Sony NEX-5R twin lens kit

An opportunity recently came up for me to procure myself one of these Sony NEX mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and what better time than right around the corner from Christmas? Main reason for wanting this sort of camera? First, a HUGE sensor relative to the size of the camera (1.5x crop like most DSLRs) and fantastic video abilities. Without further adieu, I present to you the latest Sony NEX-5R(Y) with the Y denoting the twin lens version.

For a small camera, it comes in a decently sized box which is quite packed, so what’s inside? At the top of the box is multiple manuals (differently languages), warranty/support cards and software CD. Lifting the top flaps reveals 3 compartments, the left contains the Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS zoom lens. The middle compartment contains the NEX-5R body itself attached to the Sony E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS zoom lens and the final compartment on the right containing a host of power cables, microUSB cable, desktop charger, battery pack, shoulder strap and detachable flash.

Now the original NEX series cameras came with the 18-55mm F3.5 which was pretty big when mounted on the NEX type cameras (similarly sized to a crop body 18-55 equivalent lens from Nikon or Canon), this made the camera unpocketable. This new 16-50mm is definitely much smaller and retracts when powered off, another additional feature is the power zoom; there’s a little rocker type switch on the left hand side which allows you to zoom in and out like a regular point and shoot, some will love it, some will hate it.

It has a similar hinged screen to the 5N, however slight improvements have been made to allow it to flip backwards so you can get the perfect self portrait, bear in mind however, if the flash is attached, the screen can’t be flipped all the way up. A little nice touch is when the screen is flipped for self portraits, a 3 second timer is automatically activated.

The screen tilts upwards and downwards to allow easy high angle or low angle shots.

Upward tilt
Downward tilt

It’s also touch sensitive, but I do believe it isn’t of the capacitive type and isn’t too sensitive which severely reduces its effectiveness. I was hoping a phone style interface with gestures but alas, it wasn’t meant to be, it does help access some features, but I have a feeling it won’t be used for proper shooting.

Now, the lenses, as mentioned the new 16-50mm which shipped with the camera does retract when powered off, below are some comparisons of size, note that the 16-50mm ‘waves in and out’ from wide to tele, i.e. longest when wide and zoomed all the way in and shortest when in the middle, also note the 55-210 is ridiculously large when mounted onto this camera.

16-50mm retracted
16-50mm extended
55-210 at 55mm
55-210 at 210mm

Unlike the NEX 6 though, the 5R doesn’t have a standard hotshoe, this small proprietary connector serves multiple purposes but has the problem of only serving one at a time, that means you can use the flash and not the optional microphones or viewfinder at once, personally won’t be a big deal, but an integrated flash like the 6 would have been that little bit better, especially for travel.

The integrated WiFi combined with the PlayMemories apps does make for a nice touch, but I do feel it’s still in its infancy. This combination allows for new applications to be downloaded and installed and at this time, there’s currently a Time Lapse ($10), Pro Bracketing app ($5), Cinematic Photo app ($5), Multi frame noise reduction ($5) as well as a few free ones; Direct upload, Photo retouch, Picture Effect+ and Smart remote control.

I personally don’t think the paid apps offer much and should actually be standard features, maybe for the exception of ‘Cinematic photo’ which allows you to create a hybrid stills/video leaving some areas still and others moving. The Smart remote control app is very basic and allows for a live view image to displayed on your smart phone and the ability to trigger it remotely, in this situation, the camera acts as a hot spot.

This has been a brief intro opening and I’ll try to report back with my feedback after it’s used for a few outings, so far it is pretty impressive and it does feel like a solid camera. The autofocus is pretty quick, still not as quick as D600 or D700, but definitely plenty fast for a holiday situation. For the price I paid (and definitely if I get rid of the 55-210 lens) I don’t think anything could have matched it, just need to get myself a Nikon F mount to Sony E mount adapter and I’m set.

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