Conclusion - Pros
- Very good JPEG output quality
- Very good build quality
- Support for excellent OLED EVF module
- Support for SLT Alpha mount lenses through the optional LA-EA2 adapter
- Easy to use but versatile iAuto mode
- Wider range of ISO sensitivity settings available in Auto ISO mode (up to ISO 3200)
- Good, clear live view magnification (particularly useful for using non E-mount lenses)
- Useful built-in user guide (Shooting Tips)
- Addition of Picture Effects to PASM shooting modes
- Excellent video recording quality
- Full manual video exposure control (Aperture, Shutter speed, Exposure comp.)
Conclusion - Cons
- Operation is very different in photo creativity modes compared to PASM modes - may be confusing for ambitious novices.
- No external microphone input (Sony does offer an optional screw on mic that plugs into the accessory port)
- Touchscreen offers little additional operational benefit
The NEX-5N is a significant update to the NEX-5 in terms of both usability as well as customizability. The added connectivity with the new optional OLED EVF accessory should help to make this camera more appealing to enthusiast users who prefer shooting through an eye-level viewfinder. In addition, the support for the newly announced LA-EA2 SLT alpha mount adapter makes it possible to expand your range of lenses beyond the somewhat limited E-mount offerings at the moment, while gaining the added benefit of quicker phase detect AF. The adapter coupled with the NEX-5N's full manual video exposure control makes this camera very attractive for videography.
The NEX-5N's image quality is excellent. The 16.1MP sensor in the 5N is capable of capturing images that rival some of the best APS-C format DSLRs on the market, and up to ISO 6400 image quality is impressive. Even at ISO 12,800, image quality is perfectly acceptable for online use and for small prints, and far ahead of most of the NEX's Micro Four Thirds competitors. The addition of a selectable 25,600 ISO setting adds further versatility in low-light. In the previous NEX models, ISO sensitivity in iAuto mode was limited to 1600, somewhat negating one of the best features offered by these cameras over compacts - the low light capability of the larger sensor. The NEX-5N still has a fixed maximum ISO setting in iAuto, but it has at least been increased to 3200. A welcome change, but we'd still like to see the entire ISO sensitivity range made available.
Videographers who have been enticed to move in the direction of DSLR cameras for high quality video should take a look at the 5N as well. The 5N offers AVCHD 2.0 video recording at 1080 60p, which is the highest rate currently available. At the moment, however, AVCHD 1080 60p is not widely supported by most editing software but can be edited with the newest version of Sony's PMB software. The 5N also is capable of recording video in the standard 1080 30p as well as a 'cinematic' 24p mode. One of the biggest downsides for serious videographers is the lack of an external microphone input. This said, Sony does offer an accessory microphone (ECM-SST1) that attaches to the 5N's accessory port on the top of the camera and offers greater versatility than the built-in microphone.
The introduction of a touch screen to the NEX-5N seems like a natural choice as the camera body has very few external controls. Sony has done a good job of adding that functionality to the 5N in such a way that is intuitive as well as non-intrusive. While we appreciate that Sony has created a touch interface that can make navigating menus easier we would have liked to see Sony add more direct shooting features using the touchscreen such as a single touch-to-shoot mode.
Photographers who are familiar with compact cameras should feel right at home with the NEX-5N's simple, minimalist interface. More experienced users might be frustrated by the ultra-streamlined ergonomics but will appreciate the generous amount of customization available. Like its predecessors the 5N has an articulated screen that swivels up to assist when shooting from a low vantage point or downward for use when shooting from above, which greatly aids handling in certain situations, in both still and video shooting.
Like the NEX-5 the 5N has a more pronounced hand grip than the one found on NEX-3 / C3 which we find more comfortable to hold, especially when shooting in one hand. It also makes handling easier when the 5N is used with the SLT adapter paired with a rather large lens. The NEX-5N is not a large camera by any means but the possibility of pocketability becomes unlikely with anything besides the 16mm pancake lens.
The final word
In terms of image quality the NEX-5N sits untouched at the top of the mirrorless interchangeable lens compact category. The low-light capability of its APS-C format CMOS sensor matches or exceeds what we've come to expect from the best of the current crop of APS-C DSLRs as well. Considering its sub $700 price point this is truly impressive, and makes the 5N a very attractive option for anyone looking to upgrade from a compact camera, or even as a second body alongside a more conventional DSLR outfit.
Despite the NEX-5N's excellent image quality and versatility we still wouldn't call this a true DSLR replacement - the 5N's ergonomics are completely different, apart from anything else. However, the 5N provides an addictive combination of familiar, hassle-free handling with truly excellent image quality which we think will appeal to a very broad base of users - not only those who want a 'compact' system camera.
Sony Alpha NEX-5N
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The NEX-5N is great little camera with big camera image quality. If you are looking to transition into enthusiast photography and want DSLR image quality in a small size, the 5N is definitely worth a look.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Sep 28, 2014
Sep 24, 2014
Oct 4, 2011
Sep 5, 2012
|Waffles with fruits by Coolinarka|
from Food photography (desserts)
|Vestrahorn Frozen Reflection by Will B Milner|
from Ice cold
Canon's new EF-S 35mm F2.8 Macro lens is not only compact and affordable, but it is a pretty good performer as well. We put it to the test with eyeballs, flowers and even some antique cameras. Read more
Google has updated its Photos mobile apps to support the recently announced service for creating and printing physical photo books.
Europeana Photography is a new online image archive that includes more than 2 million historical photographs from European collections in 34 countries, covering the first 100 years of photography. Read more
Manufacturers love to state CRI (color rendering index) numbers to prove that their LED lights will provide great color, but a single CRI score doesn't tell the whole story.
NASA's Juno spacecraft is sending back its first images from Jovean orbit, and they're beautiful. Read more
We got our hands on the first zoom lens available for Fujifim's new digital medium format system. Check out the samples
As summer really gets going over here in the Northern hemisphere, the team at Imaging Resource has put together a list of the best cameras for backpacking.
The Ukrainian Parliament banned statues of Lenin in 2015. Two years later, the monuments no longer adorn public buildings or stand watch over town squares, but they're still there.
If you had to choose one camera to bring along for the ultimate West coast road trip, what would it be? DPR's Sam Spencer choose the X100F. Read more
The a9 boasts impressive capability. As more examples of it in practice pour in, Sony's claims hold up. Watch the a9 track and maintain focus on a rapidly approaching basketball.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.