Pros Excellent sensor, very good image quality and awesome video.
Cons It takes sometime to learn the menu.
Summary After reading Lori's review that said "I don't know that I can recommend the NEX-5N as the best option for point-and-shoot upgraders; for that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 offers the more familiar interface and performance worth stepping up to." I bought Panasonic GF3, and I was happy with that camera. However, one of my very good friend bought Sony NEX-5N at the same time and when we compared images taken from both the cameras NEX-5N came on top each time. In fact, in many cases where we shoot at the same time to test the cameras you could easily see the difference in image quality. NEX-5N was constantly giving better results when compared to GF3. After doing this for two weeks and thanks to a very generous Amazon return policy I returned my GF3 and bought a NEX-5N.
I don't know why Lori wasn't able to spot the difference in image quality on Sony NEX-5N and Panasonic GF3. The NEX-5N has a bigger APS-C sensor and it clearly shows up in the image quality. I think Lori was so focused on the camera menu that she forgot to consider one of the biggest reason why someone would upgrade from point-and-shoot, and that's picture quality. And Sony NEX-5N beats the Panasonic GF3 in that department.
Pros Show in summary
Cons Show in summary
Summary There are so many positive reviews, that I will stick to just a couple of items. 1) The problem with the clicking noise during movies appears to be gone with the newer versions of the NEX-5N. At least my NEX-5N is completely noise free. 2) The menu system leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to simplicity of operation. However, if you are taking pictures in the IA mode (Intelligent Automatic), the camera is wonderfully simple to operate, and the results are outstanding. You can take a picture of a complex scene and then select just a tiny portion for viewing using the touch screen.
The blown up tiny portion will be sharp, properly colored, and noise free. The same is almost true for dim indoor scenes, with only the slightest hint of noise in the shadows of an object against its background. This is better than most DSLRs costing twice as much. The next unusual feature of this camera is the ability to take panorama pictures. The default is horizontal left to right. An arguably better mode is holding the camera vertically and sweeping left to right (or right to left). To change this setting, after you have selected panorama from the virtual wheel, you have to go into the menu system.
You might search for something to do with panorama - wrong. You have to go to "Image Size" and then down to Panorama to change direction. The instruction manual details this. If this were the only slightly buried item, I would say no problem. The bottom line on the panorama capability is that is produces excellent results with almost no effort. This feature alone makes SONY cameras an outstanding buy for people who do not wish to spend their lives in Photoshop.
One of the strong features of this camera is being able to go into manual mode on the virtual wheel. Then, of course, you would like to change shutter speed, f/stop, and the ISO setting. The mechanical wheel will change the shutter speed, and then pushing in the lower portion of the wheel will switch to the f/stop. Now, how do you get to the ISO, which is displayed right next to the f/stop. It's simple, just switch to the Menu mode and then select Brightness/Color and ISO setting is right there. By then, the picture you are trying to take is no longer available. It should be directly reachable from the screen that allows the shutter speed and f/stop without going back in the menu system.
I must say, that everything you might want to do with the NEX-5N is there in the menu system - somewhere. The learning curve for this camera can be steep, and frequently changing modes is unnecessarily awkward. For most of us, there are only a few special settings that we change with any frequency. You can program these settings for quick access. This saves the day and makes the camera much more useful. The touch screen is surprisingly useful for switching between the many options and returning to the main menu, switching between pictures in the image review mode, zooming in electronically on existing images, and selecting an object to focus on when shooting an image.
This is an excellent camera. Hopefully, SONY will provide some modifications in firmware upgrades to make the camera a little easier to use. This is one of those cases where you have such an excellent camera that just a few tweaks could make it even better, easier to use and more intuitive (and if you will buy the NEX-5N I suggest you have to compare prices before you decide at: lowest-pricing.info/SonyNEX-5N ). As it is, the NEX-5N is already easy to use for most picture taking selections. I highly recommend this camera.
Pros Great image quality for stills and video. Easy to hold and performance is very good.
Cons Need better lenses and built in flash
Summary I've yet to see Lori G. really enjoy a camera and I've watched many of her reviews. The Sony NEX-5N is a great camera. I moved over from a Panasonic GF1. That was a great camera as well, but the JPEG's really never impressed me. The layout of the GF1 was and still is excellent. Everything was easily accessible, but now that I've played with the NEX-5N it's easy to get to what you need. Sony being as big as they are need to add lenses at a much quicker pace. Better lenses will only improve the image quality. I know that everyone has their own preferences as to what they enjoy shooting with, but turst me you will enjoy this camera.Quick update. Unfortunately, the "click" got me. It truly isn't a deal breaker for me as I don't shoot a whole lot of videos. This could really kill the NEX-5N. I am very curious as to how this blunder didn't make it into the CNET review. Are the cameras really being looked ove before their review? The clicking is so noticeable that anyone reviewing their videos will notice immediately. It really makes me wonder the validity of the reviews that are being posted. Sony has yet to release a statement, but this happens on all NEX-5N's.
Updated on Sep 22, 2011
Pros Incredible low light performance
Overall image quality and color - fantastic
Great video in any shooting mode
larger sensor than 4/3 for low light and shallow DOF
24p and 60p video
Innovative manual focus assist
touch screen and object focus innovative a
Cons lens selection is the biggest problem with the NEX system, very limited so far
probably would prefer a built in flash, though the included flash is decent and low light is so good I'll hardly use it
autofocus is generally good but falls down following jer
Summary This camera is not for everyone, being on first impression a rather odd duck with a small body and lenses that seem large (though they really are not that big.) Once you understand the logic behind this, and understand the benefits of all this thing does, it is quite a camera at any price - plus it's quite inexpensive versus the competition.
I considered getting the impressive Panasonic GH2, and I must say the Micro 4/3 lenses have a better selection, including new ones that are quite a bit smaller than the Sony E-Mount lenses. However, in pretty much every other way the NEX-5N has it equaled or beat and is much less expensive.
Lots of people are waiting for the NEX-7 but it costs literally twice as much, it's resolution is arguably overkill, and it will not beat the 5N in low light or features. It has a built in EVF but that is not that compelling to me, and I honestly prefer the 16mp sensor to a 25mp.
I have shot extensively with a friend's Canon full frame 5D with wonderful lenses. Nice camera, great in low light, but shooting video is very difficult on it, without good exposure control or focus and mediocre sound. Wonderful image though. I wanted that kind of image quality and low light performance with much better automated video control - and this is the camera that delivers that, in a much smaller and cheaper package. Also, dealing with the 24mp images off the 5D convinced me that I don't need that much resolution and it just needlessly fills up your memory card and takes too long to transfer files.
This replaced a bulky and heavy 10mp SLR with no video at all, and a Canon HD camcorder, cost less than either of them, (I sold them used on eBay for more than what this cost) is smaller, and has much better image quality. It's really the first hybrid camera I thought was really worth owning and could truly replace both for my needs. The fact that I no longer have to choose whether to take the still or the video camera is just fantastic. And now I can invest in lenses knowing that they can be used for both still and video. There aren't too many compelling E mount lenses so far, but I got a Nikon adapter and for now I will have fun using some nice old Nikkor glass on this body.
At this point, the only things my old video camera did better were: it had a much longer zoom on it, and the autofocus was a bit better on moving subjects. Now, you can always get a longer lens for the NEX, and the NEX has a wider angle lens stock, which I really love. And as for focus, the camcorder was not very good when your subject was not centered in the frame. And the camcorder had much poorer color, white balance, low light image, and no shallow DOF. Much of this I did not fully grasp until comparing the wonderful footage from the NEX to the old camcorder. Definitely a trade up in so many ways.
I have read about a mysterious clicking noise in video soundtracks on some people's 5N's. I definitely have not experienced that. Sound seems exceptionally clear on my footage, probably better than my HD camcorder was. That I was not expecting, as there are just two small holes for the mics. I can't hear any focus noise or stabilization motor noise (this can be a problem on the 5D with Canon stabilized lenses making a whirring sound.)
As for stills, the big thing here is low light. This camera practically sees in the dark. ISO 3200 is not bad at all, and I would absolutely use 1600 any time. It's literally as good at 1600 as my Pentax K10D was at 200. Okay that camera was nearly 4 years old, but still.
The kit lens has little distortion or CA fringing in the corners that I have noticed. Press the button and the shutter goes RIGHT NOW. And unlike a number of other video shooting SLR's I've seen, the low light absolutely translates to the video shooting.
Color is nearly as fantastic. Color just looks like you remember the scene looking. It looks like reality. I've never seen color accuracy like this except in perfectly lit and color gelled film shooting. It's both more saturated and more accurate than any digital camera I've seen. Skin tones are no problem. White balance is very good on this camera, it never seems to get fooled too badly even in highly mixed light.
Next is dynamic range. The single shot DRO setting is quite good. And the 3-shot HDR mode with three bracketed exposures combined into one frame really works (though the camera pauses about 4-5 seconds to process the shots which is unfortunate, but understandable.) All in all, I have experienced very few shots that had blown highlights or murky shadows, and that's the bottom line. In short, best still camera I've ever seen in JPG output anyway.
If they improved the auto focus on fast moving subjects, added a built in flash, and broadened their lens selection this would be nigh on perfect. The lenses will get there eventually, and. As it is, close enough for me.
Pros Low lights and higher iso performance is great! Handheld twilight feature allows me to easily get great shots indoors with no flash. Video is great. Feels study and fits really comfortably in my hand. Shooting any any angle is easy with the great high
Cons Auto focus is a little slow, coming from a d90. Digging thru menus and submenus takes some getting used to. Click noise in video is mildly annoying. Images are not as sharp as my d90. tracking focus in video is not reliable for a moving child.
Summary This camera is not as good as my d90. But it is pretty freaking close, and about $500 less expensive and infinitely more portable. I tried high end point and shoots as well as a GF2 and they all went back. This blows the GF2 out of the water! Faster, feels better, better images, better low light performance.
I won't tell you that I am great photographer. I used the d90 in Auto most of the time and got incredible pictures. I wanted something easy with great results that I didn't need to spend $1300 on or have to carry an extra bag around. Something that would fit in the wife's purse and be dope! If you want great pics with minimal effort but still retain the ability to dig in to the camera to learn about the different modes and grow as a photographer than this sony is for you!