Bought a new SONY NEX-5N camera a month or two ago. Spent a couple of weeks testing it and decided to keep it. Having some regard for the planet (and my bank balance) I do not upgrade electronics just because something better has just come out, and I spent some time agonizing over the things the NEX-5N wouldn’t do that my old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D digital SLR would.
The answer, after a time-consuming comparison: not much.
One thing my old SLR, with the Minolta-compatible lenses I owned before I got it back in 2007, will do much better is macro photography. Also, the user-interface of the NEX-5N is challenging to figure out and the menu system sometimes slows you down when you want to depart from iAuto mode and get a particular custom effect. You can’t beat the old squint viewfinders for working quickly, either. Sun reflection can be a problem when one is looking for small menu items on the NEX-5N’s typical point and shoot display.
I went for a long walk on a sunny day with both cameras hanging around my one neck and compared hand held shots with the basic small zoom lenses. Verdict: pretty much of a split.
The real story, however, is the myriad of things that the new camera will do way better. The small list of betters I care most about is given here:
- The NEX-5N takes superb photos in available light, due to a much better sensor and smarter photo-analyzing electronics than the older camera possesses. For traveling, which I love to do, it will take the place of three cameras: My SLR for quality outdoor shots, my SONY 40-GB camcorder and Anita’s Canon 1400IS, which I was forced to use for stills in low light situations where flash wasn’t permitted.
- It will fit in a big, “Are you happy to see me?” pocket, available in a pricey, but Canadian-made, Tilley vest, which saves me advertising my shutterbug addiction when going walkabout in the neighbourhood or visiting friends. It will also fit in a fanny-pack. I know… let’s not go there. The three fashion choices as I see them: around the neck, bulging safari vest or geezer fanny pack.
- It will take very sharp, small-file-size VGA 3M video as well as wowie HD video. I discovered that the VGA 3M format is completely compatible with the old Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0 movie-making software that I use for recording holidays and family activities. The HD video is available should I decide to go that route in future. The sound is not quite as pleasing to my fussy musician’s ear as the camcorder sound quality.
- My first NEX-5N attempts to shoot the moon were disappointing. Hand held, the photos lacked shading, crispness and detail. This concerned me until last night, when I took the above moon photo using a tripod and the NEX-5N’s Manual Focus Assist mode. Good enough quality when I consider the reasonable cost of my total investment.
- Another major benefit when using tripod photography: the display screen can be tilted so that the photographer can look down on the image. This is a huge advantage in comfort and if, like me, you need to look down through the reading section of your “trifocals,” it’s an absolute necessity.
- My big camera case is now much lighter than it once was, and space has been created, by the departure of the camcorder and its accessories, for carrying other valuable travellers’ needs, such as a compass, a magnifying glass, a penlight, my iPod’s accessories, manuals and a selection of small fruit. Basically, that is, anything that can’t otherwise be carried in the umpteen pockets of my new Tilley safari vest.
The “old” me in Toledo, Spain – March, 2011: