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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Compact

Tiltable LCD

Top controls

Microphone

Grip

It's all lens

Back controls

Contextual controls

The NEX-5 is so small that it gets visually overwhelmed even by its 18-55mm kit lens. Still, it feels balanced in your hands while shooting.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The tiltable LCD is a really nice feature to have, though it doesn't make up for the lack of an electronic viewfinder option.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
A dedicated movie-record button is an essential control for any camera that shoots video. As you can see, there isn't much in the way of controls on top of the camera.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The NEX-5 has a stereo mic with more physical separation than most.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The NEX-5 has a slightly larger grip than the NEX-3, and it's just large enough to feel comfortable, but a little insecure for one-handed shooting because of the limited places on the back for your thumb.

The flash comes off, and also tucks down flat on top of the camera.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Sony developed a new mount system, the E-mount, for its NEX series. The company will offer an adapter for using its standard lenses, but won't support autofocus for them (as is common).
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Though there are a few hardwired controls on the back, the bulk of the camera's operation uses a combination of the two blank buttons and the context-sensitive menu system.

There's not a lot of room on the back for a thumbrest; I frequently found my thumb sliding left to land on that top button.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
If you look at the right side of the LCD, you can get a sense of how the contextual controls work. Pressing the indicated button will bring up the virtual mode dial, and scrolling the wheel will adjust aperture size. Notice how you get both a numeric aperture readout as well as the iconic closer-farther indicator. Also notice how low the battery's getting; the camera has pretty lame battery life.

Don't worry, you can make this display a lot less cluttered.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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