Sony NEX-5n Review


  • 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 Specifications

  • Review Price: £510.00
  • 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

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

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…