An interesting comparison between three models, two from Sony, the NEX 7 and the NEX-5N and one from Canon the EOS-M which both target the same audience of serious point & shoot users also preferring manual controls in their cameras.
Sensor size and megapixel count
Canon has been the last major entrant to the MILC market with the launch of the upper entry level model the EOS-M. It has been by and large a copy of their recently launched Rebel T4i (or the Canon 650D), sharing the same touch screen LCD, same APS-C sized sensor (with a crop factor of 1.6x) and other features. Clearly they are targeting the serious photographers looking for manual controls and yet stay away from the hassles of a bulkier DSLR body. Both the Sony NEX 7 and the NEX-5N have also been targeted at the same large-sensor-better-image-quality enthusiasts who would be interested in the EOS-M. They both feature a APS-C sized sensor the same as that of the EOS-M. The EOS-M offers a 18 megapixel resolution compared to the 24 of the NEX-7 and the 16.1 of the NEX-5N.
The Canon EOS-M features the latest DIGIC 5 image processing system. Comparatively the Sony NEX-7 and NEX-5N features the state of the art BIONZ® image processor.
Continuous shooting speed
Both the Sony NEX-7 and the NEX-5N features a 10 frames per second continuous shooting speed at full resolution. They are ideal for fast action photography but one will have to set the exposure and the focusing point fixed at the very first frame. Matching the continuous shooting speed of these two the Canon EOS-M also features a 10 fps continuous shooting speed at full resolution.
The NEX-7 comes with the first ever built-in OLED electronic viewfinder which offers super clear preview of the shots even when the light is near dark. It offers a 2,359,000 dots resolution for an unmatched resolution for any viewfinder in the world. OLED also has an effect upon motion blur as it reduces the same and lets the user preview the adjustments that he makes in real time before pressing the shutter release. The NEX-5N does not have a built in electronic viewfinder but its supports the FDA-EV1S OLED EVF. The Canon EOS-M on the other hand does not have an EVF.
First curtain shutter feature of the Sony NEX-7
An interesting thing that the NEX-7 and the NEX-5N both have is the electronic first curtain shutter. What it does is that it removes the necessity of opening and closing the shutter twice to take the shot, first to adjust the focus and then to expose for it. This features has already been present on other DSLR bodies but has been incorporated into a compact MILC body for the first time. This greatly reduces the shutter lag time and improves the speed and response of the camera. Also featured is the Tri-Navi™ 3-dial manual control for superior DSLR like composing freedom.
The LCD screen
Both the NEX-7 and the NEX-5N has a 3” tilting LCD screen that offers a resolution of 921,000 dots. Compared to that Canon EOS-M has the first touch screen LCD monitor which has been a direct implant from the EOS 650D.
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