2019 Buying Guide: Best cameras for beginners
Published Nov 2, 2018 | dpreview staff
9 Sony a5100
24.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor | Hybrid AF system | Tilting touchscreen LCD
What we like:
- Sensor is one of the best in this class
- Very good AF, effective even in video
- Wi-Fi with NFC
What we don't:
- Single control dial
- Limted touch functions
- No in-camera Raw conversion
The Sony a5100 uses the same 24.3MP APS-C sensor and BIONZ X image processor as its big brother the Sony a6000. It's a touchscreen-based point-and-shoot alternative to the a6000, but offers the same fast and accurate autofocus, built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and a tilting LCD.
Physically, the a5100 is surprisingly lightweight in hand, not to mention very compact. That said, the grip is well-sized, and the camera is comfortable to hold. Again though, some seasoned shooters will find the lack of direct controls frustrating. The a5100's touch-sensitive LCD can be flipped up 180 degrees for selfies. It also has a 'help' button on the back of the camera to guide shooters, and includes a small pop-up flash.
It contains the same impressive AF system as the a6000, which we found to be class-leading when it comes to autofocus speed and accuracy
The camera’s point-and-shoot nature shouldn't be taken to mean the a5100 isn't capable. It contains the same impressive AF system as the a6000, which we found to be class-leading when it comes to autofocus speed and accuracy. The AF system also takes advantage of the image sensor's ability to identify scene elements and does a good job of maintaining focus on its subject, whether that be a sports player or someone's face. That's true even in video, thanks to 179 on-sensor phase detect points.
Performance-wise, the a5100 can fire burst at up to 6 fps, which is fairly typical amongst its peers. Overall image quality is very good, both from JPEG and Raw output, though high ISO JPEGs suffer from aggressive noise reduction. Video quality is also good; the camera can capture 1080p/60/30/24 fps using the XAVC S codec and offers a built-in stereo mic.
For those who simply want an incredibly compact, lightweight camera that they can set and forget, the a5100 is a superb choice.
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