I've wanted a small pocket sized digital camera that produces DSLR like image quality for a long time and I've watched with interest as the Micro 4/3rd’s systems hit the market and I've used/tested most of them. Frankly I didn't get that excited about the image quality from these but the concept and portability intrigued me.

 

I've wanted a small pocket sized digital camera that produces DSLR like image quality for a long time and I've watched with interest as the Micro 4/3rd’s systems hit the market and I've used/tested most of them. Frankly I didn't get that excited about the image quality from these but the concept and portability intrigued me.

You have choices of black, silver, or red

 

I use large DSLR's when I work, but when traveling around the city (Bangkok) I wanted something light enough to carry in my knapsack so I really wouldn't notice it's weight or bulk. In the past there's been a steady stream of point and shoots in my knapsack from the Fuji fd30/f31, Canon G9/11, Fuji f200exr, and the quest continued. I'd use these cameras less and less for anything other than snaps with friends. If I saw a scene, a break in weather, a prime photo-op.. it had to be really good to motivate me to take the time with one of these cameras and then suffer through the limited image quality.

This has changed with the NEX-5/18-55 kit. I had one of the first 100 previewed here (weeks before it arrived in the states or EU) and while it's not perfect.. it does produce much better image quality than anything else in its class and on par with the average APC-S DSLR.

I remain a bit confused about some of the comments from the reviewers.  Some things were just flat wrong and others exaggerated.  I can easily change my settings in Av or Tv or M modes with the turn or a dial or perhaps a push of the button and they are visible 100% of the time if you set the camera that way.  ISO settings remain a few button pushes away but I don't find this that big a deal for a serious capture, the rest of the time Auto ISO suffices for fun and snap purposes.

I find the 18-55 lens on par and in fact better than the average mid-range zoom for DSLR's but not as good as the top AFS or L zooms for my Nikon or Canon's. It's silky smooth and feels very precision made and you can't help but get super sharp results if you use it right.

The LCD is beautiful.. but I think the numbers/text could be larger and easier to see.. this should be adjustable.

 

The articulating LCD and small size makes candid captures both fun and possible where viewfinder use would not. I long for a EVF (electronic view finder) attachment for serious capture, but the more I use the articulating LCD the less the longing.

The articulating screen is extremely useful for candid shots

 

The articulating LCD and small size makes candid captures both fun and possible where viewfinder use would not. I long for a EVF (electronic view finder) attachment for serious capture, but the more I use the articulating LCD the less the longing.

Software sucks. I can't wait for LR3 or ACR to support the RAW.. it's a major PIA to use the included Sony software.. but this is an issue with any new camera.  If you get one of the first ones you end up waiting a small period until the software updates are released.

The movie mode for 'fun/personal' use is great. I'm not and never will be a serious videographer and when I must do serious video I use my Canon 5d Mark II for that.. but for personal use it's great. The "sweep panorama" is also heaps of fun, and the images interesting.. but it does take some work to get really good image quality and you'd expect from how this mode is used.

I'd say.. if you're not already invested in the Micro 4/3rd’s genre.. and want a small portable camera with DSLR like image quality then the NEX-5 is worthy of serious consideration.  I personally find it a no-brainer. Will a NEX-7 be better?  Without a doubt.. and so will the new Canon 1ds4 when it's released.. but until then my NEX-5 and 1ds2/5d2/1d4... they all take the same pictures with the same image quality they always have.

 

I'd say.. if you're not already invested in the Micro 4/3rd’s genre.. and want a small portable camera with DSLR like image quality then the NEX-5 is worthy of serious consideration.  I personally find it a no-brainer. Will a NEX-7 be better?  Without a doubt.. and so will the new Canon 1ds4 when it's released.. but until then my NEX-5 and 1ds2/5d2/1d4... they all take the same pictures with the same image quality they always have.

A full size APC-S sensor just like in most DSLR's

 

And maybe I shouldn't say this.. but I see the NEX-5 as "disposable" as I do my point and shoots. I'll get my $700 worth of enjoyment out of it before I pass it on to a son or relative, or maybe I'll keep a lens for the model that replaces it.. dunno.. but I'm not going to fret over the relatively low cost of this particular camera for the utility and fun its providing.  I have a room full of old P&S's and DSLR's that bother me far more..

 

Here are a few images from my new NEX-5.  I’ll bring you Part II of the user report next week with more detailed information and some example images geared towards showing different features.  To be clear, I like this camera very much and I now carry it everywhere when not working and using my large DSLR’s.

The red color isn't for me, but maybe the lady in your life?

 

Here are a few images from my new NEX-5.  I’ll bring you Part II of the user report next week with more detailed information and some example images geared towards showing different features.  To be clear, I like this camera very much and I now carry it everywhere when not working and using my large DSLR’s.

 

This image of my son playing pool was one of the first 2-3 images from the camera.  The very small, even tiny, included flash did a good job of correctly exposing the scene.

Sony NEX-5 Av mode, F5.6  1/100th   27mm    ISO 100

 

This image of my son playing pool was one of the first 2-3 images from the camera.  The very small, even tiny, included flash did a good job of correctly exposing the scene.

 

The light transitions of this shot show off the dynamic range and low light capabilities of the NEX-5.

Sony NEX-5 Av mode, F5.6  1/50th   30mm    ISO 250

                         

The light transitions of this shot show off the dynamic range and low light capabilities of the NEX-5.

 

Shot inside the bar with no flash and all natural light the image is clear and noise free besides being shot at a higher ISO of 1250.

Sony NEX-5 Av mode, F4.5  1/60th   36mm    ISO 1250

 

Shot inside the bar with no flash and all natural light the image is clear and noise free besides being shot at a higher ISO of 1250.

 

Sony NEX-5 Av mode, F3.5  1/60th   18mm    ISO 800

Sony NEX-5 Av mode, F3.5  1/60th   18mm    ISO 800

 

What if you wanted a wider shot of the bar but all you had was the 18-55mm lens with you, which at 18mm is a 27mm equivalent?   No problem, put the camera in “sweep panorama” mode and hold down the shutter button while moving it by hand across the room.  The NEX-5 automatically (instantly really) takes 5-8 images, stitches them together, and produces a 8000 pixel wide panoramic.

 

A boring shot when I was documenting a repair on my PC.  What you’re looking at there is a bare i7-920 CPU.  You’re not sure or you can’t read the print, not sure just how sharp this kit lens is?   Look at the crop below.

Sony NEX-5 Av mode, F8  1/80th   44mm    ISO 500

 

A boring shot when I was documenting a repair on my PC.  What you’re looking at there is a bare i7-920 CPU.  You’re not sure or you can’t read the print, not sure just how sharp this kit lens is?   Look at the crop below.

 

This lens is TACK sharp and easy to use to make such sharp images.  The print you’re reading is magnifying glass small.. zoomed in several times.. yet as clear as can be.  Heck, you can even these much of the metal structure.

Sony NEX-5 Av mode, F8  1/80th   44mm    ISO 500

 

This lens is TACK sharp and easy to use to make such sharp images.  The print you’re reading is magnifying glass small.. zoomed in several times.. yet as clear as can be.  Heck, you can even these much of the metal structure.

Part II next week.  We’ll cover the camera in much more detail then!