Why I upgraded from NEX-5 to NEX-5N.

Started Sep 16, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Tom Hoots
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Why I upgraded from NEX-5 to NEX-5N.
Sep 16, 2011

I figured I might as well give you my impression of the NEX-5N, in the context of moving to it from a pair of NEX-5N bodies. But let me make it perfectly clear right up-front -- I am AMAZINGLY happy that I popped for a new NEX-5N!

When I first heard about the NEX-5N, I really wan't exactly enthused about it -- I definitely mentioned how "I was completely happy with my NEX-5." So, the camera had to pretty well earn my bucks.

But, over time, we began to learn more about the NEX-5N. Oooh, it had a touch-screen. But that's a NEGATIVE in my book -- "Oh, God, no!" I generally DETEST touch screens. But then, I learned about its lens correction features -- you bet, that's absolutely worth the price of entry, right there. Then, as the NEX-5N started getting into our hands, there was talk about "better color" and such. Yes, I've got to admit, I was looking for something a bit better in JPEG color and contrast.

So, that was enough to get me to bite. But, these all turned out to be so much better, and then there is so much more -- it all adds up to a very worthwhile upgrade, as far as I'm concerned.

You bet, the lens corrections make a huge difference for the better. It makes the 18-55mm lens so much better, and in the bargain I got a much better lens than the one I got with my NEX-5. And there's plenty of improvement in the 18-200mm lens, as well -- oh, now nice it is to get straight, straight lines!

I have dabbled a bit with micro four-thirds, winding up with the Olympus E-PL1 and E-PL2 over the past couple of years. I did some very serious testing with the E-PL2 compared to the NEX-5, and while I eventually sold the E-PL2, there was definitely something about its JPEG processing that I preferred over the NEX-5's. It seemed to be some combination of contrast and saturation, but one thing was definite -- try as I could, I couldn't even begin to duplicate it with the NEX-5's image controls.

Frankly, then, I really see a substantial "borrowing of the Olympus JPEG engine" in the NEX-5N's JPEG output -- oh, here is that kind of rich, satisfying color and contrast that I liked in the Olympus output -- while not being quite as "over the top" that Olympus does at its default settings. Sure, RAW shooters might not care one bit, but it is a GREAT upgrade for JPEG shooters.

And then there are the "other" new features. For instance, simply enough, "I like grid lines." Part of what I don't like about viewfinders is that I JUST CAN'T SHOOT STRAIGHT with the camera crammed up against my face -- but get that LCD with some useful grid lines at some distance in front of my eyes, and I can pretty well nail straight shots, every time. And the NEX-5N has two additional sets of grid lines, beyond the NEX-5's single "rule of thirds" lines. I particularly like the "Square Grid" lines -- with lines centered vertically and horizontally, plus enough other lines that are useful for "rule of thirds" shooting, too, it has quickly become my favorite set.

The on-screen controls are also just that much better, nicer, and more useful -- like, for instance, the now five custom settings for the "C" button. With the display along the bottom showing you what each setting does -- oh, that is so much better and more useful than "poking around in the dark" to see what you'll get next. And, being able to choose what screens will show when you toggle through them with the Display button is a treat -- set it up how YOU want it! And, yes, I actually do like the "big font size" setting -- I use it most of the time.

And let's not forget about how, finally, the NEX-5N shows the ISO setting the camera uses when you shoot with Auto ISO -- that was a big lacking in the NEX-5, I always thought.

I'm also very happy with being able to set the "right" wheel button -- which controls the flash in the NEX-5, but as a matter of fact, I have NEVER, EVER used the flash with any of my NEX cameras! So, let's use that for something useful, or, as I'll admit, I've got it set for NOTHING. With the 18-200mm lens, I was always hitting that button inadvertently, admitting that, yes, the big lens can be a bit of a handful at times. So, now I don't have to dismiss the dang flash error message another hundred thousand times.

I've done the same thing with that infernal touch screen -- after hitting it inadvertently a couple of times, I turned that thing off, forever. Ahh, what a relief!

Well, I haven't even touched things like video, new "creative" modes and such, but what I have mentioned is what really made the upgrade worth it to me. It's mainly about the lens correction and the JPEG engine, but there are a number of other little things that certainly help, too.

Tom Hoots
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