We've provided this printable version of our review for your convenience. Please remember that your shopping clicks support this site. If you think this camera is a good choice for you, please consider returning to the link below to check prices and make a purchase via our shopping links.

Also note that this is just one of the pages from this review. Full reviews have several pages with complete analysis of the many test shots we take with each camera. Feel free to download and print them out to see how the camera will perform for you.

Full Review at: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/NEX5N/NEX5NA.HTM

 

Sony NEX-5N Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally good to excellent performance in our tests.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.9 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~0 second

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
5 seconds after 19 large/fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
7 seconds after 8 RAW files*
7 seconds after 5 RAW+ L/F JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup time was much slower than an SLR, but reasonable for a CSC. Shutdown was instantaneous unless the buffer was not empty. Buffer clearing times were pretty good for its class, though buffers were a little shallow with RAW files.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~1.1 seconds

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~1.0 second

Time to display a large/fine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.3 second

Time to display a large/fine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Mode switching performance was pretty good for its class.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.235 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (AF timing performed with the Sony E18-55mm kit lens.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.251 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Auto Flash Enabled
0.403 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, TTL Auto flash enabled.

Continuous AF
0.315 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.067 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.022 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button. There was about 7% variation between iterations on this particular measurement.

Looking at the Sony NEX-5N's ability to determine that it's properly focused when shooting the same target multiple times, its autofocus speed is very fast for it class. The Sony NEX-5N's full-autofocus shutter lag (with the subject at a fixed distance) was only 0.235 second in Single-area AF mode. This increased slightly to 0.251 second in Multi-area AF mode. That's much faster than the average CSC, and competitive with many SLRs.

With the flash enabled, the NEX-5N's full AF shutter lag increased to 0.403s, to account for the preflash metering. Shutter lag was 0.315 second in continuous mode AF. When manually focused, the Sony NEX-5N's lag time dropped to 0.067 second, which is very fast. The Sony NEX-5N's prefocused lag time was only 0.022 second thanks to its electronic first curtain shutter (enabled by default). That's easily the fastest interchangeable lens camera we've tested including professional SLRs.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.61 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20+ shots*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.99 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20+ shots*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + LF JPEG
1.56 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20+ shots*.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.30 second (3.32 frames per second);
19 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 19 shots, then slows to an average of about 0.45s or 2.21 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous mode
RAW

0.30 second (3.30 frames per second);
8 frames total;
7 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 8 frames, then slows to an average of about 1.06s or 0.94 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous mode
RAW + LF JPEG

0.30 second (3.31 frames per second);
5 frames total;
7 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 5 frames, then slows to 1.45s or 0.69 fps when buffer is full.

Speed Priority Continuous mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.10 second (10.00 frames per second);
7 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 7 shots, then slows to an average of about 0.46s or 2.16 fps when buffer is full.

Flash Recycling

2.1 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle time was not bad with just large/fine JPEGs, at 0.61 second, though it increased to 0.99 second when shooting RAW files, and 1.56 second when shooting RAW + large/fine JPEG files. Standard continuous mode performance was about average at 3.3 frames per second no matter the file type and quality, but Speed Priority Continuous mode was outstanding at 10 frames per second, though autofocus and exposure are fixed at the first frame of a burst in that mode.

Buffer depth for large/fine JPEGs was pretty good at 19 frames in standard continuous mode. Note, though, that our test target for this was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG burst lengths should be longer with typical subjects. When shooting with RAW files, buffer depth dropped to only 8 RAW frames or 5 RAW+L/F JPEG frames. Buffer depth in Speed Priority Continuous mode was only 7 large/fine JPEG frames in our tests, but as mentioned, you should do better with typical subjects.

The flash was able to recycle from a full discharge in 2.1 seconds, which is quite fast.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

11,213 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were very fast, quick enough that you won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec SD card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Sony NEX-5N's performance was generally excellent for a Compact System Camera. Autofocus is on par with most SLRs, prefocused shutter lag is faster than any SLR or CSC we've ever tested, and Speed Priority burst mode was faster than most professional SLRs (though the NEX-5N won't track focus or adjust exposure in that mode). Single-shot cycle times weren't as impressive, as were the relatively shallow burst depths when shooting RAW, but the NEX-5N should still be capable of shooting fast action in conditions where lighting and subject distance don't vary much.

Battery

Battery Life
Very good battery life for a Compact System Camera.

Operating Mode Battery Life
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard)
430 shots
Movies
(MP4 format)
29 mins

The Sony NEX-5N uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The battery is rated for 430 shots per charge using the CIPA standard, which includes 50% flash shots with the detachable flash. Battery life is above average for a CSC, but we do recommend getting a second battery for your NEX-5N if you plan any extended outings or shoot a lot of video.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))