The complete design of the NEX-5 is very similar to another much older Sony camera, the widely used DSC-F707, a high-spec 5-megapixel, 5x glide model launched in 2001. With your 18-55mm standard zoom attached the digicam does look somewhat unwieldy, with the lens diameter overlapping the height in the body, and with the larger 18-200mm superzoom lens attached the issue is even more pronounced. However your metal-bodied 18-55mm lens is surprisingly lighting at 194g, while the camera body weighs 288g including battery and memory, and the combination handles well. The entire body has a prominent textured handgrip for the front and a small rubber-coated thumbgrip for the back, and is easy to carry and operate one-handed. I've not had enable you to handle the NEX-5 with the 524g 18-200mm contact attached, and I imagine it would likely require two hands for comfortable function, but with the smaller lenses the camera isn't harder to handle than a smaller superzoom camera.
The camera's overall building is excellent. The body is made out of magnesium alloy and feels very solid and durable. The battery/card hatch carries a strong metal hinge and a locking latch, plus the panel joins are very tight.
Sony has managed to squeeze a great deal of features into a very small place, but the design is efficient plus the camera looks clean, contemporary and classy. The most obvious external feature will be the large 7. 5 cm (3. 0 inches) monitor screen, which is articulated for you to fold down by 45 degrees as well as up by almost 90 degrees. They have a resolution of 921, 600 dots, similar to Sony's top-of-the-range digital SLRs, with an incredibly wide angle of view. It can be clear and bright enough for employ even in bright sunlight, and carries a good anti-glare surface. I've no doubt that someone inside comments section will bemoan deficiency of an optical viewfinder, but with a monitor this good you undoubtedly don't miss it too much. It will have been better if it was fully articulated naturally, but one can't have everything.
The control layout is really a lot more akin to that of a compressed camera than a digital SLR, while using main camera controls consisting of only two multi-function buttons, with a rotary-bezel D-pad pertaining to menu navigation and exposure adjustment. In general use it is simple and fast to use, but once you start trying anything aside from the basic functions it does have a bit fiddly. Simply adjusting the ISO setting takes four button presses a turn of the dial and yet another button press. The menu system is divided into six sections with a pretty graphic screen, but it's by no means obvious in which section you'll find what you desire. By way of an example, the ISO setting can be found in the “Brightness/colour” section, which is not even close obvious. It's rather ironic that Olympus, which used such a graphic menu for many years even with much criticism, has recently switched to your much simpler and easier on-screen sidebar along with list menu, and Sony has done the complete opposite.