Sony Alpha NEX-5 (NEX5KS) digital camera

Sony Alpha NEX-5 review: The Alpha NEX-5 embodies the out-of-the-box thinking that gadget fans often admire about Sony

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Sony Alpha NEX-5 (NEX5KS)

Pros

  • Small but comfortable to hold, great image quality

Cons

  • Lens-based image stabilisation

Bottom Line

The Sony Alpha NEX-5 is an excellent camera for people upgrading from compacts who want to increase capability but not bulk.

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Sony's Alpha NEX-5 bridges the gap between compact camera and digital SLR with some high-performance features.

The Alpha NEX-5 embodies the out-of-the-box thinking that gadget fans often admire about Sony. This camera brings together features from both point-and-shoots and digital SLRs. Its high-performance features, which include the 14.2mp, APS-C CMOS sensor, a 25-point autofocus system, and a 7fps burst mode, go beyond the world of compact cameras.

Yet, the Sony Alpha NEX-5’s 285g body is so compact that the diameter of the 18-55mm E-mount lens barrel extends above the top plate. The camera's 3in LCD screen occupies most of the real estate on the back of the body, leaving just enough space for three buttons and a dial. And even though the NEX-5 is petite, it’s still comfortable to hold.

The LCD angles upward 80-degrees and downward 45-degrees. That means no matter which angle you want to hold the camera for shooting, you can adjust the screen to accommodate, which encourages you to shoot more creatively. Keep in mind that the Sony Alpha NEX-5 has no optical or electronic viewfinder, though an optional electric viewfinder can be bought separately.

The Sony Alpha NEX-5 has a total of six external buttons, including the shutter release. Sony pulls this off by using a clever menu system that’s graphical and easy to navigate. For example, instead of putting a physical mode dial on top of the camera, Sony creates a picture of one on the LCD that you can rotate using the multipurpose dial on the back. After about an hour of shooting, we were able to find all the settings we needed using this unique system.

The Sony Alpha NEX-5 performs like a digital SLR camera when it comes to image quality. Exposure, colour fidelity, sharpness, and image noise are impressive – it out-performed other interchangable-lens cameras in our lab’s subject image quality tests.

We decided to push the limits and take the Sony Alpha NEX-5 to a basketball game and shoot at ISO 1600 and 3200. The shots were solid with saturated colours and well-controlled image noise. Plus, shooting at 7fps enabled us to capture action that we would have missed with a compact camera. Raw capture is available too, but it limits burst mode to eight shots or five frames for Raw+JPEG.

In the Sony Alpha NEX-5 camera's Movie mode, both the video and the stereo audio quality are very good.

The Alpha NEX-5’s small body means that Sony had to opt for lens-based stabilisation instead of in-body. At the time of writing, a stabilised 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom and 16mm f/2.8 prime lens in the new E-mount were available. Both are quality optics that look handsome on the camera.

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