Sony has very short life cycle for many of its products lately. We’ve seen four flagship Xperia Z phones during two year period and digital cameras multiply like rabbits. This is especially the case with NEX cameras… Sorry, they are called ILCE now. Whatever the name I’ll always regard them as NEX, after all, I’ve owned one for three years and made great shots with it. Anyway, the latest newcomer is the A5100. I’ve reviewed A5000 earlier this year: it was announced in January and now in September came the new A5100. Main differences include resolution bump to 24 megapixels, more focus points, higher resolution LCD, faster burst rate and better video. Continue reading to find out if it is of any significance or Sony just makes cameras for the sake of new cameras.
A5000 is the latest mirrorless camera from Sony. Don’t be confused by the new naming scheme, this is just another ordinary NEX camera. Sony said they implemented the new naming scheme in order not to confuse customers, but the generally accepted opinion is that the confusion is now even worse. NEX name was well accepted and it was easy to distinguish cameras, but now you have one name – ALPHA for all Sony interchangeable lens cameras and some of them are E-mount, some are A-mount. For a novice or a non-gear head this is a nightmare. A5000 is actually the successor to NEX-3N which replaced the NEX-F3 which replaced the NEX-C3 which came after the original NEX-3 in 2010. Five models in three and a half years. What for? God only knows (and maybe someone from Sony).
Sony RX100 raised a lot of dust since it was announced year and a half ago. Besides all the bells and whistles that are expected of the advanced-level camera like a full range of manual settings, programmable controls and excellent build quality, RX100 got praises for its image quality and this is what matters most. Never before was there such a small camera with such image quality and the main reason behind it was a “huge” 13.2 x 8.8 mm CMOS sensor with 20 megapixels paired to excellent Zeiss branded zoom lens.
Sony is on rampage. Right next to A7 and A7R, the company released another beautiful and capable digital camera – the DSC-RX10. It’s a camera that really has no direct competitor. With the big 8x zoom lens it could hardly be called as ultra zoom, but it looks like one. The main feature that sets it apart from other ultra-zooms is the sensor. It is the same unit used in RX100 II camera; smaller than APS-C sensors in mirrorless cameras, but still significantly bigger from those found in other ultra-zooms. The result is exceptional image quality. Besides that, RX10 can record in RAW format, has a high level of customization and it could actually be the only camera an advanced amateur could need. No fuss with exchanging lenses and all of the manual controls at the fingertips.
Finally, I had the opportunity to play with some new Sony gear. Yes, it’s the new A7 I’m talking about. Mirrorless and full frame at the same time, A7 is the camera many photographers dreamed about for a long time. Full frame cameras are around for years, but not until recently all of them were either big and heavy DSLR models or insanely expensive Leica. Just around last Christmas, Sony released RX1, a full-frame compact with fixed 35mm F/2 lens. Nothing like this was produced before and it became apparent it is only a matter of time Sony would release full frame mirrorless cameras. So now we have A7 and A7R which are very similar models. A7 has 24 megapixels, 117 phase detect AF points on the main image sensor and can shoot 5fps. A7R has 36 megapixel sensor with AA filter removed, 25 contrast detect AF points, shoots at a bit slower 4fps and has more magnesium parts (dials, back plate…). Both cameras are weather sealed, have tilt LCD, 2.5 million electronic viewfinders, 1/8000 shutter speed and records videos up to 1920 x 1080 @ 60p. Impressive.
DSC-HX300 is a 2013 ultra zoom camera from Sony. Ultra zoom cameras have gained massive optical zooms during past few years and this Sony has a lens which covers what is an equivalent of 24-1200mm; 50x optical zoom to be precise. It also has image stabilization, 20 megapixel sensor and Full HD video recording.
DSC-WX200 is a 2013 compact camera with big optical zoom from Sony. This Japanese manufacturer made literally hundreds of cameras similar to this one, so this model has nothing we haven’t seen allready in some other model. Its key selling points are 10x optical zoom in slim body, Full HD video and Sweep panorama.
Sony became a serious contender in mirrorless market after only two and a half years since the introduction of the first NEX model. At this time there are 4 active body models and 11 native lenses. NEX-5R shares many specifications with other NEX models like 16 megapixel APS-C sensor, confusing menu system and 180° tilt-LCD, but brings some new features like Wi-Fi connectivity, application support and a second control dial.
Who else if not Sony? If it were all up to Canon and Nikon, we, our children and our grandchildren would be shooting with a big traditional SLR till the end of the time. And beyond. But Sony has hired several out-of-the-box thinking Japanese engineers with fresh ideas: “Let’s use semi-transparent mirror! Let’s stuff APS-C in smallest possible NEX body! Let’s use 1″ sensor in ultra-compact! And finally, how about a full frame compact with a nice Zeiss F/2 prime lens?” And so we have it. DSC-RX1 hit the shelves this month and it’s different from anything we’ve seen before.
Sony released first of its mirrorless NEX cameras in 2010. Since then, several improved and new models appeared. Sony NEX-7 was amongst the first “serious” mirrorless cameras on the market but it’s price and high megapixel count were a turn-off for some users. At this year’s Photokina, Sony announced the latest member of NEX family – the NEX-6. It is positioned between NEX-5R and NEX-7, but looks and feels more like the NEX-7.