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Dennis Hissink : May 12th 2010 - 10:10 CET updated

Sony NEX-5 review

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SonySony NEX-5 review : Since the introduction of the Micro Four Thirds System, changes have been taking place on the DSLR market. A couple of manufacturers, Olympus and Panasonic, have set out a new course, which has obviously become a hit with the consumers. There is a lot of enthusiasm for Micro Four Thirds, causing others to also assign their R&D department to create a similar concept. Including Sony, who has been making headway since 2006 with their Alpha DSLR system, also sees a future in the small format system camera. During the European launch in Croatia, we were witness to Sony’s answer to the Micro Four Thirds System. The introduction of the Sony NEX-5 and Sony NEX-3 Alpha is now a fact.
Sony Nex-5 review

Sony NEX-5 review : Alpha system camera
During the recent PMA 2010, a sneak peak was already given to the prototype, but from that moment on, no more information was released about what was to come. It is surprising that Sony introduced both NEX cameras relatively quickly, and still managed to get both cameras into the stores before the holiday period. At the time of writing it is not yet known what the exact delivery times and suggested retail prices will be. We will quickly get back to this. I have been able to play a little with the top model, the Sony NEX-5, to get a good first impression of this new system camera.

Sony Nex-5 digital camera

Sony NEX-5 worlds lightest system camera
The Sony NEX-5 is the current top model of the NEX-series of cameras. At first, the differences with the NEX-3 seem to be pretty minimal. At least if we depart from the camera specifications. The difference is especially found in the possibility to record a video clip in 1080i High Definition quality. In other words, the Sony NEX-5 is able to record video in 1920x1080, 17Mbps resolution. The Sony NEX-3 supports a maximum video resolution of 1280x720, 9Mbps. There is also a difference in appearance. The Sony NEX-5’s body is made of lightweight aluminum. That makes the Sony NEX-5 10 grams lighter and thereby the world’s lightest system camera.

Sony Nex

14.2 megapixel Sony NEX-5 camera
During the launch, the press will have the opportunity to take the first photos with the new Sony NEX cameras. We will then share the first Sony NEX camera test photos with you as soon as possible. The Sony NEX-5’s resolution of 14.2 Megapixels is a bit higher than the Olympus PEN cameras and Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras (12 Megapixels), and almost equal to the 14.6 Megapixel Samsung NX10 (Samsung’s own variant of the micro system camera). The amount of pixels hardly plays a role anymore, as the performance of the image sensor and the image processing in the camera is actually more important.

Nex-5 Sony

Sony NEX-5 equipped with Exmor APS HD CMOS image sensor
The Sony NEX-5, just like the NEX-3, is equipped with a newly designed sensor, the Exmor APS HD CMOS. This is an image sensor with a large surface area in comparison with that of the Micro Four Thirds sensors, and in terms of dimensions, equal to that of the Samsung NX10 sensor. The effective amount of 14.2 million pixels will be more than enough to live up to expectations for almost every purpose. We are of course curious about the pixel quality and we hope to be able to perform the first technical tests in our DIWA Lab, run by Kai Thon, test manager for the DIWA Awards, as soon as possible. The results of these technical tests will be presented in the coming extensive Sony NEX-5 review.

Nex-5 review

Play Sony NEX-5 panorama pictures on your TV in 3D
It is remarkable that the specifications of both the Sony NEX-5 and the Sony NEX-3 mention the Sweep Panorama 3D Ready function. What this means is not exactly clear to us yet, but we hope to get back to that soon. In an article that was published earlier, (Sony Alpha 3D), we discussed Sony’s plans for 3D digital imaging. It is obvious that Sony is setting their stakes on 3D, especially in the area of home entertainment. This area is meant for the consumer: watching 3D entertainment. There is also a creative side, which is of course the making of 3D content. It will thus be possible to take panorama photos with the Sony NEX-5 and Sony NEX-3, and play these in 3D on a BRAVIA 3D television.

Sony Nex-5 lens

XtraFine TruBlack LCD display of the Sony NEX5
The Sony NEX-5 is equipped with a high resolution LCD XtraFine TruBlack display (920.000 dots) and can handily be tilted up and down. This way, photos can be effortlessly shot from low on the ground to high above your head. The display of the images, and also definitely the menu, are excellent. The colors are lively and are paired with high contrast. The user interface is new, with which the beginner as well as the experienced photographer is able to easily control the Sony NEX-5.

Sony Nex-5 test

Sony NEX-5 kit lens
Sony has designed a new mount for the NEX-system, the so-called E-mount. This means that in practice we can also expect new lenses that are developed especially for this system. The Sony E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is a standard lens that is expected to be delivered with the Sony NEX-5 kit. A second lens is the Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5/6.3, with which an 11x enlargement can be made. The Sony LZ-EA1 adapter is optional, with which the current Sony Alpha lenses can be combined. Consideration must be made for the fact these lenses can only be focused manually in this combination.

Sony Nex-5 gallery

Built-in flash misses on the Sony NEX-5
Another remarkable feature of the Sony NEX-5 as well as the NEX-3 is the lack of a built-in flash. Although both cameras come with a standard compact mountable flash that can also be mounted on the so-called Smart Accessory Shoe, this is an extra action that I would rather not have to do. On the other hand, practice will show how often flash will truly be necessary. The ISO values go up to 12.800 and when the high ISOs are of high quality, this may largely make up for the lack of extra flash. We also expect that most of Sony's E-lenses will be equipped with the known SteadyShot image stabilization, so that 3-4 stops longer shutter release times, while retaining a low ISO, should be possible.

Sony Nex-5

Sony E 16mm f/2.8 pancake lens
Next to the standard zoom lenses, Sony also introduces the nice E 16mm f/2.8 lens. This so-called pancake lens combined with the Sony NEX-5, form a very compact format camera with hardly any extra weight. Such a combination is greatly desired by street photographers, but also enthusiastic photographers that shoot landscapes and architecture/buildings will be able to estimate the right value. Sony further speaks of an optional VCL-ECU1 Ultra Wide Converter and a VCL-ECF1 Fisheye converter with which the wide angle can be extended further.

Sony Nex5 review

Sony NEX-5 compact system camera
With the introduction of the Sony NEX-5, Sony throws itself into the fight to conquer the much-desired market share. It is an interesting period in which it is very likely that the status quo (meaning Canon and Nikon) will slowly but surely take on a different position. Up until now, with the exception of some patenting, it has been pretty quiet on the Canon as well as the Nikon fronts. In the meantime, opinions are being formed and we are hearing rumors nationally and internationally that the days of the mirror (DSLR camera’s) are coming to an end. We can honestly imagine why. Especially for the consumer, the regular photographer, the masses, that are not really waiting for ‘big’ DSLR cameras with big lenses?

Sony Nex5

Sony NEX-5 review
We are hearing a lot of noise from the manufacturers that point out to the coming Photokina that will be held in September of this year. This bi-annual event in the area of imaging could very well be the place for some spectacularly innovative introductions this time. There is much to be discovered, and at the same time there is much at stake. We are looking forward to a warm summer, but we are already longing for the late summer! The arrival of the Sony NEX-5 and NEX3 system cameras ensures for more attention to the small format system camera and the Micro Four Thirds system, a development that we can only cheer on!

Sony NEX rev iew

• Also take a look at our Sony NEX photo gallery.

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