The NEX(t) Big Thing
I have to give Sony huge props for getting this camera right. I have never been a Sony brand fan, but they have made me a fan of their Alpha line of cameras. After leaving SLR land and moving to Micro Four Thirds, I was very happy with the move and didn't regret it at all. After about a year of shooting with Micro Four Thirds, I began to need just a few things that didn't seem to be offered with Micro Four Thirds, namely speed. From shot to shot the speed was just not there. I began doing a little camera research to see if there were any new options out there for compact cameras with interchangeable lenses. Most of what I kept finding were SLRs, one of which was the Sony Alpha A77. This camera looked very interesting, as it had what they were calling "translucent mirror technology". After researching the A77 quite extensively, I finally caught myself and stopped altogether. The last thing I should do is go back to a big bulky DSLR. This path turned out to not be a total waste, however; a tangent from the A77 was the NEX-7. This camera got me really exited. Small form factor, interchangeable lenses, and get this, the same sensor that was in the big SLR A77! "The same sensor!? But the NEX-7 is so small!" I know! This is what really got me rallying in the Sony camp. The NEX series of cameras have the same APS-C size sensor that you find in all DSLRs which are not full frame. This meant I could have a DLSR quality image from a point and shoot size camera. I was sold! I bought the NEX-5N.
So what were the negatives? So far I haven't found any negatives. The camera is amazing! The quality of the build is top notch, the feature set is massive, and the price was very reasonable. I got the NEX-5N body, 18-55mm lens, and an additional 16mm f/2.8 lens for right at $800. That is a good bit less than retail, but who pays retail!? :) If you rely heavily on strobes for your shooting, then this camera is not for you, as it does not have a traditional hot shoe or a wide variety of high output flashes.
"Why didn't you get the NEX-7??" Well, right about the time these new cameras and lenses were going to be released, the terribly devastating flood happened in Thailand. This is where the majority of the NEX line is made, so many of the lenses and the NEX-7 were delayed. As of this writing, the NEX-7 is still not widely available and neither are many of the lenses. Overall, the NEX-7 does have features I very much want, like dual user assignable control knobs. But, with a body price tag that is nearly double that of the 5N, I am not 100% sure it is worth it. The NEX-7 has the same size sensor, but is 24MP vs. the 5N having 16MP. I don't really need or want 24MP, so the 5N was the best fit for me.
Almost forgot to mention one last awesome feature of the NEX series. The NEX cameras use the Sony E-mount lenses. But, and this is a big one, the NEX line can use ANY of the Sony Alpha A-mount lenses as well! Want to use a giant 70-200mm f/2.8 lens? Go right ahead!
Amazon Link: Sony NEX-5N