Sony Alpha NEX-5N Review

Camera Reviews Featured Mirrorless Sony Videos

Sony Alpha NEX-5N ReviewThe Sony Alpha NEX-5N is version 2.5 of Sony’s NEX compact mirrorless camera system. Sony introduced their NEX mirrorless camera line in 2009 and updated it with a new entry level model, the NEX-C3 in the spring of 2011. The 16-megapixel NEX-5N was introduced in late 2011 with a new 16-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, improved auto focus, and improved AVCHD video. The camera body is very small, with a 3-inch tilting rear LCD display. It has a full range of shooting modes, including full manual for experienced photographers and iAuto and scene modes for point-and-shooters. I first saw it at the 2011 PhotoPlus Expo and asked Sony to send me one for review ASAP. They sent me the basic NEX-5N kit, which includes their 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS zoom lens. I also requested a longer lens for landscape and sports photos so they also included the 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens.

 Review Intro |  Video |  Camera Experience |  Image Quality |  Conclusion

Sony Alpha NEX-5N Camera Intro Video:


Sony Alpha NEX-5N - Front & Back

Price: $699 with 18-55mm kit lens

    Sony NEX-5N Pros

    • Well-built, compact camera body
    • 16-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor delivers superior image quality
    • 3-inch tilting 921k touchscreen LCD display
    • LA-EA2 Adapter adds DSLR phase detect auto focus
    • Sweep Panorama mode
    • Peaking AF display – makes manual focus easier and more precise

    Sony NEX-5N Cons

    • No built-in flash or hot shoe
    • Limited lens options
    • Large lenses make the Sony NEX system larger than other mirrorless camera options


 Review Intro |  Video |  Camera Experience |  Image Quality |  Conclusion

Next – Sony NEX-5N Camera Experience >>

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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • Chris Nitz says:

    I am curious if how this will handle against the NEX-7, but overall a good review and informative. I’ve had my eye on this for some time due to the Nikon adapter that will allow me to use my current lenses with it as well. It is crazy how much technology is changing!

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for the comment, Chris. I am curious about how the cameras will compare, too. To bee honest, I wasn’t that interested in the NEX-5N. I got it for review because it was a way for me to get a feel for the system and because it’s a popular camera. However, after I used it a bit, I found I really liked it. Now, I feel like the bar has been raised for the NEX-7. The NEX-5N is that good.

  • Charlie (Anbesol) says:

    Wow, I was not aware that it slowed down to 3 FPS in manual modes. Thats a buzz kill, I guess Olympus actually has them beat there (they all have 5 and 3fps modes accessible in all modes). So basically the only thing you add from going up from the C3 is 1080p and a larger grip, and a limited 10fps mode. Might be worth saving the $100-$150 for the C3 instead.

    Great review, great shots! Thanks for showing us what this sucker can do, solid camera with excellent IQ!

  • Photo-John says:

    The Olympus E-P3 is even slower in burst mode, unless I missed something. I think it’s 2.3 FPS or something like that. It doesn’t matter that much until you hit 5 FPS, anyway. And for skiing, you need 6 or 7 FPS for the burst mode to really help. You’re right about the NEX-C3, though. The NEX-5N isn’t that much better performance-wise. It does have a better build and the controls are a little better, though. I played with the NEX-C3 at PhotoPlus and I definitely like the 5N controls better. I think Sony did a better job with the touchscreen than Olympus, too.

  • Charlie (Anbesol) says:

    John, the E-P3 has a slower burst than the other 2 pens, the E-PL3 and E-PM1 both do 5.3 fps bursts in all modes, the E-P3 is 3.1 fps. I think it slows down to like 4.9 and 2.7 with IS enabled.

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks, Charlie. That’s good to know. Any idea why the E-P3 would be slower when all three Pen cameras have the same sensor and processing?

  • Charlie (Anbesol) says:

    I’m not sure, it is a bit strange. The E-PM1 and E-PL3 were announced some 2 months after the E-P3. The E-P3′s buffer depth is a bit better, but that’s pretty much in line with its slower framerate, I guess this is where the cpu’s slack is made up.

  • Alex says:

    Interesting review, but with regards to your comments on the 55-210mm lens where you say it doesn’t have OSS – I thought it DOES have OSS.

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