Sony NEX-5R – the best compact camera yet?

Maybe not the best, if price doesn’t matter. The Sony RX1 is a killer camera, small and with a full frame sensor, it’s absolutely gorgeous. But let’s be honest, who can afford £2600 for a camera? I can’t, but I can afford the £479 price tag on the NEX-5R and that price even includes an 18-55mm kit lens.Within the NEX series, the 5R is definitely one of the best cameras at the moment, right up there with another recently added NEX camera, the NEX-6. The 5R is cheaper than the 6 though, but you don’t get the EVF (electronic viewfinder) built-in and you also do not get the mode dial. If these are not important to you, buying into the NEX-5R compact system cameras is a good idea.Let’s look at what NEX-5R is capable of. First of all, it comes with a nice 16.1 megapixel sensor based on the APS-C format which is the same size and format as found in many bigger DSLR cameras. What else, well, NEX-5R also support apps (and has a touch-screen display), so you can install the PlayMemories app to share your photos instantly from the camera, with the NEX-5R’s built-in Wi-Fi. Obviously, NEX-5R also supports full HD video recording, and we wouldn’t expect anything less from a NEX camera.

Other features worth mentioning: 180 degrees tilt-able screen, good build quality, picture styles, modern design (some like it, some prefer retro designs), really easy to use, small & light.

NEX currently has 10 native lenses in its line-up, which isn’t impressive, but there’s enough to cover the need for most people. Also, NEX has a nice feature called “focus peaking” which makes it easy to manually focus with so-called “legacy lenses”, so now you can buy a cheap eBay adapter and put on the lens that your grandfather used to shoot with on his rangefinder back in the day. Fun!

If you buy the reasonable priced 16mm “pancake” lens (pictured above), you get a nice wide-angle, on which you can also attach either a fisheye-converter or a ultra-wide angle converter. I like to use the ultra-wide angle converter when shooting inside and I need to include a lot in my frame, or when going “house shopping” to include as much of the room in my shot as possible. The fisheye converter is great for loads of fun moments. Try shooting down on people while they look up at your camera, only a few inches from the lens – they will get a giant head and a small body.

I have previously mentioned the NEX-5N here on the blog, which came before the new NEX-5R. I own the 5N myself and while I don’t think the 5R is worth upgrading to if you already have the 5N, I do think that if you’re on an older NEX or you’re buying into the system for the first time, the 5R is a great way to go, as you’re getting a lot of camera for the money, without it being big, heavy and bulky, like DSLR’s cameras are.

One thing the 5R, and the 6 for that matter, has going for them, is their new auto-focus system. It’s no longer only contrast-based as with the older NEX cameras and most other mirrorless cameras, it now also has dedicated pixels for “phase detect” autofocus which improves the autofocus speed. It’s still not as fast as DSLR’s, so for sports photography you need to be good at anticipation the action (a good skill, even with DSLR’s), but for most people and in most situations, the new NEX autofocus system is plenty good.

Personally, coming from NEX-5N, what I like most about NEX-5R is the improved auto-focus speed. The rest is not that big of a deal if you already own NEX-5N, as already mentioned. But the entire package is a good deal if you’re in the market for a new camera.

What do you like most about the new NEX-5R? Check out the video and leave a comment below, letting us know what you think about NEX-5R and/or the NEX series in general.


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2 thoughts on “Sony NEX-5R – the best compact camera yet?”

  1. Pingback: Patrick Kusior
  2. I think cameras are getting behind with Cellphones in the picture. I know people are still used to them. Honestly I just can compare what I just read with a iPhone or any other smartphone. It is not I am against cameras it is just that I find it more functional other devices.

    I can’t answer your latest question because I have never tried the NEX-5R camera yet. I think $580 US to expensive for just a camera.


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