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
|Nectar Dancing by Lensmate|
from A Big Year - birds
|Sad clown by PEB|
|Mtl Gen X 2015 DP by MarioSS|
from - Gen X - (In Full Colours+ Border)
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has a the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.
2018 is the last year Photokina will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates. In 2019, Photokina will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May.
The Canon IXUS 50 (known as the SD400 Digital ELPH in North America) was one of a string of high-performing, pocketable PowerShots of the mid-2000s. In this week's throwback Thursday, Barney casts his mind back to 2005.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.
Adobe just released version 2015.12 of Lightroom CC, adding support for several new cameras and lenses, and baking in several important bug fixes while they were at it.
In this interview, Chiara Marinai, photo editor for VanityFair.com, explains exactly what she looks for in new photographers and photo submissions. Take notes.