The Sony NEX 5R is currently the little brother in the current NEX lineup of the Sony NEX 7 and the Sony NEX 6. If you’re not familiar with the Sony NEX line, it is Sony’s offering to a new breed of mirrorless cameras that quite frankly are starting to redefine camera design and how we think about professional quality cameras. All three of these NEX cameras offer fabulous image quality, very decent low light performance, competitive price point and an incredible package that is small and travels light.
My particular model that I’m reviewing here is a Sony NEX 5r which might seem a little confusing. The lower case letters refer to variations and small improvements of the NEX 5 camera. Its confusing and the differences are minimal. Even more confusing is the seemingly inaccurate Wikipedia article which tells me mine should be red? Either way…
These cameras feature the Sony E-Mount lens mount. The E-Mount lens lineup is maturing still since it is fairly new, but pretty much all lengths are being covered so far. Also available are E-Mount offerings from Zeiss and other manufacturers. This same lens mount is used in the high end video cameras and middle end cam-corders that Sony is producing. Its extremely easy to find adaptors for E-mount. Personally I’m giving my old Canon FD lenses a second life with these cameras and absolutely loving the results I’m getting.
Each of these little mirrorless cameras is different in the design approach. The Sony NEX 5 takes many cues from both Smartphone and Point and Shoot cameras and even adds interchangeable lenses. The result is amazing. This camera is a blast to carry around because of its size and the results are impressively good. The NEX 5 is much smaller than the NEX 7 and 6. It has no optical viewfinder, you just use the LCD screen for composing. Also worth noting is that the LCD is a touch screen as well. I found myself turning it off because I want to use it like a camera. If you’re upgrading from a smartphone you might like this just fine. It’s nicely responsive and works well – just not how I wanted it to work.
The camera also features WiFi integration and “apps”. I’ll get to these in a moment.
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So what is the Sony NEX 5?
The Sony NEX 5 is basically a point and shoot on steroids. I’m a big fan of point and shoots, but in the past they’ve just not been as usable for me as my bigger film and digital slr cameras. Sony has changed this completely for me. Its a little strange at first operating this camera. Is more like using your iPhone than it is a real camera. But I quickly got over that and I’ve been producing some wonderful images. I really like this model. Previously I bought the NEX 7 to use as a run-and-gun video camera. I fell in love with the thing. Then I found the NEX 5 was actually smaller with the same performance. At about half the price I decided to give it a whirl as well and I haven’t looked back. This camera is simply amazing.
SmartPhone-like Features of the Sony NEX 5
The Sony NEX 5 features WiFi connectivity native inside the camera. Its not as easy as using an iPhone, but it does work. An interesting move Sony made is that there is an “app store” accessible when you connect to the internet via WiFi. It contains a handful of questionably useful apps for things like effects and time-lapse. My two concerns here are: 1) Does Sony have the infrastructure and developer support to do a full blown app store and 2) the prices are a little high. These aren’t $1 iPhone apps, they’re more like $15 and up.
However, don’t let this turn you off from this camera. I don’t use it personally and its not in the way of using the camera.
What is amazing about this camera is the size and the image quality. Its amazing. Its lightweight and ergonomic. The video and stills are as good as any DSLR out there. No kidding. I’ve got some amazing images on this little thing. I recently went on a video shoot in New York City. I carried this little camera around all day and it performed wonderfully. Stills, video, low light, bright light, hand held were all useable. The image stabilization, white-balance and autofocus are better than anything else I’ve got in the DSLR world. I carried it everywhere on the trip – its lightweight and easy to throw into a small bag or use with a strap.
Honestly I think this little camera is a hair better than the NEX 7 and its almost half the price.
Is This My Next Camera?
I really can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t like the Sony NEX 5. The size is perfect for portability and the quality is outstanding.
There are a few little things like no full-rez HDMI output that are missing, so it might not replace your main camera just yet if you’re doing video, but for stills I think you could boil everything down to just the NEX 5.
Yes folks – it is that good!
If you’re looking for something lightweight and high quality this camera is your answer. Get some lens adaptors and you can use it with just about any lens ever made. Its portable, lightweight and simply a joy to use.
Lens Mount: Sony E Mount
Sensor: 16.1 Megapixel APS-C CMOS Sensor (1.5x crop factor)
LCD: 3.0″ LCD
Auto Focus: 99 Points Phase Detection, 25 Point Contrast AF
ISO Range: 100-3200 (Extended Mode: 25600)
Shutter: 1/4000 – 30 sec
Storage: Memory Stick PRO HG Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo, SD/SDHC/SDXC
Viewfinder: LCD Display
Video: MPEG-4, AVC/H.264
Video Frame Rates:
1920×1080: 60fps, 25fps, 24fps