Sony Alpha NEX-5N Mirrorless First Look Review

The Sony NEX-5N is an update to the NEX-5 - it gives the camera a new touch screen giving easier control of options, as well as an updated 16.1 megapixel sensor, and the ability to add an electronic viewfinder. The electronic viewfinder is rather unique in that is features an OLED screen with 2.359million dots!

Sony NEX-5N Features

The Sony NEX-5N is the same as the NEX-5, but with these additional or updated features:
  • 16.1 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Object tracking
  • ISO100-25600
  • 1200-zone multi-pattern metering
  • 3 inch touch screen, 921k dots
  • Support for EVF
  • Optional XGA OLED EVF
  • Full HD, AVCHD v2, 50p,50i,25p, PASM shooting
  • Photo creativity touch interface (background defocus, colour, brightness, vividness, picture effect)
  • Additional creative effects: HDR Painting,
  • Face registration
  • Soft skin effect
  • Speed priority continuous mode at up to 10fps
  • Ultrasonic anti dust system
  • Customizable keys
  • Lens aberration correction
  • MF Assist and Peaking functions
  • Smart Accessory Terminal 2
  • Battery performance 430 photos
  • Magnesium Alloy exterior
  • Body weight 210g

There's also a new Sony Alpha adapter, the LA-EA2, with transluscent mirror technology, it provides high speed auto focus with Alpha lenses, and features a built in motor for lenses without built in motor:

Sony LA-EA2

Sony NEX-5N with LA-EA2 Transluscent Mirrors Alpha Mount adapter, and 35mm f/1.4 G Lens

With the new adapter, you can add great lenses such as the 35mm f/1.4 G lens and get extremely quick focusing on the NEX system.

Sony NEX-5N Handling

The touch screen gives an alternative way to control the camera and can provide quick access to options and settings, letting you scroll through the menus quicker. playback is also quicker to control, and the ability to flick through photos, and drag the image around when zoomed in, makes it very similar to the way iphones and other touchscreen smartphones work. Touch screen lets you choose the focus point using your finger, then AF tracking can keep the choice in focus.

New OLED Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) - with 2.359 million dots the extremely high resolution electronic viewfinder gives an excellent view of the subject, and is of a higher resolution than the 921k dot screen. Although the screen does work very well outdoors in bright sunlight, there are times when it is difficult to see and the EVF helps massively in this respect.

Battery life is improved with a battery life rating of 430 shots.

Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-5N

Now that the camera has a touch screen, the way you control the camera and interacted with it, has changed, and now pressing the screen will let you change options quickly without necessarily having to go into the menus so much. Here's an overview of the touch screen in operation:

Sony NEX-5N Performance

Sony NEX-5N Other sample images

1/13 sec | f/4.5 | 39.0 mm | ISO 200<br /><a target="_blank" href="">High-Res</a>
1/13 sec | f/4.5 | 39.0 mm | ISO 200
1/30 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 800<br /><a target="_blank" href="">High-Res</a>
1/30 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 800
1/1600 sec | f/10.0 | 33.0 mm | ISO 800<br /><a target="_blank" href="">High-Res</a>
1/1600 sec | f/10.0 | 33.0 mm | ISO 800
1/200 sec | f/10.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="">High-Res</a>
1/200 sec | f/10.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100
1/500 sec | f/9.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="">High-Res</a>
1/500 sec | f/9.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="">High-Res</a>
1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
1/320 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="">High-Res</a>
1/320 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100
1/400 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="">High-Res</a>
1/400 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100

Although the Sony NEX-5N is pre-production, so image quality may improve, it was still capable of providing excellent images, with great colour (extremely punchy, saturated reds and oranges).More sample photos taken with the Sony NEX-5N: have a look at samples taken with the new Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Lens, new Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens, and the new Sony 55-210mm OSS Lens.Video - The NEX-5N features Full HD, stereo sound, AVCHD, and high quality video recording, with full manual controls, P/A/S/M.

Value For Money - The Sony NEX-5N will be available with the 18-55mm OSS kit lens for around £600. This compares well with the original price of the NEX-5, which was £579 with the same kit lens, but the NEX-5N has a number of improvements and additional features. The range of lenses available has now been extended to include a 50mm f/1.8 (£250) portrait lens (would suite someone with the 16mm kit lens), 55-210mm OSS (£290) telephoto zoom (would suit someone with the 18-55mm kit lens), 30mm Macro (£249), and 24mm Carl Zeiss f/1.8 (£800).

On the roadmap for 2012 is the addition of a "High Performance Standard Zoom Lens (G)", a wide angle zoom lens, and a mid telephoto prime lens, bringing the total number of lenses available from Sony up to 10 lenses. 

Sony NEX-5N Verdict

The Sony NEX-5N and additional lenses, viewfinder, and adapter give the NEX system added versatility, and a much more useful range of choices regarding lenses. The touch screen for me, is a real improvement in the way the NEX-5 is controlled as it helps make up for the limited number of buttons on the original NEX-5, aids access to options, and ultimately makes it an easier camera to use. It also makes it a more fun camera to use, particularly when viewing photos. The viewfinder is extremely impressive, with stunning detail and colour, although the addition of the EVF does stop you from using flash. Image quality appears to be excellent, and even though megapixels have increased, the camera is still providing low noise levels, with the addition of a new ISO25600 range giving additional usefulness in extremely low light. The new 50mm f/1.8 Portrait lens also helps in low light.

In addition, the new adapter, the LA-EA2, with built in translucent mirror, and extremely fast focusing makes using your Alpha or older Minolta lenses a real joy, with some excellent image quality.

Sony NEX-5N Pros

Touch screen improves ease of use / control
Electronic viewfinder now available
Extended ISO range, and low noise
Great colour in photos
Full HD video recording
Improved battery life
10fps continuous shooting

Sony NEX-5N Cons

New lenses are quite large
Alpha lens adapter can make the camera quite bulky

Sony NEX-5N Specifications

Image Sensor
CCD pixels16.7Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4912
Pixels (H)3264
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size23.5 x 15.6mm (APS-C size)
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921.600
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • AB
  • Centre-weighted
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder ResolutionNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
Video FPS25p, 50p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical ZoomNo Data
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • MS
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeNP-FW50
CIPA Rating410
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data