Sony NEX-5N

Here is my second mirror-less interchangeable lens camera – a Sony NEX-5N, just released not too long ago.  My first mirror-less interchangeable lens camera is a Lumix GF2. So what is wrong with the GF2? I will talk about what I don’t like about it in another blog post, but first let’s take a look at the new Sony NEX-5N :)

The box shows a black body, but mine is silver.  Having using mostly black cameras, a silver body and lens are a nice change.

The kit comes with an NEX-5N camera body, an F3.5-5.6 18-55mm zoom lens with OSS (Optical Steady Shot), an NP-FW50 InfoLithium Rechargeable battery, a battery charger and the external flash light. A lens hood, a USB cable and a camera strap, that are not shown in this photo, are also included.

This is not the first time we used a Sony camera.  Back in the days, I used to use a DSC-S75. We also own the DSC-V1 and we used it until the shutter button started failing.  But those were quite a few years back and it is refreshing to get reacquainted with a Sony camera.

The body style is pretty minimalistic. In the back, there is the 4-way button/scroll-wheel for selection and a centre button for confirming a command.  There are also two soft buttons above and below the scroll-wheel that have different functions depends on the mode of operation.

At the front are the shutter button and the power switch.

There are also the Play button and the Movie button behind the power switch.  The minimalistic design makes the styling very clean, but most likely sacrificing speed of operation.  Only time will tell…

The LCD is a 921k dots touch panel. The colour reproduction of the LCD is pretty vivid.  I have yet to test it outside in daylight and see how well it performs.

The tilting function makes framing photos at low or high angles possible.

The tilting angle is not bad given it does not require a swivel mechanism which adds bulk.

It can tilt down by 45°.

Or tilts up by 80°.

Here is the lens hood.  It can be mounted facing out or in.


The Sony NEX-5N, like the NEX-5, does not have a built-in flash. Instead, it with a small flashlight that connects to the camera via the accessory port at the top of the camera body.

It is pretty fiddly to mount the flashlight.  The thumb screw is not easy to get to and the screw thread is fine so it takes a while to secure the flash. If you want a real flashlight, you will probably have to go for the NEX-7 instead.

The flashlight does not tilt back, so you won’t be able to bounce light off the ceiling to produce a better lighting.

Once you have the flashlight mounted, maybe it is a good thing to keep it on. It does not look half bad.

One of the attractive features of the Sony NEX series is the sensor. It is an APS-C size CMOS sensor, the same size as a cropped DSLR like the Canon T1i.  I am hopeful that this will produce good photo quality even in low light condition. Fingers crossed :)

A quick look at the battery compartment. It is amazing how thin the material around the hand grip is…. It is very sturdy and I really like how solid it feels.

I am glad I got a silver body this time. The magnesium alloy body is quite beautiful. It feels very solid. The finishing of the product is excellent.

If I were to pick on this camera’s design, the most obvious part that needs improvement is the accessory port cover. It is a piece of plastic that is connected to the body with some soft plastic underneath. It feels that if you are not careful, you could yank it out and loose it.  And because it is plastic, the paint on it can also wear out over time to leave an obvious discolouring on the top of the body. A proper flashlight hot shoe would be much preferred but that is only available to the NEX-7, a much more expensive alternative.

I will compare the Sony NEX-5N to the Lumix GF2 next.  Stay tuned!

10 replies
  1. JS
    JS says:

    The NEX is an excellent camera, and don’t let the simplified control layout fool you. It’s actually quite intuitive once you learn it.

    Personally I am really looking forward to the stabilized 50 1.8 that is coming out in December. Judging by the early test shots it is looking like a great lens.

    I hope you will join us at the Sony α NEX group.

  2. Chun
    Chun says:

    So nostalgic talking about Sony digital cameras, I remember we couldn’t replace the V1 initially as their next version removed the manual control lol. And my fist digital camera was the Sony P1 which I used to death :P After trying other digital cameras I think I miss the vibrant colored photos and neat macro shots of my old Sony cameras, and look forward to see the photos from this new toy :P


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