The New Sony NEX-5R


Sony has just announced the newest camera in its line of mirrorless cameras: the NEX-5R. Following suit of its predecessors, this camera is a compact, interchangeable-lens camera with a large APS-C-sized sensor. This combination provides a bit of both worlds; the portability of a compact point and shoot with the control and image quality reminiscent of a DSLR. The NEX-5R’s 16.1-megapixel sensor has the same resolution and size as many full-sized DSLRs, but is housed in a body about half the size. Furthermore, this camera employs a unique autofocus system that combines both phase detection and contrast detection focusing systems for both quick and highly accurate focusing as well as improved focus tracking. Wi-Fi capabilities have also been integrated into the design, allowing you to instantly share your images and HD video directly from the camera.

DSLR Functionality in a Compact Body

The APS-C-sized Exmor HD sensor in the NEX-5R is the same size sensor used in many of Sony’s DSLR cameras and features a significantly larger area than other compact camera sensors. Its 16.1-megapixel resolution provides high-quality imagery with great detail and overall sensitivity. A larger sensor also lends itself to greater control over focus, including the ability to blur backgrounds and utilize selective focus techniques. This camera also utilizes Sony’s interchangeable E-mount lenses for more flexibility and options when shooting.

The sensor also affords the ability to record high-definition video in a variety of frame rates and codecs. All HD recording is done in 1920 x 1080 resolution, at 60p, 60i or 24p frame rates. The AVCHD codec is used for excellent quality; however, the MP4 codec can also be used to record at 1440 x 1080 for more Internet-friendly videos. You can watch your movies on an HDTV straight from the camera using the HDMI-out port.

Hybrid Autofocus

The NEX-5R is the first E-mount camera to integrate the Fast Hybrid AF system, which utilizes two separate focusing systems in order to produce fast and accurate focus. Phase-detection autofocus excels at acquiring focus quickly and can handle tracking subjects as they move. Contrast-detection autofocus is used for critical focus and utilizes the edges of subjects to determine focus. When combined, the Fast Hybrid AF gives precise focusing while still offering the ability to easily track subjects and attain focus in as little as 0.3 second. This system is also able to provide continuous autofocusing while recording HD video.

On the manual focus end, critical focusing is possible by using the Peaking AF display feature. This feature highlights the edges of subjects once they are in focus and displays either a white, yellow or red line around them. When working with peaking, focusing becomes a more objective experience since there is visual confirmation that your subjects are sharp. There is also a Manual Focus Assist feature that magnifies the image, allowing you to home in on precise focus more easily. When this feature is activated, the image becomes magnified when the focus ring is touched, and will revert to normal viewing after the lens remains untouched for about a second.

Wireless Capabilities

Another first for Alpha cameras, the NEX-5R has full Wi-Fi capabilities and allows users to transfer images or video from the camera directly to smart phones or tablets. This function is based on the PlayMemories Mobile app (available for Android or iOS) which, in addition to facilitating the transferring of image from camera to device, also functions as cloud storage. Once your images have been uploaded to PlayMemories Online, you have instant access to your photos and videos on a number of different wireless devices including other smart phones or tablets and computers. You are also able to upload your imagery to social networks or other sites, as well as email, directly from your smart device too. The PlayMemories apps also enable you to download and install new camera functions as needed. It is the world’s first service that allows you to download and install the specific features and functions on your own.

Camera Features and Functions

A wide variety of creative effects and tools has been integrated into the camera to allow for optimizing your exposure, improving low-light performance and helping to provide the overall best imagery possible. A six-image layering process records six individual exposures consecutively and essentially builds up a sufficient exposure. This process lessens the overall noise in imagery since you can work with lower ISO settings and make shorter exposures. Another benefit to working with this process is the ability to photograph in darker settings without the need of a tripod; Handheld Twilight mode applies these settings in order to shorten the overall exposure duration for handheld exposures. Image layering is also used with the built-in Auto HDR function, which blends different exposures into a single frame in order to gain a wider exposure range capable of handling dark shadows and bright highlights. This mode is ideal for working in backlit situations or other high contrast instances.

For portraiture, Auto Portrait Framing automatically enhances and recomposes images of people into an optimally structured image. Utilizing Sony’s By Pixel Super Resolution Technology, when an image of a person is taken, Face Detection will help to recognize where in the frame the subject is and crop the image according to the Rule of Thirds. A new image will be saved with these enhancements in addition to the original composition and exposure. Also making use of By Pixel Super Resolution Technology, Clear Image Zoom can effectively increase the zoom range up to 2x with little to no image degradation. This mode works by magnifying the center of the image and using a complex interpolation formula to analyze individual pixels and categorize patterns in order to process and optimize images accordingly.

More creative applications can benefit from the Picture Effect mode, which contains seven types and 11 variations of different effects you can apply directly to your imagery. Choices include Toy Camera, Retro Photo and Posterization modes. There are also six Creative Style settings to choose from, including Landscape, Vivid and Portrait, which alter the camera settings to best suit the situation you are photographing. Each of these settings can also be fine-tuned in regard to contrast, sharpness and saturation.

Sweep Panorama Technology enables you to make extended, panoramic images directly in-camera without the need to stitch together images in post production. When working in this mode you simply pan your camera across the scene and the camera will automatically blend together the images into a seamless, panoramic image. Images up to 23 megapixels in resolution with a maximum sweep angle of 202° are possible, in either vertical or horizontal orientation.

Design and Interface

The NEX-5R is a highly compact camera, but still contains an immense number of functions and physical features. The 3.0” LCD is 180° tiltable for viewing at a variety of angles, including facing forward for use when taking self-portraits. Its 921,600-dot resolution provides detailed viewing and the brightness can be controlled manually for use in different lighting situations. Additionally, the LCD is a touch screen that provides you with a variety of options for adjusting your camera or exposure settings. Changes are applied through an intuitive interface that involves swiping, tapping and other familiar movements in order to modify settings such as Background Defocus, Brightness, Color and Vividness.

The Sony E-mount is compatible with a wide array of different lenses, including the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens. This lens provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 27-82.5mm and features quiet internal focusing for smooth autofocus with minimal noise. It also has Optical SteadyShot image stabilization for reducing camera shake when working at the long end of the zoom or in low-light conditions.

The Sony NEX-5R showcases a distinct innovation compared to past NEX cameras through the integration of Wi-Fi capabilities along with a unique autofocus system, large image sensor and overall intuitive interface design. The number of creative and practical options and ability to navigate and utilize a large 3.0” articulating touch screen LCD add to the overall efficiency of this camera. The NEX-5R serves to function as an appealing option to a full-size DSLR with the benefit of being substantially more compact—without sacrificing on quality.

Camera Type Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
Lens Compatibility Sony E-mount lenses
Image Sensor Exmor APS HD CMOS (23.5 x 15.6mm)
Total Pixels 16.7MP
Effective Pixels 16.1MP
Anti-Dust Technology Charge protection coating on optical filter and ultrasonic vibration mechanism
Focal Length Conversion (Crop) Factor 1.5x
Color Filter System RGB primary color filter
Color Space sRGB, Adobe RGB
Still Image Mode JPEG (Standard, Fine), RAW, RAW+JPEG
Still Image Size 16:9
L: 4912 x 2760 (14MP)
M: 3568 x 2000 (7.1MP)
S: 2448 x 1376 (3.4MP)
L: 4912 x 3264 (16MP)
M: 3568 x 2368 (8.4MP)
S: 2448 x 1624 (4MP)
Horizontal Wide: 12,416 x 1856 (23MP)
Vertical: 5536 x 2160 (12MP)
Horizontal Std: 8192 x 1856 (15MP)
Vertical Std: 3872 x 2160 (8.4MP)
Still Image File Format JPEG (DCF Ver. 2.0, Exif Ver. 2.3, MPF Baseline compliant), RAW (Sony ARW 2.3 format)
Video Format AVCHD Ver. 2.0 (Progressive), AVCHD, MP4
Video Mode AVCHD
PS: 1920 x 1080/60p at 28Mbps
FX: 1920 x 1080/60i at 24Mbps
FH: 1920 x 1080/60i at 17Mbps
FX: 1920 x 1080/24p at 24Mbps
FH: 1920 x 1080/24p at 17Mbps
HD: 1440 x 1080/30fps at 12Mbps
VGA: 640 x 480/30fps at 3Mbps
Audio Format Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC, 2ch
Microphone/Speaker Built-in stereo microphone / Built-in monaural speaker
Digital Zoom Approx. 4x
Smart Zoom Technology M: Approx. 1.4x
S: Approx. 2x
LCD Type 3.0" / 7.6cm TFT touch screen, 921,600-dot
LCD Angle Adjustment Up 180°, Down 50°
LCD Brightness Control Manual (5 steps, +/- 2), Sunny Weather mode
Peaking Settings Yes (Level: High, Mid, Low, Off / Color: White, Red, Yellow)
Focus System Fast Hybrid AF (phase and contrast-detection AF) with Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor
Focus Points 99 points (phase-detection AF), 25 points (contrast-detection AF)
AF Modes AF-S (single-shot AF), AF-C (continuous AF)
Focus Area Multi-Point, Center-weighted, Flexible Spot
Focus Sensitivity 0-20 EV (at ISO 100 with f/2.8 lens)
Manual Focus Assist Yes; 4.8x, 9.6x
AF Illuminator Built-in LED type with 1-9.8' / 0.3-3m range
Picture Effects Posterization (Color, B&W), Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color (R,G,B,Y), High Contrast Mono, Toy Camera, Soft Highkey, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Mono, Miniature
Creative Style Modes Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, B&W (+/- 3 contrast steps), Saturation (+/- 3 steps), Sharpness (+/- 3 steps)
Exposure Bracketing 3 frames with 1/3, 2/3, 1, 2, and 3 EV increments
Exposure Compensation Still: +/- 3 EV in 1/3 steps
Movie: +/- 2 EV in 1/3 steps
Exposure Settings iAUTO, Superior Auto, Programmed AE (P), Aperture priority (A), Shutter-speed priority (S), Manual (M), Sweep Panorama, Scene Selection
ISO Sensitivity Still: Auto (ISO 100-3200), Selectable (ISO 100-25600)
Movie: Auto (ISO 100-3200), Selectable (ISO 100-6400)
Exposure Metering System 1200-zone evaluative metering
Exposure Metering Modes Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot
Exposure Metering Sensitivity 0-20 EV (at ISO 100 with f/2.8 lens)
Noise Reduction Long Exposure NR, High ISO NR
Scene Modes Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports Action, Sunset, Night Portrait, Night View, Handheld Twilight, Anti-Motion Blur
White Balance Modes Auto WB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Flash, C.Tem (2500 to 9900K), C.Filter (G7 to M7,A7 to B7), Custom
Drive Modes Single-shot, Continuous Shooting, Speed Priority Continuous Shooting, Self-timer, Bracketing, Remote Commander
Self-Timer 2 or 10 sec. (single, continuous 3 or 5 frames)
Shutter Speeds Still: 30-1/4000 sec.
Movie: 1/4-1/4000 (in 1/3 steps) up to 1/60 in AUTO (1/30 in Auto slow shutter)
Shutter Type Electronically-controlled, vertical-traverse, focal plane type
Flash Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 steps
Flash Coverage Up to 16mm focal lengths
Flash Metering System Pre-flash TTL
Flash Modes Autoflash, Fill-flash, Rear sync., Slow sync., Flash Off
Guide Number 23' / 7m (ISO 100)
Recycling Time Approx. 4 sec.
HD Output HDMI mini (Type C), BRAVIA Sync, Photo TV HD
Media Type Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, SD, SDHC, SDXC
Power Supply InfoLITHIUM NP-FW50 rechargeable lithium-ion battery (7.2V)
Battery Life Approx. 330 images
Power Consumption Approx. 2.7W
Operating System Compatibility Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1, Mac OS X v10.3-10.8
Dimensions 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.6" / 110.8 x 58.8 x 38.9mm
Weight 9.7 oz / 276 g

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hi i am debating whether i should buy the nex-5r or nex-6 primarely for video.
i just dont know how useful is the touch screen is for focusing on video.
if it is a function i will not be using bc useless or if i will be focusing manually, i would rather get the nex-6 for stills and extra viewfinder for those occasional pics.
if it is en extraordinary feature, then i will get the 5r.
btw how hard is it to video auto focus/ track focus on viewfinder (6r)

I am very interested in this model has anyone at BH tested
the video capabilities for the 5r? Will it shut down recording
video @ 20 minutes like the 5n. This is the deciding factor for
me and many other consumers. Thanks in advance for any info...

How do you zoom the 16-50mm electronically driven lens with NEX-6, or NEX-5R when you shoot the HD video?
Is there any dedicated button on the 6 or 5R body? I'm thinking of buy one of them(6 or 5R). Thanks!

I cannot locate the electronic viewfinder accessory which was an option with the previous camera. Is there one?

I've been considering purchasing a 5N because I've taken an interest in photography and would like something a step up from a point-and-shoot. After learning about 'mirrorless' sytems I've pretty much ruled out DSLR. After reading about the 5N I came across the 5R. Most of my research points to the Sony over other 'mirrorless' systems.

As a starter, do you feel I will outgrow a 5N being that the 5R just debuted? I've read about some improvements, but not sure if they warrant the extra cost, especially for a beginner, and the R would be stretching my budget without extras like a case.

Thank you.

Can the camera be connected to a computer during use? I am thinking of astronomical applications where the camera is mounted on the telescope with the image from the telescope focused on the camera's sensor. It would be nice to see the image on the computer screen rather than the LCD on the back of the camera when focusing a star or planet on the sensor.

How long of a continuous shot can you do while shooting HD video with the AVCHD codec? DSLRs typically limit a continuous take to 12 minutes. Second: when shooting video, does the camera over heat after a while causing you to have to rest it? Again, this is an issue with DSLRs that you use for shooting HD video.

I am trying to find out if this or the Sony NEX7 will allow for a "B" shutter speed with the capability of adding a manual shutter trigger. If anyone can tell me if that's possible, I would greatly appreciate it.

Hi i'm just wondering if the $748 package includes an external flash? It says there is one when I clicked "what's in the box." Thanks a lot.

Does the specified weight of the 5r camera include a lens or battery? Or is 276g just the camera body alone? I'm curious because the specs for the 5n state the weight is "7.4 oz / 210g Camera body only". This is important to me as I want to use this camera for aerial video, and every gram counts.
I also wonder if the moire issues of the 5n have been resolved with the 5r. Thanks!