Overall, I am very impressed by the Sony NEX-5R, just like I was impressed with the NEX-5N. It is a high-quality camera with excellent image quality characteristics and much-improved autofocus performance. As you can see from the previous page of this review, the Sony NEX-5R easily beats the Nikon 1 system and does extremely well when compared to other cameras from Olympus, Canon and Sony.
Its AF performance has also gotten much better when compared to the previous generation NEX cameras, thanks to its hybrid AF system. My biggest complaint for the NEX-5N was its sluggish AF performance and Sony more or less addressed the problem by integrating phase detect sensors to the camera’s image sensor. While this hybrid AF system is not as fast as on DSLRs, it is still really good when compared to other mirrorless cameras. I would say it is on par with the Nikon 1’s hybrid AF and slightly worse (in accuracy and speed) than the AF system on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 in AF-S mode. In AF-C mode, there is a problem with contrast-detect going back and forth trying to probe for focus, which got much better with the 1.02 firmware (as discussed in the “Autofocus / Manual Focus Performance and Metering” section of this review). But it is still not as good in comparison, so I hope Sony will address the issue via a firmware update in the future.
The Sony NEX-5R is a great camera for those that do not want the weight and bulk of a DSLR system. While it is not comparable to a DSLR in terms of features, autofocus, speed, and versatility, it certainly is comparable to some of the best APS-C DSLRs in terms of image quality. Hence, if you already own a DSLR and would like to have a smaller and lighter stills & video camera for traveling and hiking light, the Sony NEX-5R is definitely a camera I would recommend to consider.
Between the NEX-5R, NEX-6 and NEX-7, which camera would I recommend? The NEX-5R is a great value and the NEX-7 has a lot of advanced functionality, but my heart is with the NEX-6 (a review of the NEX-6 will be posted soon). It has the same hybrid AF as the NEX-5R, but most importantly, comes with a built-in viewfinder, a PASM mode dial, a standard hot shoe for on-camera flash and flash triggers (finally!), a built-in flash, WiFi and other great features.
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Quality
- High ISO Performance
- Size and Weight
- Metering and Exposure
- Movie Recording Features
- Dynamic Range
- Packaging and Manual
Photography Life Overall Rating
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