The Sony NEX-5N First Look Thoughts and Video

The Sony NEX-5N First Look thoughts and video!

This is NOT my review. The full review will be up soon!

Here is  quick first look at the Sony NEX-5N, the replacement for the very popular NEX-5. So what does the new 5N bring to the table? First of all, more resolution. The NEX-5N ups the ante with 16.1 Megapixels versus the 14 of the 5 . It also adds the new BIONZ processing, a touch screen, and the ability to add an EVF much like the Olympus PEN series. It also has 10 frames per second shooting compared to the 7 of the NEX-5 and has the 1080P video mode with different frame rate options. The new 5N is sold as a body only or with the 18-55 kit lens for $699. Only $50 more than the old NEX-5 and also $50 more than the new NEX-C3 that does not have a touch screen, can not use the EVF and may not have as good high ISO performance. That begs the questions…why buy a new C3 if it is only $50 less than a 5N? The answer to that is, DON’T! I shot with the C3 for a few days and though it was about the same as the old 3 in regards to quality though it did seem to have better out of camera color and of course more resolution.

The 5N is the one to get though if you are deciding between the C3 and 5N or the old 5 for that matter. This one seems to give you the most bang for the buck with it’s sleeker body style, larger more comfortable grip, touch screen and better/stronger build as well as the ability to attach the EVF to the hot shoe. The C3 does not allow this. Maybe I am missing something but if anyone knows a reason to save $50 and buy the C3 fill me in. $649 vs $699 for the kit.

In use, the 5N feels just like the old 5 when shooting and it should as it’s basically the same body style and feel. Sony says the 5N has been hot rodded under the hood and I agree though it is not night and day from the old 5. The one thing I noticed when I started shooting the 5N is the color is greatly improved. With the old 5 I remember not being so happy with the color on many occasions. The 5N improves this quite a bit. Also, higher ISO all the way up to 12800 is improved with this new sensor so Sony has done it yet again in regards to low light performance in a tiny body. They also claim it has the worlds shortest shutter lag at 0.02 seconds, or 20 milliseconds. The shutter sound has improved and we now get a solid and quick snick compared to the sloppy thunk of the NEX-5.

The 5N seems like a great BANG FOR THE BUCK kind of camera.

I’m still holding out for the NEX-7 though as that is the one I have ordered for myself just due to the controls, the built in OLED EVF and crazy resolution sensor. It should be a monster with Leica glass and the new Sony/Zeiss 24 1.8.

Again, keep in mind, this is not my review! The review will be up REALLY soon!

BELOW: Some quick-n-dirty test shots at higher ISO…

Here is one shot I snapped as an out of camera JPEG at ISO 1600. This is STRAIGHT from the camera. Click on it to see the 100% crop. BTW, B&H Photo is now taking pre-orders for the NEX-5N.

Here is a full size out of camera JPEG at ISO 6400. Click it for full size. Untouched, and right out of the camera.

and one more at ISO 12,800

and why not? ISO 25,600

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  1. The NEx5n looks hard to beat for the price. The Oly Pen 3 costs $200 and has a smaller sensor. So far I like what I see from Sony except for the clicking issue shooting video. I will most likely buy the NEX5n as soon as the issue is fixed. Steve, do you know if Sony makes an adaptor for Nikkor lens to fit the Nex5n.

  2. Steve- very impressive early images! I’m also anxious to see your full review of the NEX-7 in Nov. I hope you can find a way to replicate these resolution and DR tests to compare the NEX-7 against the NEX-5N (which I’m guessing you won’t have when you get the 7), both with the kit 18-55 zoom, and with other top lenses (like your Leica M’s). I hope the NEX-7’s much higher res sensor doesn’t hurt it’s DR vs,. the 5. Also would you be able/ willing to try a Nikkor F lens (like a 24 mm f 2.8) in your review, using a NEX adaptor, for those of us with no Leica M aspirations? I’m excited to see how well my old Nikkor AI film lenses might work on the NEX, even if I have to work in all-manual mode. They might be scary close to the new Zeiss E in IQ. Thanks for your great work!

  3. Thanks for the preview, Steve!

    I am really looking forward to the full review and your real-world look at the 5n. I have seen some crazy stuff on the web so far, claiming superior IQ and high ISO on the 5n versus the 7. I can’t wait to hear your take on this and any tradeoffs with the 5n’s more aggressive NR (assuming).

  4. Hello, Steve, and thanks for the preview. I bought and sold an E-P3 quickly because it does not perform well at ISOs much above 1250, IMO. The photos you have here from 5N are amazing. I ordered this 5N rather than the 7 for two reasons. One site that compared them said that the 5N easily beats the high ISO performance of the NEX 7. The second reason is the 24mp sensor. I just don’t want that kind of resolution in a camera of this type, but I can see how some people would, particularly for landscape photography. Hope Amazon ships my 5N soon.

  5. The C3 is being sold for $599 now. So it’s $100 cheaper than the 5N. Even with this, I can’t see why anyone would NOT go up to the 5N. It seems like a no-brainer. The gap between the 5N and the 7 is $600 so there’s definitely something to think about there.

    • Actually the C3 is $649 with the same 18-55 kit lens. It is $599 with the 16mm. But if you want the 18-55 as with the 5n, it is only $50 less. Kind of nutty and do not see who would buy the C3 kit over the 5n kit. Like you said, it is a no-brainer.

  6. Great to see positive results, this gives me much hope for the NEX 7. Looking forward to your review on that, please also review the Zeiss lens!!

  7. Tanks for the review… I would like to mention the class act from the admin of SAR to link directly to tour site for this early review.

    Tanks again

    • The GXR is QUIET as it uses a leaf shutter, which is also why you have the shutter speed limitations when the lens is wide open. So GXR is near silent, NEX-5n is still somewhat loud (as you can see in the video) but better than the old NEX-5.

  8. Hey Steve, as a happy current owner of a Nex-5 I liked the screen, but put a GGS gorillaglass protector on for added protection. One of the best screenprotectors I’ve had through the years.

    Since the 5N has a touchscreen, putting some glass on it won’t be a good idea. You said the operation feels like an iPhone? Does this mean it is also gorillaglass like the iphone, or just a softer plastic screen?

    Looking forward to your review.

  9. Which did you find is the better to use touch screen between the competing Olympus, Panasonic(either the older GH2/G2 interface or the newer GF/G3 interface), and the Sony?

  10. Thanks Steve. I remember when you started this site and it is becoming my favorite place to read about photography. Why? Because you have good taste! Nobody talks about the importance of a quiet shutter and I’m glad to hear about that issue in your review. It’s such an important issue for me!

    Can’t wait to see your review on the NEX 7 – I have it preordered myself. One thing i’d like to know is if the AF/MF button on the camera can be used as a ‘push auto’ in manual focus mode. In other words, when the camera is in manual focus mode, pushing the af/mf button would override manual focus mode and act as an autofocus button. When you let go of the button you go back into manual focus mode, recompose and shoot away – or fine tune with manual focus, or press the af/mf button again to autofocus. It’s the best way to take control of Autofocus in my opinion.

  11. Thanks for all the videos Steve. Looking forward to the full review.
    I just have a comment on the technical side of your videos that would make it a lot more pro and befitting your awesome site.

    As much as well all love shallow DOF, I think you could make a huge improvement with your videos if you stopped down so things dont keep drifting out of focus when you bring things closer/further from the camera.

    Also the auto exposure keeps changing the exposure throughout the video and it gets annoying as it keeps shifting when there’s slight changes on what you’re showing on screen.


  12. Excellent Excellent!! I wonder how good it will be the NEX7 if the high ISO of the 5 is that good!!! Oh my, I’m a SLR shooter but I want to upgrade to a better low light performer, do you think a NEX5n or 7 will be a good option? I was considering the 5d2, but what you just said about the better performance of the NEX5N in low light has impressed me. I currently use a 1dMark2, very different animal, very rugged, but there are better cameras today regarding IQ. Perhaps a NEX7 will be a good second body with an adapter. What do you think?

  13. Thanks Steve for the first brief review of the 5N.
    It is a pity that this camera will only arrive in Oct in Singapore.
    Am still deciding if I want to get this or the Nex 7.
    But then if I go for Nex 5N, the savings I got for not purchasing Nex 7 is I can get one or two great lens.

    Shall wait for your review and thanks for sharing it 🙂


  14. Steve: the 18-55 kit works better maybe due to the new lens auto ca, distortion and vignetting on the 5N?

  15. Hi Steve,

    After reading your thoughts and review about the nex-5 i decided that i want one. But now when it’s time to take a close look to the follower of the nex-5 i’m getting confused again. Should i wait for the 5n or buy the 5??? I don’t know the local price yet (in finland). The nex-5 with two lenses (short kit zoom & pancace) costs 600€ now, and i would guess the 5N with one lens only will cost 700-800€ (?). So, is the color and high ISO really so much better that i should leave the two lenses-deal and get 5N… I hope that your full review will answer to that.
    I would really much like to see a good comparison pictures with both 5s (same lenses, same picture, same iso etc…)

    Anyway, thanks!

    • Hi Emil… If interested by the NEX5, just e-mail me, mine Will be for sale since I am upgrading for the NEX7

  16. Hi Steve,
    When you mentioned that the shutter sound has been improved, does that mean it is quieter than the 1st gen of NEX cameras? My only gripe about my NEX 5 is that it’s too loud and I am never able to take stealth shots – other than that, it is a great camera and I find its responsiveness / focusing much better than (shock) my Fuji X100.

    • Well, it is shorter and quicker and has more of a smoother sound instead of a loud clunky sound. It is sharper and quicker. Still a bit loud but better than the old 5.

  17. Mine should be arriving this Saturday. I’m kicking myself for not getting faster shipping, but that $30 I saved will probably go for an extra battery. Those high iso shots look amazing!

      • Really looking forward to your real world review, Steve! I have seen some of the tests online claiming superior high ISO performance on the 5n versus the 7. It just looked like more aggressive NR to me.

  18. Nice!
    I’m looking forwared to the E-P3 comparison, i’m glad you mentioned the word “colors” because thats one of my discontents with the M43 sensors, while the other one being dynamic range
    on the other hand i belive high-iso is overrated and hardly shows on a real-world prints,
    so i’m hoping for a more color fidelity/DR then ISO reference

      • Oh, man….I loved my little original 3 so I can only imagine how good this upgrade is going to be. Looking forward to using it in the photo pit with that kind of high ISO performance.

  19. Hi Steve!
    Nice article and video, like we’re used to 😀
    The camera looks very nice, and the specs don’t disappoint, but there’s something that doesn’t make much sense, in my opinion, which is the size of the lens. They are completely disproportionate! Sony only has 1 pancake (the 16mm) whereas the competitors have a broader choice (either m4/3 or Samsung NX).
    What’s your take on this subject?

      • OK I look forward to the explanation because look at summicrons. Pretty fast at f/2 and also pretty small. Full size sensor.

        • No autofocus, no stabilisation, and they have been made for film, which allows them to have a far more accute angle for the light exiting the lens. Using such a lens on a digital sensor gives strong colour shifts in the borders, something Leica corrects with software.

          It’s also why the new Zeiss lens is a Sonnar instead of a Biogon. The latter would have been much smaller, but would have strong colour shift and smearing (similar to the Zeiss 35 f2.8: check photozone’s review with the NEX).

          And finally, I just check the dimesions of the Zeiss and the Summilux 24mm f1.4:

          (63 x65.5mm) for Zeiss
          58.5mm x 61mm for Leica

          Add the extra 10mm difference between Leica M and Sony E-mount, and they’re quite close in size.

          • WyldRage

            Leica also corrects for the acute incident angle with the micro-lenses on the digital sensor. As you move out from the center of the sensor the micro-lenses are not positioned directly over the center of the pixel. They are offset towards the center of the sensor to direct more light to the pixel.

          • tl;dr Compare field of view, not focal length between different formats.

            Do NOT compare comparable focal lengths between differing formats, it is incredibly misleading. You should compare the new 24/1.8 Zeiss with the Canon 35/1.8 or a 35/2.0 Summicron. If you’re feeling generous to the Zeiss then compare it to the 35/1.4 ASPH which is half a stop faster.

            If you want to go the other way then the comparable lens to the 24/1.4 Summilux would be a 16mm f/1.4 lens on the NEX, something which does not exist.

    • +1
      Sony should make pancake lens, as steve said, the zoom lens would be always bigger because of the sensel, but pancakes on the other hand are the same size on full frame dslrs as well as 2x crop M43, not to mention the small rangefinder lens

    • Tiago, I agree with you. For example, I think one can’t say enough what a great lens the Lumix 20mm f1.7 is, both performance and size wise on the micro 4/3.

      I am heavily invested in Leica, and find something like the E-PL2 + small lenses a far more compelling second system than the Sony and the sizeable lenses that accompany it; even when you bring the MFT/APSC sensor debate into it.

      But of course very subjective statements.

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