PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS:

SONY NEX-5R, 5N

PROFESSIONAL IMAGE QUALITY

KIT LENS PERFORMANCE

AUTOFOCUS

1080 60P VIDEO

VIDEO SILENT LENSES

FOCUS PEAKING

IN-CAMERA LENS CORRECTIONS

COMPACT SIZE

UNDERWATER HOUSING


PROFESSIONAL IMAGE QUALITY

Our NEX-5R (DXO Sensor Score 78) and NEX-5N (DXO Sensor Score 77) produce virtually identical image quality so samples from both products are good representations what the NEX-5 series cameras are capable of. The 5R delivers slightly better Dynamic Range while the 5N produces slightly better Low Light ISO.



The scene above taken at ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 (maximum Auto ISO), 6400, 12800, and 25600 can demonstrate NEX-5R/5N's image quality in real-world situations, as well as the performance of the 18-55mm kit lens at 18mm. The noise level at the maximum Auto ISO setting of 3200 is still very acceptable. CAUTION: Changing High ISO NR from Normal to Low will produce a lot more blotchy noise pattern in JPEG files.

dpreview full-frame comparison shows the NEX-5R/5N with an APS-C sensor actually rival the professional full-frame dSLRs in high-ISO JPEG image quality.
dpreview APS-C comparison shows the NEX-5R/5N better the top APS-C dSLRs in high-ISO JPEG quality and more than keep up in RAW. Switch between JPEG and RAW.
dpreview mirrorless comparison shows the NEX-5R/5N have one to two stops better high-ISO image quality over the Micro Four Thirds and Nikon 1 cameras.
NOTE: The NEX-5N ISO6400 (actual ISO4540 DXO Measurement tab) should be compared to halfway between E-M5 ISO6400 (actual ISO3024 DXO Measurement tab) and ISO12800 (actual ISO5953).

KIT LENS PERFORMANCE

dpreview reviews show that the Sony E 16mm F2.8 and the E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS deliver better overall performance than the similarly priced Canon 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS and Nikon 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 VR. The E 16mm, being a little sharper in the center, but softer at the corners than the E 18-55mm, reaches its maximum overall sharpness at F5 while the kit zoom peaks at F5.6 on the wide end and F8 on the telephoto end.

The Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 Pancake OSS Power Zoom is an ultra compact kit lens with 24-75mm equivalent focal range. Measuring 30.2mm (1-3/16") retracted, this lens is only 7.7mm (5/16") deeper than the 16mm pancake 22.5mm (7/8") and half as long as the 18-55mm kit lens 60mm (2-3/8"). ePhotozine Sony E 16-50mm review.



Sony also offers a wide-angle conversion lens that turns the E 16mm prime into a very useful 12mm (18mm equivalent) ultra-wide lens. Here's a full-resolution photo taken with the wide-angle conversion lens.

SONY LENS SYSTEM

E-Mount APS-C Lenses:

10-18mm F4 OSS (15-27mm)
12mm F2.8 Zeiss (18mm)
16mm F2.8 Pancake (24mm)
16-50mm F3.5-5.6 Pancake OSS Power Zoom (24-75mm)
16-70mm F4 OSS Zeiss (24-105mm)
18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS (27-83mm)
18-105mm F4 OSS Power Zoom G (27-158mm)
18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS Power Zoom (27-300mm)
18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Active OSS (27-300mm)
18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS LE (27-300mm)
20mm F2.8 Pancake (30mm)
24mm F1.8 Zeiss (36mm)
30mm F3.5 Macro (45mm)
32mm F1.8 Zeiss (48mm)
35mm F1.8 OSS (53mm)
50mm F1.8 OSS (75mm)
50mm F2.8 Macro Zeiss (75mm)
55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS (83-315mm)

10mm 180° Fisheye Converter for 16mm F2.8 Pancake (15mm)
12mm Wide Converter for 16mm F2.8 Pancake (18mm)

E-Mount Full-Frame Lenses:

FE 16-35mm F4 OSS Zeiss (24-53mm)
FE 24-70mm F4 OSS Zeiss (36-105mm)
FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS (42-105mm)
FE 28-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Power Zoom G (42-203mm)
FE 35mm F2.8 Zeiss (53mm)
FE 55mm F1.8 Zeiss (83mm)
FE 70-200mm F4 OSS G (105-300mm)

LA-EA1 Lens Adapter for APS-C Cameras CDAF SSM, SAM Lenses
LA-EA3 Lens Adapter for Full-Frame Cameras
LA-EA4 Lens Adapter for Full-Frame Cameras SLT Phase Detect AF A-Mount Lenses




Zeiss - Carl Zeiss Optic, G - High Performance Optic, OSS - Optical SteadyShot™
SSM - Super Sonicwave Motor, SAM - Smooth Autofocus Motor
A-Mount APS-C Lenses:

11-18mm F4.5-5.6 (17-27mm)
16-50mm F2.8 SSM (24-75mm)
16-80mm F3.5-4.5 Zeiss (24-120mm)
16-105mm F3.5-5.6 (24-158mm)
18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM (27-83mm)
18-70mm F3.5-5.6 (27-105mm)
18-135mm F3.5-5.6 SAM (27-203mm)
18-200mm F3.5-6.3 (27-300mm)
18-250mm F3.5-6.3 (27-375mm)
30mm F2.8 Macro SAM (45mm)
35mm F1.8 SAM (53mm)
50mm F1.8 SAM (75mm)
55-200mm F4-5.6 SAM (83-300mm)
55-300mm F4.5-5.6 SAM (83-450mm)

A-Mount Full-Frame Lenses:

16mm F2.8 180° Fisheye (24mm 110°)
16-35mm F2.8 SSM Zeiss (24-53mm)
20mm F2.8 (30mm)
24mm F2 SSM Zeiss (36mm)
24-70mm F2.8 SSM Zeiss (36-105mm)
28-75mm F2.8 SAM (42-113mm)
35mm F1.4 G (53mm)
50mm F1.4 (75mm)
50mm F1.4 SSM Zeiss (75mm)
50mm F2.8 Macro (75mm)
70-200mm F2.8 SSM G (105-300mm)
70-300mm F4.5-5.6 SSM G (105-450mm)
70-400mm F4-5.6 SSM G (105-600mm)
75-300mm F4.5-5.6 (113-450mm)
85mm F1.4 Zeiss (128mm)
85mm F2.8 SAM (128mm)
100mm F2.8 Macro (150mm)
135mm F1.8 Zeiss (203mm)
135mm F2.8 STF (203mm)
300mm F2.8 SSM G (450mm)
500mm F4 SSM G (750mm)

1.4x Teleconverter
2x Teleconverter



With an EF to E-Mount adapter, our Canon lenses deliver excellent results on the Sony cameras as manual lenses.

AUTOFOCUS

PHOTO AF: NEX-5R features Hybrid Autofocus System that uses 99 on-sensor phase-detection cells to perform initial autofocus and then switch to contrast-detection to lock focus. Overall, 5R's hybrid AF with the ability to track moving subjects performs better than 5N's contrast-detection system.



60P VIDEO: Autofocus Tests: Both 5R and 5N feature camcorder-quality, silent video autofocus that delivers smooth and steady transitions between subjects. Autofocus area can be selected, using the touchscreen during filming - an extremely useful feature in many situations. (Length 0:45, 1000x562 60p from 1080 60p AVCHD source, FCPX) Watch on YouTube

The LA-EA2 (APS-C) and LA-EA4 (Full Frame) lens adapters add SLT full-time phase-detection autofocus to the NEX system. Here are two videos, showing LA-EA2's impressive ability to track fast-moving subjects on the NEX-5N and NEX-FS700.

1080 60P VIDEO

Both NEX-5R and 5N have the ultra-smooth 1080 60p HD with full manual control over shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation during recording. The video quality is virtually identical, perhaps the newer 5R has slightly, slightly higher level of sharpness, moire, and aliasing than the 5N - it's that close.



Download the original 1080 60p AVCHD videos of the evening water fountain (26MB .MTS) and the daytime trees (42MB .MTS).



60P VIDEO: Low-light Tests: Most clips were recorded at ISO3200 with Custom White Balance and AF. (Length 0:49, 1000x562 60p from 1080 60p AVCHD source, FCPX) Watch on YouTube

FYI Mac users: iMovie `11 (version 9.0.4) will not import 1080 60p videos from the camera directly. The easy workaround is to copy the video files onto the hard drive (best done with BootCamp Sony Picture Motion Browser) and then re-wrap the 1080 60p (.mts and .m2ts) videos into QuickTime (.mov) movies, using ClipWrap. To prevent iMovie from transcoding the rewrapped videos during importing, follow these instructions to turn on a hidden ClipWrap feature BEFORE processing .mts or .m2ts files. Re-wrapping AVCHD 2 video avoids the time-consuming transcoding into Apple Intermediate Codec, which can quadruple the video file size and cause slight loss in image quality.

To export edited 1080 60p videos from iMovie, go to "Share / Export using QuickTime... / Options / Video" and make sure "Size / Dimensions" is set to 1920X1080 and "Settings / Frame Rate" is set to 59.94. The exported 1080 60p video will play smoothly on Macs fast enough to handle the format.

Final Cut Pro X is highly recommended for professional-quality editing and exporting, and best of all - it's easy to learn and use.

VIDEO-SILENT LENSES

NEX lenses are video silent so there won't be noise made by Optical SteadyShot and autofocus audible in the videos.

FOCUS PEAKING & MANUAL FOCUS ASSIST

NEX-5R, 5N

To enable Focus Peaking and Manual Focus Assist on the 5R and 5N, set the AF/MF Select to MF or DMF. DMF = AF (Autofocus) + MF (Manual Focus).

The Focus Peaking function highlights in real time all of the in-focus edges or objects in the scene to make it much easier to verify and fine tune focus. To take a macro shot in the DMF mode, simply autofocus first, hold focus, and then either turn the focus ring or move the camera slowly in and out, and the intensity of the highlight will indicate precisely when maximum focus is achieved.



Manual Focus Assist enlarges the screen image to 460% whenever the focus ring is turned. Use the Bottom key to enlarge the image to 950% and then cycle back to 460%. NOTE: The button layouts on the back of the 5R and 5N are identical.



The Focus Peaking and Manual Focus Assist functions are extremely helpful, especially when using non-native lenses under difficult lighting conditions.

PROGRAMABLE KEYS

NEX-5R

Five functions can be assigned to the programmable FN Key located on the top of the camera for quick access.
Our settings: (1) AF/MF Select (2) Autofocus Area (3) RAW/JPG (4) Creative Style (5) Dynamic Range/Auto HDR

Pressing the Center Key on the back of the 5R will bring up the Shoot Mode menu - P, A, S, M, Panorama, Scene, iAuto, sAuto - a much needed and welcome improvement.

One function can be assigned to the programmable Bottom Key located on the back of the camera.
Our setting: (1) White Balance

NEX-5N

Seven functions can be assigned to three programmable keys for quick access.
Our settings:
Center Key (5 functions): (1) ISO (2) RAW/JPG (3) Autofocus Area (4) Autofocus Mode (5) Dynamic Range/HDR
Right Key (1 function): Autofocus / Manual Focus Select
Bottom Key (1 function): White Balance



WHITE BALANCE

NEX-5R, 5N

With White Balance assigned to the identical Bottom Key on the 5R and 5N, press the B button once to bring up the White Balance Select menu - screen shot above right. Press the B button again to bring up the White Balance Graph. Then use the Left, Right, Up, Down buttons to fine tune the screen image to match the scene. NOTE: The button layouts on the back of the 5R and 5N are identical.






Adjusting White Balance at the scene is the best way to obtain the most accurate colors under difficult lighting situations - much better than adjusting WB in RAW days, weeks, or months later from fading memory. Since RAW is only available for photos, Custom White Balance must be set properly on the spot before shooting videos.

IN-CAMERA LENS CORRECTIONS

Chromatic aberration, vignetting, and lens distortion can be corrected in camera, which will reduce the need for RAW processing. Lens distortion correction is set to OFF by default so users need to enable it in the "Setup" menu.

COMPACT SIZE

With either the E 16-50mm Pancake Power Zoom or the E 16mm Pancake Prime, the NEX-5 series cameras are miniature take-everywhere cameras that deliver professional dSLR image quality.

UNDERWATER HOUSING



Rated 40 meters or 130 feet, this waterproof housing for the NEX-5R (18-55mm) has performed well so far. Since the 5R does not feature Video RAW and setting Custom White Balance in deeper water often exceeds the adjustable range, resulting in an error message, using an Equinox red filter for blue water helps restore proper color balance under 3-21 meters or 10-70 feet of water. This Sony / Equinox setup produces surprisingly accurate colors in California water.



CONCLUSION

LOVE THE NEX-5R AND THE 5N - great image quality and great video in such tiny bodies! Autofocus performance under low-light situations is 5N's main weakness. The good news is that 5R's on-sensor phase-detection autofocus system now delivers better overall performance.
 
 

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