The Sony NEX-5N adds a high-spec 16.1MP sensor to the NEX-series. Can Sony retain its Compact System Camera image quality crown? The What Digital Camera Sony NEX-5N review...

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Sony NEX-5N

Overall score:90%
Image Quality:95%


  • Great image quality, improved function button customisation


  • Occasional mis-focusing, slow start up, poorly placed movie button, unfriendly menu system, larger lenses than most CSC competitors


Sony NEX-5N Review


Price as reviewed:


Value & Verdict

Sony NEX-5N review – Value

Whereas many Sony products may carry a premium price tag, the NEX-5N, as per the original NEX-5, commands a sub-£600 price tag. That does make it a shade more expensive than much of the competition though, some £40 more than the Nikon J1 and around £100 more than both the Olympus E-PL3 and Panasonic GF3.

When the E-mount system was launched in 2010 the initial three lenses may not have proved enough for more demanding users. At the time of writing there are five current E-mount lenses available, and more promised to be in the works. This development sees the NEX-5N as an attractive prospect, and with the high-end NEX-7 just around the corner it’s a likelihood that equally high-end lenses will be produced over time – the forthcoming 50mm f/1.8 and Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 already have that signed and sealed. However, the Micro Four Thirds camp still has considerably more lenses, including new powered zoom lenses, which may tilt the balance back in its favour of Olympus and Panasonic for certain users.

Sony NEX-5N review – Verdict

Sony’s not flinching against the flurry of new Compact System Cameras hitting the market. With smaller-sensor, smaller designs making up the majority of the competition, the NEX-5N’s impressive image quality can happily boast to have among the best image quality going. To take the already impressive NEX-5 and better it is a job well done. For moving image fanatics, too, the NEX-5N provides more manual movie control and better final quality than any of its competitors in this price bracket. It’s impressive stuff.

However, wideangle settings may cause issues with barrel distortion and longer lenses may make the system a little large overall, plus the menu layout still isn’t as intuitive as it could be and the touchscreen could be better used.

Many will love the 5N’s pick-up-and-shoot ease of use, variety of creative modes and DSLR-like image quality. When the NEX-5N gets things right it really gets them right.

To read our review of Sony’s latest camera in the NEX-5 range – the NEX-5R, click here.


White Balance:Auto / Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Flash
Built-in Flash:No, flash included in box
Lens Mount:Sony E-mount
Memory Card:SD (HC/SC)
Exposure Comp:+/-3EV
Cable Release:No, remote only
PC Socket:No
Compression:JPEG Fine, JPEG Standard
Viewfinder Type:N/A
Output Size:4912 x 3264
LCD:3in, 921k-dot, tilt-angle touchscreen LCD
Field of View:100% approx (LCD)
Colour Temp Control:G7 to M7,15-step / A7 to B7,15-step
AF Points:25-area
DoF Prview:Yes, live
Focal Length Mag:1.5x
Max Flash Sync:1/160th sec
Sensor:16.1MP APS-HD CMOS
White Balance Bracket:No
Metering System:1200-zone evaluative metering
Built-in Image Stabilisation:No
Dust Reduction:Yes
Other:Small & light, BIONZ processor, 10fps burst mode, anti-dust system, shooting tips & help guide, Handheld Twilight & HDR modes, Face Detection and Face Registration, Creative Styles & Picture Effects
Movie Mode:Yes, 1080p50 with full manual controls (1920 x 1080(50p, 28M, PS), 1920 x 1080(50i, 24M, FX), 1920 x 1080(50i, 17M, FH), 1920 x 1080(25p, 24M, FX), 1920 x 1080(25p, 17M, FH)
Live Mode:Yes
Exposure Modes:iAuto, P, S, A, M, 3D Sweep Panorama, Sweep Panorama, Anti Motion Blur, Scene modes
Weight:210g body only
Connectivity:USB 2.0, mini HDMI, A/V out
File Format:JPEG, Raw, Raw & JPEG
Power:Rechargeable li-ion battery
Focusing Modes:Single-shot AF, Continuous AF, Manual focus
Shutter Speeds:60 – 1/4000th second
Dimensions:110.8 x 58.8 x 38.2mm
Drive Mode:Single, Continuous, Speed-priority Continuous, 10 seconds and 2 seconds Self-timer, Self-timer continues (with 10 sec delay 3/5 exposures selectable), Bracketing
Colour Space:sRGB / Adobe RGB
  1. 1. Sony NEX-5N review - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality & Movie Mode
  5. 5. Value & Verdict
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