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Sony NEX-5R Review

The Sony NEX-5R has a 16.1 megapixel sensor, Wi-Fi and tiltable LCD screen. Daniel Bell reviews.

|  Sony NEX-5R in Mirrorless Cameras
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Sony Nex 5r 10

The Sony NEX-5R is an update to the Sony NEX-5N, with Wi-Fi and new PlayMemories applications available for download. The Sony NEX-5R is available for around £440 with 18-55mm kit lens and is the 3rd generation of the NEX-5, the most popular model in the NEX range.

Sony Nex 5r 12

Sony NEX-5R Features

The Sony NEX-5R has a 16.1 megapixel APS-C sensor and is designed to capture more light for low light shooting. It has built-in Wi-Fi to allow it to connect to devices such as smartphones or tablets. There is also a BIONZ processor which produces clear, detailed, low noise images and can shoot right up to ISO 25600. When shooting in low light a high-speed burst of six frames creates a single low-noise image to minimise blur.

Photos can be uploaded directly to Facebook 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.

The NEX-5R has Hybrid Auto Focus technology to capture high-speed action. It can also shoot at up to 10 fps. To help take creative pictures there are a number of picture modes such as poster effect, miniature and selective colour. You can also retouch portraits to remove blemishes and wrinkles.

Videos are recorded in full HD and zooms in and out without losing focus. The NEX-5R can be attached via HDMI to a HD TV for video playback.

Sony Nex 5r 9

Key Features

  • 16.1 megapixel APS-C sensor
  • Sony E lens mount
  • Hybrid Auto Focus technology
  • 3 inch wide 921,600 dot tiltable touch screen
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 100-25600
  • Panorama mode
  • 10 fps continuous shooting
  • HDR mode
Sony Nex 5r 13

Sony NEX-5R Handling

The Sony NEX-5R has a metal body and a good rubberised hand grip, as well as a rubber square on the back for your right-hand thumb. The top accessory port allows the connection of the included pop-up flash, as well as the optional OVF (Optical viewfinder), EVF (Electronic viewfinder) and microphone.

Also on the top of the camera is an Fn (function) button which gives access to focus, metering mode, white-balance etc. but can be customised to a number of different options. There is also a dial which allows you to change settings such as aperture and shutter speed, depending on which mode you're using. There is rear scroll wheel which makes it easy to cycle through the menus. The menu system is fairly well laid out but some options do have a rather long list.

The touch screen is 3 inch wide and is tiltable at up to 180 degrees, ideal for shooting with the camera low down or taking perfectly framed self-portraits. You can also use the screen to focus the camera and take a shot. The screen has a good resolution and is easy to view in all light.

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 are free, there are also some which you have to pay for, such as Bracket Pro & Time-Lapse.

Sony Nex 5r Screenshot 3 Sony Nex 5r Screenshot 4 Sony Nex 5r Screenshot 1

Battery life is rated at 410 shots according to CIPA test results, we were able to take 675 shots before the battery went flat. 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.

Shutter Response   <0.05 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.5 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   1.7 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   0.78 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   1.2 secs
Continuous Shooting   3.2 fps
Continuous Shooting - Speed Priority   10 fps
Continuous Shooting - Flash   1.5 fps

Whether shooting in JPEG or RAW the speed is the same and to get the fastest continuous shooting you need to make sure you are in speed-priority mode.

Sony Nex 5r 7

Sony NEX-5R 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 NEX-5R Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are well exposed and have excellent colour reproduction. The auto modes make it extremely easy to capture superb pictures. Landscapes have fantastic greens and blues and you can capture moving objects with shutter speeds as fast as 1/4000 sec. Images are decent in low light, even when shooting hand held, rather than with a tripod. Portraits have pleasant skin tones and are free from red-eye when using the flash.

Sony NEX-5R Lens test images

Lens Performance - Images are packed with detail at both ends of the 18-55mm kit lens, with purple fringing non-existent in contrasting areas. The camera has a good dynamic range, but it can be extended using HDR mode which combines three shots automatically. It's difficult to get close to your subject using the kit lens, but a well detailed macro is possible by zooming in.

Sony NEX-5R ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 100 and remains so at ISO 200, 400 and 800. There is a slight loss in image quality at ISO 1600 with images becoming a little soft at ISO 3200. ISO 6400 sees a significant loss in image quality with some fine white dots appearing, which increase in numbers at ISO 12800. At ISO 25600 images are very noisy, with patches of the images looking blurred.

Sony NEX-5R White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights, both the auto white balance (AWB) and incandescent presets take excellent images. The AWB also does well under the fluorescent lights, with colour casts appearing when using the fluorescent presets.

Panorama | 1/250 sec | f/11.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
Panorama | 1/250 sec | f/11.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

Panorama mode - When in panorama mode the camera automatically stitches images together, with standard and wide options available, you can move the camera left / right or up / down. They are stitched together excellently, have plenty of detail and look impressive, even when viewed at full size.

Sony NEX-5R Digital filters

Digital Filters - The NEX-5R is an ideal camera for producing creative pictures, with a range of creative styles and picture effects available, with many examples above.

Video - Below is a video shot in full 1080p HD. You can use the zoom during recording, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine Youtube Page. It is hard to zoom consistently with the kit lens, if you're going to frequently use the zoom while recording the 16-50mm power zoom lens would be a worthy investment.

Value For Money

The Sony NEX-5R can be purchased with an 18-55mm kit lens for around £440.00. Other cameras to consider at this price range are the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 at £349.99, Pentax Q at £249.00, Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 at £479.99 and Nikon 1 J2 at £349.99. For more choice, read our Top 10 Best Mirrorless Compact System Cameras article.

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 NEX-5R Verdict

The Sony NEX-5R is the update to the 5N, with the most exciting upgrade being the built-in Wi-Fi which allows you to share and edit images via apps, as well as utilising your smartphone or tablet as a remote release as well.

Picture quality is excellent and you can shoot full sized images at an impressive 10 fps. It has an excellent battery life, rated at 410 shots and the tiltable screen makes it easy to shoot at varying angles. We've been impressed with other versions in the NEX-5 range, and again we are happy to highly recommend this update.

  The Sony NEX-5R is a worthy update to the 5N, with the addition of Wi-Fi and excellent image quality.

Sony NEX-5R Pros

Excellent image quality
10 fps continuous shooting
Has built-in Wi-Fi
Tiltable screen
Can download apps for editing and sharing pictures
Customisable function button
Good battery life

Sony NEX-5R Cons

A number of the lenses are quite large
Non-standard flash mount
Alpha lens adapter can make the camera quite bulky


Sony NEX-5R Specifications

Image Sensor
Pixels16.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4912
Pixels (H)3264
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)23.5mm
Sensor Size (height)15.6mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921,600
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Spot
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • AB
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder ResolutionNo Data
MagnificationNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1440x1080
Video FPS25p, 50p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • Memory Stick (Sony)
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeNP-FW50
Battery Life (CIPA rating)410shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera, Shoulder strap, Battery Charger, Infolithium Battery (NP-FW50), USB Cable, CD-ROM, Flash, Standard Zoom Lens (18-55mm OSS)

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Photographs taken using the Sony NEX-5R

Jupiter and 4 MoonsThe evening splendour........GuessRuins of a ChurchDust Off !Bus StopThe Eyes Have It !Snacks time...San Diego Trolley...Lunch time...DuckWhite TempleUnder WorldWaiting

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