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:



Sony NEX-5 review – Design

Unlike its peers, which tend to opt for a ‘miniaturised DSLR’ style, the NEX-5 firmly aligns itself with a more compact-like appearance. The body is akin to a small-medium compact with a chunky grip to the right hand side, while the lens at the front adds the most considerable size. Although the pancake lens will keep the overall size down, the current 18-55mm is quite a significant size in order to provide coverage for the large APS HD sensor – so much so that it protrudes ever so slightly above the top side of the body (yet sits flush to the bottom side). The design is likely to divide opinion and, indeed, it’s questionable whether the body ought to be produced at such a small given the upward size of the lenses.

Sony NEX-5 sample image

Sony NEX-5 product image

Instead of a standardised hotshoe fitting, Sony has a particular fitting for its flash unit (which is included in the box). Having the attachable flash is certainly a nice option, though the fuss of screwing it into place is a nuisance, can takes excess time and, with a guide number of 7, it’s not a particularly bright offering either.

In terms of button layout there’s a d-pad to the rear which seconds as a rotational wheel for skipping between options and settings. Two menu buttons sit above and below this, with a one-touch movie button and playback button to the top. Apart from the shutter and on/off switch that’s as far as it goes – much like a compact camera the majority of control depends on accessing interior menu settings. To add yet more settings would on the one hand make quick operation much easier, but on the other ‘undo’ some of the simplicity of use. The general impression is very much that of point and shoot for those looking for significant resulting quality; yet whether seasoned photographer, step-up user or first timer there’s something here for everyone – though the former may perhaps find menu digging for detailed manual control a frustration. One useful menu feature however is the on-screen help which offers descriptive offerings thanks to the NEX’s Help Guide.

  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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