Sony NEX-5R review

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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.


  • Announced: 2012.
  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Dimensions: 111 x 59 x 39 mm
  • Weight: 276g (with battery)
  • Sensor: CMOS, 16 MP (4912 x 3264 pixels)
  • ISO range: Native 100 – 25,600
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Dust and moisture protection: No
  • Flash: external (uses proprietary Sony connector)
  • Continuous shooting: 10 fps
  • LCD screen: 3″, 921,000 dots, 180° tilt
  • Memory card: SD or MemoryStick
  • Battery: Li-Ion NP-FW50
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 @ 60 fps
  • Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI


Handling is rather good in my opinion. NEX-5R has a pronounced grip which makes the camera very easy to hold. The shutter button is at an angle what makes is very easy to reach (unlike the one on Olympus E-PL5). When I opened the LCD, my thumb could be placed below it what allowed very firm grip.

Unlike its predecessors, the 5R has one dial extra, located at the right corner just where your thumb rests. Combined with the main dial in the rear, it allows quick control over shooting parameters, especially if you like to use manual exposure mode.

Assignable button next to the shutter can control up to 6 functions. Upon a press, quick menu pop ups and allows us to change assigned functions (images below).

Sony NEX-5R has, just like any new NEX model the ability to correct lens imperfections on-the-fly. Therefore, 16-50 PZ lens can be used perfectly without a problem. Sadly, this combination (NEX-5R + 16-50) is available only to some markets like Germany. The rest of the world can only buy it with a bit bigger 18-55 lens.

Menu system is still the same one used in other NEX models. It’s OK when you get used to it, but still I’d rather see the one from SLT models. At least, I’m seeing some customization improvements like already mentioned quick menu, and an option to select the amount of on-screen data in shooting mode.

The camera also has a virtual horizon feature, working both in landscape and portrait orientation and able to detect both horizontal and vertical tilt.


3 inch LCD unit has 920,000 dots and touch-capability. It is tilt-able 45° down and 180° up allowing easy self-portraits. Image is sharp with nice colors and viewing angles.


Li-Ion battery is good for around 300-350 shots. External charger is not delivered with the 5R; battery is charged in camera via USB cable. Therefore, there’s no way to use the camera while charging the spare battery.


Auto focus performance on NEX-5R is pretty snappy but still not as fast as Olympus OMD. It locks the focus in daylight pretty fast, and requires a second or two in very dim conditions. That’s quite good response. An orange AF assist lamp is also available.

Much praised focus peaking option used for easier manual focusing is also available.


There’s not much to be said here, as IQ is as good as you can get from APS-C sensor. Images are usable up to ISO 6400 and Sony cameras traditionally have nice colors. I found light metering to be spot-on, but you might want to use -0.3 EV in high contrast situations if you shoot JPEG (RAW shooters can do their magic in post process).

If you need higher image quality than what’s available from NEX-5R, you’ll have to buy full frame cameras like Nikon D600 or Canon EOS 6D.

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  1. Pingback: A new review of Sony NEX-5R - Blog for micro four third and competing cameras

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