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Sony NEX-5N compared to Canon G9

Here’s a quick (not complete) comparison between the Sony NEX-5N and Canon G9.

One downside with compacts last couple of years is that pixels increased on a same sized sensor. This caused noise to increase and low-light performance to suffer (although post-processing improved and compensated for this little bit). New alternatives to compacts are larger sensor compact interchangeable lens camera’s. For instance 4/3 cameras have a bigger sensor and the Sony APS-C an even bigger sensor. Downside is that lenses still have to be larger since the sensor is larger as well. But despite that due to the compact body the overall size is still relatively small.

Low-light performance
The Sony NEX-5N low-light performance is amazing. It easily is 3-4 stops better (lens is about 1-2 stops slower). See below 1:1 crop example:

NEX-5N low-light compared to G9

Daylight performance
Daylight performance is better but the kit lens is not great. Anything under F8 aperture will cause left side of the picture to be very fuzzy (about 20% of left side). So you have to shoot at F8 to get a more even resolution (but there’s still some visible resolution loss at pixel level). Also I noticed that the Sony JPG’s have a processed look with high contrast and saturation. RAW images improves that but still looks more contrasty than I’m used to. But despite that overall quality and resolution is still little bit better.

I also tested the fixed 16mm prime lens and resolution is little bit more even. The camera is quite small with this lens and comparable to G9.

Example center and left side F4:
NEX-5N daylight center 1:1 crop

Left 1:1 crop at F4 (note F8 looks lot better). Click on picture:

NEX-5N daylight left 1:1 crop F4

Movie mode

Unfortunately my model had the clicking issue: when tilting slowly few degrees I hear a click. So it’s impossible to record without hearing these noises if you’re walking or shooting video from a car. This issue is known by Sony and they offer free ‘repair’ of this issue. The fix would reduce the sound significantly.

The video quality itself is decent and no wobbly CMOS effects that I could see when panning fast.


The Sony NEX-5N definitely is a big improvement in low-light even with slower lens. It’s also better than 4/3 cameras but in daylight the quality is quite similar to the G9 and with larger apertures worse. This can be contributed to the kit zoom lens but there aren’t too many (affordable) zoom lens choices yet currently. There will be new lenses next year and hopefully lens quality will improve.

The new Canon S100 is 1 stop faster than G9 and low-light improved by about 1-2 stops. But low ISO performance is not better and similar to G9. So there’s no perfect compact yet.


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