The Sony NEX 5 at ISO 200-6400…it’s GREAT!

Wow what a day! After taking a bunch of heat for posting the article earlier by David Babsky I decided to get out of the house and hit the AZ State Fair again! This time with two Sony powerhouse cameras…the A33 and the NEX-5.

So away I went with my buddy Mike.  I had  the 16mm on the NEX-5 and shot at the State Fair with both cameras. Upon coming back and viewing my shots, I found that I shot quite a few at ISO 6400 on the NEX 5 and that they looked pretty damn good for night shots at ISO 6400! I am really starting to get back into the NEX-5 and feel that after Sony released the latest firmware update it has improved the usability. I now have the lower button set up to change ISO and it works out great.

I will be writing more soon on the NEX 5 as I will be shooting some Leica glass with it. From everything I have seen, once this camera gets some good glass on it then it does VERY well. But for tonight at the fair, I was really digging the high ISO capabilities with the NEX-5! SO much so, I am starting a new series..”Life at ISO 6400″ with all images shot at 6400!

For now, here are a few at high ISO and then some at various lower ISO’s from tonight. All with the NEX 5 and 16mm. If anyone out there has been thinking of this camera, I am more enthused about it than ever due to the endless lenses you can mount to it via adapters. My next NEX article will go in to it more but after seeing the new GF-2 by Panasonic (and feeling slightly let down by the specs) I think the NEX is the better buy just due to versatility and future possibilities.

You can buy the NEX-5 at B&H Photo as they now have the 16mm kit back in stock…Enjoy!

ISO 6400 – Click the image for 1500 pixel wide version

ISO 6400 – Click the image for 1500 pixel wide version

ISO 6400 – Click the image for 1500 Pixel wide version

ISO 6400 – Click the image for 1500 pixel wide version

ISO 6400 – Click the image for 1500 pixel wide version

The camera also does very well at lower ISO’s (of course). In case you are wondering, all of these images were run through the kodachrome slide filter in Alien Skin Exposure. Love that plug in! Other than that, no NR outside of what the camera may have done. Here are some at lower various ISOs…MAN, I love  the look of these files, especially for the low light. I am working on a “My Fave Cams of 2010” and I think the NEX-5 may have creeped up into my list….BTW, if you click on any image below you can see the larger versions and the EXIF should be intact.

It’s funny because after processing these I took a look through my old folders and found some Canon 5D images from the state fair many years ago. The images from the NEX 5 blow away the quality of the images I took with the 5D and 50 1.4 back then in color, ISO noise and feel. SO much technology in this little NEX. The User Interface is not the best and was my biggest complaint in my review for this camera (can be seen HERE) but it grows on you. Anyway, just giving the NEX 5 some love tonight 🙂 If you shoot a NEX camera or are thinking about it, you can post in the new Sony forum here on this site!

For those who emailed me asking about the A33, I am still working on that review. I did get some VERY cool video tonight with it. The A33 seems to give me the same IQ as the NEX-5 but oddly, the ISO seems a little better on the NEX but more testing needs to be done for me to really see if that is the case. But the A33 review should be up VERY soon!

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  1. Hi Steve,

    Very nice pics!
    Question for you: how do you make the kodachrome effect? Does a lens that can be mounted on the NEX5 exit?


  2. Hi Steve,

    I finally used the 16mm lens with the NEX-5 to do some street shooting in Austin’s 6th street entertainment district. I posted some photos and my experience with the camera.

    Street Photography with the Sony NEX-5

    My goals for next year NEX wise? Maybe getting a lens adapter to do some manual shooting with older lenses. Its going to be a fun year.



  3. I’m from the besieged Gaza

    I hope to get on camera Sony nex 5 + 18-200mm

    I do not have enough money to get them

    I hope to help me get it

    Thank you very much and will therefore

    Please, Please, Please

  4. A33 has the same sesnor as Nex but loses 30% of the light to the pellicle mirror. A55 has 1/2 stop advantage over A33 and pretty much equal to Nex. K-5, D7000, and A580 (same 16 MP sensor as A55) would be even better than these cameras at high ISO.

    • I am getting better high ISO with the NEX than the A33. Slight but its there. Also, I will be testing the K5 soon as well as the D7000. The only issue with the D7000 for me is the size. I wouldn’t take it everywhere like I would the NEX. The K5 could be something I really like as I loved the K7 (but did not buy one). Sensor technology is evolving every year!

  5. I completely agree with David. I so enjoyed the Leica-bashing article. It was a very fun read and a breath of fresh air! It is so easy to get stuck in fan boy land, where the answer is already decided before the question has been asked! An article like this every now and then is for our own good… 🙂
    Peter, with a NEX-5 16MM, Voigtländer apo lantaar 90mm 3.5.

  6. I think the night shots came out quite nice. They are very smooth. I’ve never seen a small camera that could shoot such a high ISO and still have lovely files like that.

  7. Pretty clean for ISO6400. Well done! The colors are a little odd, but enjoyable. Were they shot in JPG or RAW?

    • I shot JPEG and RAW. The ISO 6400 images were converted from RAW and I think I took down the saturation a bit in those, but at that ISO the color is not as vibrant as the lower ISO. Still, to me, that is impressive for night shooting at 6400.

    • Yep! I bought a $40 adapter from Amazon to mount Leica and Zeiss ZM glass on it. I plan to do a write up on several Leica mount lenses with the Sony NEX 5.

      • That would be awesome, Steve. It would be cool to see comparisons of the NEX-5 with a 35mm Leica lens vs. the M9 with a 50mm Leica lens, or something like that.

  8. I love my Nex-5 !!! I purchased it in August with the dual lens kit to travel with in September. I didn’t want to take my D90 or my GF-1. This camera is awesome and being a techie person the interface doesn’t bother me one bit…things change…embrace change.
    I love the twilight mode and anti-blur modes. I also like the way it renders color…to me it has a bit of a nostalgic feel…film like…just my 2 cents.
    Thank you for your blog; I read it often.

  9. Have you given any thought to adapting your Leica glass to the NEX5 and see what it does? I don’t particularly care for autofocus, so I don’t even bother with the Sony lenses on my NEX3 (I just use old Pentax glass), so I have been giving a lot of thought to getting a used Leica 28mm Elmarit, 35mm Summarit, or Voigtlander 28mm Ultron. I’d be highly interested in seeing what would make the best standard prime for a NEX. I’m guessing any would be a big upgrade over my Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8 🙂

  10. Steve, first, I APPLAUD you for yesterday’s anti-M9 article. Don’t get me wrong, I love LOVE my M9. But I also think it’s great that you can publish articles that see both sides of things. Regarding that article, I agree with the factual statements about what the shortcomings of the M9 are. But I strongly disagree with the author’s assessment of the IMPACT of those shortcomings. Am I offended that he hates the M9? Not at all. But I’m a bit offended that he has decided that the particular set of tradeoffs that Leica made renders the camera useless to the REST of us. REgardless, THANK YOU for publishing it; in the long run this sort of spirited discussion can make us all think about what makes a camera special to us.

    And regarding the NEX-5, I agree that it’s a fun little camera!! I used it exclusively the other day, and I was quite pleased with the shots I got. It’s a great compliment to an M9, and it’s the one I throw in my briefcase on a typical weekday morning.


  11. Can’t wait to see more on the a33. Would love to compare with these Nex5 shots. Keep up the great work!

  12. Steve, glad you had a good time at the fair (love the corn dog Mike has – I haven’t had one in years!) and love the imagery. I missed the local county fair the last few years but these images make me yearn to get back. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    Also, about D. Babsky’s guest piece – thanks for posting it. It gives a lot of insight into the differences between shooters. And as someone who shoots with both DSLRs (Nikon) and film rangefinders (Yashica Electro35), I love the feel of both. I had been shooting strictly digital until recently and have gotten back to film with the Yashica. There are things I really like about my little antiques but times when I need my DSLR for shooting action. Anyway, I really mean it when I say thanks for posting the Babsky view of rangefinder shooting.

  13. Hi Steve, did you use the ‘anti motion blur’ or ‘twilight mode’ for the shots?
    I do own a Nex5 and I think it’s a awesome camera! Here a shot with AMB @ Iso 6400

    • I used it for shot #13 only (handheld twilight) – All the rest were just in A mode, wide open at AUTO ISO. The few at the top were all at 6400.

  14. Thanks for all the info. Your reviews are informative AND entertaining 🙂
    Great pics, too.

  15. nice pic of the Grande Wheel – and the one of the chap with the 12-inch banger in his mouth!
    “that signature Sony NEX and 16mm look”. nice!
    sometimes i feel images can be far TOO sharp – to the point of not looking real. Digital overload. maybe we should re-think the whole sharpness ‘thang’, for the sake of our children and future generations…ha!!
    does super-sharp imaging equate a better finished picture product? who knows! but i’m getting tired of post-processing sharpening, that’s fer sher!

    • I agree that sometimes things can be too sharp.. that said.. for the nex it’s an excuse for poor native lenses. The nex could be SO GREAT.. but the two lenses offered are not good. Even in the hands of a fantastic photog like Steve, the limits are well visible.

  16. Hi Steve,

    like the photo’s! Nice feel to it. I purchased the GF1 and very happy with it. The nex wasn’t available back then. I would love to have the same iso-noise sensitivity on the GF1 though.

    And off course ISO is better on nex, different sensor, new 16mpx sensor is better when handling high iso and do not forget the 20-30% light loss due to the SLT mirror. That will explain the iso difference I guess.

    Keep up this site, and reviews! Much appreciated.

    Cheers for Holland.

  17. Steve,

    Definitely impressive performance for such high ISO. I dream that in the not too distant future Leica/Kodak will treat us to some amazing ultra low noise performance at ISO 6400; who knows, maybe 2012/Leica M10?

    On the other hand, is it just me or do all these images lack sharpness?

    • I added NO sharpening at all to these, but even so, the 16mm is NOT a sharp lens. Kind of gives the images that signature Sony NEX and 16mm look 🙂

      As for an M10 with sweet ISO 6400? I’d love to see it and yes, I believe late 2012 or early 2013 is the date for an M10. 🙂

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