Sony Alpha NEX-5N

The Sony NEX-5N sits in-between the NEX-C3 and NEX-7 in Sony’s current CSC range and is the successor to the NEX-5, which picked up a Digital Photo Gold Award this time last year.

Sony NEX-5N

Sony NEX-5N

Much like Nikon, Pentax and Samsung, Sony has developed its own unique lens mount for its CSC system, known as the E-mount, and is supported by a total of seven lenses, covering focal lengths from 24mm through to 315mm in film-equivalent terms. At its heart lies an APS-C sized sensor, similar in size to the sensors found in Sony’s latest D-SLR and D-SLT models. Measuring 25.5x 15.6mm, the chip produces a 16.1Mp resolution and with the 18-55mm kit lens attached, the 1.5x crop factor turns it into a film equivalent of 27-82.5mm.

The Sony NEX-5N has a wide ISO range stretching from 100-25,600, an improvement on the NEX-5’s 200-12,800 limit. Images are captured in the 3:2 aspect ratio, with an option of recording in 16:9 for widescreen purposes but without space on the top- plate for a hotshoe or built-in flash, Sony relies on its accessory port for attaching its HVL-FS20 flashgun (£115). There’s also a choice of two optional viewfinders – the optical FDA-SV1 (£159) for use with the 16mm pancake lens or the electronic FDA-EV1S (£260). It’s worth noting, however, the flash and viewfinders attach via the same accessory port so they can’t be used simultaneously.


In the hand, the NEX-5N feels comfortable thanks to its protruding grip. The 3in, 920k-dot touchscreen can be pulled out and moved up or down for low and high-angle shooting and the movie-rec button on the edge of the body is convenient for starting HD video (1920x1080) at a moment’s notice.

With a minimalist layout of buttons and no mode dial on the top-plate, the majority of the NEX-5N’s settings are controlled via the sensitive scroll dial or the main menu. The touchscreen certainly makes operation and setup easy but ISO, image quality and metering modes aren’t quick to access. Exposure Compensation and Continuous shooting have their own controls and there’s a 10fps burst rate in Speed Priority Continuous mode.


  • Street price: £130 (Secondhand price as of July 2016)
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This review was first published in the February 2012 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.