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Sony NEX-5 Comparison Review

The Sony Alpha NEX-5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that was officially introduced in May 2010 and is equipped with an APS-C sensor. It offers a resolution of 14 megapixel.

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The NEX-5 has an Elo rating of 1619. The Camera Elo represents a comprehensive assessment of digital cameras, as derived from a large number of pair-wise comparisons of body, sensor, and feature characteristics.

The Elo rating puts the Sony NEX-5 below average of all mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. In terms of its sensor size category – APS cameras – the NEX-5 also ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera receives a 2.5-star performance rating.

Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, and reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison with a credit card

The physical dimensions of the Sony NEX-5 relative to a credit card are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Sony NEX-5 vs credit card front
NEX-5 versus credit card top view
NEX-5 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Sony NEX-5 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony NEX-5 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 10.1 oz 330 n May 2010 699- i Sony NEX-5
Ricoh GR II« » 4.6 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 8.9 oz 320 n Jun 2015 699 i i Ricoh GR II
Sony A6000« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.1 oz 360 n Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
Sony NEX-3N« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-5T« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 97.9 oz 330 n Aug 2013 699- i Sony NEX-5T
Sony NEX-5R« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2012 749- i Sony NEX-5R
Sony NEX-6« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 12.2 oz 360 n Sep 2012 999- i Sony NEX-6
Sony NEX-F3« » 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 11.1 oz 470 n May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3
Sony NEX-5N« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.5 oz 460 n Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-C3« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 7.9 oz 400 n Jun 2011 599- i Sony NEX-C3
Sony NEX-3« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 330 n May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Sony NEX-5 was launched in the US market at a price of $699. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 are more costly to manufacture and tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

The Sony NEX-5 features an APS-C sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Sony NEX-5 among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability.

Sony NEX-5 sensor measures

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Sony NEX-5 APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669Sony NEX-5
Ricoh GR II« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880Ricoh GR II
Sony A6000« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782Sony A6000
Sony NEX-3N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-5T« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60p23.613.0101578Sony NEX-5T
Sony NEX-5R« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078Sony NEX-5R
Sony NEX-6« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.1101878Sony NEX-6
Sony NEX-F3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473Sony NEX-F3
Sony NEX-5N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-C3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373Sony NEX-C3
Sony NEX-3« » APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068Sony NEX-3

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The adjacent tables list some of the other core features of the Sony NEX-5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Sony NEX-5- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 7.0 n n Sony NEX-5
Ricoh GR II« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR II
Sony A6000« »1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6000
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-5T« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5T
Sony NEX-5R« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5R
Sony NEX-6« »2359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 4000 10.0 Y n Sony NEX-6
Sony NEX-F3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 5.5 Y n Sony NEX-F3
Sony NEX-5N« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-C3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 5.5 n n Sony NEX-C3
Sony NEX-3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 7.0 n n Sony NEX-3
Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Sony NEX-5Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-5
Ricoh GR II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Ricoh GR II
Sony A6000« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A6000
Sony NEX-3N« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-5T« »Ystereomono--mini2.0YY-Sony NEX-5T
Sony NEX-5R« »Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--Sony NEX-5R
Sony NEX-6« »Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--Sony NEX-6
Sony NEX-F3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-F3
Sony NEX-5N« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-C3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-C3
Sony NEX-3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-3
 

Expert reviews

While the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the NEX-5 handle or perform in practice. 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 summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony NEX-5HiRec71/1004.5/54/54/5 May 2010 699- i Sony NEX-5
Ricoh GR II« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699 i i Ricoh GR II
Sony A6000« »Rec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
Sony NEX-3N« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-5T« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2013 699- i Sony NEX-5T
Sony NEX-5R« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2012 749- i Sony NEX-5R
Sony NEX-6« »HiRec78/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 999- i Sony NEX-6
Sony NEX-F3« »-74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3
Sony NEX-5N« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-C3« »HiRec74/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599- i Sony NEX-C3
Sony NEX-3« »-70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3

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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Sony NEX-5 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the NEX-5.

What is the technology behind the imaging sensor in the NEX-5?

The camera has a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor at its core.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Sony equipped the NEX-5 with the BIONZ image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the NEX-5?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800.

Can the camera be equipped with an optional viewfinder?

Yes, Sony provides the FDA-SV1 as an accessory (here on amazon) that can be mounted on the hotshoe.

Does the camera have a selfie-friendly screen?

Yes, the LCD-screen of the NEX-5 is flexible and can be turned to be front-facing for capturing selfies.

Does the Sony NEX-5 feature an autofocus assist light?

Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The NEX-5's flash sync speed is 1/160 sec.

Which battery does the NEX-5 use?

The camera gets its power from the NP-FW50 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

 

Camera to camera comparisons

If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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