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on 22 August 2011
Hi folks- if you can't be bothered reading the whole review here's the synopsis...

It's one of the best cameras I've owned. I love it. I was a travel photographer for a few years would have killed to have had this instead of my bulky Nikons!! PLEASE read through to the end, because there is a facet to this camera I haven't heard anyone mention yet and it's the reason I gave it full marks and took the time to review it. Thanks!

Now for the review!
IMAGE QUALITY-
This depends on so many factors, chip size and performance, lens quality, settings etc. We will start with the chip. It's a full size DSLR chip at the end of the day so that speaks volumes in terms of performance. I've shot all kinds of stuff, from hideously bright and contrasty scenes to real pushin' my luck dark shots and it's taken everything in it's stride. The sensor works brilliantly. Images have masses of detail, low noise at high ISO, great colour. THE LENSES are pretty good. I got the kit lens and the 16mm pancake. both very good. I am using both of them professionally so that's gotta tell you something I hope. Very little barrel distortion with either lens. (Just a pointer- you know when you look at lens reviews on websites and they have photo's of straight lines etc to demonstrate lens performance? Just take a look at some of their PROPER photographs. they're generally abysmal. These guys are just camera geeks in my experience....You can worry too much about "distortion" and the like but don't be fretting about NEX-5 image quality. It's great.) The 16mm lens has a liiiiiiitle bit of fringing at the extremities and loses some of it's sharpness at the edge but all the images are fine to A4. If you want perfectly sharp all the way across you ain't gonna get it for £500. sorry. But you WILL get very good pics. And I'm fussy, believe it or not. The kit lens comes with optical image stabilisation which works really well.

INTERFACE AND USER CONTROLS ETC
I personally found the camera interface very simple. You can customise the buttons a little which is good because there aren't that many. The NEX-5 isn't set up like a DSLR, it's very minimalist but I like that. Once you play with it you will find it very easy indeed. Haven't missed a shot yet because of it! It has a great idiot mode, a pretty smooth panoramic mode, and my personal fave- EXCELLENT black and white. I mean, it's REALLY good. I boost the contrast on my black and white images in camera and they just look beautiful. Remember how B&W hand prints used to look?

Battery life isn't great, I had to buy a spare. Can't have it dying in the middle of a shoot! The screen is partly to blame, it's highly detailed and really sharp but I think it's a battery hog. I also shoot in RAW which may possibly drain it quicker. Use RAW by the way. JPEGS are dire if you want to take really good pictures, and you can mess a shot up and rescue it in RAW later. Software for doing this comes with the camera too.

Autofocus is quick, but the manual focus works beautifully. Why bother with manual focus though? ahhh.... this brings me to...

VIDEO MODE.
Oh boy. it's SUPERB. No rolling shutter artefacts, smooth, hi-res, just magnificent. and you can manual focus during filming which is a must have for me. This is MORE than capable of replacing your video camera. With manual focus you can play around so much with your footage. So absolutely no problem with the video mode, it's the best camera video I have seen, and honestly better than most camcorder footage I've seen too!!

FLASH AND LOW LIGHT
The camera flash is quite weak. Not like my HUGE Nikon speedlights by any margin! But guess what? I haven't had to use it yet. I love ambient light. It's ALWAYS better than flash. The NEX-5 is excellent when using available light, and I've taken some truly beautiful shots with little more than streetlights. I took a shot of a power station at night- hand held believe it or not- and it's one of the best photo's I've ever taken... which brings me to...

WHY I LOVE THIS CAMERA
So it takes great photo's, superb quality video, it's got all the right features in my opinion, the lenses are workmanlike and as I've said fine for pro use so if you just want a good solid performer you will do fine.

BUT....

What I've written is half the story. There is something about this camera that just makes me want to go out and shoot things. Like I used to do when I started photography years ago. It's just FUN! It's fun to be able to smoothly manual focus between foreground and background when filming.... it's great to shoot in truly low light areas and yet get excellent results.... it's fun NOT to have a big DSLR that everyone notices during street and travel photography, and yet get the same kind of results....It's lovely to get a black and white mode that REALLY works well. I've started making movies on this thing too, I enjoy it so much, and the results are spot on. I guess this camera has struck a chord with me. It's helped me find more creativity and given me more satisfaction than any other camera I've owned. Just love it.

One last thing. If you researched this camera as much as I have you will have inevitably read this particularly vacuous comment- "It's a great camera.... but... it will never replace my precious DSLR". When manufacturers release new gear, especially if it's quite innovative, they will get real top notch pro's to go play with it. Just to show off their new baby. Go and look at what some of the big name pro's have been doing with this little machine. If you're considering this either as a back up for your DSLR or a replacement, you won't be disappointed. I bought it as a back up but it's totally replaced my big kit. The image quality for 90% OF THE TIME is indistinguishable from my big camera. But my DSLR lenses are only slightly superior optically cos they cost £900. And you can always get some of the Carl Zeiss or alpha G lenses for it in the long run if you want more flexibility in your shooting. But truthfully I don't feel the need to do this. I actually LIKE the kit lens.

I hope this has helped. Honestly though.... if you go for the Panasonic Lumix, or the Pen, or even a Nikon D90....They are all great cameras and I defy anyone to tell from a photo which camera took it- see what I'm saying? Remember a camera is only useful if it helps you create the vision that's in your head. My NEX has done that for me. It's a real helper. Thanks for reading to the end!!
1717 comments|179 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I have a Canon 5D as well as a 450d, but for quite sometime, I'd been looking for a camera that's portable, but doesn't sacrifice the quaility & versatility of my SLR's. I've been using the Nex 5 for just over a month now and have taken around 600 shots and they are excellent quality. Both indoor & outdoor shots have been great - detail is sharp and colours are vivid. The movies are also amazing - I've taken outdoor video so far - handheld and whilst it can be tricky keeping the cam steady, it does take full 1080 video that comes out with amazing detail.

Uisng the panoramic mode is quick & easy and saves the photoshopping of old and the results are very good, all you have to do is enter panoramic mode and choose which way you would like to pan the camera - up / left / right then just click the shutter and pan across.

I also ride a bike and do a lot of group riding. This means that I'm forever taking 'action' shots of bikes speeding past and I need a cam that's capable of fast bursts. Again the NEX 5 fulfils this role admirably and captures the moment. With no 'lag' between pressing the shutter control and taking the shot.

I bought the 18-55mm + 16mm lens and to be honest have only been using the 18-55mm as it gives me more versatility, however I'm thinking that the 16mm will be good for video, as it's at a fixed length that's wide enough to capture anything that I'm shooting.

Overall, it's worth the cash, the all metal body gives a reassuringly quality feel to the NEX 5 and whether it's an upgrade from a smaller cam or as a a second cam to a DSLR and I can give it a full five stars.
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I reluctantly started to take photographs digitally around six years ago when my Dad said he felt the quality of pictures could potentially match those of my Olympus SLR. I am now on my third digital camera and feel very happy to have converted.

I have a Sony F828, which takes great photographs but is bulky. I also have a Sony camcorder, which takes good video but is similarly bulky. Combine the wish to take photographs with video and you end up with a rucksack full of photographic equipment before you go anywhere. Another change was therefore called for. I decided to get the Sony NEX-5 with 18-55mm and 16mm lens.

The main reason for purchasing the NEX-5 was its size. It is very compact, lightweight and can easily be stowed away in luggage. The quality of the pictures is fantastic. The supplied battery was able to take 30 minutes of HD video footage and around 100 photographs before it fell below 50% capacity; it had sufficient charge to allow me to spend a full day out sightseeing without running out. I have got a spare battery `just in case' but so far have not needed to change over to use it, even though I take a lot of photographs in a day.

The camera is incredibly easy to use. I took some test shots in my home as soon as the battery had charged (which did not take long); the shots were exposed as though they had been taken with a flash (they were not), even though a brightly lit window featured in more than 50% of the shot my messy desk was perfectly exposed for all to see. The panoramic pictures are a bit gimmicky but good results can be achieved with a bit of perseverance and once you get the hang of it, the joins are difficult to see.

The 18-55 lens provides a reasonable depth of coverage and is definitely worth considering as part of the purchase rather than just the 16mm lens alone.

There is no compromise to the quality of the photographs due to the size of the camera. The only change I would make is to the lens cap; why Sony did not incorporate a slot to enable this to be attached to the body of the camera is odd as it is easily knocked off. That's my only gripe and it feels very minor.
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on 25 September 2010
This camera is superb, if your someone who is tired of carrying around heavy SLR kit, then the Sony is the best option on the market. having previously owned a canon 400d and the more recent Panasonic GF1, I can honestly tell you that this camera is far more superior. The size of the camera is mind blowing, how they cram all that Tech into such a small from factor is ingenious!
Sony have always been revolutionary with their products and they dont look at what others are doing, they prefer to create their own mark in technological history.

When I had a slr I felt like a paparazzi photographer. It wasn't practical for family gatherings or going on holiday, an enormous pain to lug around. So I wanted SLR quality in a small package. When the Panasonic came out, I thought that this was the last camera I would ever buy. Dont get me wrong, it was a fantastic camera, but after using the Sony, you can clearly see the difference in quality. The Sony has a larger sensor, and it definitely shows when looking at images or taking shots.

There are so many other advantages and features of this camera, but for now, I just wanted to highlight its main merits, which is its ability to take fantastic, professional quality photos in a (almost) pocket sized form factor.

The bundled kit lenses are also very good, and the added feature about this camera is that you can put almost any lens on it, via an adapter.(limited to manual focus). If anyone is going to buy this camera, I highly recommend buying an old 50mm prime lens. My creative photography has really taken off after I purchased a Super takumar 50mm f 1.4 lens. This lens with the correct adapter and the sony Nex5 gives me amazing photos every time. The fact that its manual focus, is not a problem at all.

Dont hesitate to buy, you will not be disappointed!
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on 16 March 2011
I have been looking for a small camera that produces the image quality of an SLR for a while now. I have a canon 60d, s95 and had previously bought the Olympus E-PL2 but sent it back as I didn't like it.

All I can start by saying is that I love this camera.

Sony have done an amazing job of getting a aps-c sensor into such a small body. For those that don't understand this the sensor is MUCH bigger than those that you will find in a compact camera and it is also bigger than the 4/3 cameras infact it is the same size as what you find in most SLR cameras.

This large sensor lets you get great images with the nice out of focus style you see in the SLR images.

With the 18-55 lens the camera does look a bit front heavy but you get used to the way you hold it. With the 16mm lens it is more like a compact camera.

I have read lots of reviews on this camera with various people moaning about the menu system and how it is too frustrating. I have used an SLR for a long time and have not found any issues with the NEX using the latest firmware. Sure you don't have the buttons to change ISO, white balance etc. but with about two button clicks you get the menu you are looking for.

I have not had any problems with the focussing on this camera, sure it is not as fast as an SLR but it is still quick enough and much better than what I thought on the E-PL2 and with the built in focus assist light I have managed to take in focus shots in very low light and with no flash.

I also really like the video mode. You have the option of two formats the AVCHD or the MP4. I have only used the MP4 as then I can import it to iMovie without any problems. The image quality is very good. Some people didn't like it that you didn't have creative control over the focussing etc. but as a non movie muff I mainly just want snapshot videos so like it that it will look after all those aspects for me.

To sum it up, the image quality and features of an SLR will be better but this camera is not far off and with the huge difference is size I think that more than makes up for the slightly lower performance.

The main thing holding this camera back is the lack of lenses. The kit lenses are ok but they are not amazing and Sony needs to bring out some others soon.
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on 20 February 2011
This is an excellent camera all the features of an SLR in such a slim and light weight body. The 18-55mm lens is a quality piece of kit. So if your tired of carrying around your bulky SLR this is the ticket.
The quality of the pictures is superb very sharp accurate colours with fantastic low light performance for shooting in virtual darkness with no flash. I have a canon 450d SLR and this rivals it for picture quality. The menu system takes some time to get used to but if you have moved up from a point and shoot then this will not take long. The handy tips in the menu guide you to take better pictures.

The intelligent auto mode is very good indeed but there is full scope for creative photographers to. Full aperture priority , shutter priority and manual mode cater for this.
Auto focus is quick and snappy, although from start up it can take a bit longer to warm up than a traditional SLR not that you would notice the difference.

The true black variable angle screen allows for shooting at different angles although Sony should have made it flip out like a camcorders. The screen does not wash out in bright sunlight either. The movie mode is just fantastic full 1920 x 1080 AVCHD movies shot from this camera are great hook it up to your HD TV to watch or import into imovie to convert edit and Export as a HD movie file or burn to an HD dvd disc.

I have actually been using the NEX5 in movie mode more than picture mode thats how good it is. Great for shooting movies indoors the camera will still auto focus whilst zooming EXCELLENT !
A full size APS C CMOS sensor with 14.2 megapixels does the trick here unlike a lot of the micro four thirds cameras from panasonic or samsung.

I actually purchased a Gorilla pod to act as a stabiliser whilst shooting movies it allows you to keep the camera steady. The lens do come with built in optical steady shot as well.
Make sure you get a big enough memory card especially for HD movie recording I recommend 16GB class4 and above. I only need to carry around one camera now GREAT !

The flash is detachable and can be replaced by an electronic view finder or external microphone for better sound, Also a wide angle 16mm lens is available this will be my next purchase.
All in All a very good camera that does it all in such a compact body, with a magnesium body, aluminium barrelled lens the look fit,finish and build is absolutely superb.

In silver it just looks sublime a beautiful piece of industrial design it shakes up the SLR market wholesale HIGHLY recommended.
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on 3 June 2011
It is rare that I put finger to keyboard for these types of review, but feel that in this case it just had to be done.

I have been a Canon junkie for more years than I care to remember but I really needed something portable (fits into a small Lowepro Apex 60) and yet gave me most if not all of the options available to me from my traditional DSLRs. There are lots of compacts around, but the chip sizes scare me in terms of noise and resolution so I was determined to buy a camera with a large chip. Enter the Sony NEX5. With its APS-C chip, fantastic image processing and excellent ISO range, this looked to be the camera for me, but I had to get a hold of it and test it out.

Well, it proves that you can sometimes believe what you read.

* The image quality is stunning - Especially true if you shoot RAW. I actually think the processing engine doesn't get quite all it can out of the images when it saves JPEGs
* The system is small, light yet remarkably easy to use - The new updates to the menu system in firmware 3 have made this even easier to use - not DSLR, but close
* The lens - considering this is a "kit" lens, it's well made and produces some excellent results right across the aperture and zoom range
* The style - takes a little getting used to but once you're there, you'll wonder why you ever lugged a bulky DSLR around on your holidays...

The tragedy is that I now pretty much carry it around 100% of the time, and my Canon kit sits in it's cases. With quality like this around in such a small package, maybe that's how it'll stay. I could not recommend this camera more highly, and I don't even use the obviously excellent video mode.
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on 28 September 2011
Did the firmware v.4 update. All the attributes and performance you'd expect of a top level CSC camera are there and work very well. But there are a few features that really make it a delight to use.

a) Manual focus assist with the new 'peaking' indicator is amazing! If you set the peaking colour to red you can see the focal plane moving through the picture as you adjust the focus ring. I'm so pleased with this that I use MF on all still shots now.

b) Night / twilight shots without a tripod in Scene Mode. The camera takes a series of shots in rapid succession at high ISO then processes them into one frame in a way that eliminates noise and camera shake. Excellent results from lit cityscapes and street shots I did in France last week. Other photographers around me had their tripods out. Didn't need mine. A superb feature. I'll use this a lot.

c) HDR in camera: haven't used this much yet, but it certainly seems to do what it promises with EV levels from 1-6 or Auto.

The balance, feel, build quality and ergonomics of this camera suit me perfectly and was the reason I walked out of the shop with this rather than a Panasonic micro 4/3rds, which to me just didn't feel right - personal opinion I know, but when I picked up the NEX 5 it immediately seemed in a different league. Very pleased with my choice. Haven't tried the video modes yet (not my interest) so no comments one way or the other.

Bad points: Virtually none! Lenses are at present few and far between and expensive. But with an appropriate lens adapter (I have one to use A-mount lenses) a huge range of lenses can be fitted to this camera if you're happy running in manual and non-autofocus modes (which is very easy). Battery life is "OK", but I would always feel the need for a spare (expensive). The default JPEGs could do with a little sharpening in Photoshop (or as an option in camera) to bring out the fine detail, but then good enough that I haven't bothered much with RAW.
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on 27 June 2014
I've owned this thing for just over three years now and it continues to stand up strong with it's usual usage.

The menus are easily navigable and clearly labelled with good pictures, with good colour which further aids in quick navigation. It's the kind of menu setup that you can get used to very quickly and see the options as almost a habit when you need to change something in the future.

The features are outstanding, Sony really were onto the right thing when they decided to allow any lens to be used on it, with the simple 'release without lens' option checked you are free to put anything on whatsoever. I have a small collection of legacy Canon lenses which you can attach easily with the ubiquitous adapters. They really are everywhere, especially for the E-mount NEX system. I've even had great results using a reverse lens set up and also experimenting with light leaks. As a regular photographer, mostly for work purposes I haven't had this much enjoyment from using a camera since I last used my old Olympus OM-10, the NEX really is a fantastic body from which to explore and experiment with many different types of photography. I've lost count of the hours spent on trawling eBay looking for a "new" old lens to put through its paces on the NEX, and so do many others it seems, as the prices for these old SLR lenses have doubled from what they were five years ago.

The sensor is excellent, when shooting in RAW the colours are slightly bleached but that's obvious, a RAW file is indeed that–raw. Just stick it into Potoshop's RAW editor (I never bother with Sony's supplied software) and you're away.
The sharpness is very good, with minimal chromatic aberration and unnoticeable vignetting. Though the standard 18-55mm lens supplied isn't the most airtight build I've seen, with phantom bits of dust appearing on the final shot which has to be edited out post production, it's annoying, but can be worked around.

The video quality is very good, though you'll need to run it through some post processing software, even something low-end like iMovie will allow you to export the file into a smaller size, getting rid of the pixellation which is very apparent for some reason.

What you're getting here is a fantastic sensor built into a small compact package, the lens is what you like, but the sensor is really something you wouldn't want to replace in this price range. I'll be buying NEX for yeas to come.
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on 23 January 2012
To say that I'm impressed with this camera is an understatement, it's a seriously amazing compact digital camera.

This was a present for my wife and we took it to Thailand recently along with my Nikon D80, and I never felt the need to take my D80 out of it's bag after using the NEX-5. The picture quality is brilliant, with no visible noise in the photos. You can easily adjust the depth of field, allowing for a professional looking shot with crisp subject matter and blurry background. Even in low light, and without a flash the results are fantastic using the low-light, anti-shake option which takes a series of images and merges them to get the best results automatically. The panoramic feature is also a great option, no more taking multiple pictures and merging them together in photoshop, select the option and click moving the camera from left to right will capture almost 180 degrees of the view.

If there are any downsides to the camera, it's the cheap feeling flash which has a tendency to pop out of its port... but in just over 2 weeks time abroad, we didn't use the flash once, simply making use of the low-light option mode instead.

I chose this camera after checking out various reviews online, and although I was initially skeptical about Sony's digital cameras after bad experiences with a couple of CyberShots, the NEX-5 has completely changed my mind. Nikon and Fuji's compact digital cameras, in spite of having a lot of megapixels in their favour, have always been a let-down with noisy photos, and I have been a big fan for both brands.

In my opinion, this is the best option in the market right now for the money and I don't see how anyone could be disappointed in purchasing this. HIGHLY recommended!
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