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Sony NEX-5R Hands-on Preview

August 2012 | By Lars Rehm, Richard Butler


Preview based on a pre-production NEX-5R with firmware 01

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.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2012 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 145
12
Combatmedic870
By Combatmedic870 (Aug 29, 2012)

" Following our rather disappointing experiences with Canon's implementation in the EOS 650D, we are hoping Sony will come closer to realizing the promise of this approach."

I completely agree.....lets hope they dont screw this up.

2 upvotes
rockjon
By rockjon (Aug 29, 2012)

It seems like the hybrid AF is faster on the 5R than the original contrast detect AF only on the 5N according to a lot of the previews. The engadget preview says it's around about as fast as the OM-D.

http://www.thephoblographer.com/2012/08/29/first-impressions-sony-nex-5r/
http://www.engadget.com/2012/08/29/sony-announces-nex-5r/

1 upvote
Jogger
By Jogger (Aug 29, 2012)

Testing single AF is really pointless, the point of PDAF is for continuous AF, AF during burst shooting, and AF during video.

0 upvotes
brendon1000
By brendon1000 (Aug 29, 2012)

^^ Not really. People still use these cameras to shoot still photos most of the time and maybe a little video on the side. Only a few use these primarily to shoot video. So still AF performance is still very important to the majority of people and this is where Olympus had Sony beat.

Now if its as fast as the OMD the Sony has reduced another negative compared to Olympus. Hopefully on Sept 12 more NEX lenses will also be announced to reduce the huge gap between lenses available for m43 and lenses available for NEX.

1 upvote
rockjon
By rockjon (Aug 29, 2012)

Continuous AF seems to have also improved. I'm not sure how many they mean by a greater number. http://www.techradar.com/reviews/cameras-and-camcorders/cameras/digital-slrs-hybrids/sony-nex-5r-1093536/review/page:8#articleContent

0 upvotes
GlobalGreg
By GlobalGreg (Aug 29, 2012)

Hopefully one of the new features will be click-free videos.

2 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Aug 29, 2012)

The clicks were not audible to people who shot no video, older people with hearing loss, or hear-no-evil buyers, so maybe Sony will still use the same orientation sensor based on a little ball that rocks about.

0 upvotes
JohnReinertNash
By JohnReinertNash (Aug 29, 2012)

It's a little thing, but I'm always struck by how a company can roll out an interface with poor English grammar. It's not as bad as it used to be, but we still get a menu item called "Application." It's a small thing, but it takes away from the attention to detail paid to the other parts of the camera.

3 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (Aug 29, 2012)

someone needs to make an adapter that allows full electronic coupling with Nikon or canon lenses.

0 upvotes
rockjon
By rockjon (Aug 29, 2012)

there is but there's no autofocus

0 upvotes
Enginel
By Enginel (Aug 29, 2012)

Give me adapter that allows full electoric coulping with M43 or NX lenses ! ;-)
30/2 is nice...

0 upvotes
Alizarine
By Alizarine (Aug 29, 2012)

So this is the new Sony 16mp sensor.... Hopefully it will perform better than the 16mp one in the D7000 and K-5

and am still a bit unsure how to react to "proprietary apps" ...

1 upvote
brendon1000
By brendon1000 (Aug 29, 2012)

^^ Ill chalk up propriety apps to a plus point. No other camera officially supports apps anyway. So having a capability of installing apps is always good rather than not having any capability at all.

You can never know if some good free or paid apps are released later on. An app to do timelapse photography , multi HDRs etc come to mind.

And who knows if some techno geek out there finds a way to install many more free apps on the cam.

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Aug 29, 2012)

"Proprietary apps" may mean adware to coax people to buy more Sony products. Any time in reach of WiFi, the camera will start to say, "Hey there! Isn't it about time you got a brand new Sony HDTV? Or how about another lens?"

0 upvotes
Jens_G
By Jens_G (Aug 29, 2012)

I really really really hope Sony have nailed On-sensor PDAF.

It might be time for me to upgrade from the trusty old Nex 5 to a Nex 6, when that's released.

5 upvotes
rockjon
By rockjon (Aug 29, 2012)

It looks promising from the previews
http://www.thephoblographer.com/2012/08/29/first-impressions-sony-nex-5r/
http://www.engadget.com/2012/08/29/sony-announces-nex-5r/

1 upvote
czadpoom
By czadpoom (Dec 4, 2012)

It is likely going back to DSLR's size.

0 upvotes
harold1968
By harold1968 (Aug 29, 2012)

great camera sony
well done

0 upvotes
snowboarder
By snowboarder (Aug 29, 2012)

Great, but where is the Full Frame NEX?
Not sure they know, but many would kill for such a camera.
It would be a dream if it works great with Leica M lenses.

0 upvotes
Jeffs5N
By Jeffs5N (Aug 31, 2012)

I'm sure it will come one day, thats why I'm stocking up on my canon FD lenses which are superb on the 5N and will also suit the full frame version one day I'm sure.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
burninggarlic
By burninggarlic (Aug 29, 2012)

how about the battery life?

0 upvotes
nagi603
By nagi603 (Aug 29, 2012)

Officially it is IIRC 400+ per battery.

1 upvote
rockjon
By rockjon (Aug 29, 2012)

430 shots
Source: http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras/sony-alpha-nex-5r/4505-6501_7-35426690.html

1 upvote
jpr2
By jpr2 (Aug 29, 2012)

hm?? it says on DPR:
battery Life (CIPA) 330 shots

0 upvotes
Jens_G
By Jens_G (Aug 29, 2012)

Ebay batteries are cheap, I've got 4 spare batteries for my Nex 5.

2 upvotes
macautio
By macautio (Aug 29, 2012)

Nice camera body for Sony again, but were is the objects.

0 upvotes
Mr Thompson
By Mr Thompson (Aug 29, 2012)

Looks like we will keep both 5Ns and skip the 5R.

0 upvotes
thejava9
By thejava9 (Nov 1, 2012)

SONY NEX-5R AF-C bug?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40i9ZfzCoOw

0 upvotes
Total comments: 145
12