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Sony NEX-5n review

Audley Jarvis




Our Score:


User Score:


  • Class-leading image quality
  • Excellent noise control at mid to high ISO settings
  • Impressive Full HD movie recording abilities
  • Small and portable, but also very well built


  • Lack of physical buttons
  • In-camera menu is still a little clunky

Key Features

  • 16.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor
  • Sony BIONZ image processor
  • ISO 100 - 25,600
  • 1080/50p Full HD AVCHD movie recording
  • 6x Creative Style processing options
  • 11x Picture Effect digital effects filters
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £510.00

The Sony NEX-5n sits in the middle of Sony's current range of interchangeable lens, Compact System Cameras (CSC), and succeeds the NEX-5 that was launched in the summer of 2010. Sitting below the flagship NEX-7, but above the 16.2MP NEX-C3 that was also released last year, the NEX-5n is currently available for around £510 with an 18-55mm kit zoom. Additionally, it can also be purchased as part of a twin lens kit package with the 18-55mm kit zoom and a 16mm pancake lens (£600) or the 18-5mm and a 55-210mm tele zoom (£750). Lastly, it's also available as a body-only option (£450).

For a second opinion check out the video review on our sister site WhatDigitalCamera.com

While the exterior design and overall dimensions remain virtually unchanged, the NEX-5n does enjoy quite a few hardware and specification upgrades over the NEX-5. Internally, the biggest change is the new APS-C CMOS sensor, which brings with it an increase in effective resolution to 16.1MP (from 14.2MP).

Sensitivity has received a boost too, with the NEX-5n able to offer a maximum setting of ISO 25,600 (compared to 12,800 on its predecessor). Continuous shooting speed also rises to a maximum 10fps (7fps on the NEX-5). The newer model also benefits from a bespoke Accessory Port hotshoe that (unlike its predecessor) allows the NEX-5n to accommodate Sony’s optional FDA-EV1s, 2.3million-dot electronic viewfinder, among other accessories.

In addition, the NEX-5n also offers 1080p Full HD video recording at 30fps and a 3inch 921k-dot touchscreen LCD that’s mounted on a two-way bracket that allows for upwards and downwards tilting - for easier overhead and waist-level photography - but no sideways adjustment unlike the Panasonic G3 for instance. As well as allowing for easier browsing of your snaps, the touchscreen greatly enhances manual control over the camera – with only one adjustment dial this makes a big difference, and it's something the NEX-5 lacked. Rounding things off is the usual array of Picture Effect and Creative Style image-shaping and digital filter effect tools, along with Sony’s excellent Panorama Sweep technology.

Does this all gel together to make the Sony NEX-5n its best compact system model yet, or are you better off with one of its main rivals? Something like the Samsung NX200, Olympus EPL-3 for example, or perhaps the Panasonic Lumix GX1 or Nikon J1?

Also, given that the NEX-5n also commands a fairly hefty price premium over its older but still widely available stablemates, the Sony NEX-5 and Sony NEX-C3, does it pack enough to justify the extra expenditure?

Let’s take a closer look and find out…


February 17, 2012, 9:28 pm

Excellent review!

The last camera I purchased based on a TR artticle was the Panasonic FZ28 and I was pleased with it's results.

I am tempted to purchase NEX-7...are you planning to do a review on that any time soon?


February 20, 2012, 4:49 am

I brought a NEX-5N a few months ago in the twin lens kit. Despite having the initial click on video recording (really ruines the video sound) which is a well known fault, Sony fixed it for me within 3 days and since then its been great.
Picture quality is awesome, especially in low light and with the 16mm lens on we take the camera everywhere as its small enough to fit in your pocket. Its such a good camera that I have since sold my A200 DSLR and lens and just use the 5N now. Love it!

scott donaldson

February 20, 2012, 3:41 pm

Nice review - just a shame that it took you 6 months since launch to do it.


February 20, 2012, 6:10 pm

If this was reviewed last year, it would should have been camera of the year and not the Lumix G3. I bought the Lumix G3 but didn't like it and changed it for the Sony NEX 5n. The NEX 5n walks all over it in the image quality and dynamic range with the large sensor.

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