Oct 16, 2011

Sony Nex-5N Mini Review

I just got my Sony Nex-5n camera with the 18-55mm kit lens. So far I’ve only used it for shots in iAuto (intelligent auto) mode but I like it. Here are a few early impressions. The camera turns on quickly and is ready to shoot in less than 1 second.

Autofocus is pretty fast in good light, perhaps a hair slower than a DSLR but not slow. The touch screen allows you to lock focus on a particular object as you compose the shot. I haven't tried continuous focus tracking or manual focus yet.
The in-lens image stabilization works well and allows for shutter speeds below 1/10 second if you use good technique. High ISO shots up to ISO 3200 are no problem – you start to lose some detail but the JPEG noise reduction is pretty good and you can get better control if you shoot RAW. Adobe Lightroom 3 supports the Nex's RAW files. Overall, image quality is quite good with the kit lens. The zoom ring is firm and smooth (no creep). The flash is not great as it tends to overexpose. I need to figure out how to dial in the flash exposure compensation by -2/3 EV.

The interface is good - the touch screen is very responsive (close to an iPhone 4, but no multi-touch) and exceptionally well integrated into the camera's operation. When shooting, you can touch the area you want the focus point on. When reviewing shots, you can flick left or right to scroll through them, or tap to zoom in. The control wheel on the back can be used as a 4-way directional pad, as a scroll wheel, and has a center selection button. When holding the camera, my thumb rests on the playback button, handy for reviewing the shot you just took.

There is a much reported issue where something in the camera makes a slight clicking noise when you move the camera. This noise gets picked up by the camera's microphone when recording video. My camera makes the clicking noise and it does not take much movement to set it off. Contrary to some reports, massive shaking is not required to get the click. And yes, the clicking shows up on the audio track. However, the audio quality with the built in mic is poor - nowhere near as good as a real camcorder - so if you plan on doing any kind of video work, get a dedicated external microphone. Putting aside the audio issues, video quality is outstanding.

The photo shows the Nex-5N with the kit lens next to a Blackberry bold for a size comparison.

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