Review

High ISO and Low Light Performance:

The High ISO and low light performance of the Sony Nex-5n is excellent all around. Barely any noise all the way to ISO 1600, beyond that it’s “usable” up to 12800 and possibly even 25,600!!

As you would expect the focus does struggle a bit in the low light environment, but still works very good and almost always finds something to lock onto.  I only had to switch to manual focus a few times when in manual mode painting with a flash light ;)  I did find it helpful to change the the focus point a few times however in a few situations, to help it find something easier.  When using Auto ISO please note that you only have ISO 100-320o. To go beyond that you will need to take it off auto and/or use one of the scene modes like Hand-held Twilight mode. More on that in the advanced features section.

Be sure to Click the images for a nice large 1000px version!!

Nex-5n High ISO Sample - ISO 25600

Nex-5n High ISO Sample – ISO 25600

Nex-5n High ISO Sample - ISO 25600

Nex-5n High ISO Sample – ISO 25600

Nex-5n High ISO Sample - ISO 25600

Nex-5n High ISO Sample – ISO 25600, Raw

Nex-5n High ISO Sample - ISO 25600, 100% Crop

Nex-5n High ISO Sample – ISO 25600, 100% Crop

Nex-5n High ISO Sample Pic - ISO 25600

Nex-5n High ISO Sample – ISO 25600

Nex-5n High ISO Sample Pic - ISO 25600 - 100% Crop

Nex-5n High ISO Sample Pic – ISO 25600 – 100% Crop

Nex-5n High ISO Sample Pic - ISO 12800

Nex-5n High ISO Sample Pic – ISO 12800

Nex-5n High ISO Sample - ISO 12800 - 100% Crop

Nex-5n High ISO Sample – ISO 12800 – 100% Crop

 

Other Features worth mentioning:

Hand-held Twilight mode & Anti-Motion Blur mode: In these “Auto” modes the Sony Nex-5n captures six images in a fraction of a second. The camera then combines the data from the 6 different images to create a single image which intern gets you cleaner, sharper pictures. This feature definitely works, but worth noting is it seems use ISO 6400 only, or at least as the maximum ISO, so in certain situations where the shutter speed is still to slow, you may need to use a higher ISO such as ISO 12800, or ISO 25800.

Be sure to Click the images for a nice large 1000px version!!

Sony Nex-5n w/ 55-210mm OSS Lens @ f/6.3, 1/60sec, 210mm, ISO 6400

Sony Nex-5n w/ 55-210mm OSS Lens @ f/6.3, 1/60sec, 210mm, ISO 6400, Anti-Motion Blur Mode

Sony Nex-5n w/ 55-210mm OSS Lens @ f/6.3, 1/40sec, 210mm, ISO 6400 - Anti Motion Blur Mode

Sony Nex-5n w/ 55-210mm OSS Lens @ f/6.3, 1/40sec, 210mm, ISO 6400 – Anti Motion Blur Mode

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm Lens @ f/, 1/5sec, 36mm, ISO 6400 - Anti Motion Blur Mode

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm Lens @ f/, 1/5sec, 36mm, ISO 6400 – Anti Motion Blur Mode

Pano sweep works pretty good, but photoshop can definitely do a better job as you might expect. That being said the Sony Nex-5n did do a very good job in the Pano department and here are 2 examples below.

Be sure to Click the images for a nice large 1000px version!!

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm Lens @ f/4, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 160 - Pano Sweep Mode

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm Lens @ f/4, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 160 – Pano Sweep Mode

Notice on this crop of the pano above the tiny stitching ghost left behind just to the right of the V in the mt skyline. It’s minor considering the resolution of this pano and the fact that it to about 3 seconds to process, but worth pointing out if you plan on printing large Panos!!

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm Lens @ f/4, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 160 - Pano Sweep Mode - Cropped in to show flaw

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm Lens @ f/4, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 160 – Pano Sweep Mode – Cropped in to show flaw

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm Lens @ f/4, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 160 - Pano Sweep Mode

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm Lens @ f/4, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 160 – Pano Sweep Mode

 

AutoHDR also does a very good job opening up the shadows and sparing the highlights from blowing out. I personally prefer doing HDR the manual way, but this is a great feature to have and I find myself using it more and more. I also pretty much always use the 6EV setting as well. Here’s a few sample photos with and without auto HDR enabled.  Notice the sky and shadow areas in particular. To learn how to use this feature in more detail check out AutoHDR using the Nex-5n >>

Be sure to Click the images for a nice large 1000px version!!

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/800sec, 18mm, ISO 800

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/800sec, 18mm, ISO 800

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/800sec, 18mm, ISO 800 - AutHDR 6EV

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/800sec, 18mm, ISO 800 – AutHDR 6EV

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/640sec, 18mm, ISO 800

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/640sec, 18mm, ISO 800

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/640sec, 18mm, ISO 800 - Auto HDR 6EV

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/640sec, 18mm, ISO 800 – Auto HDR 6EV

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/50sec, 19mm, ISO 800

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/50sec, 19mm, ISO 800

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/50sec, 19mm, ISO 800 - AutoHDR 6ev

Sony Nex-5n w/ 18-55mm lens @ f/7.1, 1/50sec, 19mm, ISO 800 – AutoHDR 6ev

 

Video Performance:

One of the most hyped features of the Sony Nex-5n is the HD Video performance and it performs as advertised! The only week link when recording is the focus. You can set the camera to continuously focus by using the AF-C mode, or you can have it focus when you press the shutter button half way while recording by using the AF-S mode. The continuous mode works pretty good but often doesn’t now what your subject is and can focus on the wrong thing from time to time in low light as expected. But a few times here and there outside as well.  The Nex-5n is also capable of recording HD video at 60 FPS, but youtube doesn’t seem to support that and I don’t have Final Cut pro yet so I just recorded at 30fps. By the time I get the Nex-7 Hopefully those issues will be addressed.

Here’s a few sample clips showing off what the Sony Nex-5n can do and be sure to go full screen as there HD!!

 

I put this movie together using a bunch of clips and don’t worry, I didn’t get hurt to bad ;)

 

Here’s another video of Layla eating a Bagel.

 

Low Light Video Performance is also very good. Check out this short montage of a few low light clips:

Must Have Accessories:

The only major issue I have with this camera is shooting in the sun and not being able to see the screen and focus effectively. Well, the Sony’s OLED Electronic Viewfindertotally solves the problem and is a must have in my opinion.

Sony's OLED Electronic Viewfinder for NEX-5N Camera

Sony’s OLED Electronic Viewfinder for NEX-5N Camera

Sony's OLED Electronic Viewfinder for NEX-5N Camera

Sony’s OLED Electronic Viewfinder for NEX-5N Camera

 

Conclusion:

The Sony Nex-5n is a solid camera all around and certainly lives up to it’s expectations. Image quality is excellent and the 16.2 Megapixel Exmor HD Sensor does a great job capturing all the detail in the highlights and the shadow areas with it’s large dynamic range capabilities. The high ISO performance is also really good as far as noise, but not the greatest on the focus side of things. The very small size of the camera is a nice perk, but can get a bit awkward at times. Once you have a large lens like the 55-210mm it’s pretty much all lens with a deck of cards on the end of it.

The quality of the images are outstanding and on par with my Canon 5D mark II. Not quite as good, but on par ;)  You can see for yourself with the sample images that the depth of filed you get is like an SLR, you really can’t tell. The E-Mount Optics that Sony is putting out (although slow coming) are incredible sharp, and are much better than any kit lens I have used from Canon!

Sony is definitely climbing to the top and I have to imagine Nikon and Canon are really getting nervous!!

The bottom line for the Sony Nex-5n: I would buy one for sure, and the bang for the buck is totally justified. I highly recommend getting the option OLED Viewfinder as well so you can shoot effectively in the sun. The room for growth is also there as the Sony E-mount lens line-up continues to grow day by day along with the accessories.

Jay

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Thanks,
Jay

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About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!