"Understand what this camera is about & nothing beats it"5.0 starson by ArtInvent
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.