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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.

camera

Is the Sony NEX-5 a good camera? The NEX-5 has a Camera Elo of 1529. This rating puts the 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. – Well, the Sony NEX-5 is more than 11 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2010.

Headline Specifications
Sony NEX-5
Mirrorless system camera
Sony E mount lenses
14 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60i Video
ISO 200 - 12 800
Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Tilting screen (no touchscreen)
7 shutter flaps per second
330 shots per battery charge
111 x 59 x 38 mm, 287 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

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 similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Sony NEX-5 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 287 g 330 n May 2010 699i
2.
 
Ricoh GR II 117 mm 63 mm 35 mm 251 g 320 n Jun 2015 699 i
3.
 
Sony A6000 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 n Feb 2014 599i
4.
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499i
5.
 
Sony NEX-5T 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2013 699i
6.
 
Sony NEX-5R 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2012 749i
7.
 
Sony NEX-6 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 345 g 360 n Sep 2012 999i
8.
 
Sony NEX-F3 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599i
9.
 
Sony NEX-5N 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 269 g 460 n Aug 2011 699i
10.
 
Sony NEX-C3 110 mm 60 mm 33 mm 225 g 400 n Jun 2011 599i
11.
 
Sony NEX-3 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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.

Sony NEX-5:
Check Ebay offers

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 alternatives.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Sony NEX-5 APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669
2.
 
Ricoh GR II APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880
3.
 
Sony A6000 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782
4.
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
5.
 
Sony NEX-5T APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60p23.613.0101578
6.
 
Sony NEX-5R APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078
7.
 
Sony NEX-6 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.1101878
8.
 
Sony NEX-F3 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473
9.
 
Sony NEX-5N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977
10.
 
Sony NEX-C3 APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373
11.
 
Sony NEX-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The NEX-5 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the NEX-5 can use is 1080/60i.

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.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Sony NEX-5optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n
2.
 
Ricoh GR IIoptional n3.0 / 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
3.
 
Sony A60001440 n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
4.
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
5.
 
Sony NEX-5Toptional n3.0 / 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
6.
 
Sony NEX-5Roptional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
7.
 
Sony NEX-62359 n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n
8.
 
Sony NEX-F3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n
9.
 
Sony NEX-5Noptional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
10.
 
Sony NEX-C3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
11.
 
Sony NEX-3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n

The LCD screen on the Sony Alpha NEX-5 is flexibly attached to the body. In particular, the LCD can be tilted vertically to facilitate odd-angle shots in landscape orientation. This tilting design is often preferred, for example, by street photographers to a fully articulated, swivel type of LCD attachment, as it is more unobtrusive during shooting than a screen that flips out to the side.

articulated screen
Flexible screen on the NEX-5

Connection comparison

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 NEX-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Sony NEX-5Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Ricoh GR IIYstereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
3.
 
Sony A6000Ystereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
4.
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereo / mono--micro2.0---
5.
 
Sony NEX-5TYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Sony NEX-5RYstereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
7.
 
Sony NEX-6Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
8.
 
Sony NEX-F3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Sony NEX-C3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

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 (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]).

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Review Scores
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Sony NEX-53/5+ +..71/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 699i
2.
 
Ricoh GR II........4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699 i
3.
 
Sony A60005/5+4.5/580/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2014 599i
4.
 
Sony NEX-3N3/5......4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
5.
 
Sony NEX-5T........4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 699i
6.
 
Sony NEX-5R........4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2012 749i
7.
 
Sony NEX-65/5+ +..78/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 999i
8.
 
Sony NEX-F34/5....74/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599i
9.
 
Sony NEX-5N3/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699i
10.
 
Sony NEX-C33/5+ +..74/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
11.
 
Sony NEX-3......70/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 599i
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. 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.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Sony Alpha NEX-5?

Sony does not publish a shutter rating for the NEX-5. Yet, shutters in comparable cameras from other manufacturers are said to be good for at least 100 000 actuations. It should be noted, though, that this number represents a Mean Time before Failure. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust an expected shutter life of 100 000 shots over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.

How do I find the shutter count on my NEX-5?

Sony embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your NEX-5 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the free online shutter count finder app.

Is it difficult to use manual focus lenses with the Sony NEX-5?

The NEX-5 offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid. This feature works by placing a colored highlight on in-focus zones within the image.

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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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Sony NEX-5
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date May 2010
    Launch Price USD 699
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.4 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 365 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 14 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4 592 x 3 056 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.11 μm
    Pixel Density 3.84 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 12 800 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 69
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 796
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    LCD Size 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen
    V-logging Friendliness Front-flip possible
    Touch Input No touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peaking
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 7 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    UHS card support no
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Battery Type NP-FW50 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 111 x 59 x 38 mm
    (4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 287 g (10.1 oz)

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