Saturday, October 1, 2011

NEX-5N Image Quality -- Second Look

After using the NEX-5N for just a bit over a week, I have one word to describe the image quality: wonderful.  Really, the improvement from the original NEX-5 is huge.  In low ISO, shadow noise is mostly gone and the image looks like it comes of a Canon 1Ds II.  The biggest improvement is in the high ISO area.  I compared the noise level to my 1D III at ISO 1600, and they are roughly equivalent, with a slight edge to the 1D III, which retains more details.  But, the 1D III has a 1.3x crop factor with only 10 MP, and thus the pixel size is much larger, whereas the NEX-5N is 1.5x with 16MP.  This is an incredible achievement.

I don't think the NEX-7 will be anywhere as good as the 5N in terms of noise performance.  While I will miss the handling and built-in EVF of the 7, image quality matters more to me.  When the external EVF goes down in price, I will pick one up for the 5N.  One of the good things about external EVF is that it can be used on the next model (hopefully) and can be sold separately if I later upgrade to one with built-in EVF.

In conclusion, I have no complains about the image quality of the NEX-5N.  I am VERY glad to have bought it. Now, why didn't Sony just use this wonderful sensor on the NEX-7, or, make a model with NEX-7 body with the NEX-5N sensor and priced between the two? It will be a perfectly balanced camera in terms of handling and image quality.

Cranes -- NEX-5N & Leica-R Elmarit 28mm f2.8, ISO 400.


  1. You are tempting me with the 5N.
    I have a D7000, thinking if I should sell that and get the 5N + 5100 body.
    I have a lot of classic nikon manual focus lenses- that is the reason I got the D7000 so it meters with them.
    Do you think 5N can replace the D7000 for using MF lenses?

  2. Actually, the real improvement from NEX-5 to NEX-5N is the JPG engine. The RAW quality is nearly the same, even at high ISO.

  3. @mflove: I wouldn't replace the DSLR with the NEX-5N. The NEX is a good complement to the DSLR.

    @KaKtusSs: Sorry I can not agree with you, and I am sure most review site wouldn't either. I only shoot RAW and I can see very clearly the improvement from the sensor over the original NEX-5.

  4. @mflove - I totally agree with LensBubbles. Keep the D7000. I sold my D700 recently and sorely miss using it with my classic Nikon lenses. With the NEX I went down the Leica M mount lens route as the lenses are very small and compact, which perfectly suit the NEX. Not to mention they also generate spectacular pictures as well.

  5. @LensBubbles
    I've compared RAW files of the same scene :
    These samples speak for themselves I think ;)
    I may upgrade to the NEX-5N to have access to its (great) new features, but I don't expect better IQ, nor do I expect better IQ from the NEX-7, but more MP is fine, makes cropping easier.

  6. Lensbubbles: Your statements on future digital camera devellopement are brilliant!

    "I don't think the NEX-7 will be anywhere as good as the 5N in terms of noise performance."

    Your prediciton was true ... all major tests do agree with you (ISO performance is not the field of NEX-7N).