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Sony NEX 5n

Sony lent me an NEX 5n this week. I've already had a play with the NEX 7 and was suitably impressed. My Mostly very positive) review of it is in the Feb./March 2012 issue of (Australian) Digital Photography and Design Magazine (buy it - I have mouths to feed). However, the 7 won't be available in any numbers until the end of February thanks to the floods in Thailand that wiped out sensor production facilites for several manufacturers. Time to look at the little brother.

OK. 16mp instead of 24 - frankly that's enough for most of us. Smaller and with only one control wheel, around the menu button. Sigh. This is clearly the amateur model. The thumping great big standard zoom lens is still monstrous compared to the tiny slab of the camera - it's a bit of an ugly duckling really. The larger body of the NEX 7 was much more sensible - easier to handle and better balanced.

One of the most interesting features is the so-called 'Twilight' scene mode. This does that cute Sony routine of banging off a series of shots and then blending them to reduce ISO noise, prioducing a very good low light image. I pushed my luck with it, using it indoors to avoid flash use (come on, who shoots much at twilight? - I'm usually sleeping or eating around then). It seems to use the first shot as a base image and sbsequent shots to do cute stuff like capturing more information in shadows. It works really rather well if the subject is relatively static, including slow moving people.

I took it off to the Chinese New Year celebrations in Melbourne - a good test because the colours are vivid and the movement rapid. Lots of colour and movement - and noise and smoke too. The 5n did very well indeed. It's harder to make rapid adjustments than with the 7's thumbwheels,switching from street faces in the shade to whirling dancers in the sunlight for instance. But when I did have time to set it up properly, the results were pleasing and the shot-to-shot time was much quicker than the slow-writing 7.



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