While other mobile devices tend to grow, cameras begin to miniaturize and there are more and more options to get a high-quality camera in very small chassis . Sony is one of the companies that bets on mirrorless interchangeable optics cameras. These types of models manage to unify the comfort of a compact but without sacrificing the quality of good optics.
The Sony NEX-5R is one of the models that the Japanese firm has in its catalog for some time, and which by the way they assure that it can match the quality of a reflex camera. Such a camera may be the solution for the amateur user looking to raise the bar in terms of performance, but prefer the handiness of a compact and lightweight product. We have tested the Sony NEX-5R with the 18-55mm lens , below we review its most important features and show the results we have obtained in the test.
The body of the Sony NEX-5R is really tiny, especially when compared to the lens that, although not large, is quite large in the whole. The chassis is very small, as much as any compact pocket camera. In fact, its thickness is only 2.5 centimeters in the thinnest part. However, Sony has included a thicker part (3.8 centimeters) on the right that serves as a grip , facilitating the handling of the controls and significantly improving the grip. In this area it also has an anti-slip texture to prevent it from slipping or making us uncomfortable to hold it.
At the back there are several buttons and the touch screen, which has the advantage of being 180º folding , as we see in the image. The movement of the panel allows us to take photos at complicated angles and still see the screen correctly. For example, if we want to take a photo at ground level, we will not have to sit or lie down, we simply rotate the screen so we can see it while bending over. If we turn it completely we can also take self-portraits with more precision.
The feeling when taking the Sony NEX-5R is to have a compact with a reflex lens, the difference in size between the body and the lens is disproportionate, but the whole is quite comfortable, with a balanced weight and an ergonomic shape that adapts well at hand.
Controls and handling
The camera allows operation through the physical controls scattered around the chassis, but also through the touch screen on the back. In the grip where we find the power switch , which surrounds the trigger , as well as a wheel to modify parameters such as opening, move through the menu or other possibilities depending on what we are doing at any given time. Right next to the wheel there is a function button , video mode and also the access key to the album of photos or videos captured.
If we go to the back we see that there is another wheel that also has several functions that change according to the moment, in addition this wheel also works as a directional crosshead with specific functions (capture mode, ISO, exposure control and screen display mode ). In this area there are two more physical buttons and again their function varies depending on the part of the menu in which we are, at all times it is indicated on the screen.
The screen of the Sony NEX-5R is tactile and from it we can also manage certain parameters. However, it is possible to move through the menus using buttons, so the use of the touch panel is optional most of the time. It is appreciated to be able to choose the control method that is most comfortable. We have also noticed that the touch screen is a bit cumbersome to handle because it is resistive , that is, you have to press on the panel so that the layers make contact and detect our orders. On the contrary, capacitive screens respond with much softer touches. Anyway we have been able to operate the camera with the use of the wheels and buttons without any problem.
Speaking of screen is a TFT panel are three inch 921,600 pixels . The reproduced images are sharp and the size acceptable for a camera of this size. The brightness of the panel is enough to be able to see the content clearly on a sunny day, but sometimes the reflections are a bit annoying. To avoid such annoyances, the screen can be moved to a more comfortable angle. We also highlight the absence of an optical viewfinder,a piece that could come in handy at times when the screen does not look good, or simply because the user prefers this system to frame the scene. Eliminating the viewfinder reduces the chassis, but then the only way to see the subject photographed is through the screen. We could say that Sony has sacrificed functionality in this regard, which can be a drawback for users accustomed to this piece.
As we have said, there are several adjustments that we can make directly using the rear wheel, such as the selection of scene modes. But there are other sections that force us to enter the menu, so we review the options available in it and its structure . First of all, to enter the menu you have to press the button located at the top right of the screen , it serves both to press on the screen itself and the physical key that is located next to it. The options are divided into seven differentiated blocks :
- Shooting mode : in this first section we can select the shooting mode we want to choose, as we said we can access this option by pressing the central button on the rear wheel.
- Camera: within this block there are a series of settings that affect the photographic taking. For example we have the management mode that includes single capture, continuous capture or the timer. We also find the flash mode, manual / automatic focus, touch shutter (allows you to take a photo by touching the screen), tracking of moving objects, face detector, smooth skin effect and others.
- Image size: as its name suggests, from this section we can configure the quality of the images as well as the aspect ratio, the quality (RAW or JPEG) and also the resolution of the videos.
- Brightness / Color: This section has several important parameters such as exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, white balance, metering mode, flash compensation, and creative effects.
- Playback : all these options refer to image playback, either on the camera itself or on an external device such as a television. From here we can also protect images or rotate them.
- Application: using a WiFi connection it is possible to download applications from Sony's Play Memories Camera Apps.
- Settings: finally the settings menu gathers options such as formatting the memory card, the name we want to give the files, the network configuration, and other parameters of the shot (red-eye reduction, live view, grid, etc).
Shooting modes and settings
The Superior Auto mode is one of the advantages of this camera, especially for users who prefer to shoot quickly without losing time searching a scene mode or set parameters in manual mode. What this system does is detect the type of scene we are photographing and activate that mode automatically. For example, if we are taking a photo at sunset, it will put us in the sunset mode and the same with backlights, night scenes and others. This function is very practical, but it must also be taken into account that it can give us unwanted results at some moments. In our case we find that the ISO sensitivity rose to12,800 or even 25,600 in night scenes , with the obvious appearance of noise . There were also times when we wanted to take an image against the light, but the automatic mode softened the contrast. The superior automatic is very versatile , but if we are looking for concrete results it is much better to waste a few seconds adjusting the shot to our liking because if we leave it to its own devices it may give us some other surprise.
The Sony NEX-5R has a series of preset scenes that also adjust the parameters automatically and in most cases the best results are obtained. If we entertain ourselves in experimenting with these options, we will see how there are details that highlight the photographed scene. For example, in portraits the background is out of focus and softens the skin, sunsets come out with very striking reddish tones and sports action allows moving objects to focus better.
The scenes make the camera adapt to the situation, but if we want to control all the parameters, it is best to use manual mode. The live viewer is a very helpful detail in this case, since it allows us to see the final result through the screen. The upper and rear wheels are used to adjust the diaphragm and the shutter , so that if the image is dark we will see it directly on the panel. But in addition to these two parameters, others must also be taken into account such as ISO sensitivity , metering method or focus., all of them can be modified in the menu. Although it is possible to use the camera in manual mode, if it comes from a reflex camera as in our case, the handling is a little less fluid.
Here are several tests performed in different situations and with different shooting modes.
[Click on the images to see them in full size]
Landscape, sunny day.
Landscape, sunny day.
Landscape, sunny day.
Outside, cloudy day
Landscape, cloudy day
Indoor, natural light
Indoor, artificial light. ISO 1600
Indoor, artificial light. ISO 3200
Sunset. ISO 125
Sunset, direct sun. ISO 100
Night scene. Exposure 1/8 sec. ISO 800
Night scene. Exposure 1/40 sec. ISO 3200
Night scene. Exposure 1.6 sec. ISO 100
Detail shot or macro
In this case we run a test to illustrate the results at the different ISO sensitivities . You can clearly see the appearance of noise at the highest values, while it behaves quite well below 6400 ISO, from this figure noise and chromatic aberrations are very evident.
The Sony NEX-5R may seem small, but the truth is that its results are at the level of many models with a mirror , even surpassing some of them (except the professional ones). The images are large , the objective tested offers sharpness , the tonal range is rich and offers many configuration options. The results are very good for a camera that, a priori, may seem less complete than others that at first glance may be more professional, but appearances can be deceiving. This camera is a very interesting option forusers looking for superior quality in a compact chassis. However, professional users who come from a SLR will miss the more manual handling that a camera of this type offers. In many cases it is cumbersome to navigate through the menus to find the necessary function, a task that is usually much faster in other types of cameras. Its so compact size makes the controls more crowded, making its handling more complex, although the truth is that after several days we got used to it and everything was more fluid. We have also missed an optical viewfinder , although the screen looks pretty good even with a lot of sun, and a longer battery life, we rarely managed to spend a full day taking photos (holds 330 shots according to the official technical sheet). The strong point of the Sony NEX-5R is undoubtedly its size , which makes it perfect to transport in a bag or backpack without hardly noticing it. Even when we wear it around our neck, it hardly bothers us, especially compared to the weight of a professional SLR. In a very small package, functions typical of high-end models have been embedded and the results we have obtained are very satisfactory.
The automatic modes are very versatile , but as we have already mentioned, you have to be careful with the parameters, especially in more extreme situations with very little light. If you do not look closely you can increase the ISO sensitivity to very high levels, where noise is very evident. The downside of this is that the three-inch screen is not so much appreciated and we were surprised when we got home and saw them on the computer. The automatic modes work very well, but always checking that the settings do not go to limits where quality is lost. The manual mode is best for users who prefer to control all the parameters, but it is more cumbersome to handle. The Sony NEX-5R isIntended to be used with automatic functions that enhance the image and offer good results in almost any situation, it is not intended to take highly studied photographs in which any adjustment must be taken into account. It can be done, but as we have said it is more cumbersome. Ultimately this is a team that will delight photography buffs looking for something compact but without sacrificing the quality that offer the most advanced cameras.
|Type||Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera|
|Weight and measurements||110.8 x 58.8 x 38.9 millimeters.|
218 grams (body only)
|Memory||Memory Cards SD, SDHC, SDXC, Memory Stick PRO Duoâ „¢, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo.|
|screen||Panoramic TFT touch screen|
7.5 cm / 3 inches diagonal
|Sensor and image size||23.5 x 15.6 mm CMOS sensor (APS-C size)|
16.7 megapixels (16.1 effective mpx)
Large JPEG at 16 mpx: 4,912 X 3,264 px
Medium JPEG at 8.4 mpx: 3,568 X 2,368 px
Small JPEG at 4 mpx: 2,448 X 1,624 px
Aspect ratio 4: 3 or 16: 9
Maximum panoramic 23 megapixels (12,416 x 1,856 px)
FullHD 1080p videos up to 50 fps
|Formats||Image: JPEG (fine or standard). Sony RAW|
Video: MP4, Dolby Digital AC-3 sound
|Controls and functions||Physical and tactile buttons|
MicroUSB 2.0 output
External flash by top shoe
Sony A-mount lenses
Shooting Modes: Superior Auto, Auto, Sweep Panorama, Manual Exposure, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Program Auto.
Scenes: landscape, macro, sports action, sunset, night portrait, night scene, manual twilight, anti-shake, portrait.
Settings: Exposure Compensation, White Balance, HDR, Creative Modes, Metering Type.
|Price||500 euros approx. with Sony 18-55mm f / 3.5-5.6 lens|
|+ info||Sony NEX-5R|