Sony NEX-5N vs Olympus OM-D EM-5 UV imaging

In this post, I will be doing a side by side comparison of these two cameras, with regards to the cameras themselves, ease of use, functionality and image quality, as well as images from both cameras for comparison. I know that there are features in both cameras which I like, and it would be great to see them all amalgamated together into one camera (although this is unlikely to happen).

First are the images in UV from both cameras.

Sunflower - UV (EM-5)
Sunflower – UV (EM-5)
Sunflower - UV (NEX-5N)
Sunflower – UV (NEX-5N)
Rudbeckia - UV (EM-5)
Rudbeckia – UV (EM-5)
Rudbeckia - UV (NEX-5N)
Rudbeckia – UV (NEX-5N)

Camera Body:

The EM-5 has a nice retro look which sets it apart from other cameras out there. NEX-5N looks too modern and lacks appeal. Winner: EM-5

Camera grip:

This one goes to NEX-5N again as the grip is very steady and easy to hold, whereas the Olympus EM-5 really requires the added hand grip in order to compete (which adds cost, bulk and weight). Winner: NEX-5N

Weight:

The NEX-5N is lighter than the EM-5 despite that more substantial grip. It will be less taxing to bring this along on those long treks. Winner: NEX-5N

Image quality in UV:

Both have 16 megapixel Sony sensors, which at base ISO are very similar in image quality in UV. Both are useable to at least ISO 3200-6400. Winner: both

Colour rendition in UV:

I give this one to the NEX-5N, as the colours are richer and yellows look more yellow in UV. Winner: NEX-5N

Image stabilisation:

EM-5 has in-body image stabilisation, NEX-5N has none. Winner: EM-5

Touch screen:

Both have touch screen which can be helpful. Winner: both

Electronic viewfinder (EVF):

The NEX-5N requires an external EVF, whereas the EM-5 has one built in. Winner: EM-5

Hotshoe:

NEX-5N requires hotshoe adapter to use external flash, EM-5 has hotshoe built in. Winner: EM-5

Dials and buttons:

NEX-5N has 1 control dial which also acts as a 4 way controller and 3 buttons. EM-5 has a front and a rear dial, a mode dial, 4 way controller, and  many buttons. Hence it is easier to adjust settings with the EM-5. Winner: EM-5

Remote control:

NEX-5N has infrared remote whereas the EM-5 has wired remote control. I wish they had both. Winner: none

User interface:

NEX-5N has the old NEX user interface which is very poorly laid out and not easily accessible. The EM-5 has much better lay out with a super control panel where all the essential settings can be changed. Winner: EM-5

Custom white balance (CWB) settings:

NEX-5N only has one CWB setting, which does not appear to conform to industry standard. EM-5 has 2 CWB settings and this works in Capture One Pro. Winner: EM-5

Electronic first curtain shutter:

This feature shortens the time lag between shutter release and reduces shutter noise when taking a picture. NEX-5N has this capability, whereas the EM-5 doesn’t. This is not particularly necessary for UV-imaging. Winner: NEX-5N

Focus peaking:

NEX-5N has focus peaking, EM-5 does not. This is particularly useful for UV or IDS video, as it helps with adjusting the focus. Winner: NEX-5N

Battery life:

The Sony battery does not last very long, and does gradually drain down when not in use. The EM-5 battery seems to last a fairly long time between charges, and seems to have less loss of charge over time (but that could be because I seem to use it most days). Winner: EM-5

 Cost:

NEX-5N currently are selling for about £200+ used with kit lens. The EM-5 sells for £400+ used with kit lens, so double the price. So both have come down significantly in price over the years. Winner: both

 Conclusion:

Both cameras have features which are very useful. Both are useful for UV-imaging. The ideal camera would combine the best from both systems e.g. in-body image stabilisation, focus peaking, remote control capabilities, number of custom white balance settings, electronic viewfinder, colour rendition of images in UV, touch screen etc. The Olympus OM-D EM-5 probably just edges it for me.

However, I do have to say that the Sony A6000 does address many of the deficiencies in the NEX-5N, which makes it very appealing as my next UV-imaging camera (just as soon as a teardown of this camera appears online). But it is by no means perfect, as it does not have a touch screen or in-body image stabilisation. But it does come very close.

Boon