Capturing Disney’s Aladdin with the Sony NEX-5

Aladdin in the Desert

Aladdin and Jafar in the Desert

My favorite show at Disneyland is “Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular”, a 45 minute broadway style performance that takes place on the California Adventure side of the resort. I saw the show 4 years ago and after the repeat viewing, I still enjoyed it just as much. The show has enough singing, dancing and action to keep the interest of even my 7 and 11-year-old boys. The production value is first-rate and probably rivals the quality of a broadway performance but is short enough to keep the interest of the younger audience. The story is also familiar since its based on the 1992 animated Aladdin movie. If you ever go down to the Disneyland Resort in California, I highly recommend it. It’s included in the price of admission and if you want or need a break from all the rides, this is a perfect getaway.

The show was also a fun opportunity to use my Sony NEX-5 in a different environment, a stage show. Luckily, most scenes were brightly lit especially compared to a typical school production in an auditorium (I was able to keep my ISO at 1600 or lower). I took both stills and video, both came out great for the most part. The nice thing about the Sony is can switch from high quality stills to video with a touch of a record button. Something that a camcorder can not do and the NEX-5 has higher quality than the typical point and shoot cameras. The autofocusing video is also an advantage over my Canon 7D which takes great video but does not autofocus. All is not perfect with the NEX though. When I shot stills, particularly in RAW, it takes a few seconds to write to the card which prevents me from shooting video immediately. I didn’t notice this limitation when I just take still images. I seem to be able to shoot a reasonable number of stills without delay. Also when just taking videos, I can stop and start the filming quite adequately. I will write more about the good things and the limitations in the Sony NEX-5 in an upcoming review. Either way, this camera is a heck of a large improvement over the camera I used 4 years ago, the Canon S2 IS. I used an early Canon super-zoom point and shoot to film the Aladdin show back then. In many ways, my desire to get the NEX was my attempt to find a modern and high quality version of that Canon S2 IS camera that I used 4 years ago at Disneyland — one camera that can take great stills and video snippets in a small and easy to carry around package.

I used my 18 – 55mm lens and most of the time I was zoomed in closer to the 55mm end though my images ranged from about 30mm to 55mm. I was lucky enough to get front row seats so If you want closeups from the seats further back you will need a considerable zoom. The theater is very large so if you don’t get there early you can end up in the second or third level. Part of my luck was that I had priority seating that I got as a bonus feature when we ordered our Disney Vacation Package from Costco. This was what enable me to get up front. However, even with priority seating do plan on getting there early to get the best possible location. I’ve included a bunch of photographs from the show and a video clip sample at the very end. The photograph with the dashed white border is the movie clip. Click on this image to see the movie in 5 different sizes including the Full HD version. Even though the clip is only 23 seconds long, some of the higher resolution clips will take a while to download. You can also click on the regular photographs to see a larger version.

The Genie Appears

The Genie Appears

Proposing to Princess Jasmine

Proposing to Princess Jasmine

Romantic Duet

Romantic Duet



Aladdin Movie Sample

Aladdin Movie Sample

My Thought Process

I didn’t have a grand plan when shooting the show. I was enjoying the performance and shot sporadically to capture the more colorful and visually rich scenes. I did remember a few special scenes from my first viewing and wanted to capture those on video. Other than that, I had a fun and relaxing time composing the images the best I could. I even kept the Sony in auto-ISO mode so I did very little camera adjustments. Photography is fun and very enjoyable for me but sometimes I also need to remember to watch and enjoy the show, live.

[Note: Click on the images for a larger version]

Image Details

All of the photographs were taken in RAW with the Sony NEX-5 with the 18-55mm kit lens. They were minimally post processed using Aperture 3. The images were sharpened, highlights were reduced and shadows were brightened slightly.

Image 1: f4.5, 1/50 sec, no exposure compensation, ISO 800 at 31mm
Image 2: f5.6, 1/60 sec, no exposure compensation, ISO 1600 at 55mm
Image 3: f5.6, 1/100 sec, no exposure compensation, ISO 200 at 55mm
Image 4: f5.6, 1/100 sec, -2/3 exposure compensation, ISO 1000 at 53mm
Image 5: f5.6, 1/60 sec, -2/3 exposure compensation, ISO 250 at 37mm

Other Sony NEX-5 blog posts

Here are some other posts I made about the Sony NEX-5.

Street Photography with the Sony NEX-5
Sony NEX-5 High ISO Performance
The Perfect Small Camera Bag for the Sony NEX-5
Sony NEX-5: A New Angle on Photography
In Search of an EVIL Camera

8 thoughts on “Capturing Disney’s Aladdin with the Sony NEX-5

  1. Wow, very nice photos Andy! The color is amazing. I’m impressed that you can do the with the smaller Sony!

  2. Nice photos, I also hope to click some good shots with the NEX5. Im planning to buy this camera and am looking for details on its features and usage. Your inputs were nice. I saw very nice & clear images posted by by Sony India at
    Just wanted to check if any users has posted some images taken from NEX5. Your pics were nice too.

  3. Your work is awesome! Not just the NEX shots but all of your work looks great! I plan on getting the NEX 5 as my first REAL camera. I’ve always used point and shoot in the past. Your shots give me a goal to work toward!

    1. Jason, thank you very much. The newer NEX-5s have been improved over the original NEX-5 that I it should work out for you.

      It is a good camera and is also works well for people starting out too.

  4. Well….. I went with the Sony A35 instead. On the advice of a local camera shop, and some added flexibility of the DSLR/T. I’m happy for now but I can already see wanting some more features very soon. 🙂 I think it’s a good start though.

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