I won't be delving into the technical details because firstly, there are many professional review sites out there that do a much better job and secondly, I'm not a tech guru and don't know all the tech specs of my camera. What I will share is my personal experience in using the Nex-5 since I got it about 1.5 months ago for the benefit of those who have been asking
This post will also allow me to easily direct others who wish to know more about the Nex-5, here. So, if you have any questions, please post it here for the benefit of others. If I didn't answer any queries, you can ask here as well.
Quick background on why the Sony Nex-5
I've always been an avid Canon user when it comes to camera. My first digital camera was the IXUS and I've bought several IXUS-es thereafter. As I enjoy taking photographs, I decided to invest in another camera other than a point and shoot and I naturally looked at Canon options as I was used to the userability of a Canon camera.
Frankly, I would have not considered a Sony as my opinion of Sony is more for products like audio and tvs. However, the Nex-5 was brought to my attention when a friend who is a professional photographer, told me more about it with an unbiased opinion. Hence, I decided to look more into it.
My initial experience and thoughts with the Sony Nex-5
For a person that has never used a Sony camera, I found it easy to learn how to use it. It's user friendly and pretty intuitive. I have not figured out the full potential and features of the Nex-5 as yet and I am still shooting in mostly automatic mode. I will eventually experiment with manual mode when I'm more familiar with it. So far, I am loving the results of the photos that I have taken. In fact, I hardly fix on the flash so the photos are mostly all taken without any flash!
What I like about the Nex-5
1) Lightweight. If you fix on the pancake lens, it fits into a small purse or jeans pocket. I am now using the 18-55mm lens so it looks bulky but is lighter than even my G10.
2) Shoot well in low lighting. As mentioned, most pictures taken are without the flash which is a manual add on.
3) Good intelligent auto mode. It's slighly different from a standard 'automatic' mode as this one selects what feature mode to use for example, macro or bokeh or so. If the result isn't desirable, I switch to the specific feature that I want.
4) Good hand feel. A common question that many have asked me - why the Nex-5 instead of the Nex-3 as it's about SGD$400 more expensive? The Nex-3 is slimmer in body but it's a little hard to have a good grip on the camera. B.T did say that if I were to ask someone else to take a photo, it might easily slip out which I was wary of as I had a bad experience asking someone to take a shot and she dropped my camera and destroyed my zoom lenses. The only other difference between the two is the material used for the camera body and the Nex-5 takes higher definition videos.
5) Automatic bokeh effect rendered. I'm a huge fan of macro photography and photography that uses the 'bokeh' effect i.e. where the focus is on the foreground or subject nearest to you and the background is blurry. The Nex-5 makes is easy to utilize this feature.
6) Shooting tips are provided inside the camera. Whichever mode you are in, it will show relevant shooting tips which I find useful. Good for novices like me.
7) Clever placement for the camera strap. It looks standard but it deliberately hangs the camera pointing downwards as the weight would eventually tilt it forward and it's in a 'safer' position so I like how details went even into this!
8) Option to change lenses and fix on SLR lenses - there are currently 3 types of lenses available for this range and if you wish to use SLR lenses, you can do so by buying an adaptor and you can fix on any Sony lens from the Alpha range.
9) Option to shoot in raw, jpeg and wide angle and I currently use the wide angle option so my photos are wider than usual and I like how it looks different.
What I wish could be improved on
1) Slower start-up time and if you select the option to automatically show a preview of each photo taken, it will take awhile before it re-loads for the next shot. I turn off the auto preview and instead manually press on the 'play' button if I wish to preview the photo. I don't shoot in RAW format either. I don't intend to shoot SLR quality photos and do a lot of editing so I think it's unecessary. Not shooting in RAW format means the processing speed is faster.
2) The cover for the lenses isn't attached to the camera body (for most, it's with a string or so), so there's a risk of mis-placing the cap.
3) A lens cover to fit over the front if you do not want to leave the lenses attached to the camera body. Currently, I need to fix on one lens and leave it on. My current long lens makes it bulky to store and I've not been able to find a lens case that's nice - tried customizing but it's too expensive and the recommended places wouldn't do it.
4) The flash is a separate component. Although it comes with the camera set, you need to manually fix it on if you wish to use it. I wish it was pre-fixed on to reduce the hassle of fixing it on even if it takes just a few minutes to do so.
5) As a previous Canon user, I occasionally miss the natural rich colors that the camera takes. But I think this is more of a brand preference and Canon scores in this aspect.
6) Absence of the external buttons which facilitates changing of the various camera modes. Sony hides everything inside a menu so there aren't any physical buttons on the outside. It doesn't bother me as much and it just needs a little getting used to, but it'll be good if the buttons could be on the outside for quick and easy switching of modes. Of course, that will mean a compromise in keeping it sleek and clean.
Samples of photos taken with the Sony Nex-5, some photos have been enhanced/post-edited using iPhoto
Taken on my most recent trip
If you are considering getting the Sony Nex-5, I recommend that you do your research before you decide on your purchase as it is a rather pricey gadget. These are what I basically did before I decided to put my money on the Nex-5. It took me a month to reach the decision!
1) What type of camera are you looking for? A point and shoot? An in-between i.e. like a G10, Nex-5 that takes better quality pictures than a point and shoot but isn't exactly an SLR. Or an SLR.
2) If you have a couple of camera models that you are considering, do your online research first. My favorite site is dpreivew as it provides in depth details with sample photographs. For the Sony Nex-5, you can also check out photography blog. Read up on all your shortlisted brands/models and narrow it down to not more than 3 choices. If you have friends who are professional photographers or dabble seriously into photography, it might be worthwhile speaking to them about your options. One of the reasons why I decided to look at the Nex-5 was that it came highly recommended from a professional photographer who uses another brand.
3) Visit a few camera shops to see the actual product. Hold it, play around with the features, ask questions on it. Just a headsup, a lot of the shops that I visited in Funan Mall did not have an SD card for you to 'test' the camera. Bring your own. Also, some of them would refuse to let you touch and feel the product. Your best bet would then be to visit the specific brand shop for example, Sony Style for Sony.
4) Once you have seen the actual cameras, write down what you like about each model. Decide what is the most important for you for example, size to me was critical and the reason why I decided to sell of my G10 though I truly loved using the camera as it took quality pictures. However, I was often bothered by the weight. This ruled out the Panasonic GF1 and the Olympus Pen-EP2 and made my decision making a lot easier. So decide what are the top few factors that you must have in a camera be it compact size or interchangeable lenses or certain features of the camera. Also, know what are the lowlights of the selected camera and ask yourself if you are okay with it. No camera is perfect so know what are the flaws and see if you can live with it!
5) After deciding on the Sony Nex-5, check out the prices. You can skip this step if you don't bother about getting a good deal and don't mind getting it at whatever price. I even searched the U.S sites and checked out the Nex-5 when I was in Hong Kong to decide where I wanted to get it. I recommend Parisilk for good deals or if you are looking for complimentary accessories, your best bet is at an IT Fair.
By the way, I still hold on to my Canon IXUS. I use it when I do activities like snowboarding and it's not practical to lug around a bigger camera or when I just want to carry out a clutch.
Hope this helps!
P.S I am still waiting for the stock of my pancake lens to arrive! It's been almost 6 weeks? I've lost count. I guess that gives me more time to practise on the 18-55mm lens for the time being.