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Sony NEX-5R Review

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Now here’s another one: a deliciously tiny, mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera that can almost replace many DSLRs on themarket. Sony was one of the early entrants in this game and, in typical fashion, continues to refine the bloodline with this third generation product in the 5 series.

In a press release introducing the camera the company asked:

‘Are DSLR cameras too big and too hard?’

The NEX-5R attempts to make a reply and only NEX-5R users will be able to confirm the real answer.

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In looks the camera is tiny and appears further dwarfed by attaching the f3.5/16-50mm kit lens (supplied for this review) but the bulk, handling and overall weight is far from intimidating. With this lens attached it is only just pocketable.

Sony NEX-5R Features

If you’re looking for external controls, stop right now!

Top deck: on/off switch, replay and Function button that accesses a customisable menu and, depending on which shooting mode you’re in, alters aperture and/or shutter speed; there’s also a control wheel that sets aperture value and shutter speed in the appropriate modes. Set back a little is the familiar red video record button.

Rear: to the right of the LCD screen (which dominates this area) is a four way control wheel that accesses continuous shooting, exposure, ISO and screen display options. This is accompanied by two assignable soft key buttons that access menu options.

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Most camera controls can be accessed via the sensitive touch screen. Those who are thick-fingered amongst us will have trouble tho’!

A novel plus of the touch screen is the ability to take vertical format self portraits with the camera held at arm’s length!

For many the camera has an important add-on with its integrated Wi-Fi capabilities and in-camera apps. By installing the appropriate (Windows) app on your iOS or Android mobile device it allows you to transfer files from the camera to the device.
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I had little difficulty in transferring my images to Facebook and my own Wi-Fi network, aside from the tedious finger work involved in the necessary data input.

By installing the Smart Remote Control application, users can do a remote check on the image on their camera display, adjust camera exposure, and even take a picture — all from their Xperia smartphones.
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The 16.1 megapixel capture can shoot maximum 4912×3264 pixel images and make 42x28cm prints. The sweep panorama function will please many brave enough to search out suitable subjects and the patience and resourcefulness to take them to the print stage.

Full HD movies can be captured in either AVHCD or MPEG. Maximum res is 1920×1080 pixels. A good thing in one way is that you cannot capture a still whilst in record video mode, so no breaks in your movie!
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I know I’ve said it before but the switchable on-screen level gauge is a mighty help when you’re shooting in a hurry and likely to miss this important factor.

For many, the deal breaker when considering this camera is the vari-angle screen that tilts up, down and even forward for self-portraits; however, the latter will not work if you attach an optional flash unit to the camera’s top deck.

Sony NEX-5R ISO Tests

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Noise begins to creep in at ISO 3200. More so at ISO 6400. Images at ISO 12800 are useable. High noise level at ISO 25600.

Sony NEX-5R Review Verdict

Quality: above average.

Why you’d buy the Sony NEX-5R: compact, high quality picture maker.

Why you wouldn’t: too basic — you need more features.

Welcome to another in the NEX line!

Sony NEX-5R Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: multi zone, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Sony E-mount.
Exposure Modes: iAuto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.5×15.6mm CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed (stills): 30 to 1/4000 second and Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: up to 10 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4912×3264 to 2448×1376.
Movies: 1920×1080 (AVCHD), 1440×1080 and 640×480 (MPEG4).
Viewfinder: 7.5cm LCD screen (921,600 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW (Sony ARW 2.2), JPEG+RAW, AVCHD, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200 to 25600.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, Wi-Fi.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 111x59x39 WHDmm.
Weight: 276 g (inc card and battery).
Price: Get a price on the Sony NEX-5R(Body Only) or the Sony NEX-5R with 18-55mm Lens.

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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