Nikon 1 V1 vs Sony NEX-5N
The Nikon 1 V1 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5N are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2011 and August 2011. Both the V1 and the NEX-5N are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an one-inch (V1) and an APS-C (NEX-5N) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon 1 V1 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5N? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon 1 V1 and the Sony NEX-5N is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-5N can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the V1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5N is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Nikon 1 V1. Moreover, the NEX-5N is markedly lighter (30 percent) than the V1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the V1 nor the NEX-5N are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon 1 V1||113 mm||76 mm||44 mm||383 g||350||n||Sep 2011||799||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Fujifilm X10||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||350 g||270||n||Sep 2011||599||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon 1 J5||98 mm||60 mm||32 mm||231 g||250||n||Apr 2015||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon 1 V3||111 mm||65 mm||33 mm||381 g||310||n||Mar 2014||799||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||100 mm||60 mm||29 mm||232 g||300||n||Apr 2014||549||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon 1 V2||109 mm||82 mm||46 mm||278 g||310||n||Oct 2012||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-5N was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the V1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon 1 V1 features an one-inch sensor and the Sony NEX-5N an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5N is 215 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 16MP, the NEX-5N offers a higher resolution than the V1 (10MP), but the NEX-5N nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 3.41μm for the V1) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-5N implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-5N for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon 1 V1 are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inches or 32.8 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon 1 V1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5N are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the NEX-5N offers substantially better image quality than the V1 (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon 1 V1||1-inch||10.0||3872||2592||1080/60i||21.3||11.0||346||54|
|5.||Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65|
|6.||Nikon 1 V3||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||384||52|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||426||53|
|8.||Nikon 1 V2||1-inch||14.2||4608||3072||1080/60p||20.2||10.8||403||50|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|10.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|11.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|12.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the V1 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5N relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5N can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1S. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon 1 V1, the Sony NEX-5N, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon 1 V1||1440||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon G15||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Fujifilm X10||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon 1 V3||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||none||n||3.0 / 1037||Fixed||Y||1/4000s||60.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon 1 V2||1440||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||15.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2/s||Y||n|
|11.||Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|12.||Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||n|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The NEX-5N has a touchscreen, while the V1 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The NEX-5N has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the V1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the V1 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Nikon 1 V1 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The V1 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The V1 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5N cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon 1 V1 and Sony Alpha NEX-5N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon 1 V1||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon G15||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Fujifilm X10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Nikon 1 V3||-||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Nikon 1 V2||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Panasonic G10||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic G2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the NEX-5N has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The V1 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
Both the V1 and the NEX-5N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The NEX-5N was replaced by the Sony NEX-5R, while the V1 was followed by the Nikon 1 V2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon 1 V1 and the Sony NEX-5N? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon 1 V1:
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-5N:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 27%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.6 stops ISO advantage).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 113x76mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 114g or 30 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (460 versus 350) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5N is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon 1 V1 and the Sony NEX-5N place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the V1 and the NEX-5N in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon 1 V1||..||+||..||69/100||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2011||799||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G15||4/5||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Fujifilm X10||..||..||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon 1 J5||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon 1 V3||3/5||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2014||799||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Apr 2014||549||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon 1 V2||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2012||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic G2||..||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||3/5||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1D X vs Nikon 1 V1
- Canon 550D vs Sony NEX-5N
- Canon 700D vs Nikon 1 V1
- Canon 70D vs Nikon 1 V1
- Canon 7D vs Sony NEX-5N
- Canon G7 X Mark III vs Nikon 1 V1
- Leica M Typ 240 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Leica Q Typ 116 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Leica X-U Typ 113 vs Nikon 1 V1
- Nikon 1 V1 vs Ricoh GR
- Panasonic GX9 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Sony NEX-5N vs Sony NEX-6
Specifications: Nikon 1 V1 vs Sony NEX-5N
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon 1 V1||Sony NEX-5N|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon 1 mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2011||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon 1 V1||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sensor Format||1" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||13.2 x 8.8 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||116.16 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||15.9 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3872 x 2592 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.41 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||8.64 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||54||77|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.3||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11||12.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||346||1079|
|Screen Specs||Nikon 1 V1||Sony NEX-5N|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon 1 V1||Sony NEX-5N|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon 1 V1||Sony NEX-5N|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon 1 V1||Sony NEX-5N|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||460 shots per charge|
113 x 76 x 44 mm
(4.4 x 3.0 x 1.7 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||383 g (13.5 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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