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Sony NEX-5N vs NEX-6

The Sony Alpha NEX-5N and the Sony Alpha NEX-6 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2011 and September 2012. Both the NEX-5N and the NEX-6 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 16 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Sony NEX-5N   Sony NEX-6
Sony NEX-5N Sony NEX-6
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Sony E mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
16 MP, APS-C Sensor 16 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-25600 ISO 100-25600
Viewfinder optional Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)
3.0" LCD, 920k dots 3.0" LCD, 921k dots
Tilting touchscreen Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
10 shutter flaps per second 10 shutter flaps per second
460 shots per battery charge360 shots per battery charge
111 x 59 x 38 mm, 269 g 120 x 67 x 43 mm, 345 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha NEX-5N and the Sony Alpha NEX-6? 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.

Body comparison: Sony NEX-5N vs NEX-6

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony NEX-5N and the Sony NEX-6 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The NEX-5N can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the NEX-6 is only available in black.

Size Sony NEX-5N vs Sony NEX-6
Compare NEX-5N versus NEX-6 top
Comparison NEX-5N or NEX-6 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-6 is notably larger (23 percent) than the Sony NEX-5N. Moreover, the NEX-6 is markedly heavier (28 percent) than the NEX-5N. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the NEX-5N nor the NEX-6 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog. 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.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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-5N» 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 269 g 460 n Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-6« 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 345 g 360 n Sep 2012 999- i Sony NEX-6
 
Canon M« » 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
 
Sony A6000« » 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 n Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
 
Sony A3000« » 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 n Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« » 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5T« » 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 2776 g 330 n Aug 2013 699- i Sony NEX-5T
 
Sony NEX-5R« » 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2012 749- i Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-F3« » 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« » 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 240 g 330 n Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-C3« » 110 mm 60 mm 33 mm 225 g 400 n Jun 2011 599- i Sony NEX-C3
 
Sony NEX-3« » 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3
 
Sony NEX-5« » 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 287 g 330 n May 2010 699- i Sony NEX-5
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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-5N was launched at a markedly lower price (by 30 percent) than the NEX-6, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony NEX-5N vs NEX-6

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony NEX-5N and Sony NEX-6 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 16 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the NEX-5N and the NEX-6 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the NEX-6 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the NEX-5N, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Sony Alpha NEX-5N has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The Sony Alpha NEX-6 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

NEX-5N versus NEX-6 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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-5N» APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-6« APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.1101878Sony NEX-6
 
Canon M« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765Canon M
 
Sony A6000« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782Sony A6000
 
Sony A3000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878Sony A3000
 
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-F3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066Sony RX100
 
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
 
Sony NEX-5« » APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669Sony NEX-5

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, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).

 

Feature comparison: Sony NEX-5N vs NEX-6

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the NEX-6 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony NEX-5N and Sony NEX-6 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Sony NEX-5N»- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-6«2359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n Sony NEX-6
 
Canon M« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n Canon M
 
Sony A6000« »1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/4000s 11.0 Y n Sony A6000
 
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5T« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5T
 
Sony NEX-5R« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-F3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-C3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n n Sony NEX-C3
 
Sony NEX-3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n Sony NEX-3
 
Sony NEX-5« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n Sony NEX-5

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The NEX-5N has a touchscreen, while the NEX-6 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The NEX-5N has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the NEX-6 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the NEX-5N and the NEX-6 write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The NEX-6 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.

 

Connectivity comparison: Sony NEX-5N vs NEX-6

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-5N and Sony Alpha NEX-6 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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-5N»Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-6«Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--Sony NEX-6
 
Canon M« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon M
 
Sony A6000« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A6000
 
Sony A3000« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony A3000
 
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-F3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-C3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-C3
 
Sony NEX-3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-3
 
Sony NEX-5« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-5

It is notable that the NEX-6 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the NEX-5N does not offer wifi capability.

Both the NEX-5N and the NEX-6 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-5N was replaced by the Sony NEX-5R, while the NEX-6 was followed by the Sony A6000. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.


Review summary: Sony NEX-5N vs NEX-6

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony NEX-5N and the Sony NEX-6? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-5N:

  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 120x67mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 76g or 22 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (460 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (30 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2011).


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-6:

  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5N emerges as the winner of the contest (7 : 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.

NEX-5N 07:05 NEX-6

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony NEX-5N and the Sony NEX-6 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 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-5N or the NEX-6 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.

Expert reviews: Sony NEX-5N vs NEX-6

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

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-5N»+ +79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-6«+ +78/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 999- i Sony NEX-6
 
Canon M« »+-4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
 
Sony A6000« »+80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
 
Sony A3000« »+-4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
 
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-F3« »-74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« »+ +78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-C3« »+ +74/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599- i Sony NEX-C3
 
Sony NEX-3« »-70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3
 
Sony NEX-5« »+ +71/1004.5/54/54/5 May 2010 699- i Sony NEX-5
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Sony NEX-5N:
Check Ebay offers
Sony NEX-6:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Sony NEX-5N vs Sony NEX-6

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Sony NEX-5N Sony NEX-6
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Sony E mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2011 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 699 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Sony NEX-5N Sony NEX-6
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.4 x 15.6 mm 23.4 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 365.04 mm2 365.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.1 mm 28.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 16 Megapixels 16 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4912 x 3264 pixels 4912 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.78 μm 4.78 μm
    Pixel Density 4.39 MP/cm2 4.39 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100-25600 ISO 100-25600 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 77 78
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.6 23.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.7 13.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1079 1018
    Screen Specs Sony NEX-5N Sony NEX-6
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2359k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Sony NEX-5N Sony NEX-6
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidNo Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000/s 1/4000/s
    Continuous Shooting 10 shutter flaps/s 10 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Sony NEX-5N Sony NEX-6
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Sony NEX-5N Sony NEX-6
    Battery Type NP-FW50 power pack NP-FW50 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)460 shots per charge360 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 111 x 59 x 38 mm
    (4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
    120 x 67 x 43 mm
    (4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 269 g (9.5 oz) 345 g (12.2 oz)

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