Sony nex5r reviews

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Sony NEX-5R review: can the best mirrorless camera get even better?

Earlier this year, I made a pretty drastic change in my camera set up. I left behind my trusty Canon DSLR, and the lenses and accessories that had served me well for six years, and I picked up a Sony NEX-5N mirrorless camera. My reason for making the swap was purely convenience: I was just tired of lugging around my DSLR and all of its accoutrements every time I wanted better photos than my smartphone could offer. The NEX-5N solved this problem nicely — it's remarkably small and significantly lighter than a full DLSR, yet can capture incredible photos even in difficult lighting conditions. It can also shoot great 1080p video, meaning that I no longer needed to carry around a camcorder for video.

But not everything is perfect. The NEX-5N, while able to take fantastic photos and video, doesn't offer me the same level of control — or more specifically the same level of access to the camera's controls as a proper DSLR. That's a consequence of it being more compact, right? Logic dictates that a much smaller camera just too miniature to house all of the little buttons and dials that a DSLR can support.

Perhaps that was true last year, when Sony introduced the 5N. This time around, the company has revisited the model and upgraded it with the NEX-5R. The 5R is very similar to the 5N — it has the same photographic capabilities (16-megapixel APS-C sensor, 1080p HD video capture at up to 60fps, up to 10fps continuous shooting) and a very familiar design. But Sony has addressed some of the biggest complaints of the 5N by adding a command dial and some extra buttons to give photographers more control. The company also threw in some extras like Wi-Fi connectivity, an improved autofocus system, and a more flexible display. I've spent the last month or so with the $749.99 NEX-5R to see if its new improvements make it a better camera than the 5N and if it's still one of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy today.

Hardware / design

Hardware / design

It really takes a trained eye to spot the hardware differences between the NEX-5N and the new NEX-5R. Both are exceptionally petite camera bodies with comically large lens mounts. Both have large, 3-inch articulating touchscreen displays on back next to a command dial and three buttons. Both have smallish, rubberized grips that let you hold the camera and shoot with one hand and include an IR receiver for an optional remote control (you’re still better off using two hands to steady the camera, however). Both have a battery and SDXC compartment accessible from underneath the camera. Both also have a proprietary accessory mount on top for the included flash unit or optional shotgun microphone, and both have dual microphones on top to capture stereo sound. Both also lack any way to use non-proprietary external microphones, which is a frustration.

Only a few key differences separate this year’s model from last year’s version. The most obvious addition is a second command dial situated just under your right thumb when you are holding the camera. This dial, which trickled down from the higher-end NEX-7, lets you control various parameters depending on your shooting mode. In Aperture Priority ('A' on the virtual mode dial), it will adjust the opening of the lens, while in Shutter Priority ('S' on said mode dial), it controls how long the shutter will be held open. The circular wheel on the back of the camera is available to control exposure compensation or shutter speed when the camera is in full manual mode (the main control dial adjusts lens aperture in full manual mode). This single dial on top of the camera makes a profound difference when you are shooting in manual modes, as it gives you direct control to things that used to require a button press and other actions. Translation: you can keep your eyes on your subject and worry about composition instead of fiddling with buttons to change your settings.

Because of this new dial, the dedicated movie record button and playback review button have been shifted to slightly different positions on the camera's top plate. The power switch has been moved to a ring around the now-black shutter button. Next to the shutter button is a new function key that provides quicker access to settings like metering, focus modes, white balance, and image effects and filters.

Other handling tweaks include a dedicated ISO setting button on the 'right' action of the four-way controller on the back of the NEX-5R... and that's it. It may not sound like a lot, but the changes add up to a much more pleasant experience when you want to take control of the camera. It still doesn't provide the same level of control as a full DSLR — or even the NEX-7, which has three control dials — but the NEX-5R is surprisingly flexible when you are out in the field shooting. The dedicated ISO button is a god-send when you are in a situation with rapidly changing lighting conditions, and the Fn button makes it very straightforward to switch between automatic and manual focus modes, which is key since Sony's E-mount lenses lack a hardware switch to do that. A full-size DSLR still puts these controls in easier to reach places — quite literally at your fingertips — but given the size tradeoff, the NEX-5R does a good job at making the best of its limited real estate for buttons and dials.



Sony also made a few other upgrades to the camera body: the old Mini USB port has been converted to the more modern Micro USB, and is now located under the same plastic door as the Micro HDMI port; and the rigid strap loops have been upgraded to more versatile triangle loops. Again, these aren't huge changes, and probably nothing that will cause someone to buy the NEX-5R over another camera, but they are nice refinements that lend to a better overall experience.

The NEX-5R's display can flip up well beyond 90 degrees for waist-level shooting or even a self portrait, or it can tilt down about 50 degrees for easy viewing of the screen when you are holding the camera above your head (a function I use more often than I ever thought I would). The self-portrait use is a bit kitschy, but I’m sure that some users will find more use for it than I did.

The 5R doesn't have the perfect hardware — I'd love to see even more control dials and would kill for a dedicated electronic viewfinder and a 3.5mm jack for a non-proprietary external microphone — but for the price that Sony is asking, the 5R does offer a lot in its still frame.

Sony is packaging the same 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens with the 5R as it did with the 5N and a number of other NEX cameras. There's not a whole lot to say about the lens — it offers a standard range for a wide variety of situations and while it's not the sharpest lens on the block, it produces more than suitable photos for the vast majority of photographers. The Optical SteadyShot function works admirably to combat camera shake at longer shutter speeds, extending the camera's low-light shooting capabilities, and the lens' solid metal construction puts kit lenses from other manufacturers to shame. The NEX-5R's E-mount means it's compatible with any lens that Sony and third-party manufacturers build for the NEX line. That list of lenses is still pretty small compared to the likes of what you can get on Panasonic and Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras, and is dwarfed by the number of lenses available to Nikon or Canon DSLRs, but it is growing and many of the available options are actually quite good.




Like the NEX-5N, the 5R's 3-inch touchscreen LCD display features a high resolution and bright colors. Though the 5N lacks an eye-level viewfinder, I didn’t have any trouble using the LCD display in bright sunlight. Also like the 5N, the 5R's touchscreen kind of stinks as a touchscreen. Since the display uses a resistive panel instead of the more common capacitive technology as found on many smartphone displays, it is not nearly as responsive to touch input as even an entry-level smartphone. The touchscreen is frequently used in Sony’s interface, but because of its poor responsiveness, can be a frustrating experience.

Since touch targets are frequently small on the screen, it can be hard to hit them with your fingertip. Swiping between pictures when reviewing them is an option, but it is very laggy and as a result, frustrating. The 5R also doesn't support multi-touch, so if you try to pinch to zoom on the photos, it simply won't work. Fortunately, you can completely disable the touchscreen and just use the camera's hardware buttons and controls to navigate its interface, which is a much faster option in my experience. The 5R also offers the option to tap the touch screen to focus and to take a picture, but outside of the rare occurrences when the camera is awkwardly mounted on a tripod and the shutter key is inaccessible, I can't imagine why you would use the touchscreen to take a picture. The tap-to-focus feature is useful, but I found it to be slower to respond than I would prefer.

Comparing the displays of the two models side-by-side, the 5R’s appears to be a flipped version of the 5N's, so there is a thicker border on the right side of the screen, while the 5N has the thicker border on the left side. This extra space means that it is less likely for your thumb to stray over to the touchscreen and unintentionally actuate functions on it while you are shooting. The 5R's display also seems to be more color accurate, as my particular 5N tends to have a reddish cast in certain lighting conditions.




The software and interface on the NEX-5R is largely unchanged from that on the NEX-5N. Since the camera doesn't have a traditional mode dial, changing between shooting modes requires use of an on-screen dial, which I find to be a bit slow and tiresome — especially if you are changing modes often. If you are the type of shooter that parks the camera on a single shooting mode — whether that be a manual mode of one of the many automatic options — this probably won't be as big of an issue for you.

For the most part, Sony's interface is logical, but given that the camera features a ton of settings and features, the menus can get a bit unwieldy and require a fair amount of scrolling to get to the setting you are looking for. This isn't an uncommon problem with cameras, but it can be frustrating to have to dig for the "format memory card" setting every time you put your SD card back into the camera.


A new feature in the camera's main menu interface is the Application section, which lets you install a variety of apps to take advantage of the 5R’s new Wi-Fi features or do some in camera image tweaking. At the time of this writing, there were six apps available — four free and two paid. The paid apps run for $4.99 apiece and add advanced bracketing and noise reduction functions. I'm not sure there is much value in those apps, as the photographers that are likely to want these functions are using much more advanced software on their computers to already get the job done. Two of the free apps are designed to add effects and make minor cropping and adjustments after the fact.

The other two apps are for directly uploading pictures from the camera to Sony's PlayMemories online service or Facebook and controlling the camera with an Android or iOS smartphone. Once you have gone through the hassle of getting the 5R connected to your Wi-Fi network — which involves configuring the settings using either the frustratingly unresponsive touchscreen or equally fiddly four-way controller — you can sign into either a PlayMemories or Facebook account and upload one or more photos at a time. The whole process is rather tedious and frustrating — it’s really just faster to upload photos online by downloading them to a computer first, which more or less defeats the whole purpose of having Wi-Fi built into the camera. I couldn’t get the Smart Remote app to work with either Android or iOS, so it was a complete bust. Update: We reached out to Sony about this issue and were informed that the PlayMemories app is not compatible with iOS 6 or Android 4.1 or newer. Users of Android 4.0.3 shouldn't have as many issues. Sony says that it is working on an update to the app to correct these issues, but it did not say when the update would be available.

I did have more success transferring images from the camera to an Android smartphone using the PlayMemories app (I had zero success with the iOS version of the app, which apparently needs an update), but again, the process of transferring images takes multiple steps and a lot of patience. In the end, while it was novel to see my images on my Android smartphone relatively soon after snapping them, I ended up giving up and just using the SD card slot on my computer to transfer images and upload them to various services.

All-in-all, the Wi-Fi function, a new feature that I was really looking forward to enjoying on the 5R, is nothing more than a disappointment and frustration. Perhaps Sony will be able to improve it with software and firmware updates, but as it stands right now, it's a pretty awful experience.




The 5N comes with all the same shooting features that Sony has offered on its NEX line for a number of models, including a variety of filters and effects that can be used as you are taking pictures. The fake tilt-shift mode is fun and works pretty well, and the built-in panoramic stitch feature is one of the best I've ever used. Sony offers two completely automatic modes — Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto — which determine the scene that you are trying to compose and adjust the camera automatically for the best results (or at least what the camera thinks are the best results). Frankly, I couldn't really tell the difference between Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto, but Sony says that the Superior mode has more processing to reduce noise and blur. Sony also offers a variety of scene modes for portraits, landscapes, sports, close-ups, and more.

Manual shooters have the standard PASM modes at their disposals via the on-screen menu, and the 5R retains the excellent peaking feature when using manual focus that has been on virtually every NEX camera thus far. The peaking feature lets you easily see when the edges of objects are in focus by displaying a white highlight on the LCD. It’s great for stills, but it’s really awesome when using manual focus while shooting video. Shooters also have control over things like dynamic range optimization and automatic HDR modes, as well as a variety of autofocus modes, including programmable face detection.





Like most of the NEX cameras that preceded it, the 5R is quite the performer, in both speed of operation and quality of output. The camera is very quick to power on and be ready for a shot, and it's capable of firing off 10 full resolution frames per second. Autofocus, which has been a bit of a weak spot for the NEX line, has been greatly improved on the NEX-5R, thanks to a new Fast Hybrid AF feature that combines phase-detection autofocus with a contrast-detection system. Phase detection focus is similar to what is used in a traditional SLR, and excels in dim light, while contrast detection is what you normally see on a compact camera and can be more accurate. It's still not quite as fast as the best DSLRs on the market — or even the Olympus OM-D E-M5 — but it's much better than the 5N and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it was able to lock focus on subjects with low contrast and in poor lighting. This improved autofocus carries over to the video mode as well, which offers better subject tracking than we've seen before.

Sony claims that the included battery will capture about 330 images before needed to be juiced up again, and I'm not going to argue with that. Generally, I was able to go a few hundred shots before needing to recharge the battery, so it should be more than adequate for most users’ needs. Should you be shooting a lot of video, as in over an hour or more, you might want to invest in a second cell to keep as a backup. New for the 5R is a Micro USB charger that plugs into the side of the camera to recharge the battery. Since Micro USB is a standard plug format, you can actually recharge the camera with a variety of USB chargers and backup batteries, but at the same time, you can't charge a second battery while you are using the camera as you can do with the old stand-alone charger.

Image quality

Image quality

Here's something you probably didn't see coming: the image quality from the NEX-5R is virtually identical to that of the NEX-5N. All joking aside, that's more or less to be expected, as the cameras share the same sensor and processing chips. Fortunately, this is a good thing: the 16-megapixel sensor does exceptionally well in everything from bright outdoors to difficult indoor lighting conditions. The 5R can shoot at up to ISO 25,600 for low light, though anything beyond ISO 6400 can be quite noisy and is really only useful for small prints or web output. White balance was generally accurate in the automatic mode, though perfectionists will want to take advantage of the various presets or the custom white balance feature. Sony's conservative metering system, which typically tries to preserve detail in bright areas by making the entire scene a tad darker than it should be, is in full force on the 5R, so I found that I had to brighten up images a little once I got them onto my computer. This can be overcome in the camera with a little exposure compensation while you are shooting.

The 5R can shoot 1080p video at either 60 or 24 frames per second — just like the 5N before it — which is saved in the less-than-convenient-but-necessary-evil AVCHD file format. The more ubiquitous MP4 format can be used as well, but you’re limited to shooting 1,440 x 1,080 pixels at 30 frames per second. As with the 5N, video output on the 5R is really, really good, and the top mounted mics do a pretty good job at capturing stereo sound. The audio capture can be improved with Sony's optional (and proprietary) shotgun mic, though that's about as much as you can do, since the 5R still doesn't offer support for third-party microphones. As mentioned, the 5R offers full autofocus while shooting video, something that many of the DSLRs in its price range still do not have.

The NEX-5R nails a lot of what we look for in digital camera image quality: it offers accurate colors, generally reliable white balance, a pretty wide dynamic range, and lots of detail even at higher ISO sensitivities. It's not going to go toe-to-toe with a full-frame DSLR (which generally provide the best image quality you can get in a DSLR, but carry a hefty price tag to go along with it), in any of these categories, but given its price and direct competition in the mirror less category, it's pretty tough to beat. Sony's decision to use a larger APS-C size sensor instead of the smaller sensors employed by Panasonic, Olympus, Nikon, and Canon in their mirrorless cameras pays dividends, and Sony is easily ahead of the competition when it comes to low light performance.



Good Stuff

  • Great low-light performance
  • Excellent video capture
  • Improved handling over previous generation

Bad Stuff

  • Small lens selection
  • No viewfinder
  • Controls are still limited

With the NEX-5R, Sony has managed to make an excellent camera even better with greatly improved handling and better autofocus, without compromising the great image and video quality found in its predecessor. That isn't to say everything is perfect with the 5R — the touchscreen still stinks and the new Wi-Fi feature is nothing but a tease, but both of those things are easily ignored or disabled if you don't want to bother with them.

Sony is rapidly expanding its line of NEX cameras, and the NEX-5R is now flanked by the NEX-6 above it and the NEX-F3 below it. But while it doesn't have all of the features of the 6 (eye-level viewfinder, pop-up flash, and proper hotshoe for accessories), it handily beats the lower-cost F3 with better video and ergonomics, while still carrying a palatable price for many buyers. The 5R could still benefit from better controls, as its improved scheme is still not up to the level of access that you get with a DSLR. But its combination of portability and near pocketability (I actually was able to keep it in the pocket of a blazer on numerous occasions as I was out and about) with DSLR level image and video quality make it a winner and an easy recommendation. There might not be enough here to force existing NEX-5N owners to upgrade, but it certainly is enough to keep the NEX-5R at the top of the short list of best mirrorless cameras that you can buy.


Sony NEX-5R Review


  • Various well-placed and useful buttons
  • Good image quality
  • Flip-out LCD screen


  • Lacking both a built-in flash and mode dial
  • Touch screen buttons somewhat undersized
  • Poorly though-out menu system

Key Specifications

  • 16.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor; 3-inch, 921k-dot vari-angle LCD screen; Sony NEX lens mount; ISO 100 – 25,600; 1920 x 1080, 50p / 50i video capture

What is the Sony NEX-5R?

The Sony NEX-5R is the third iteration of the growing ‘5’ strand of the NEX series. Although it takes a host of its design cues from its predecessor – the Sony NEX-5N – it is in fact a complete different camera, featuring a specification that is aimed at bringing the ‘5’ range right up to date. Like all the Sony NEX range, it aims to combine DSLR photo quality with a compact format that still appeals to enthusiasts. It’s become a very popular range of cameras, so the Sony NEX-5R has much to live up to.

Sony NEX-5R 5

Sony NEX-5R : Features

One of the headline features of the Sony NEX-5R brings it in line with the current state of the compact system camera market. It now has Wi-Fi that supports a host of wireless controls and features through the simple installation of the Sony PlayMemories app on either iOS or Android.

This apps lets you control the camera through a direct Wi-Fi connection the smart, while the app also supports the wireless transfer of images for either storage or review. This wireless transfer is also possible between the NEX-5R and any networked PC or Mac.

The Sony NEX-5R’s auto-focus system is improved, too. It combines both a phase and contrast-detect AF system with a view towards switching between the two and providing an optimised, and therefore faster, AF system.

Sony NEX-5R 1

The screen found on the rear of the Sony NEX-5R is the same as that found on the rear of the Sony NEX-5N. It measures in at 3-inches and features a resolution of 921k-dots, while it’s also hinged so it can be viewed from a variety of angles.

The LCD is also a touch screen unit and thus supports touch focus amongst other functions. Added to this list on the NEX-5R for the first time is touch shutter functionality that allows image capture from simply touching the screen.

In terms of core imaging functionality, the Sony NEX-5R features an APS-C CMOS chip, as did its NEX-5 predecessors. The sensor itself, however, is redeveloped according to Sony and now features a 16.1MP resolution.

The sensor is paired with Sony’s BIONZ processor, a chip that offers some impressive shooting figures. These include an extensive ISO range of 100-25,600, continuous shooting speed of 10fps and the promise of noise-free images at the higher ISO settings.

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Sony Alpha NEX-5R review: When it's good, it's very, very good

Image quality
The 5R's photo quality rates as excellent, though not significantly more excellent than the 5N's despite a new sensor. ISO 12800 JPEGs look a little better from the 5R -- keep in mind that "better" does not imply "usable" -- but otherwise they're comparable. Overall, they seem great up through ISO 800 and good up through ISO 3200; I even managed a decent print from an ISO 6400 shot, though if you look closely you can see artifacts. Shooting raw helps with exposure adjustments, and there's a reasonable amount of recoverable data in the shadows and highlights, but it's hard to improve on the noise reduction or Sony's processing.

Default color rendering looks good, although the auto white balance is a little inconsistent and sensitive to small changes in composition or illumination. As far as I can tell, though it pumps up the saturation a bit, the default Creative Style doesn't boost the contrast to the point where you lose detail. It has a fairly broad tonal range; I could recover all but severely blown-out highlights and shadows.

Click to downloadISO 100

ISO 800
ISO 3200

Video looks good too, especially the low-light video. All of it's subject to some aliasing and moiré -- most visible in the low-light footage -- but the respectable tonal range and low noise levels in the dim and dark stand out for this price class. As with the rest of the NEX series, the autofocus works well during video capture; it's quiet, quick, and accurate.

Note: We recently updated our testing methodology to provide slightly more real-world performance, so the results aren't necessarily comparable with previous testing. Until we're finished refining our procedures we will not be posting comparative performance charts.

Although both Olympus and Panasonic have managed to deliver excellent autofocus speed without needing to resort to a dual-focus technology system, Canon, Nikon, and now Sony have approached the problem by melding the phase-detection AF system used by dSLRs with the contrast AF system typically used by point-and-shoot cameras; phase detection is fast and better in low light, while contrast AF is typically more accurate. Like Canon, Sony has created a new image sensor that incorporates phase-detection sensors. It theoretically autoselects between the two technologies, using the phase detection for coarse subject location and distance and contrast to refine the focus. The camera's default, however, is to leave the phase-detection disabled.

The 5R performs a bit better than the 5N; that is, sufficiently fast but not exceptionally speedy. One of the challenges of timing the camera is the shutter button, which requires a more delicate touch than many models. If you press too hard or too fast, it won't fire. As long as you can acclimate, it doesn't pose any problems in practice. But if you're an adrenaline-fueled shutter jabber, you're in for some frustration.

At about 1.7 seconds to power on, focus, and shoot, the camera rates as average for this class. Time to expose, focus, and shoot in bright light runs about 0.4 second, increasing to about 0.8 second in dim light. With the phase-detection AF enabled the shot lag drops to 0.2 second in good light, but seems to rise to almost a full second in dim light. I suspect that's due to the overhead of two systems working in conjunction. The camera automatically expands the focus area to the entire scene when it's dim or dark, but the phase-detection area is limited to approximately the middle third of the scene; I think there's some conflict that they need to work out.

It takes roughly 0.6 second to capture two sequential JPEGs or raws. That also rises slightly with the phase-detection AF enabled, to about 0.7 second. There's no penalty for shooting raw here, though raw+JPEG slows the camera with I'm-not-ready-yet messages.

Continuous-shooting performance is all over the map, though typically with autofocus enabled it achieves about 3.5 frames per second for either raw or JPEG. However, once you complete a raw burst it takes a while to save out the buffer to the card. In Speed Priority continuous mode, which fixes exposure, performance seems to range from roughly 8fps to 10fps, and it starts to slow at about 18 shots. Despite its seeming burst speed, however, I find the NEX-5R (and many cameras like it) frustrating to use in this way because the camera/LCD can't refresh fast enough for you to following what's happening. You simply point it in a direction, hold down the shutter, and pray you get something good.

Furthermore, the LCD is difficult to view in direct sunlight. You can try boosting the brightness, but as it is the battery drains a lot faster than I'd like. It's possible that it can obtain the rated duration of 430 shots, but it seemed to drop quite rapidly during field testing.

Design and features
Over time, Sony has been refining the NEX user experience, and I think the 5R's design changes help quite a bit; I enjoyed shooting with the 5R more than with any NEX model thus far other than the NEX-7. That said, it does have some irritating aspects.

It has the same basic design as the NEX-5N (including the unfortunate lack of a built-in flash) but incorporates some of the direct-access controls of the NEX-7. The new control wheel and function button on the top of the camera make it far more streamlined to use for those of us who get annoyed by the limitations of the lower-end NEX design -- you can surface a few things via direct-access controls but there are always a handful of settings that you force you into the menu system -- and the additional function key reduces that pain. It brings up six user-selectable quick-access shooting functions such as white balance, metering, focus options, and shooting effects. Unfortunately, there still aren't enough control options. I always ended up sacrificing some direct-access option that I need for another that I need more. For example, the only way to get an autoexposure lock button is to reprogram the Wi-Fi connection button, which defeats the purpose of easy photo uploads.

Sony has also added a few new touch-screen operations: touch shutter, touch tracking, and touch background defocus. (One might say that these are basic touch-screen capabilities in a camera and should have been there in the previous model.) I wish they were individually configurable, though. Your choices are touch on or touch off, which means that in order to keep it from repeatedly changing the fixed center focus area when I touched the screen, I had to turn off all of the touch capabilities of the camera. Why doesn't the fixed center focus area option override touch focus? It took Panasonic a few generations to get this right but it finally did.

The camera includes the self-portrait mode that was rolled out in the NEX-F3, but the NEX-5R's LCD can tilt down as well as flip up. The next feature it needs to add is customized distortion control so that the self-portraits don't make you look like a balloon head at wide angles, or magically stretch your arms.

 Canon EOS MNikon 1 J2Sony Alpha NEX-F3Sony Alpha NEX-5RSony Alpha NEX-6
Sensor (effective resolution)18MP hybrid CMOS10MP CMOS16.1MP Exmor HD CMOS16.1MP Exmor HD CMOS16.1MP Exmor HD CMOS
22.3 x 14.9mm 13.2 x 8.8mm 23.5 x 15.6mm23.5 x 15.6mm23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier1.6x2.7x1.5x1.5x1.5x
Sensitivity rangeISO 100 - ISO 12800/ 25600 (expanded)ISO 100 - ISO 3200/6400 (expanded)ISO 200 - ISO 16000ISO 100 - ISO 25600ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Continuous shooting


(60fps with fixed AF and electronic shutter)
2.5 fps
6 raw/18 JPEG
(5.5fps with fixed exposure)
11 raw/15 JPEG
(10fps with fixed exposure)
11 raw/15 JPEG
(10fps with fixed exposure)
ViewfinderNoneNoneNoneOptionalOLED EVF
2.4 million dots
100% coverage
Autofocusmultipoint center phase-detection AF; 31-point contrast AF73-point
phase detection, 135-area contrast AF
25-point contrast AF99-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF99-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity rangen/an/a0 - 20 EV0 - 20 EV0 - 20 EV
Shutter speed30 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/200 flash sync1/3 - 1/16,000; bulb; 1/60 sec. x-sync30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 flash sync30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec. x-sync30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec. x-sync
Meteringn/an/a1,200 zones1,200 zones1,200 zones
Metering rangen/an/a0 - 20 EV0 - 20 EV0 - 20 EV
YesYesIncluded optionalYes
Image stabilizationOpticalOpticalOpticalOpticalOptical
VideoH.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/30p/ 25p/24p; 720/60p/50p1080/60i/ 30p, 720/ 60p H.264 MPEG-4 QuickTime MOVAVCHD
1080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/ 30p @ 12Mbps
AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/ 24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/ 30p @ 12MbpsAVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/ 24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/ 30p @ 12Mbps
AudioStereo; mic inputStereoStereo; mic inputStereo; mic inputStereo; mic input
LCD size3-inch articulated touch screen
1.04 megapixels
3-inch fixed 460,000 dots/
3-inch fixed 920,000 dots
3-inch tilting
921,600 dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
921,600 dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
921,600 dots
Wireless connectionNoneNoneNoneWi-FiWi-Fi
Battery life (CIPA rating)230 shots230 shots470 shots430 shots270 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD)4.3 x 2.6 x 1.34.2 x 2.4 x 1.2 4.6 x 2.6 x 1.64.4 x 2.4 x 1.6 4.8 x 2.8 x 1.1
Body operating weight (ounces)10.5 (est)9.711.19.7 (without flash)10.1 (est)
Mfr. pricen/an/an/a$599.99 (body only)$849.99 (body only)
$799 (with 22mm lens)$649.95 (with 10-30mm lens)$549 (with 18-55mm lens)$699.99 (with 18-55mm lens)$999.99 (with 15-60mm PZ lens)
n/a$899.95 (with 10-30mm and 30-110mm lenses)n/an/an/a
Ship dateOctober 2012September 2012June 2012October 2012October 2012

(I had no room in the chart for the 5R's predecessor, the 5N, but the only spec differences are in the autofocus system and wireless support.)

The less time you have to spend in NEX menus the better. On the surface, they seem so straightforward. But in order to make the top-level icons accessible and friendly, everything's jammed unevenly into the level below. The image size menu has 7 options under it, the camera menu has 17, and the setup menu has 69. Plus, with all the usual combinations of limitations -- things that are unavailable when raw's enabled, in some AF modes, and so on -- it's impossible to figure out why something's grayed out. I know peaking works only with manual focus, but why can't I turn it on and set the color without having to change my focus mode so that it's ready to go when I do jump into manual? (To be fair, it's not just Sony that has this problem. Repeatedly wading through that 69-option menu was just the last straw.)

Sony rolls out Wi-Fi support with this model, along with Android and iOS apps: Direct Upload for connecting to hot spots and mobile devices and Smart Remote Control for using your mobile device as a secondary LCD display. The connectivity comes in conjunction with support for proprietary in-camera apps. Rather than using a third-party API like Android, Sony currently plans to be the only source of these apps, which are distributed through the Sony Entertainment Network (SEN).

To me, this is strike one: none of the basic wireless apps come on the camera, and in order to download them you have to create an SEN account. If you're currently a PlayStation subscriber, then it's no biggie. But I'm not, and I object to creating Yet Another Unnecessary Account just so Sony can try to lure me into its redundant and unoriginal PlayMemories service for syncing, and so it can squeeze me like a data sponge. Compounding that, the SEN EULA includes a mandatory binding arbitration (MBA) clause, and gives Sony the right to remotely delete any apps you license. Strike two. (Stuff like this may be becoming more common, but that doesn't mean we have to sit around and baaaa.)

Sony currently offers two free apps in addition to the connectivity apps. The first, Picture Effect+, has two extra filters (watercolor and illustration) that are excluded from the built-in effects choices. So in addition to mostly duplicating an in-camera feature, and operating more slowly through the apps interface, Sony removed the filters that it included on the NEX-F3. Strike three. If you're still interested, it also offers a free Photo Retouch app, and currently two paid apps, Bracket Pro and Multi Frame NR (noise reduction).

The direct upload options are pretty lame: Facebook or PlayMemories. Even Canon's mediocre Canon Image Gateway allows you to set up pipes to other services, if you're willing to grant it a piece of your privacy pie. PlayMemories doesn't act as a sharing hub, just a syncing hub among all your Sony devices. So, as with Canon's options, the best solution is to copy the photos you want to share to your phone or tablet and upload them that way. And despite what looks like a built-in browser, there's no way to connect to access points that require passing through terms-of-service screens.

While the touch screen works well enough for shooting and other typical camera operations, the onscreen keyboard is frustrating to use, unresponsive, and subject to fat-finger errors. Smart Remote isn't that smart -- you can't change settings, and can only view a few -- but that's pretty typical. However, it does capture a local low-resolution version on the device in addition to saving the shot in the camera.

For a complete accounting of the NEX-5R's features and operation, download the PDF manual.

Despite a seeming plethora of caveats, ultimately I like the 5R a lot; top-of-the-line photo quality and respectably streamlined shooting design go a long way to make up for the irritants. And if you're a Sony fanboy/girl with a PlayStation, Xperia smartphone, or other Sony-connected device, then the wireless implementation makes some sense.


Sony NEX-5R Hands-on Preview

The Alpha NEX-5R is Sony's seventh NEX camera and the third in its '5' series that aims to appeal to a more demanding customer than the point-and-shoot-upgrader-friendly '3' cameras. The 5R is a subtle upgrade over the existing 5N but the changes wrought suggests Sony has a clearer idea of who each camera is aimed at.

The NEX-5R isn't a NEX-7 by any means, but it's finally added a couple of features that make it more attractive to keen photographers - namely a dedicated function button and control dial. These may essentially be an extension of the level of control that the 5N already offered, but devoting more space to external controls shows that Sony expects the users to actually use these functions.

The biggest technology advance on the NEX-5R is the addition of a modified sensor with pixels devoted to performing phase-detection to provide a hybrid autofocus system. The phase-detection pixels are used to determine depth information about the focus target, which means the camera has to perform less hunting. Sony is the fourth manufacturer (following Fujifilm, Nikon and Canon) to go down this route, with the potential of faster focus, improved continuous focus performance and better autofocus in movie shooting. How well these advantages might be realised in practice, though, is unclear from the pre-production example we've used for this preview.

The other big advance on the 5R is the addition of DNLA-compliant Wi-Fi and on-camera apps. Unlike Nikon's recently-announced Coolpix 800c, the NEX can only run Sony-made apps, but the couple included on the camera do increase its capabilities. The Wi-Fi and apps combine to mean that the 5R can push images to an iOS or Android smartphone, push images straight to Facebook or Sony's own PlayMemories site across a Wi-Fi network, or allow the use of a smartphone as a remote viewfinder/trigger.

Sony NEX-5R specification highlights

  • 16.1MP CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100-25600
  • Top-plate control dial
  • Dedicated Fn button
  • Wi-Fi for connection via Wi-Fi networks or to smartphones
  • Proprietary in-camera apps
  • Touch-screen display
  • Electronic First Curtain shutter
  • 1080p 60p HD movies in AVCHD (50p on PAL region models)

Compared to the NEX-5N

The NEX-5R's design shares a constancy with its predecessors that's becoming something of a tradition for the mid-range NEXs. Which is to say it looks essentially the same as the 5N and the 5 before it. The space taken up by the dial and the Fn button on the top plate mean the power switch now encircles the shutter button, NEX-7 style, but that's about all you get in terms of external clues.

Compared to NEX-5N

The NEX-5R is visually almost identical to its predecessor, the NEX-5N. There's no difference from the front...
...and on the back of the camera only the color of the buttons has changed from silver to black. The displays shown here also hint at another difference - the addition of proprietary camera apps.
However, when viewing the cameras from the top you can see that a new control dial has been added to the NEX-5R. The NEX-5N's on/off switch had to make space for it and has now been placed as a ring around the shutter button. The play and movie buttons had to be moved around a little as well to adapt to the new layout.
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Nex5r reviews sony

Sony NEX-5R Review


The Sony NEX-5R is a new mid-range compact system camera. Featuring a 16.1 megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, Fast Hybrid phase- and contrast-detect autofocus system, 49-segment exposure meter and 3-inch, 180° tilting LCD panel with 921,000-dot resolution, the NEX-5R also offers a touch-screen interface with a touch shutter function, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and PlayMemories Camera Apps, an ISO range of 100-25600 and both a mechanical and electronic shutter. The magnesium bodied NEX-5R can also capture fast-moving action at 10fps at full resolution, shoot Full HD 1920 x1080p video as high-quality AVCHD files, and is supplied with a compact clip-on flash that attaches via an accessory terminal. The Sony NEX-5R is available in silver, black or white and costs around £670 / $750 with the 18-55mm f/3.5-6.3 kit lens.

Ease of Use

The Sony NEX-5R is outwardly very similar to the older NEX-5N model, so some of the comments that we made about that camera apply equally to the NEX-5R. The NEX-5R's rectangular body shape and blocky grip is less immediately appealing than the retro finesse of an Olympus Pen or modernist curves of the Panasonic G series. With the supplied 18-55mmm kit lens attached the NEX-5R also looks and feels top heavy, and that's without fitting an existing Alpha DSLR lens proper, compatibility offered with pre-existing optics via the LA-EA2 accessory adapter which allows phase-detection AF with almost all of the A-mount lenses. The NEX-5R does undoubtedly feel solid when gripped in the palm, although with the lens attached it's too large for most jacket pockets.

The LCD screen can be tilted backwards by 40 degrees and forwards by 180 degrees for arm’s length self-portraits - if not, unfortunately swung outwards at 90° - to allow for low and high angle compositions we might not have attempted without. Note that fitting the clip-on flash prevents the LCD from being tilted fully forwards. Sony has also included High Definition video shooting at Full HD 1080p at 60fps with stereo sound with the welcome ability to control shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation during recording. It also features a useful dedicated red camcorder-style video record button for instant thumb-operated video access, while Tracking Focus allows a target object to be selected via the touchscreen LCD, even when the subject is moving, for both stills and video.

The NEX-5R isn't quite the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera, but at 218g and 38.9mm in depth including its grip or lens mount, it's hardly a large model. Low light sensitivity without flash also theoretically looks set to show rivals a thing or two by ranging from ISO 100 to a maximum ISO 25600 equivalent setting. Impressive stuff, and matching the sort of spec we're used to seeing on mid-range DSLRs.

Like Panasonic's directly competing GF5 (and unlike the Olympus Pens) there's no in-body image stabilisation offered by the NEX-5R unfortunately, so this is via lens only, the optically stabilized 18-55mm zoom offered as part of a kit deal for £670 / $750 all-in. Though we did get occasional softness, this appears to work well - at least as effectively as the in-camera or lens based anti shake methodology deployed by rival brands.

Sony branding and DSLR-style lens release button aside, all we find on the faceplate is a small porthole-shaped window for the AF assist/self timer lamp, a rectangular CR3 battery-sized and shaped handgrip with a subtly ridged surface for a firmer hold, plus the shutter release and new customisable Function button on the forward-sloping edge at its top, the latter by default accessing 6 commonly used options which include autofocus type, autofocus mode, autofocus area, white balance, metering mode and picture effects. with 10 other options also available.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T90Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T90

The NEX-5R is turned on or off via a thumb-flick of a chunky, nicely rigid switch which surrounds the shutter release, rather than via the recessed button we usually find on cameras with a smaller form factor. The new thumb-operated control dial that's partially recessed into the top of the NEX-5R makes it easy to change key values like aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation and menu options, and marks a major improvement on the design of the older 5N model.

The top plate looks similarly functional rather than fashionable. There's a dedicated playback/review button and the one-touch movie record button. Press this and the user is instantly recording video, whatever alternative shooting mode might previously have been in use; like the same control found on latter Panasonic G-series and Olympus PEN cameras, this proves essential with regard to spur of the moment filming. Also positioned atop the camera are a left and right (stereo in combination) microphone, each sitting either side of the lens mount, with the clip-on flash/accessory port positioned in between.

Incidentally, should you already have a lens attached, screwing the flash into position proves a tad fiddly, as there's not much room to fit your fingers between the curve of the lens barrel - which stands slightly proud of the top and base of the camera - and the front of the flash, which features a small tightening nut via which it is secured in place. Though the flash can be stored flat to the body to aid portability and adds hardly any additional weight or bulk, when in use the head needs to be manually raised at a angle of approximately 45°.

Press the shutter release button down halfway and, after the very briefest of pauses the AF point/s are highlighted in green accompanied by an optional beep of affirmation to indicate that the user is good to continue on and take the shot. The new Fast Hybrid AF combines phase- and contrast-detection autofocus methods is definitely a little snappier and more accurate than the conventional contrast-detection system used by the NEX-5N, but note that it's currently only supported by a few lenses (E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS; E 55-210mm F4-6.3 OSS; E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS; E 24mm F1.8ZA Sonnar T*.) Do so, and in single shot mode to the sound of a satisfyingly brief shutter click thanks to a release time lag of just 0.02 seconds, a full resolution JPEG is written to memory in about 2 seconds.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T90Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T90

As you'd expect in this price bracket, there is the option to also shoot Raw files, or even more usefully for those who wish to hedge their bets Raw and JPEG images in tandem. These settings are accessed within the Image Size folder and are found within the Quality sub folder. You also get Fine or Normal compression levels offered for JPEGs.

Not everything on the NEX-5R is located exactly where you might expect it to be found. For example ISO settings are discovered within a Brightness menu option that from the look of the icon that denotes it initially appears to be for adjusting screen brightness only. One would reasonably expect ISO adjustment to be found within the Camera folder with the other key shooting options. And so there's a fair amount of familiarisation with the NEX-5R's quirks required up front.

Shoot mode gets its own virtual dial though - so at least selecting the options here, including standard P,A,S,M, 9-strong scene mode, Anti Motion Blur, Intelligent Auto, Sweep Panorama and 3D Sweep Panorama, prove easier. Even in intelligent auto mode users still have the ability to get hands on to a degree by controlling background defocus, with a half moon shaped indicator appealing on-screen to the side of the scroll wheel, defocus at the bottom of the arc, 'crisp' at the top. The NEX-5R offers further controls for Brightness, Color, Vividness and Picture Effects, all part of the so-called Photo Creativity Touch interface.

The NEX-5R's external backplate is a similarly pared-down affair, the majority of it taken up by the 3-inch widescreen ratio angle-adjustable LCD that stretches from base to top plate. You can interact with the camera via onscreen icons and menus by touching the screen, and also set the focus point, handy for off-centre shooting and tracking moving subjects. You can now also fire the shutter as on many rival cameras. Thankfully you don't have to use the touchscreen at all if you prefer a more conventional approach, as you can still use the external controls to fully operate the camera (you can even turn off the touchscreen altogether if you prefer).

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T90Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T90
Pop-up FlashTilting LCD Screen

To the right of the screen is a trio of controls - the top and bottom buttons unmarked until the screen is activated, at which point their purpose is detailed alongside it. The top-most control is revealed as the 'menu' button, a press of which brings up the shooting icons - seven in total - the contents of we've already briefly touched on. Instead of the screen-full of text you might expect to be presented with upon press of the menu control, from top left to bottom right of screen, presented instead are Shoot Mode, Camera, Image Size, Brightness/Colour, Playback, Application and Setup icons.

The user moves through these options and makes selections either via the scroll wheel just below the menu button, which has its own central (and again unmarked) set button, or the new touchscreen interface. As mentioned this wheel is quite responsive to the touch, which, on a positive note, means that tabbing through options is a swift process, but on the other hand it's easy to slip past the setting you actually wanted when hurrying through them as a photo opportunity suddenly presents itself.

Set at four points around this scroll wheel/pad are a means of adjusting the display, ISO speed, exposure compensation (+/- 2EV selectable), and drive mode (single shot, continuous, continuous with speed priority, so focus/exposure fixed from the first shot), or self timer option (2 or 10 seconds). There's also options to enable the camera to be utilized with the aid of a remote - sold separately of course - and a bracketing control for exposure.

Disappointingly you have to delve into the Camera main menu system to access the various flash modes. The flash options more unusually include rear sync as well as slow sync, plus the regulars of auto and fill in. Somewhat confusingly the NEX-5R's red eye reduction setting isn't also found here - instead it has to be first enabled via the aforementioned Setup folder if you're shooting portraits with flash.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T90Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T90
Memory Card SlotBattery Compartment

The bottom button on the camera back now provides a means of calling up the new wi-fi options. You can wirelessly transfer your photos to a smartphone or tablet that's running the free PlayMemories Mobile app, or directly to a networked PC for easier backup. You can also view on a DLNA-compatible TV via a wireless router, or send them straight from the camera a TV that supports Wi-Fi Direct.

In addition to built-in wi-fi, the NEX-5R is the first Sony camera to support PlayMemories Camera Apps. As the name suggests, this is a downloadable service that lets you add new functionality to the camera, either via wi-fi or USB connection. Apps available at launch include “Picture Effect+”; “Bracket Pro”; “Multi Frame NR”; “Photo Retouch”; “Smart Remote Control” and “Direct Upload”, and Sony plans to provide more new apps, such as “Time-lapse” and ”Cinematic Photo”, in the near future. Note that only some of the apps are free.

The NEX-5R provides on-screen shooting tips, via which Sony no doubt hopes to provide a crutch for new users trading up from a bog standard point and shoot compact. Examples of textual advice, complete with small pictorial thumbnail alongside, include 'increase the ISO sensitivity to make the shutter speed faster', and then, the thoughtful addition: 'higher ISO sensitivity may make noise stand out.' Hand-holding for those who want it then, while others may feel Sony has wasted one of its very few dedicated buttons on a feature that, like the manual, many will choose to ignore.

At the base of the camera we find a metal screw thread for a tripod directly beneath the lens mount, and, in the nether regions of the grip, a compartment storing both rechargeable battery and optional memory card - here Sony reaching out to a wider audience by offering SD/SDHC/SDXC compatibility alongside its own Memory Stick.

While the right hand side of the NEX-5R - if viewing it from the back - features a continuation of the ridged grip but is otherwise devoid of ports or controls, the left hand flank is where users will find a covered port for HDMI connectivity and USB output. Only the USB cable was provided with our review sample; there's no standard definition AV output.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

The Sony NEX-5R produces photos of excellent quality. Noise is very well handled, being virtually absent from ISO 100-3200 and not being too obvious at the fast speed of ISO 6400. At ISO 12800, noise is more easily detectable when viewing images at 100% magnification on screen, but the images are still perfectly usable for small prints and resizing for web use. The fastest setting of ISO 25600 looks good on the specification sheet, but proves much less so in reality. The RAW samples illustrate just how much processing the camera does by default, though, as they're much noisier at all ISO values than their JPEG counterparts.

Colours were vibrant without being over-saturated in the default Standard Creative Style, and you can always choose Vivid if you want even more punch. The 11 Picture Effects quickly produce special looks that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, while the 6 Creative Styles provide a quick and easy way to tweak the camera's JPEG images. The Dynamic Range Optimizer and High Dynamic Range modes both work really well, although we'd advise caution over using some of the higher and more extreme levels, while Sony's now tried-and-trusted Sweep Panorama is still a joy to use.

Image stabilisation via the lens is a very useful feature that works well when hand-holding the NEX-5R in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The 16.1 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting. The pop-up flash provides an adequate level of exposure and thankfully little or no red-eye.


There are 9 ISO settings available on the Sony NEX-5R. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

File Quality

The Sony NEX-5R has 3 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

16M Fine (4.96Mb) (100% Crop)

16M Normal (3.50Mb) (100% Crop)
14M RAW (16.2Mb) (100% Crop)


The flash settings on the Sony NEX-5R are Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow sync and Rear flash sync, with Red-eye reduction available in the Main Menu. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

And here are a couple of portrait shots. Both the Auto setting and the Red-eye reduction mode caused a small amount of red-eye.


The Sony NEX-5R's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds and there's also a Bulb mode for even longer exposures, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 100.


The Sony NEX-5R's 18-55mm kit lens has an antishake mechanism which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Shake Reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with Shake Reduction turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off.

Dynamic Range Optimizer

D-Range Optimiser (DRO) is Sony's solution to improve shadow detail in photos taken in contrasty light.

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range Optimiser (HDR) is Sony's solution for capturing more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining two exposures into one image.

Intelligent Sweep Panorama Mode

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera does all the processing and stitching and now even successfully compensates for moving subjects. The main catch is that the resulting image is of fairly low resolution.

Creative Styles

There are 6 Creative Style preset effects that you can use to change the look of your images.

Picture Effects

Just like Olympus and Panasonic, the Sony NEX-C3 offers a range of eleven creative Picture Effects.

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sony NEX-5R camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Sony NEX-5R enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Sony RAW (ARW) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

Product Images


The new NEX-5R is an excellent all-round compact system camera that successfully reaches out to beginners and more experience users alike. While it looks almost identical to its predecessor, the new 180° tilting LCD screen, faster hybrid auto-focusing, wi-fi connectivity, downloadable apps and a more refined interface make the NEX-5R a great mid-range mirrorless camera.

The new hybrid auto-focusing is slightly faster and more accurate than on the older 5N model, but note that it only currently works with a few Sony lenses. Likewise the wi-fi connectivity makes it easy to download your photos onto a smartphone or PC or view them on a suitable TV, but it is limited - you can't for example control the camera from your iPhone or Android device. PlayMemories Camera Apps is an innovative idea that extends the camera's functionality, although not all of the apps are free. Perhaps the biggest improvement have been reserved for the interface, with the new control dial and function button in particular making the NEX-5R easier to use than its mid-range predecessors.

With its tiny body, boxy styling and big lenses, the NEX-5R still lacks the charm of the Olympus PEN series or the futuristic styling of the Panasonic G range, but don't let that put you off what is otherwise and excellent camera that delivers fantastic stills and videos. While the touchscreen interface feels almost entirely natural, especially with the addition of the touch shutter function, it is still entirely possible to use the camera fully via the external controls, so much so that you may not realise that the NEX-5R can be controlled via the tilting screen at all.

With the same 16 megapixel sensor as the previous 5N model onboard, the new NEX-5R offers enough resolution and a wide ISO range without introducing unwanted noise artifacts at the faster settings, while full 1080p video at 60fps remains class-leading. Add in the ability to use both E-mount and A-mount lenses thanks to the LA-EA2 SLT alpha mount adapter, not to mention the myriad of third-party adapters that have been released since the NEX series was launched, and you have the basis for a truly versatile system that can be as simple or as complex as you like.

With the NEX-5N continuing in the Sony CSC line-up, at least for the time being, the official price of the new 5R model has inevitably crept up, but don't let that put you off what is the most full-featured, responsive and refined intermediate Sony mirrorless camera to date.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Image quality4.5
Value for money4

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Sony NEX-5R from around the web.

The Sony NEX-5R is a beautifully built camera that you'll have great fun using. The articulated screen puts it one step ahead of its competitors, and the innovative downloadable apps will expand its feature set over time. All in all, a great buy if you can afford it, but the reasons to upgrade from the NEX-5N aren't entirely convincing.
Read the full review »

The Sony NEX-5N is our favourite mirrorless camera (or CSC) at present. Sony’s NEX system has proved to have the best low-light performance thanks to a relative lack of noise at high ISO settings.
Read the full review »

Sitting just above the NEX-5N, the NEX-5R has been designed to offer more interactive features than its forerunner. We gave it a thorough work out to find out how useful these new features will prove to be
Read the full review »


Lens Mount

Sony A-mountNO
Sony E-mountYES

Lens Compatibility

All types of Sony A-mount lensesYES (Requires A-mount adaptor)
All types of Sony E-mount lensesYES
Minolta & Konica Minolta α/MAXXUM/DYNAX lensesYES (Requires α-Mount adaptor) *xi-lenses are not compatible

Image Sensory

Image sensor typeCMOS sensor
Image sensor colour filterR, G, B, Primary color
Size (mm)23.5 x 15.6mm (APS-C size)


Total sensor Pixels (megapixels)Approx. 16.7
Effective Pixels (megapixels)Approx. 16.1
Automatic White BalanceYES
White balance: preset selectionDaylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Flash
White balance: custom settingYES
White balance: types of color temperatureYES (G7 to M7,15-step) (A7 to B7,15-step)
White balance bracketingNO
ISO Sensitivity SettingISO100 - 25600 equivalent

SteadyShot INSIDE

System: Sensor-shift mechanismNO
SteadyShot INSIDE scale (in viewfinder)NO
Camera-Shake warning (in viewfinder)NO
SteadyShot INSIDE capabilityNO
SteadyShot INSIDE compatibilityNO


Charge protection coatingcoating on Optical Filter and ultrasonic vibration mechanism

Auto Focus System

TTL phase-detection systemYES
Contrast AF systemYES
Focus point*199 points (phase-detection AF)/ 25 points (conotrast-detection AF)
Sensitivity Range (at ISO 100 equivalent); EV0 to 20 (at ISO100 equivalent with F2.8 lens attached)
Eye Start AF System (on off selectable)YES (with FDA-EV1S, LA-EA2)
AF Area: Wide focus areaNO
AF Area: SpotNO
AF Area: Local focus area selectionNO
AF Area: Multi PointYES
AF Area: Center WeightedYES
AF Area: Flexible SpotYES
AF ModesSingle-shot AF, Continuous AF
Predictive Focus ControlYES
Focus LockYES
AF IlluminatorYES (with built-in LED type)
AF Illuminator range (meters)Approx. 0.3m - approx. 3.0m

Auto Exposure System

Light metering type1200-zone evaluative metering
Light metering cellExmor™ CMOS Sensor
Light metering: Multi segmentYES
Light metering: SpotYES
Light metering: Center weightedYES
Exposure: AutomaticYES
Exposure: Program AutoYES
Exposure: iAUTOYES
Exposure: AUTO+NO
Exposure: Shutter priorityYES
Exposure: Aperture priorityYES
Exposure: ManualYES
Exposure: Scene selectionYES
Sweep PanoramaYES (2D)
Anti Motion BlurYES
AE LockAE is locked when the shutter is half pressed.
Exposure compensationYES (+/-3EV with 1/3EVsteps)
AE BracketingWith1/3, 2/3, 1, 2, 3EV increments, 3 frames


TypeElectronically-controlled, vertical-traverse, focal-plane type
Shutter Speed Range (seconds)1/4000 - 30 and bulb
Flash Sync Speed; second1/160


TypeExternal flash (supplied) attachable to Smart Accessory Terminal
Flash Metering SystemPre-flash TTL
Flash Compensation+/-2.0 EV (1/3 EV steps)
External Flash Recycling Time (approx. time in seconds)4
Flash ModeFlash Off, Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow Sync., Rear Sync
Wireless flash modeNO
Flash PopupNO


Field of View (%)NO
Magnification (with 50mm lens at infinity)NO
Eye PointNO
Diopter AdjustmentNO

LCD screen

Screen Size7.5cm(3.0type)
Monitor TypeWide type TFT
LCD Total Dot Number921.600
Brightness adjustableYES
Tilting screenYES
Rotating screenNO


Drive ModeSingle, Continuous, Speed-priority Continuous, 10 seconds and 2 seconds Self-timer, Self-timer continues (with 10 sec delay 3/5 exposures selectable), Bracketing
Continuous-Advance Rate (approx. frames per second at maximum)Speed priority continuous shooting: 10 fps
Recording MediaMemory Stick PRO Duo™,Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™, SD memory card, SDHC memory card, SDXC memory card
Recording FormatJPEG (DCF Ver. 2.0, Exif Ver.2.3, MPF Baseline compliant), RAW (Sony ARW 2.3 format)
Image Size L - JPEG (pixels)4912 X 3264 (16M)
Image Size M (pixels)3568 X 2368 (8.4M)
Image Size S (pixels)2448 X 1624 (4M)
Panorama size:Max. degrees of sweep angle(focal length 16mm/18mm)Wide: horizontal 12,416 x 1,856 (23M), vertical 5,536 x 2,160 (12M), Standard: horizontal 8,192 x 1,856 (15M), vertical 3,872 x 2,160 (8.4M)
3D Panorama sizeNO
Still Image qualityRAW, RAW + JPEG, JPEG Fine, JPEG Standard
Movie Recording FormatAVCHD / MP4
Video CompressionMPEG-4 AVC (H.264)
Audio recording FormatDolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC, 2ch
Movie recording mode - AVCHD1920 x 1080(50p, 28M, PS), 1920 x 1080(50i, 24M FX), 1920 x 1080(50i, 17M FH), 1920 x 1080(24p, 24M, FX), 1920 x 1080(24p, 17M, FH), 1440 x 1080 (25fps), 640 x 480 (25fps)
Movie recording mode - MP41440 x 1080(25fps, 12 Mbps), VGA(640 x 480, 25fps. 3Mbps)
Noise Reduction (Long exp.NR)On/Off, available at shutter speeds longer than 1 second
Noise Reduction (High ISO NR)YES
Noise Reduction (Multi Frame NR)NO
Color Space (sRGB)YES
Color Space (Adobe RGB)YES
Color mode/DEC/Creative stylesStandard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, B/W, Saturation, Sharpness


Index PlaybackYES
Enlarge (Maximum magnification)L: 14x, M: 11x, S: 7.3x, Panorama (Standard): 24x, Panorama (Wide): 34x
Image RotationYES


InfoLITHIUM Battery IndicatorYES
Histogram IndicatorYES
ExifExif Ver.2.3
Exif PrintYES
Menu LanguageEnglish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Greek, Turkish
PRINT Image Matching IIIYES
Remote Release TerminalNO
IR Remote ControlYES (Compatiable RMT-DSLR-2 is not supplied)
DPOF(Digital Print Order Format)YES
Operating Temperature (degrees C)0 - 40


Video OutNO
USB 2.0 Hi-SpeedYES
USB ModeMass-storage, MTP


Battery SystemNP-FW50
Supplied BatteryNP-FW50
Stamina (battery life in CIPA condition)Approx. 330 shots
Weight (g) (Body only)218


Width (mm)110.8
Height (mm)58.8
Depth (mm)38.9

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