Which One is Which? Sony NEX 5n vs Nikon D5100

DXOMark rates camera sensors, and they’re considered the standard in the industry though many will argue their findings at times. When Sony sent me the NEX 5n, I looked around the internet to try to find information about it. Everyone had compared it to Canon’s 5D Mk II due to the video capabilities. However, I didn’t see much when it came to Nikon comparisons.

Let’s get one thing straight: Nikon’s D5100 and D7000 have essentially the same video modes and therefore also would almost never be usable for most pros. Though Chase Jarvis uses the D7000 to create some great video, I have to agree more with Andrew Reed’s findings in that the auto-exposure adjustment override absolutely kills me. I really highlighted this in my D5100 review. Indeed, the T3i is a much better camcorder as we concluded.

But this test is about the still image quality between the Sony NEX 5n vs the D5100. Sure one is a DSLR and one is a mirrorless camera, but they’re both APS-C sized sensors. So can you tell which photo came from which camera? Take a look at our informal test to see.

Gear Used

Sony NEX 5n with kit lens

Nikon D5100 with kit lens

Testing Procedures

This was not only a test of the each camera’s sensor capabilities, but also their metering abilities. I went out into the snow and found two subjects to photograph. I set the cameras to aperture priority, and then matched the ISO and aperture levels. Then I shot a photo with the NEX 5n and tried to match it very closely using the D5100. Amazingly the metering was different on both despite no lighting changes and the images being shot seconds away from one another.

This not only showed a difference in image quality, but also what the camera thinks would give the user the best image based on its own sensor and processor.

Both lenses were set to the same focal length through the test. Afterward, they were brought into Lightroom 4 Beta, set to 350 DPI and resized to 1MB for ease of use and load times on the web. The same level of clarity adjustments and sharpening were done to each photo.

We’d ask that you not look at the EXIF data for your findings and to please tell us why you think that one photo is from the Sony camera and the other is from Nikon.

Image Test 1

Photo A

Photo B

Image Test 2

Photo C

Photo D

What Do You Think?

We’d ask that you not look at the EXIF data for your findings and to please tell us why you think that one photo is from the Sony camera and the other is from Nikon.

Let us know in the comments below.

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