Sony α NEX-3/NEX-5 mirror less interchangeable lens cameras

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While Micro Four Third has been steadily building its market and trying to become a standard for mirror less interchangeable lens camera system, Sony has responded with an announcement of  its own mirror less interchangeable lens camera system – α NEX in May 2010. Two NEX models are available – NEX-3 (Right) and NEX-5 (Left). source: dpreview and mobile01

Here are the specs:

Image Sensor: 14.2 million effective pixels.

Metering: 49-segment Multi pattern, centre-weighted and spot.

Sensor Size: APS-C-sized CMOS (23.4×15.6mm).

Lens: Sony E Series mount.

Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/4000 second. Flash sync: 1/160 sec.

Continuous Shooting: seven fps.

Memory: Memory Stick PRO Duo, PRO-HG Duo, SD, SDHC, SDXC cards.

Image Sizes (pixels): 4592×3056, 4592×2576, 3344×2224, 3344×1872, 2288×1520, 2288×1280.

Movies: 1280×720, 848×480, 640×480 at 30 fps. (NEX5 has 1920x1080i at 60fps)

Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.

LCD Screen: 3" LCD (921,600 pixels).

File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPEG4.

ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200 to 12,800.

Interface: USB 2.0, HDMNI, AV.

Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.

Dimensions: 117.2×62.6×33.4mm WHDmm.

Weight: 297 g (inc battery and card)/239 g (body only).

Sony’s α NEX incorporates a APS-C sensor into a compact frame, producing an interchangeable lens digital still camera that makes it possible to capture professional-grade pictures without the extra size and weight of standard DSLR cameras. Full HD 1080/60i video is also available on αNEX-5 (720/30p HD on NEX-3). 

 α NEX is equipped with APS-C sensor – an image sensor that is 13 times the size of the typical compact camera’s sensor (1/2.5”-1/1.6”) or an equivalent sensor size of non full frame DSLR such as Nikon D90, Canon 550D. Compared to Micro Four Thirds, APS-C sensor size is approximately 30-40% bigger. The bigger sensor means images with softer backgrounds (DoF) that make your subject stand out and better ISO noise performance. Here is a comparison of the different sensor sizes.

What might take you by a surprise is the size of the camera body, in particular the α NEX-5. It is rather tiny that even the lens mount is taller than the camera body. The α NEX-5 gets a slightly smaller magnesium alloy body.

Here is a size comparison between Samsun NX10, Sony NEX-5 and Panasonic GF1. The NEX-5 is noticeably smaller than the already compact GF1.

Another important aspect of the  α NEX is the ability to interchange lenses. Three E-mount lenses are being announced alongside the cameras – an 16mm F2.8 pancake, a standard 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 stabilized kit zoom and a stabilized 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 superzoom.

16mm F2.8

18-55mm F3.5-5.6

18-200mm F3.5-6.3

It is also possible to use A-mount lenses via a LA-EA1 Alpha-mount to E-mount adapter

α NEX-5 with a 24-70mm f/2.8 via a LA-EA1 Alpha-mount to E-mount adapter

What about Image Quality? Can we expect the α NEXs produce better image quality than Micro Four Thirds? Here are some image samples.

Click the image for full resolution. source: 山田久美夫

Day image – α NEX-5 E 16mm f/2.8 | f/11 | 1/250s| ISO 200

Night image – α NEX-5 E 16mm f/2.8 | f/2.8 | 1/2s| ISO 200

DOF image  – α NEX-5 E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS | f/5.6 | 1/40s | ISO 1600

Here we compare some high ISO images between  Sony α NEX-5, Olympus E-PL1, Canon EOS 550D and Panasonic DMC-GF1.

Click the image for full resolution. source: 山田久美夫

NEX-5 / E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

NEX-5 ISO800

NEX-5 ISO1600

NEX-5 ISO3200

E-PL1 / M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED-14-42mm F3.5-5.6 L

E-PL1 ISO800

E-PL1 ISO1600

E-PL1 ISO3200

EOS 550D / EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 USM

EOS Kiss X4 ISO800

EOS Kiss X4 ISO1600

EOS Kiss X4 ISO3200

DMC-GF1 / LUMIX G VARIO 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S.




What about extra high ISO from α NEX-5? Is it useable? Let’s have a look……….

NEX-5 ISO6400

NEX-5 ISO12800


My thoughts…

Now that Sony has done it – Fitting an APS-C sensor in an extremely tiny body, even smaller than the Micro Four thirds, it will become a new standard and I am pretty sure that’s where Canon and Nikon are heading. The choice of lenses may not be much compare to DSLR lenses, but perhaps there needn’t be for its purpose. As expected, the high ISO performance from α NEXs  is more superior than the Micro Four Thirds and close to the Canon 550D. The α NEX has truly combined DSLR image quality with half of the DSLR body size.

Full articles from dpreview and 山田久美夫

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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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Comments and Feedback? Fire away !

avatar Tsais says:

Is Sony gonna make a faster pancake one day and maybe a prime portrait lense? Their lenses don’t look appealing to me, and seem to work towards nullifying the advantages of the APS-C sensors used. And I always just see the same 3 lenses listed everywhere :(
While the Samsung NX 100 is comparably clunky, at least it has a faster pancake option, and more than twice as many lenses available…

avatar Kent Photography says:

Definitely, Sony is quite serious with their m4/3 system, they have since introduced the new NEX-C3. Rumour has it that Sony is planning to introduce 7 more mirrorless NEX lens. That’s the rumour floating around thou.

Definitely, Sony is quite serious with their m4/3 system, they have since introduced the new NEX-C3. Rumour has it that Sony is planning to introduce 7 more mirrorless NEX lens. That’s the rumour floating around thou.

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