Sony NEX 5 Review
We've been eagerly awaiting the new Sony Alpha NEX 5 ever since Sony showed it new wood-block concept designs. We finally got our hands on one, and here's what we think of it.
First off, the NEX-5 is rather similar to the NEX-3 with a few key differences. The NEX-5 however has a magnesium body, and offers full HD video recording (in AVCHD format). As such, the NEX-5 is going to cost a $100 more or so. You can buy the NEX-5 with a kit that comes with a 18-55 mm lens, or the 16mm prime lens.
The biggest thing everyone talks about when it comes to the NEX series cameras is that these cameras offers an interchangeable lens system that is designed to handle continuous autofocus + exposure adjustment, while recording video.
The design of the NEX-5 is solid and well designed. We like how comfortable the grip is. You'll definitely enjoy holding it. When you look at it, it doesn't look at all like an ordinary SLR, and it's certainly not a point and shoot. The Sony NEX 5 looks like a midsize camera with a big lens attached to it. The lens has a very shiny aluminum barrel that just reeks of style. It's very bold, and you can't help but be impressed by how it looks. If you're a trendsetter, or just want to use a camera that just looks stylish and fashionable, the NEX 5 is the ideal camera for you.
The NEX 5 has a LCD screen of course. The LCD screen is large and features high resolution. You can tilt the screen up or down, which is convenient for shooting in weird angles. We did notice some problems staring at it in direct sunlight though.
The user interface is friendly. There are a few dedicated buttons, and they're located in intuitive places. The menu system is also simple and easy to get used to. There are a few minor quirks such as the ability to scroll backward from the 1st entry to get to the last entry, but other than that, we're happy with how intuitive things were laid out.
If you've been a long-time user of Sony point and shoots, you'll find some familiar features in this camera. There's sweep panorama, anti-motion/anti-blur modes, and handheld twilight mode. Handheld twilight mode in particular came in handy in a few low light situations. Sony also announced they are coming out with an upgrade that will enable a special 3D sweep panorama mode for several Bravia TV sets. Exciting stuff.
There's no electronic viewfinder. Sony unfortunately tells us it can't support, but we're hoping an accessory gets made in the future to support an EVF.
Having taking a few shots with the NEX-5, we're more than happy with the image quality. It's not top of the class image quality, but it's solid. It's clear that this camera has a good noise profile, and excellent dynamic range. In fact we compared photos shot with the NEX-5 with photos shot from Panasonic, Canon and Nikon at ISO 1600, and we all agree that the NEX-5 does a much better with retaining the finer details of images.
We even compared this camera with the Olympus E-P1 and we think the NEX-5 does a better job eliminating luminance and chroma noise, as well as retaining more detail. There are some issues though, especially with Creative Styles. By default, the camera seems to render inaccurate colors at times, and the automatic white balance is too cool.
We looked at some prints generated from our shots. Enlarging our images to 20 X 30 produced images that looked a bit soft in ISO 200, but still better quality than most cameras in this price range. They'll look fine to the naked eye. At 16 X 24, though the softness will be quite noticeable, so we recommend keeping your prints below this size.
At an ISO of 400, prints at 16 X 24 look very good. The same applies for ISO of 800. You'll notice a very tiny bit of softness, but that's only if you really focus on it. At ISO of 1600, images will look a little soft, and you'll lose some detail. But again, to the naked eye, the quality is sufficient. At ISO 3200, you'll notice a loss in quality, especially in darker parts of your images. High contrast detail still looks respectable.
When you reach ISO of 6400, you'll need to keep your prints to a size of 8 X 10, or you'll notice some blotchy dark spots. And if you use an ISO of 12800, the prints still look quite nice at a size of 5 X 7. All in all, we're impressed by how nice our prints looked in all the various ISO levels. Although it's missing an ISO level of 100, when compared with other cameras, you'll be able to print larger size prints in all the other ISO levels, compared to similar cameras.
Let's talk about performance now. The Sony NEX 5 is not as fast as other consumer DSLRs, but it's more than sufficient for most people's needs. The time for power on to first shot is around 1 second, which is a bit slow compared to others. Mode switching times are good though, taking 1.0 second until the first shot is captured. Shutter lag ranges anywhere from .41 seconds to .44 seconds. When using flash, the shutter lag goes up to .74 seconds. Shot to shot takes .77 seconds, and for continuous mode, it's 2.68 frames per second.
The bottom line is that the performance for the NEX-5 is good for a SLD, but not the best of its class amongst consumer DSLRs.
The NEX 5 also has a movie mode, and it's pretty solid. It records 1080i video in AVCHD. It focuses quite fast to track subjects running very fast at the camera.
- SLD Camera Format
- 14.2 megapixels
- Video capture
- no electronic viewfinder
- 3 inch LCD screen with 921,600 pixels
- has built in flash
- Many interesting features to play with such as sweep panorama and handheld twilight
- Sleek, sexy, stylish design
- Light and compact
- Good noise handling at high ISO
- Menu system may be confusing to some
- Noisy at times when shooting in some modes.
- Just 2 noise reduction settings - auto and weak
- Doesn't support wireless flash
The NEX 5 is an unique camera with many cool features, no question about it. If you're a trendsetter, someone who wants to graduate from a point and shoot, or care about having an unique camera, the NEX 5 is the perfect camera for you.
This is not a camera for the serious photographer though - you should spend more to get a prosumer DSLR. Or at least just buy the NEX-5 as a backup camera. But for anyone that wants DSLR image quality in a nice, compact, stylish design, the Sony NEX 5 comes highly recommended.
Rating: 4.3 out of 5
Where to Buy It:
Lowest Price: Amazon for $699.00
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|Amazon||$699.00 (Cheapest Price)|
Prices last updated on: Thu, 15 Apr 2021 18:43:33 PDT