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Sony NEX-5R review

Sony NEX camera gets apps

Our Verdict

For

  • Tilting screen
  • Good controls, Touchscreen
  • Good selection of filter effects
  • Excellent image quality

Against

  • Tilting rather than articulating screen
  • Non-standard hot-shoe
  • Filter effects JPEG only

The Sony NEX-5R directly replaces the Sony NEX-5N as the company's mid-range compact system camera offering. While the 5N saw boosted resolution, sensitivity range and continuous shooting rate over the original Sony NEX-5, that launched in 2010, the Sony NEX-5R retains many of the same specifications set down by the previous release.

However, this is not to say that the 5R is just a 5N with a few additions - the 16.1 million pixel APS-C sensor has been redesigned to incorporate a new super-fast hybrid AF system, and this is the first Sony CSC to feature Wi-Fi connectivity. The big news for this release, however, has to be its downloadable apps.

Design-wise, the basic shape has remained much the same, retaining the ultra-small streamline body that defines the NEX range. Size-wise the Sony NEX-5R is just a touch larger than your average compact camera.

Sony NEX-5R review

The kit lens, however, is an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, so is more akin to a full-size DSLR lens, which makes the camera look a little unbalanced when compared with its Micro Four Thirds rivals.

Despite the similarities between the Sony NEX-5N and Sony NEX-5R's exteriors, there are a few key differences; firstly the new large control dial, Fn (Function) button and the touchscreen that now tilts to 180 degrees above the camera and 50 degrees down, similar to the Sony NEX-F3.

Sony NEX-R5 at a glance
Sensor:
16.1MP, APS-C Exmor CMOS
LCD screen: 3-inch 921k dot resolution
Video resolution: Full HD AVCHD/MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) up to 1920 x 1080 50p
ISO range: ISO 100-25600
Dimensions: 110.8 x 58.8 x 38.9mm (4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 inches), 218g (0.48lbs) body only

Features

New headline features on the Sony NEX-5R include the design of the APS-C sensor; improved sensitivity performance; a hybrid autofocus system; app compatibility; Wi-Fi connectivity; 180-degree tiltable touchscreen; new control dial and function button.

All hopes for an integrated flash will have to wait until a later release, if at all. There is, however, a small external flash that slots into the accessory port on the top of the body. This small flash is included in the kit.

The 16.1 million pixel APS-C sensor has been redesigned to include a new hybrid AF system, which combines both contrast and phase detection. This new sensor teamed with Sony's Bionz processor is claimed to enable super-fast AF, an impressive 10fps shooting speed and improved high sensitivity performance.

Sony NEX-5R review

The Sony NEX-5N improved on the sensitivity range of the NEX-5, adding a stop to either end of the scale and increasing the range from ISO 200-12800 on the NEX-5 to ISO 100-25600 on the NEX-5N. Now the Sony NEX-5R retains the range of the NEX-5N.

However, Sony has worked hard to improve the quality of images at the higher sensitivity values.

It's not just the inner workings and technological advancements that have been introduced to the Sony NEX-5R, there are also a few more grass root additions that make taking pictures on a CSC that much more intuitive, and these have migrated from the Sony NEX-F3 and Sony NEX-7.

Sony NEX-5R review

Firstly, the tilt screen design is similar to the NEX-F3's, and gives a full 180-degree tilt above the camera so that the screen can face the same direction as the lens. This makes taking self portraits that much easier, and features a handy visual countdown feature on the run up to the picture being taken.

In the opposite direction, there's a 50-degree downwards tilt. This greater flexibility is a great improvement over the tilting screen on the NEX-5N, but still doesn't match the flexibility of a fully articulated screen.

As on the NEX-5N, the screen is also touch-sensitive, with a touch shutter mode and controls that are all quickly accessible with your finger.

Sony NEX-5R review

On the top of the camera's body there's a new control dial, similar in many ways to one of the two that appear on the top-of-the-range Sony NEX-7. This can be used to quickly change settings, such as aperture and shutter speed, depending on the mode you're in.

Mounted next to this is a function button that again enables you to quickly access different settings, such as focus or white balance.

Both these and other buttons on the back of the Sony NEX-5R's body can be customised in the set up menu to fine-tune the handling to your liking.

Apps

Apps were the big new feature on the Sony NEX-5R. As with any smartphone, these can be downloaded directly, without the need for a computer. You do need to join Sony's PlayMemories service, but once done, with the camera connected to Wi-Fi, it all looks pretty straightforward.

Sony NEX-5R review

The apps include some great image effects, a rather interesting cinema effect that looks like it mixes stills with movies to create a cinemagraph-like image, and a remote app that will enable you to adjust settings and remotely release the camera via your iPhone or Android phone.

Of course with apps you need a way to download them to the body, and to help keep things simple the Sony NEX-5R has Wi-Fi built in, a first for the NEX range of cameras.

Sony NEX-5R review

Firstly this is great for direct access to apps, but it will also enable you to download your images directly to your computer or phone without cables, once the devices being used are paired and the required software is installed.

If other recent releases of this type are anything to go by, this process should be pretty quick and straightforward.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
TouchscreenYes
Effective Camera Resolution16.1 Megapixel
GPSNo
USBYes
PictBridgeNo
Product Familyα NEX
Image StabilizationNo
ColourBlack
Optical Zoom3x
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameSony
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Self-timer, Live View, Orientation Sensor, Face Detection, Smile Detection
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsAVCHD, MPEG-4 AVC, MP4
Weight (Approximate)218 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Minimum Focus Distance250 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4912 x 3264
Maximum Frame Rate60 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeCMOS
Total Camera Resolution16.7 Megapixel
HDMIYes
Camera AssemblyBody with Lens Kit
HD Movie ModeYes
Battery Model SupportedNP-FW50
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card
Height58.8 mm
Width110.8 mm
Depth38.9 mm
Autofocus Points99
Focal Length18 mm to 55 mm (Lens 1)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Audio FormatsAAC-LC, AC3
Flash ModesAuto Flash, Flash OFF, Flash ON, Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync, Rear Curtain Sync, Rear Flash Sync, Pre-flash
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelNEX-5RK
Product NameNEX-5RK Interchangeable Lens Camera
Product Lineα NEX
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberNEX5RKB.CE
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

DSLR quality you can take with you

The NEX-5R might be small, but it takes pictures like a DSLR and it's got the speed of a DSLR too. It has a large APS-C sensor delivering 16.1 megapixel shots and bright images in low light. What's more, with built-in Wi-Fi you can connect to devices like a smartphone or tablet.

Battery Life330 Shot
Package Contents
  • NEX-5RK Interchangeable Lens Camera
  • SEL1855 E18-55mm F3.5-5.6 Zoom Lens
  • Power Cord (Mains Lead)
  • Rechargeable Battery Pack NP-FW50
  • Micro USB Cable
  • AC Adaptor AC-UB10 / UB10B / UB10C / UB10D
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Software CD-ROM
  • Instruction Manual
  • Flash HVL-F7S
  • Flash Case
  • Front Lens Cap
  • Lens Hood
Display Resolution921600 Pixel
Limited Warranty1 Year
Built-in DevicesSpeaker, Microphone