Sony throws Hybrid AF and apps at the mirrorless NEX-5R
By Simon Crisp
August 30, 2012
Sony has revealed the NEX-5R compact system camera which features a 16.1-megapixel APS-C image sensor, Wi-Fi for easy image sharing, and an impressive burst rate of ten frames per second. The addition of Sony PlayMemories Camera Apps also means users will be able to upgrade the camera’s capabilities by downloading apps to add new functions.
Taking over from the last mid-range interchangeable lens NEX offering, the NEX-5N, one the biggest improvements in the NEX-5R is a new Fast Hybrid AF. This combines on-sensor phase-detection and contrast-detection autofocus methods to achieve speedy and accurate focusing. Phase detection, across 99 focus points, is used to detect subject distance, while 25 contrast-detection focus points add precise focus.
Sony says this means NEX-5R users will enjoy "DSLR-like focusing responses." In Speed Priority Continuous mode, the camera phase-detection tracking AF helps to achieve a high-speed burst rate of ten frames per second, while making the most of the 16.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor. The camera also uses a BIONZ image processor for clean low light images, and has an ISO range of 100-25600.
Physical upgrades include the dedicated function button and control dial which sit atop the camera, and give more experienced photographers the ability to make quick and easy manual adjustments. While the camera lacks a viewfinder, there's a 7.5-cm (3-inch) 921k dot resolution touchscreen which tilts upwards 180 degrees (for shooting self portraits) and downwards 50 degrees. The camera measures 111 x 59 x 39 mm (4.37 x 2.32 x 1.54 inches).
Though we've seen a couple of Android-powered app-toting cameras recently – in the form of the Nikon COOLPIX S800c and the Samsung GALAXY Camera – the Sony NEX-5R does apps a little differently. PlayMemories Camera Apps is an "On-Demand" download service from Sony which allows users to connect via the in-camera Wi-Fi and install new functions to their device. Apps available from launch include Picture Effect+ which adds more artistic treatments, and Bracket Pro which automatically shoots a burst of images at different bracketed settings.
A Smart Remote Control app gives users the ability to use their smartphone or tablet (with the relevant Android/iOS PlayMemories Mobile app) to remotely check the image on screen, adjust exposure and release the shutter of the NEX-5R. Direct Upload gives users the option of uploading images directly to online services such as Facebook via Wi-Fi. The NEX-5R can also wirelessly transfer images to a networked PC.
Movie shooting is offered at 1920 x 1080 50p and an Auto Slow Shutter feature detects low-light situations and automatically switches to a slower shutter speed to brighten up the resulting footage.
The Sony NEX-5R – which takes E-mount lenses, but can also be used with A-mount lenses with optional adaptor – will be available from mid-October at US$650 for the body-only option and $750 with a 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.