Superb image quality; one of the most compact cameras to shoehorn in a DSLR-sized sensor; option of using touch screen for operation in tandem with physical controls; new wireless connectivity option for use with smartphones and tablets
Pricey; design a tad bland and adding the lens makes for an unbalanced appearance; won’t fit in a pocket unless carrying lens and body separately
$799 (body); $999 (16-50mm lens); $1299 (16-50mm & 55-210mm lenses)
The third generation of Sony NEX cameras to feature the same large APS-C sensor as found in its Alpha DSLRs, the NEX-5R brings with it new wireless transfer abilities and compatibility with downloadable Sony ‘apps’, plus not only a back screen that can be angled down or up to such an extent that it can face the subject, but also one that is now a touch screen.
Outwardly however the 16.1 megapixel model closely resembles its predecessors, thanks to a matt black finish, flat fascia and narrow body design only given a hint of shape thanks to a more prominent than average handgrip.
Delivering 300 shots from a full battery charge, replenished with battery in the camera rather than via a standalone charger, the NEX-5R is pitched at intermediate users with most of the action happening via the screen. The purpose of the unmarked control dial on the top plate and two soft keys on the backplate falling beneath your thumb only become clear once the camera is switched on and vary according to whatever mode you’re in.
We also get a scroll wheel serving much the same purpose as the dial; namely getting to your desired settings or pictures more rapidly than simply tabbing through to them.
What the NEX-5R most obviously misses is a built-in flash. Instead a small clip-on variety is provided in the box, which is better than nothing but useless if you forget to carry it with you. There’s no optical or electronic viewfinder as an alternative to the 3in, high 921,600-dot resolution screen, but to be honest at this level it’s not missed, especially when the LCD can be angled to improve viewing.
As on Olympus and Panasonic touch screen rivals, a prod of the screen by a finger will fire the shutter. Images are warm and sharp with impressively little in the way of familiar bugbears such as pixel fringing.
Macworld Australia‘s buying advice
Apart from a dull design and high-ish price (albeit cheaper than Canon EOS M) the NEX-5R is hard to fault.