Sony Alpha NEX-5N Ken McMahon and Gordon Laing, Dec 2011


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To compare real-life performance between RAW and JPEG files on the Sony NEX-5N, I shot this scene in the camera's RAW+JPEG mode.

The sensitivity was set to the minimum 100 ISO and the aperture to f5.6, which I'd previously confirmed delivered the sharpest images.

The JPEG was processed using the in-camera defaults, while the RAW file was processed using Adobe Camera RAW, again using the default settings, although with a boost in sharpening to 40.
  Sony NEX 5N results
1 Sony NEX 5N Quality
2 Sony NEX 5N RAW vs JPEG
3 Sony NEX 5N Noise
4 Sony NEX 5N Sample images

On the previous pages you saw how the Nikon V1 delivered natural-looking, if slightly laid-back looking JPEGs using its default settings, so in this RAW comparison I decided to boost the sharpening in Capture NX 2 a notch from the default setting of 3 to 4. I also applied chromatic aberration correction.

In the first row of crops you'll see the processed RAW version has effectively removed what little coloured fringing the in-camera JPEG left behind. I believe like other Nikon cameras that the V1 reduces coloured fringing on JPEGs automatically, but as you can see here, Capture NX has done a better job.

Moving onto the other crops, the processed RAW file has a more contrasty appearence which you may or may not prefer to the in-camera JPEG. I actually prefer the look of the JPEG, but look closely and you'll notice better definition in the fine foliage details on the processed RAW version.

As always, your mileage will vary depending on the scene, the settings and even the RAW converter itself. But like all cameras which can shoot RAW, there's a number of key benefits over JPEGs. Not only can you easily make all manner of adjustments from white balance to sharpness and noise reduction, but you can also dictate the level of compression (if any at all) when exporting the file at the end of the process.

Additionally RAW files generally include a higher tonal dynamic range to work with, which often allows you to retrieve detail previously lost in the highlight areas. I tried this with several RAW files on the V1 and found there was indeed some exposure latitude available. For example, the areas of this image which are saturated white, such as the rooftops, revealed subtle shades when levels and curves were adjusted on the RAW file.

Now lets see how the camera performs at high sensitivities in my Nikon V1 noise results page. Alternatively if you'd like to download some photos to check out for yourself, head over to my Nikon V1 sample images page, or if you've seen enough proceed directly to my Nikon V1 verdict!


Sony NEX-5N
(JPEG using in-camera defaults)
Sony NEX-5N
(RAW using Adobe Camera RAW with 40 sharpening)
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Sony NEX 5N results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG
/ High ISO Noise

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