Sony NEX-5n Overheating Issue is Not Really an Issue

I’ve seen some forum and blog postings about the Sony NEX-5n having an overheating issue.  As you can see in the above “Overheating Test” video, it records for over 23 minutes before shutting down.

Those large CMOS sensors generate a lot of heat.  And while they are great for producing bokeh-filled cinematic shots, they can’t quite replace the endless recording times of camcorders.  But camcorders can’t give you the awesome bokeh you get out of the NEX-5n and its ilk (of course there are APS-C format camcorders, but they start at around $2000 and go way up from there).

I say that the overheating issue isn’t really an issue because we’re accustomed to dealing with recording time limitations on APS-C and full frame cameras that record video.

Given that Canon’s DSLRs will only record for 12 minutes due to file-size limitations, a 23 minute recording timeframe doesn’t sound too bad.  If the DSLRs would record longer than 12 minutes, I suspect that the 23 minute “heat shutdown window” would be a challenge as well.  I’ve also had Canon DSLRs shut down on several occasions due to overheating because of the sheer volume of shooting over a short period of time.

The Sony NEX-5n costs $700 with a lens and can record 1080p video on a Super35mm-sized image sensor.  Three years ago, this was unheard of – until the Nikon D90 was introduced with 720p HD video capture and the Canon 5D Mark II brought limited 1080p video capture.  Again, both faced recording time limitations.

Camera manufacturers will develop solutions for overheating on these massive CMOS image sensors in the future.  However, the vast majority of people using the NEX-5n won’t be capturing 23 minutes of continuous footage with the camera anyway.  There will be plenty of people who continue to complain about the overheating “problems” of the camera – and then there will be those who never think twice about it and shoot some great videos with it.  Be the latter.



  1. says

    I disagree with the whole premise of this argument. If you are going to enable unlimited file size for video shoots, the hardware should be able to handle it. As for the 5D2, I have personally used one multiple times for professional shoots that lasted hours and it never shut down because of heat. Don’t be too quick to let Sony off the hook.

  2. Marc says

    “be the later”. What?

    Bought camera to record presentations that are 45 minutes. Guess now since you say so, I’ll just have to reduce length of presentations. Would be nice if they simply said “not appropriate for video that exceeds 20 minutes”.

    • says

      Obviously, your intended use is different than most. So, sure, you’ve got a legitimate gripe. My point was that lots of folks who have no intention of shooting over 23 minutes will complain about this “problem.” Sorry if that wasn’t so obvious in my message.

      • Kerry says

        We bought 3 nex -5 to record training classes at work. If Sony had indicated record time was limited to 8 Minutes we would never have bought them. Instead they ignore the issue and let you think its good to go for 30 minute clips. The recordings were made in a cool room, 24c, and the camera was an unbeleivable pain to deal with! To get 10 minutes, we resorted to using external power (avoids battery discharge heat), lowest setting on LCD brightness, and worst of all attaching a large heat sink under the flipped up LCD using thermal pads and strong rubber bands. Wewould have returned them but the seller wouldnt take them back (we bought them ahead of our need).

        We even opened one up and attempted to use some thermal compound to sink the sensor to the rear case. It was cooled only by convection inside the unit, an air gap between the case and sensor was a poor design to get heat out.

        The camera is marketed by Sony as a do all photo and video camera! So it doesnt quite do video as advertised. I ask you, if you had to stop using any other consumer electronics every 10 minutes, would you say that was ok? The issue is not the overheat problem, but the fact Sony oversells an obviously flawed feature of the camers.

  3. Lisa says

    Mine overheats after only about 10 pictures. I’ve left the screen up, pop the battery in and out, but nothing helps. I am extremely upset considering the money I spent in this little package. Apparently it’s something I’m expected to live with. That’s not acceptable…any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.

    • Kerry says

      Sounds like yours is especially bad, if you cant return it or send to Sony, try lowering screen brightness and if possible turn of image stabilization. see my above post for other possibilities.

  4. Peter says

    My NEX 5 just shut down and refuse to boot up again The LCD screen just do not light up anymore. This was after taking 20 snaps and then some video recording of maybe some 12 to 15 minutes. I even try to put in a new battery, but noting happens. The question is what can I do to get it working or repaired, now that the warranty has just expired. It die one month over before the warranty, but in the place where I live – Cambodia, I cannot get any help from the shop I purchased it. They just said no replacement parts. And it has been sitting in my camera bag totally useless since then.
    Sony needs to look into clearing this nagging problem, I have not faced such problems with my other cameras on video shootings . It is sad this camera has such a short life.

  5. Justin Thomas says

    I was recording a cafe concert the other night with my 5n but I was recording at iso 1600, in mp4 format. It was warm in the room, and it overheated in after about 4 min of recording. I think that it has to work a lot harder to do 1080 HD at iso 1600, however, so I believe that is why it overheated so quickly.