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Sony NEX-5N and NEX-C3 - Same Sensor or Different?

Amin Sabet

Aug 6, 2011
Apparently Sony is claiming that the 16MP sensors in the new NEX-5N and NEX-C3 cameras are two distinct sensors. Of note, the NEX-5N has an ISO range of 100 - 25,600 and Auto ISO up to 3200, while the NEX-C3 has an ISO range of 200 - 12,800 and Auto ISO up to 1600.

I set out to test this issue further by processing some of the Imaging-Resource RAW files using Raw Photo Processor (Mac only, latest beta version) and found that the NEX-C3 and NEX-5N files are very similar but not the same. They are nearly identical at most ISO values but differ a bit at the highest ISOs. Here are some representative 100% crops at ISO 6,400 and 12,800:







As you can see, there is a tiny bit more noise in the NEX-C3 files at very high ISO values. There may be a tiny bit more detail there as well, and I wonder if the only difference is some subtle on-chip smoothing in the NEX-5N files. Regardless, the differences seen here are too minor to be of any practical consequence to me.

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