The Sony Alpha A5000 is this years update to the Sony NEX-3N, and is one of the smallest APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras with a built in flash. The updated A5000 adds built in Wi-Fi and NFC, as well as a new 20.1 megapixel sensor, instead of the 16.1 megapixel sensor on the 3N.
The Sony Alpha A5000 is priced at £399 (RRP) with the compact 16-50mm lens shown here. The camera features a tilting 3inch screen and ISO sensitivity is manually adjustable up to ISO16,000.
Sony Alpha A5000 Features
The Sony Alpha A5000 has a 20.1 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 image processor designed to produce clear, detailed, low noise images shooting up to ISO16000.
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.
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.
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 A5000 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.
- 20.1 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- 3inch tilting screen, 460k dot resolution
- ISO100 to ISO16000
- BIONZ X™ image processing engine
- FullHD Video recording
- Built in pop-up flash (GN4)
- 180 tiltable LCD screen
- NFC + WIFI - One touch remote, One touch sharing
- 15 apps now available in Playmemories App
- Available in black, white or silver
Sony Alpha A5000 Handling
The Sony Alpha A5000 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 210g without lens. There is a built in pop up flash that is activated with a small button next to the flash.
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.
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 easy to see in sunlight.
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. The camera feels better than the low price would suggest, with the rubber grip helps to give a good impression, and build quality appears to be very good.
|Sony Alpha A5000 App Store
||Sony Alpha A5000 Text Input
When you've set it 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 app 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.
Battery life is rated at 420 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 A5000
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
|Shot to Shot without Flash
|Shot to Shot with Flash
|Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
|3.5fps (14 shots)
|Continuous Shooting - Flash
|Continuous Shooting - RAW
||3.5fps (5 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 good, although continuous shooting isn't as fast as other Sony Alpha / NEX cameras.
Sony Alpha A5000 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Sony Alpha A5000 Sample Photos
- Photos have bright saturated colours, with reliable exposure. Portrait photos taken with the built in flash show good colour and skin tones, with very little to no red-eye, although occasionally the flash seemed to slightly over-expose photos.
Sony Alpha A5000 Lens test images
- The lens performs well in a variety of situations, although images are a little soft straight from the camera, and slightly sharper images would have been nice. Images become soft in the very far corners when shooting wide-angle. Macro performance is reasonable, although it can be difficult to get an extremely detailed sharp shot when focusing this close to the camera.
Distortion is low whether shooting wide-angle or telephoto shots. Purple fringing and chromatic aberration is well controlled.
There are three settings to provide lens compensation: Shading / Vignetting, Chromatic Aberration, and Lens Distortion, with these being set to On by default. For the power zoom lens, it's not possible to switch off lens distortion correction.
Sony Alpha A5000 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance
- Noise is low from ISO100, all the way up to ISO800, with noise starting to increase slightly at ISO1600 with a drop in detail, and then again at ISO3200, although results should still produce usable results with good colour reproduction.
Noise increases again at ISO6400, with a slight drop in colour saturation and a more noticeable drop in detail. ISO12800 and above shows higher levels of noise again although results may still be usable when resized. Noise reduction is quite strong, and this does appear to remove some fine detail, although it is possible to change the High ISO NR (Noise Reduction) setting from Normal to Low, which should produce more detailed photos.
Sony Alpha A5000 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance
- Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten lighting with a slightly warm result which will be pleasing to many, and for a more accurate result the tungsten preset performs extremely well. AWB does an excellent job under fluorescent lighting with the fluorescent presets giving a slight colour cast.
Panoramic | 1/200 sec | f/13.0 | 16.0 mm | ISO 100
- The camera features a panoramic sweep mode where you simply press the shutter button and pan the camera in the direction you want to take the photo. You need to move the camera from one direction to the other at a quite specific speed, otherwise the camera will fail to create the panoramic or alternatively produce a panoramic with a black edge, which will need cropping off later. Results are quite good, with good detail and a fairly high resolution result, although there is some ghosting noticeable.
Sony Alpha A5000 Outdoor images
There are a number of ways to improve dynamic range in harsh lighting conditions, and when in intelligent Auto or Superior Auto+ the camera will automatically use the backlight scene mode if it decides it's necessary. In program mode you can switch DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation) or HDR (High Dynamic Range) on, with these featuring Auto or manual settings. Here we've shown the auto settings which have produced very good results, without looking too artificial, with the HDR mode combining a number of shots taken at different exposures. Setting the HDR mode to 6EV gives an unrealistic looking image.
Sony Alpha A5000 Digital filters
Digital Filters -
When using the picture effects, the camera records the altered JPEG but does not let you use this feature with raw enabled. There are also colour options available which can be customised, letting you set contrast, saturation and sharpness.
- The Sony Alpha A5000 records full HD video with stereo sound, and when used with a power zoom lens provides smooth zoom during recording. Optical image stabilisation also helps keep videos smooth with the quality of videos looking good. You can use the zoom ring around the lens, and the lens zooms quickly, alternatively you can use the zoom switch, and this is slower and smoother at zooming in and out.
Value For Money
The Sony Alpha A5000 is available for £399 with the 16-50mm Power Zoom kit lens, which makes it good value for money, and is up against the following compact mirrorless cameras with tilting screens:
Fujifilm X-A1, 16-50mm kit lens, Wi-Fi, £379
Panasonic Lumix GF6, 14-42mm kit lens, Wi-Fi, NFC, £339
Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5, 14-42mm kit lens, £409
Samsung NX300, 20-50mm or 18-55mm kit lens, Wi-Fi, NFC, £419
You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.
Sony Alpha A5000 Verdict
The Sony Alpha A5000 is one of the more compact mirrorless cameras available with built in flash, particularly considering it has an APS-C CMOS sensor. For a smaller mirrorless camera you could have a look at the smaller sensor Nikon 1 series, or the Panasonic Lumix GM1 with Micro Four Thirds sensor, both feature smaller bodies and smaller lenses.
The Sony Alpha A5000 is comfortable to hold with a large rubberised grip, and produces excellent images with good colour and detail. It has a number of useful features including Automatic Dynamic Range Optimisation (DRO) and HDR modes to expand dynamic range, as well as good noise performance. The built in Wi-Fi and NFC is a useful feature and the capabilities of the camera can be improved through the installation of additional apps. The tilting screen makes it easy to take self portraits or shoot at different angles. For those looking for one of the smallest possible mirrorless cameras with an APS-C CMOS sensor, with a built in flash and built in Wi-Fi, the Sony Alpha A5000 would make an excellent choice, especially as it is competitively priced.
Sony Alpha A5000 Pros
Comfortable to hold
Compact with 16-50mm lens
Good image quality and colour
DRO and HDR modes
Quick focus and shutter response
Sony PlayMemories Apps available
Wi-Fi and NFC
Sony Alpha A5000 Cons
Picture effects are JPEG only (raw not available)
Have to pay for additional features as "apps" that are free with other cameras: Time-lapse, Multiple-exposure, Multi Frame NR etc
Strong noise reduction
|VALUE FOR MONEY
Sony Alpha A5000 Specifications
|Sensor Size (width)||23.2mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||15.4mm|
|Screen resolution||460k dot|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/4000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||30sec|
- Scene modes
- Centre-weighted - Average
- Multi Pattern
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 16000|
|Viewfinder Resolution||No Data|
|Video FPS||25p, 50p|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
- Memory Stick (Sony)
|Battery Life (CIPA rating)||420shots|
|Box Contents||Camera, Shoulder strap, Battery Charger, Infolithium Battery (NP-FW50), USB Cable, CD-ROM, Flash, Standard Zoom Lens (18-55mm OSS)|
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