The Sony NEX-5 is the smallest interchangeable lens system camera on the market, using a new APS HD CMOS sensor. Is the NEX-5 the new king of 'hybrid' cameras? The What Digital Camera Sony NEX-5 full review takes a look...

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Sony NEX-5

Overall score:90%
Image Quality:95%


  • Image Quality, small system


  • Slow start up time, options tucked away in menus, accessory port fiddly to use


Sony NEX-5 Review


Price as reviewed:

The Sony NEX-5 is the smallest Micro System Camera on the market, shaving the millimeters off from even Panasonic’s dinky GF1. Despite its small size, the NEX-5 packs in a large APS-C sized CMOS sensor that is also capable of capturing Full HD movies. Out goes the Sony/Konica-Minolta mount to make room for a brand new, and smaller, E-mount lens fitting. But with a variety of competition from Panasonic, Olympus and Samsung, what does Sony’s new venture offer to separate it from the crowd?


Sony NEX-5 review – Features

Sony NEX-5 product imageThe very first Sony camera to employ the company’s brand new APS HD CMOS sensor, the 14.2 megapixel NEX-5 looks to be a stills and HD movie powerhouse. Small in size, yet big in features, its compact appearance may confound expectation – with full manual control amidst its Scene and Intelligent Auto shooting modes and Full HD 1080/60i movie capture, it ensures a top-spec of creative control whatever your photographic capability.

A new E-mount, that differs from Sony’s Alpha DSLR range fitting, sees a new range of lenses launched – an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, 16mm f/2.8 and 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 and others expected in the future. Via the LA-EA1 adaptor, sold separately, it will be possible to use Alpha and Konica-Minolta lenses in manual focus only, which could considerably open up the potential for those sat on a range of existing glass.

On the rear is a 3in tilt-angle TruBlack LCD screen, with a high resolution of 921k-dots that sits snugly to the body, most inconspicuous to the fact it can be pulled out for vertical angles facing up for waist-level shots or downwards. A viewfinder, electronic or otherwise, does not feature, though there is the option to purchase a fixed 16mm optical viewfinder as an additional accessory.

The new sensor and Bionz processor are capable of shooting an equivalent ISO from 200-12,800 at full resolution, meaning low-light shooting should be a breeze. Hand-held Twilight mode is another mode to elevate the NEX-5’s low-light prowess that works by snapping six frames in quick succession, combining the various elements for a resulting low-noise image or, for a variety of conditions, there is an Auto HDR mode that combines two frames into one to expose for both shadow and highlights. And strong on the features front the Sweep Panorama – a mode that allows for a panoramic shot to be taken by simply moving the camera in real time – also features.

What are micro system cameras?

  1. 1. Sony NEX-5 review - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality & Value
  5. 5. Verdict
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