Sony Nex 5 with Nikon 50mm lens

Sony Nex 5 with nikon 50mm F 1.8 prime lens

The NEX-5 and 3 might well win an award for the lowest number of external controls of any camera. The scarcity of buttons seen on the mock-ups shown at the PMA 2010 exhibition were interpreted by many people to mean the cameras would have a touch screen, but this isn’t the case.

In fact, Sony has taken an unconventional approach, and three of the six buttons on the body do not have a fixed function. Instead their functions are context-sensitive – changing in relation to which mode you’re in and what you’ve just done. It’s an interesting idea and one that particularly suits the NEX cameras’ unintimidating, easy-to-use philosophy.

The effect is initially impressive, particularly in the camera’s automated modes. Sony has added the ability to manually configure the actions of the central and lower buttons when shooting in the manually controlled PASM modes, allowing the assignment of up to four key shooting parameters. This, along with the features already offered on the four-way controller, gives a high degree of rapid access to key functions, despite the small button-count.
The Alpha NEX-5 features an all-new, 100% electronic E-mount. Sony has managed to reduce the flange-back distance (the distance from the front of the mount back to the sensor), to an incredible 18mm – 2mm shorter even than the Micro Four Thirds system. This allows the camera to be extremely narrow.