This is an email I sent to some friends recently... thought it might be useful to some here:
I've been debating between the NEX-5N and the NEX-7 for a while. I had the chance to borrow an NEX-7 for 24 hours and got to use it a bunch.
Compared to the NEX-5, the 7 has a much faster shutter release (I think it's currently the fastest in the world), a sensor that handles low light significantly better (25% better, measured with a light meter), an amazing EVF, better video recording options, audio-in, and better controls. It also has a weak built in flash, which doesn't really do anything for me.
After using it for a day, I was surprised how little I used the EVF. It is absolutely amazing and would be really nice in sunny settings, but overall the back screen is so good, especially with the angling, that I found it faster to not use the EVF.
I did more research into the NEX-5N, and found that it had every new feature the 7 has except for the flash, audio-in, controls, and EVF.
Interestingly, when shooting with a manual lens, as we do, the controls weren't much of an improvement. When you're manually controlling aperture, you basically only need to adjust ISO and shutter speed. Most of the time we use auto-shutter, which means that ISO would be the only control we'd need. We already have a rear dial for that on the NEX-5 / NEX-5N.
The NEX-5N has an EVF that you can buy separately. It's not as sleek as the NEX-7, but the combined bulk of the 5N + EVF is still less than than the 7. Unlike the 7, it can also be tilted. Considering those two factors, I don't think the NEX-7's EVF has much of an advantage.
The audio-in is a really awesome feature of the NEX-7, one that I wish I could have on the 5N. The only alternative is a Sony mic that attaches to the top of the camera. I have it and it's high quality, but not as good as something like the Zoom H1, which could be used with the 7. In my mind, this is the biggest advantage of the NEX-7.
The NEX-5N has a better sensor than the NEX-7. It's 16.1mp vs 24.3, which I prefer for the smaller file size. It does about 10% better in low light, and delivers low light performance on par or exceeding any full sized APS-C DSLR. Photos at 6400 ISO are usable, and at 1600 there's no noticeable grain.
Both cameras have extremely fast shutters, go down to ISO 100 (which gives us fast lens people the option to go a full stop lower in sun to get narrower DOF), and can shoot at 10FPS (if not the best in the world, it's close). Shooting video on both is improved with full 1920x1080 at both 24p and 60p. Shooting in 60p and then converting to 24p makes AMAZING cinematic slow motion shots.
After using the 7 and doing some research, I think it's a no-brainer to go with the 5N. Because Sony did such a bad job advertising all the awesome things about the camera, people see it as being an NEX-5 with a touchscreen, so it goes pretty cheap. You can get one for $550 on ebay.
Here's a video shot with the 5N:
And here's a good review with sample shots:
Since writing that email I bought a 5N and have been very happy with it. I haven't yet used the more advanced features, but I'll be doing that on a trip a month from now.
Ever considered getting the X100? In December I bought the Nex-5N with the VoigtlÃ¤nder 35 1.4 upon your recommendation. The manual lense actual forced me to really get into photography and was a lot of fun, but nowadays I use a X100. Reasons organized by importance:
1. Comfort. It comes with a very handy camera bag and a very small lens so its a lot less versatile. It feels more like a huge point and shot while the Nex-5N feels like a very small DSLR. This is huge! Also the lens cap of the VoigtlÃ¤nder lens is REALLY annoying, especially when wearing gloves - the one from Fuji is way more convenient.
2. More flexible. You can take pictures closer than 0,5m
3. Several small things that are personal preference I guess (Electroncial Viewfinder, Auto Focus, Dials to change camera settings instead of annoying menus)
I miss the flipping screen a lot though... comes down to personal preference in the end, but Id say its absolutely worth considering :)
In case anyone is wondering, by far the best travel camera (except Leica, which is 10k+ including a proper lens) is now the Sony RX-1.
It was just announced last week around the time of the Photokina exhibition in Cologne. Amazing camera for sure, although pricey.
Everything about it is perfect. Size. Weight. Fast lens with 2,0 Aperture. Full Frame Sensor. Great Video and Battery as usual for Sony. The aperture and focus is mechanical, unlike the Fuji X100 where its controlled electronically after you adjust it with your hands (sucks.). The controls for shooting mode and exposure are manual too which makes it so much more practical than the Nex 5N.
What about the NEX-6?
All of the NEX cameras are fine, really. It comes down to your own preference. Time worrying about which camera to pick is better spend actually taking pictures or learning how to improve them. There are so many really good cameras out there now, that its hard to make a wrong choice. The most bang for the buck you get for the RX100 if you ask me. Unlike the NEX its so small, that you can put it into your pocket and it still has a fast 2.0 lens and a great sensor. $650 or something. If you are not super into photography, that would be my choice, because its the most minimalistic camera. Since I personally really really like to take pictures I make a compromise and run with the FujiX100, although all Nex Cameras would be fantastic too, really.
Hey, my only input is, make sure the NEX you get has audio input in case you ever want to do a video with a simple MIC. That was the mistake I made, I wanted it for 50% video, nada. I have the complete NEX-5, all the attachments and lenses known to man! Let me know, it's for sale! LOL
I don't like it. It's the same size as the NEX-7, not the NEX-5. My current pick is the NEX-5R, although the 5N is good, too. I'm going to be starting a gear mailing list this week and my first post is going to be a really detailed breakdown of these different cameras.
Just wanted to give everyone interested in the Sony Nex-5N a heads up that it's on sale at Amazon for $398 (just the body, without the stock lens). http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005IHAIMA/
I got the Samsung NX100 because Sony can't pull their head out their ass and make something high quality like Samsung's 30mm f/2.0 pancake. It's comparable to the $500 manual focus voightlander's you guys use after a bunch of research. I want autofocus with my cameras, and the NX200 is fairly on par with the sony NEX series camera's now. The NX100 is so so.
I just wish you could take full-length videos with the NEX's without overheating. Everybody is quick to say that you shouldn't have long takes, but you can't yell "stop for a second" in the middle of a piano rehearsal.
To those who think a "normal video camera" is the better ticket for that, you haven't played with shooting video with large sensors -- the depth of field effect you get with DSLR is nothing short of cinematic where the little video cameras (Everio, etc) can't manage it because the sensor is too small.
C'mon Sony... this one is soo close. Hit the next one harder (and, yes, Ill pay an extra $100 for the ability to record full clips of 60 minues or more)!
I was debating posting a thread asking this very question (for some reason it seems like a big thing posting a new thread on SETT). Thanks for the post Tynan. Would you have a different recommendation for best mirrorless camera at a lower price point/ best for value?
Tynan, quick question for you, possibly related to cameras: do you use your camera as a scanner? I have a tendency to digitally record most important documents and keep them in a truecrypt container, as a form of backup, or to purge older files that are basically considered clutter. A dedicated scanner works best for this, but is large, a pain to lug around, or is specialized and does not work with open standards (the fujitsu scansnap comes to mind). Would you consider a high quality camera a replacement for a scanner to record documents?
I've been wanting to write this post for a while, but I've hesitated because I thought that it would only benefit the few of us with high end cameras. But when I finally got my Sanyo VPC-WH1, which is the video version of a point and shoot, I realized how important these concepts are, even on that end of the spectrum.
Like anything, understanding how photography works will make you better at it. This guide is intended for people without photography backgrounds who want to understand how to get the most out of their cameras.
Megapixels Don't Really Matter
Want to see more photos I've taken? Visit my photo gallery.
UPDATE 12/13: The Lumix GX7 is the successor to the Lumix GX1 that I review (and love) below. It's pricey ($828 on Amazon or $998 with lens) because it's new, and you can now get a screaming deal on the GX1 (as low as $227). The two big advantages of the GX7 are 25% less noise in pics + wifi capabilities (including app remote control). I haven't made the switch yet, but I did do a more in-depth comparison on the two cameras here. If you do, let me know what you think in the comments below!
My wife and I are on a quest to learn how to take insanely great pictures. We are just starting this journey and I invite you to share it with us if photography is a passion of yours. The picture above is one of our first attempts at taking the kinds of photos that have a "wow" factor that transcends a regular photo. The photo was taken by my wife; that's my friend Keoni on the left and me on the right.