Sony A7S III vs NEX-5
The Sony Alpha 7S III and the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2020 and May 2010. Both the A7S III and the NEX-5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7S III) and an APS-C (NEX-5) sensor. The A7S III has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the NEX-5 provides 14 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 Sony Alpha 7S III and the Sony Alpha NEX-5? 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 Sony A7S III and the Sony NEX-5 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A7S III 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-5 is considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Sony A7S III. Moreover, the NEX-5 is substantially lighter (59 percent) than the A7S III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7S III is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-5 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7S III) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
Concerning battery life, the A7S III gets 600 shots out of its NP-FZ100 battery, while the NEX-5 can take 330 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A7S III can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
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.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|2.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699|
|3.||Canon R5||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||738 g||320||Y||Jul 2020||3,899|
|4.||Sony A1||129 mm||97 mm||81 mm||737 g||530||Y||Jan 2021||6,499|
|5.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|6.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|8.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|9.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|10.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|11.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|12.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-C3||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 80 percent) than the A7S III, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A7S III features a full frame sensor and the Sony NEX-5 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of chip-set technology, the A7S III uses a more advanced image processing engine (BIONZ XR) than the NEX-5 (BIONZ), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the NEX-5 offers a higher resolution of 14 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the A7S III. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.11μm versus 8.40μm for the A7S III). Moreover, it should be noted that the A7S III is much more recent (by 10 years and 2 months) than the NEX-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A7S III are 21.2 x 14.2 inches or 53.8 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.1 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.1 x 9.4 inches or 35.9 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Sony Alpha 7S III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 102400, which can be extended to ISO 40-409600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the A7S III provides substantially higher image quality than the NEX-5, with an overall score that is 17 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.7 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|3.||Canon R5||Full Frame||44.8||8192||5464||8k/30p||25.3||14.6||3042||95|
|4.||Sony A1||Full Frame||49.8||8640||5760||8k/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|6.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|8.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|9.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|10.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|11.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|12.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A7S III provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-5. It can shoot video footage at 4K/120p, while the NEX-5 is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7S III has an electronic viewfinder (9440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A7S III and Sony NEX-5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|8.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|9.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the A7S III and the NEX-5 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A7S III reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the NEX-5 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
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 A7S III 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 A7S III writes its imaging data to CFexpress or SDXC cards, while the NEX-5 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A7S III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the NEX-5 only has one slot. The A7S III supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the NEX-5 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 Sony Alpha 7S III and Sony Alpha NEX-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7S III has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-5. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The A7S III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the NEX-5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the NEX-5 was succeeded by the Sony NEX-5N. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.
So how do things add up? Is the Sony A7S III better than the Sony NEX-5 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha 7S III:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (BIONZ XR vs BIONZ).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/120p vs 1080/60i).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 920k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards on both slots.
- More modern: Reflects 10 years and 2 months of technical progress since the NEX-5 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (14 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 127x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 412g or 59 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (80 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2010).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7S III is the clear winner of the match-up (26 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 Sony A7S III and the Sony NEX-5 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 A7S III and the NEX-5 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 why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|2.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|3.||Canon R5||4.5/5||..||91/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2020||3,899|
|4.||Sony A1||5/5||o||93/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2021||6,499|
|5.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|6.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|8.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|9.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|10.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|11.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|12.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-C3||3/5||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Sony A7S III vs Sony NEX-5
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||Sony A7S III||Sony NEX-5|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2020||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 3,499||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A7S III||Sony NEX-5|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.6 x 23.8 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||847.28 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||42.8 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4240 x 2832 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.40 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.42 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/120p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 102,400 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||40 - 409,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||BIONZ XR||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||86||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.7||22.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.9||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2520||796|
|Screen Specs||Sony A7S III||Sony NEX-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||9440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1440k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A7S III||Sony NEX-5|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||no E-Shutter|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CFexpress or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||Dual UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A7S III||Sony NEX-5|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||full HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Sony A7S III||Sony NEX-5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||600 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
127 x 97 x 81 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.2 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||699 g (24.7 oz)||287 g (10.1 oz)|
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