The Alpha NEX-5R Mirrorless Digital Camera from Sony is Sony's latest compact interchangeable lens "mirrorless" camera. If you're considering an upgrade to a DSLR, but not sure you want to carry around such a big camera (or the big expense) or you're presently shooting with a DSLR and want comparable image quality in a more compact form, consider the Sony NEX-5R. For starters, the 16MP APS-C-size sensor, fast Hybrid Autofocus, burst shooting up to 10 frames per second and on-camera operational dials offer you a few of the quality and design elements of a DSLR. Of course, you also have the capability to use a variety of lenses, the hallmark of DSLR photography. However, the NEX-5R brings with it advantages that DSLR's cannot offer, starting with its compact body which is about half the size of a DSLR. Add to that built-in Wi-Fi and a tilt-able LCD screen with touch screen operation (including shutter release!) and you begin to realize that the NEX-5R is a special camera that can offer you the best of both worlds.
The 16.1MP APS-C-size Exmor HD CMOS image sensor housed in the NEX-5R is the same sensor format that Sony puts into its DSLR cameras and provides stunning, high-resolution images that can be blown-up for gorgeous prints with fine details and silky textures. It also is a highly sensitive sensor that can handle low-light situations. Sony's BIONZ Image Processing Engine suppresses color and luminance noise, giving you enhanced color reproduction, rich tonal graduations and an amazing clarity of detail. It also provides fast performance and processing speeds.
The NEX-5R is Sony's first E-mount camera with Fast Hybrid AF, utilizing two focusing technologies to provide extremely fast and accurate auto-focusing. Phase detection AF splits incoming images into two and compares them for light intensity in order to focus, it is a fast system, able to focus in 0.3 seconds and especially useful when tracking moving subjects. Contrast AF uses the image sensor to measure the contrast differences amongst the pixels, pixels that are "in focus" having higher contrast. It is considered a very accurate focusing system and combined with Phase detection AF, provides the 'Hybrid' system that gives the NEX-5R such a noteworthy DSLR-like auto-focusing capability.
The Hybrid auto-focusing is also utilized when shooting Full HD Video with the NEX-5R and provides continuous auto-focus when shooting video, something very few cameras do. Continuous AF gives your home movies that extra watchable touch that will command attention when you screen them on your HDTV via the provided HDMI output. Able to shoot at 60 frames per second or the more cinematic 24 frames per second, the NEX-5R also shoots with higher quality AVCHD codec and upload-friendly MP4 codec.
Wi-Fi is another first for NEX-5R. It is the first Sony Alpha camera to offer direct Wi-Fi connectivity to smartphones and tablets. With the PlayMemories Camera App installed to your Android, iPhone or tablet you can transfer any image from your NEX-5R straight to your smartphone and from there to the world of waiting friends. This is a great way to share high quality images but also serves as a way to save and back-up images without removing the memory card. PlayMemories Apps also provide you with an easy way to add functions and updates to your camera.
Physically, the NEX-5R is an ultra-compact camera with the Sony E-mount which will allow you to use all the lenses in the E-mount line. It also has added a control dial next to the shutter button which greatly improves operational speed and a large tilt-able 3.0" LCD screen. Able to flip up 180º, this LCD makes shooting self-portraits super-easy but also offers a way to shoot street photography and family snapshots in a discreet way that will provide you with emotional, un-posed moments to treasure. The LCD is also touch functional, including touch shutter release. Combining the control dial and touch screen with Sony's ultra-intuitive interface means that you get to the settings you want in a hurry and therefore get the shot you want instead of being caught fumbling through a menu while the action passes you by.
Heightened control and stellar image quality put the NEX-5R into a rarified class of camera, but its auto, assistive and creative functions make it accessible to any level of photographer. Auto HDR is a great function which makes it easy to capture difficult high-contrast shots by combining the best highlight and shadow aspects of two frames into one perfectly balanced photo. 6-image layering similarly captures six images in a split second and combines the best aspects of six to create one great image. This is great when shooting in low light or other instances where camera shake can affect image sharpness. Auto Portrait Framing will recognize when you shoot a portrait and create a second image from your photo with an ideally cropped frame. Both the original and newly framed image are saved together. Face Detection and Smile Shutter technology make for perfect portraits and group shots and Enhanced Tracking Focus keeps moving subjects in focus while you concentrate on the best composition. Amazingly, Tracking Focus and Face Detection can work together, if for example, your subject turns away from the camera (think, every kid!). The NEX-5R will switch automatically from Face Detection to Focus Tracking and back again when your subject stops and looks again toward the camera.
Other aspects that make the NEX-5R a great camera are its Creative and Fine-tune settings, Sweep Panorama mode, an optional multi-interface terminal, anti-dust technology and convenient USB charging. Whether you're looking to step-up from a point-and-shoot or are already familiar with DSLR's and want a more compact, but still high-quality camera, the Sony Alpha NEX-5R is the ideal camera to enter into the world of compact interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras.