levels of grain. What does this mean for your photos? This allows you to capture natural lighting in low light situations at a high quality without the need for a flash. Flashes can create harsh and unnatural light which can potentially change the mood of a photo.

ISO sensitivity does not stop at ISO1600. ISO3200 and ISO6400 you start to see low to medium levels of grain within images. However at these high sensitivities the range of extra scenes you’ll be able to capture is extensive. Lastly ISO12 800 and a whopping ISO25 600 show high levels of grain which lowers the quality of the photos significantly, they do however, allow you to capture an image in a dark environment where you otherwise would fail.

The interchangeable lens system on the NEX-5N is most definitely a feature where this camera excels. While a higher quality lens like this improves image quality the ability to swap it out for a different lens also increases your options as a photographer. The lens that came with this camera is the f3.5 to 5.6, 18 – 55mm. While this lens does not excel in a DSLR field in terms of aperture and zoom range it more than suits the job of the NEX-5N.
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LCD Screen

sony20121110ag.jpgThe LCD screen of the NEX-5N is a shiny and fascinating thing. It’s wide large design that fills the back of the camera makes it feel sleek and stylish. The LCD screen can either flip up or angle down for you to be able to capture those awkward family moments or to see a scene comfortably from a new perspective.

Where the LCD excels ever more is it’s touch screen capabilities. Simply touch the screen to access menus easily and to change settings. Adjust other settings by rotating a slider to change the degree that setting will have on your image. Another handy touch screen capability that makes this prize worth it is: touch to focus. Simply touch on the subject or area of the scene that you can see on the touch screen and the camera will focus on this area. This makes it 100 times easier to change focus or customize your shots.


The movie capabilities on this Sony are also spectacular. An interchangeable lens system creates the highest quality shots and allows you to quickly zoom in on a subject by twisting the lens; other cameras would require a slow gradual zoom from a button press.

The stability system on this camera creates amazing stable and smooth video, great for panning and action shots. This system adds quality to any home video shot.

A lot of cameras not specifically designed for video but simply have a video feature tacked on can often struggle in low light settings. Where a flash can help a still image in a dark setting it can do nothing for a video. A video relies on the sensitivity of the sensor to be able to capture low light settings. The Sony NEX-5N ISO settings excel in this area and have the ability to capture dark scenes at high ISO’s with little to no grain evident in the image.



The next step in the evolution of a point and shoot compact camera to a full featured DSLR is the Sony NEX-5N. The reward of being able to easily pick up this camera and not only use it but excel with it’s use, and get exceptional photos, are phenomenal.  Inbuilt tips will help first time users, advanced functions will help more tech-savvy users and the wealth of features and capabilities will help all users. The Sony NEX-5N is a handy all round camera with exceptional quality.

Accessories Used In Testing

Tamrac Aero 94 / 3394 Camera Bag 

SanDisk Extreme 30MB/s SD Card


Recommended Retailer

View / Buy The Sony NEX-5N Digital Camera  


Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Video quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
LCD screen 4 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price - Body only $550.00 (AUD)
Street Price - Kit $699.95 (AUD)
Effective Pixels 16.1 megapixels
Sensor Type
APS-C type (23.5x15.6mm), "Exmor" APS HD CMOS sensor with RGB primary color filters
Image Sizes 3 Sizes / 2 Aspect
Lens Interchangeable
Lens Mount
Sony E-mount lenses
Resolution Settings - Stills Image Size (Aspect Ratio 3:2) L: 4912 x 3264 (16M), M: 3568 x 2368 (8.4M), S: 2448 x 1624 (4M)
Image Size (Aspect Ratio 16:9) L: 4912 x 2760 (14M), M: 3568 x 2000 (7.1M), S: 2448 x 1376 (3.4M)
ResolutionSettings - Video Recording Format: AVCHD Ver.2.0 (Progressive) / MP4
Video Compression: MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)
Audio Recording Format: Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC
Image Size (AVCHD): 1920 x 1080 (50p/28Mbps/PS, 50i/24Mbps/FX, 50i/17Mbps/FH, 25p/24Mbps/FX, 25p/17Mbps/FH)
Image Size (MP4): 1440 x 1080 (25fps/12Mbps)
Image Size (VGA): 640 x 480 (25fps/3Mbps)
Shooting Modes - Stills
RAW, RAW & JPEG, JPEG Fine, JPEG Standard
Face Detection Yes, up to 8 faces detectable automatically
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds Electronically controlled, vertical traverse, focal-plane type, 1/4000 to 30 sec, Bulb, 1/160 sec.
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO AUTO (ISO100-3200), ISO100 to 25600 selectable (in 1EV steps, Recommended Exposure Index)
LCD Monitor 7.5cm (3.0-type) wide type TFT, Xtra Fine LCD with TruBlack technology, 921,600 dots, Approx. 100% Field coverage, Adjustable angle up approx. 80 degrees, down approx. 45 degrees (from the camera back).
Viewfinder -
Flash Type: External flash (supplied), attachable to Smart Accessory Terminal 2
Guide No: 7 (in meters at ISO100) *6
Flash Coverage: 16mm (focal length printed on lens body)
Control : Pre-flash TTL
Flash Compensation     +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV steps
Flash Modes: Flash off, Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow Sync., Rear Sync.
Red-eye Reduction: On/Off
Recycling Time: 4 sec.
Hot Shoe Yes, proprietary
White Balance Auto WB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Flash, C. Temp 2500 to 9900k, C. Filter (G7 to M7 15-step, A7 to B7 15-step), Custom, WB fine adjustment
Self Timer 10/2 sec delay selectable, Cont.: with 10 sec delay, 3/5 exposures selectable
Stills Format/s
JPEG (DCF Ver.2.0, Exif Ver.2.3, MPF Baseline compliant), 3D Still Image: MPO (MPF Extended stereovision) compliant, RAW (Sony ARW 2.2 format)
Video Format/s Recording Format: AVCHD Ver.2.0 (Progressive) / MP4
Video Compression: MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)
Audio Recording Format: Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC
Video Recording Time/s -
Storage Type - External Memory Stick PRO Duo / Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
Storage Type - Internal
Connectivity USB2.0 Hi-speed (Mass-storage, MTP), HDMI mini connector (Type-C), BRAVIA Sync (link menu), PhotoTV HD
Power Source AC Adaptor AC-PW20 *5
Battery Options Battery charger BC-VW1(supplied)
Battery Life Approx. 430 images (CIPA standard)
Dimensions 110.8 mm (W) x 58.8mm (H) x 38.2mm (D) (without protrusions) 
Weight 210g (not including battery, memory card or accessories)















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