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Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review

We review the compact Sony Alpha A5100, with a 24mp sensor, high speed phase-detection focus and built in Wi-Fi.

| Sony Alpha A5100 (ILCE-5100) in Mirrorless Cameras
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Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha ILCE A5100 (2)

The Sony Alpha A5100 is an update to the Sony Alpha A5000, and is one of the smallest APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras with a built in flash. The updated A5100 adds phase-detection focus, a touch-screen, as well as a new 24.3 megapixel sensor, instead of the 20.1 megapixel sensor on the A5000. The Sony Alpha A5100 is priced at £549 (RRP) with the compact 16-50mm lens shown here. The camera features a tilting 3inch touch-screen and ISO sensitivity is manually adjustable up to ISO25,600.

Sony Alpha A5100 Features

Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha ILCE A5100 (12)

The Sony Alpha A5100 has a 24.3 megapixel APS-C sensor. It has built-in Wi-Fi, and NFC, to allow it to connect to devices such as smartphones or tablets. There is a BIONZ X image processor designed to produce clear, detailed, low noise images shooting up to ISO25600. The camera benefits from 179-point phase detection focus built into the sensor, and uses the same sensor as the Sony Alpha A6000

Photos can be uploaded directly to Facebook (using the Direct Upload app) from the camera with other apps available as well, including one which allows you to use your smartphone as a remote control. There are plenty of apps to download on the PlayMemories Camera Apps website, some are free, and some cost money.

Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha ILCE A5100 (5)

To help take creative pictures there are a number of picture modes such as poster effect, miniature and selective colour. The camera will automatically crop portrait photos creating a second copy of the photo. Focus includes eye-AF which ensures the eye is the focus point in portrait photos. 

Videos are recorded in full HD with stereo sound, and using the power zoom lens can zoom in and out without losing focus. The Alpha A5100 is available with the 16-50mm Power Zoom lens, which is collapsible when switched off, making it extremely compact. The lens is the equivalent of 24-75mm in 35mm terms, and features optical image stabilisation. 
Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha ILCE A5100 (6)
Key Features

  • 24.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 3inch tilting touch-screen, 921k dot resolution
  • ISO100 to ISO25600
  • BIONZ X™ image processing engine
  • 179 phase-detection points
  • 6fps continuous shooting with AF tracking
  • Eye AF focus
  • FullHD Video recording
  • Built in pop-up flash (GN4)
  • 180 tiltable LCD screen
  • NFC + WIFI - One touch remote, One touch sharing
  • Sony PlayMemories Camera Apps
  • Available in black, or white

Sony Alpha A5100 Handling

Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha ILCE A5100 (8)

The Sony Alpha A5100 has a compact plastic body and a good rubberised hand grip, as well as a plastic square on the back for your right-hand thumb, and weighs just 224g without lens. There is a built in pop up flash that is activated with a small button next to the flash. The A5100 has an updated and slightly more professional looking texture when compared to the A5000.

On top is an on/off switch, as well as the shutter release button that is surrounded by a zoom-rocker lever, this can be used to control the power zoom, or zoom into photos in playback mode. The rear scroll wheel makes it easy to cycle through the menus, and the camera benefits from the Sony Alpha style of menus, rather than the Sony NEX menus, making the camera more familiar for other Sony users. Despite there being a touch screen, this can't be used for scrolling through the menus.

Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha ILCE A5100 (7)

The 3 inch screen is tiltable at up to 180 degrees, ideal for shooting with the camera low down or taking perfectly framed self-portraits. When tilted forwards the camera will automatically switch to self-portrait mode and countdown before taking the photo. The screen has a good resolution and is easy to view with a "Sunny Weather" setting available for when you are outdoors in the sun, this brightens the screen and makes it easier to see in sunlight.

Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha ILCE A5100 (10)

A memory card slot can be found on the left hand side under the HDMI/USB flap, and the camera will take either Sony Memory Sticks or SD memory cards. 

Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha A5100 App Screens (1) (Custom) Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha A5100 App Screens (2) (Custom)
Sony Alpha A5100 App Store Sony Alpha A5100 Text Input

When you've set the camera to connect to your Wi-Fi network you can access the applications where you can use any that are already installed, or download more. Some apps cost money including Time-lapse (£7.99), Multiple Exposure (£3.99), Lens Compensation (£7.99), and Multi-Frame NR (£3.99), with Direct Upload, Photo Retouch, Flick Add-on, Smart Remote Control, and Picture Effect+ free.

Sony Alpha ILCE-5100 (A5100) Review: Sony Alpha ILCE A5100 (9)

Battery life is rated at 400 shots according to CIPA test results, with the camera using a Sony Info-lithium rechargeable battery, which means the camera is able to tell you exactly how much battery life is left as a percentage, for example, 51%. 

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

  Sony Alpha A5100
Shutter Response <0.05s
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2s
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.15s
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.1s
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.5s
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.0s
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5.8fps (119 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 1fps
Continuous Shooting - RAW 5.8fps (24 shots)

Switch on speed is a little slower than expected for this class of camera, however that's due to having to wait for the power zoom lens to extend. Focus and shutter response is very fast, and continuous shooting is quick at 5.8fps with continuous AF active.

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Photographs taken using the Sony Alpha A5100 (ILCE-5100)

My evening walkDa Nang Night Market, Vietnam.Barred windowsParty Street, Ho Chi Minh CityLotus Flower Fountain. Ho Chi Minh CityPark for birdsYoung parentsOn the curtainWhite oblique columns 1Yellow accent at nightUnder autumn chestnut treesDa Nang Night Market Downpour.Monkey bat aA little bridgeEntrance

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DABarwick Avatar
16 Nov 2015 11:39AM
it would be helpful to know what functions the touch-screen has ie; touch focus/shutter?
or just for selecting general menu settings?
first sony camera with touch-screen I"ve seen,
could be useful as a second (smaller/lighter) body to my a6000.

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