Sony Alpha NEX-5 digital camera with 18-55mm lens (preview)
Sony has announced two new interchangeable-lens compact cameras that will turn heads due to their stylish designs and cool feature sets
- Nice size, beginner-friendly features, 3D shooting
- No optical viewfinder
The Sony NEX-3 and Sony NEX-5 may appeal more to point-and-shoot graduates than to seasoned photographers, but the cameras' ultracompact size and fun features give them serious potential for crossover appeal.
Price$ 1,049.00 (AUD)
A few months after teasing the new cameras at PMA 2010 (with almost no details), Sony officially announced the interchangeable-lens Alpha NEX-3 and NEX-5 yesterday. The NEX-5 will be available in Australia in late June; you'll be able to pick the NEX-3 up in early July.
The NEX camera bodies are impressively thin and light, measuring about an inch thick and looking noticeably more slick and slim than competing interchangeable-lens cameras from Panasonic, Olympus, and Samsung. These are the first interchangeable-lens cameras we've seen that honestly approach the size of a point-and-shoot camera.
The Sony Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 both offer 14.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensors; it's the same size sensor found in Samsung's NX10 interchangeable-lens camera and in several full-size DSLRs, but it's significantly bigger than the Micro Four-Thirds sensor in cameras from Olympus and Panasonic.
On the video side of the equation, the Alpha NEX-5 will shoot 1080i high-definition video in either AVCHD or MPEG-4 format, while the slightly lower-end NEX-3 maxes out at 720p MPEG-4 video. The other key difference between the two NEX cameras involves the body build: The NEX-5's body is made out of magnesium alloy and has a larger grip, while the NEX-3 has a polycarbonite body available in different color options (silver, black, and red).
The NEX cameras handle SD, SDHC, and SDXC card formats, as well as Memory Stick cards; the one storage slot on the cameras takes both card formats.
The announcement means that there's yet another lens mount to think about, as well. The Sony Alpha NEX series will use the brand-new E-Mount lens system, and the two new cameras offer no body-based image stabilisation.
Lenses using Sony's Optical SteadyShot stabilisation system--a stabilised 18mm-35mm f3.5/f5.6 zoom lens, as well as a 16mm f2.8 pancake lens--will be available, including in the Alpha NEX's kit configurations. The NEX cameras have a focal length multiplier of 1.5X, meaning that the 18mm-55mm zoom lens has a 27mm-82.5mm field of view in 35mm film equivalent, while the prime lens is a 24mm-equivalent wide-angle lens.
A third, optically stabilised, 18mm-200mm f3.5/f5.6 zoom lens will be available separately; Sony says it is optimised for shooting video. In addition to the E-Mount lenses, an adapter that lets you use Sony's A-Mount lenses with the camera will be sold separately.
Hands On With the Sony Alpha NEX-5
After some brief hands-on time with the new Sony Alpha NEX-5 camera, I noticed a few things that make the Alpha NEX series a very attractive option for would-be DSLR buyers. This is an incredibly small and slick camera; with the lens removed, the NEX-5's body is about the size of a bulkier point-and-shoot camera. Without the lens attached, it would easily fit into a pocket.
Like the Olympus Pen E-PL1, the NEX models are aimed at entry-level DSLR buyers who don't want the bulk or complexity of a DSLR, and that comes through in the camera's ease of use. No user manual is included with the camera--and it doesn't need one. Beginners will take to this camera immediately, and more-advanced photographers are likely to be tempted by the camera's small size, vibrant display, and creative user interface.
For beginners, helpful in-camera guides offer general shooting tips and creative ways of controlling the settings. You can easily create blurred backgrounds and shallow depth-of-field effects without jumping into the aperture priority or manual modes; when you have the camera in Intelligent Auto mode, you simply "Defocus Background" by rotating the scroll wheel on the back of the camera.
Another big draw is the tiltable 3-inch LCD, which is practically a miniature HDTV. It's extremely sharp, crisp, and bright, and it might make purists forget about the lack of an optical viewfinder very quickly. You can tilt the LCD up and down, but it doesn't swivel; it's built for odd-angle shots, but not self-portraits.
The NEX cameras also include several innovative, fun-to-use modes found in recent Cyber-shot cameras. In the NEX cameras, these modes are bolstered by the added strength of a big sensor and high-quality lenses. Sweep Panorama mode, for instance, is far more impressive than it is on a point-and-shoot camera, and Handheld Twilight mode (which overlays up to six images to create a sharp, noiseless low-light image) gets a whole lot more sensor power to work with.
What is perhaps the coolest feature in the NEX cameras isn't available just yet, however. Sony says that a July firmware update will allow the cameras to shoot 3D panorama images, which you can view on Sony's Bravia line of HDTVs with the company's 3D glasses. That's a whole lot of proprietary technology to make the feature work, but the demos I saw of the cameras' 3D panorama abilities were impressive.
Of course, experienced photographers will have to make plenty of compromises with either of these cameras as opposed to a full-on DSLR. Advanced users won't be thrilled about the lack of an optical viewfinder, the omission of a pop-up flash, and the absence of a mode dial on the top of the camera (you get a power button, a shutter release, a dedicated video button, a playback button, and that's it).
You use the scrollwheel on the back of the camera and two soft keys to access menus, scenes, and settings; the soft keys' functions depend on which menu you're in. The user interface on the Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 is outstanding, and the lack of buttons on the back produces an uncluttered and elegant look, but many photographers will want faster access to certain modes.
All in all, the NEX-3 and NEX-5 may appeal more to point-and-shoot graduates than to seasoned photographers, but the cameras' ultracompact size and fun features give them serious potential for crossover appeal.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 LG G6 Plus: Full, in-depth review
- 2 First Look: Nikon D850
- 3 OnePlus 5: Full, in-depth review
- 4 Nokia 8: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Panasonic Ultra HD OLED TV Review
Latest News Articles
- Sony’s New RX10 IV combines Fast AF and 24 FPS continuous shooting with 24-600mm F2.4-F4 Zoom Lens
- Sony make shooting in HDR easy with new 4K camcorders
- Sony announces Australian availability for new waterproof RX0 action-camera
- Panasonic Announces LUMIX DC-GH5 Firmware Update Service
- Boom: SanDisk just dropped the world's largest SD card
PCW Evaluation Team
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.
It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
- Dishonored - Death Of The Outsider review:
- LG G6 Plus: Full, in-depth review
- MSI GE73 VR Raider Gaming Laptop review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - Online PokerNSW
- TPBusiness Program Manager - Digital TransformationNSW
- FTSAP PM Functional ConsultantOther
- FTCustomer Marketing ExecutiveOther
- FTDigital Acquisition Campaign ManagerNSW
- FTSolutions ArchitectsOther
- FTDigital DesignerOther
- FTSenior Project Manager - Go to Market / Channel ReadinessOther
- FTNode.js DeveloperNSW
- CCSenior Business AnalystNSW
- FTSAP HR / PAYROLL SPECIALISTACT
- FTSenior Master Data Officer- SAP , VLookup, Pivot, FinanceOther
- FTSenior Security ConsultantNSW
- FTBig Data DeveloperOther
- FTInfrastructure Project ManagerOther
- FTApplication PackagerACT
- CCSenior Project OfficerNSW
- FTMid Level UX DesignerOther
- FTiMIS Engineer / DBAOther
- FTNetwork Security ConsultantOther
- FTLevel 2 Desktop Support EngineerOther
- FTSolution ArchitectOther
- FTProgram ManagerNSW
- CCSolutions Architect - SharepointNSW
- FTSenior Change AnalystOther