Sony Alpha NEX-5
LIST PRICE: $699 (with 18-55mm lens)
Sony has joined the increasingly popular mirrorless, interchangeable-lens competition in a big way, with two new Alpha cameras: the NEX-5 and its lower-priced sibling, the NEX-3—the smallest cameras in the class, with some impressive features.
Like the Micro Four Thirds System cameras introduced over the past few years, the NEX series does away with the SLR mirror box and pentaprism finder, enabling a much more compact camera body and lenses. But unlike the Micro Four Thirds cameras, the NEX-5 contains a larger APS-C image sensor, the size used in most popular DSLRs—one reason why it’s able to go to ISO 12,800. And while Samsung’s NX10 also has an APS-C-format image sensor, it also has a built-in eye-level electronic viewfinder, which makes it somewhat larger (note that the NEX-5 does lack eye-level viewing; no EVF is available).
The NEX-5 incorporates a number of innovative features from Sony’s top compact digital cameras and DSLRs, including Sweep Panorama, Hand-held Twilight Mode, Dynamic Range Optimizer, Face Detection, Smile Shutter Technology and more. It doesn’t have built-in sensor-shift image stabilization like the DSLRs, but selected E-series lenses will have built-in OSS optical stabilizers, including the 18-55mm zoom introduced with the camera.
STANDOUT FEATURE: Continuous autofocus and auto exposure during video recording will be a big advantage for those who expect camcorder-like ease of use.
VERDICT: One of the most exciting announcements in cameras this year, the NEX series offers innovative new features and capabilities in an amazingly compact system.
|Sony Alpha NEX-3
The NEX-5’s “kid brother” provides most of the same features. The main differences are that the NEX-3 has a polycarbonate body shell and 720/30p HD video instead of 1080i. If these don’t matter to you, you can save $100. List Price: $599 (with 18-55mm zoom).
It’s twice the size of the NEX-5 (although quite compact by DSLR standards) and doesn’t do video, but the 10.2-megapixel A230 costs $250 less, with an 18-55mm zoom, and is a true DSLR that can use the full range of A-series Sony lenses, with autofocusing and no adapter required. List Price: $449 (with 18-55mm zoom).