Sony NEX 5-R: A new Sony NEX-5N?

Thursday November 08 2012

Camera Review
Introduction | Sony NEX 5-R sensor performance | Sony NEX 5-R versus competition | Conclusion

Sony NEX-5R vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

During our tests of the Olympus OM-D E-M5, we found that the manufacturer’s new 16Mpix LiveMOS 4:3 sensor had largely caught up in every category, starting with a dynamic range that allows it to rejoin the field of APS-C compact hybrids in terms of image quality (though with the Sony NEX still ahead).

With a DxOMark overall score of 78, the NEX-5R’s APS-C sensor stays above the Olympus sensor results, but Sony’s lead has been somewhat diminished with respect to the micro 4:3 — only a half-stop better for color depth (23.7 vs 22.8 bits), 2/3EV better for dynamic range (13.1EV vs 12.3EV), and equivalent low-light sensitivity.

The differences between the low-light ISO, color depth, and dynamic range scores are principally due to the Sony’s newly-available 100 ISO minimum sensitivity, whereas the Olympus’s minimum is 200 ISO.

comparison
Olympus no longer needs to be embarrassed about having its sensor compared to Sony’s: the dynamic range at different sensitivities match until the very lowest levels (200 ISO for the OM-D). This characteristic penalizes the OM-D in its contest with the NEX-5R, which benefits from its minimum 100 ISO to achieve 0.6EV more for this last stop.

Olympus will also be using the same sensor used in the OM-D E-M5 for its recently-announced more affordable models, the Pen E-PL5 and Pen E-PM2, which we will be testing shortly.

Sony NEX-5R vs Panasonic G5

Pitted against the aging 4:3 sensor design of the Panasonic compact hybrids, the Sony NEX-5R sensor scores points.

The color depth of the NEX-5R sensor is 1.5EV higher, for slightly finer gradations. Its dynamic range is also more generous, with a gain of 1.5EV (13.1EV for the NEX-5R versus 11.6EV for the DMC-G5), or one and a half stops larger.

Finally, for low-light sensitivity, with 618 ISO for the Panasonic sensor versus 910 ISO for the Sony EXMOR sensor, the NEX-5R wins by half a stop.

comparison
The Sony NEX-5R sensor’s dynamic range is even greater at 100 ISO versus the Panasonic DMC-G5’s performance at 160 ISO. At its minimum sensitivity, the Sony offers 1.5EV additional exposure latitude than the Panasonic.