First Impressions: Sony NEX 5r

Not long ago, we had a little bit of time to play with the new Sony NEX 5R: the successor to the very positively reviewed 5n. The new camera sports a couple of interesting new upgrades and changes. So what was it like?

Editor’s Note: Check the availability at B&H Photo in body only, black, silver and white.

Tech Specs

-16.1 MP APS-C Sensor

– Wi-Fi capabilities for easier sharing of your photos

– Integration with the Sony Play Memories community for downloading apps (which are very basic additions like filters and the like). The content can then be sent to your Android or iOS device and transferred via the according app that must be downloaded.

– Fast Hybrid AF system with 99 phase detection points. This system is only supported with certain lenses and must be applied via a firmware update.

– Continuous tracking of subjects from frame to frame at 10 fps

– Tilting LCD screen that flips up 180 degrees

– 1920 x 1080 60p HD video

– $750 with the 18-55mm kit zoom lens and $650 for body only


As you can see in the opening image, the Sony NEX 5R is very plain and simple in the front: holding true to the Sony decision to not making this super complicated for the uber-inexperienced consumer.

As was similar to the NEX 5n, the top of the camera is also very plain as well, but there is another addition. This time around, Sony decided to slap on another dial on the top of the camera. Once again, the video record button is also a bit recessed in too.

The back of the camera is still very much the typical Sony NEX camera with the four way dials, touch screen functionality (but this time with touch to shoot as indicated on the screen) and wifi connectivity.

Other than that, Sony decided not to change much else; and I agree with the decision as the 5N was an excellent camera.


I’m very glad (and quite surprised) to say that with the Fast Hybrid AF enabled lenses, the Sony NEX 5R is pretty much on par with the Olympus OMD EM5. When I attached Sony’s gorgeous 24mm f1.8 onto the camera, it focuses extremely fast. In one test, I put the camera right in front of me and tapped a subject, then turned the camera and tapped another subject at another distance away, and then put the camera right in someone’s face at around 5 inches away. Each time, the camera locked focus nearly instantly. It seemed to struggle a bit in lower contrast areas, but even then it wasn’t so terrible. I’m willing to blame the focusing issues on the fact that the models were still pre-production samples with bugs.

Image Quality

I wasn’t able to put a card in the camera because the samples weren’t final yet. In a word, that also tells me that the sensor is brand new because at our last briefing when the products were refreshed, we were able to put cards in the cameras.

Once again, the high ISO images looked super clean from what I saw; and I was almost awakened with the same excitement that nearly every photographer was when the Nikon D300 was released and we were all in awe of just how good the high ISO images were years ago. Granted, that is old technology now, but it is an excellent frame of reference.

First Impressions

Overall, the Sony NEX 5r seems like a super solid camera. If I had to liken it to anything, it would probably be the Olympus EP3. And when that came out, we all had a great reason to be excited. But with more and more mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras coming out with awesome viewfinders, there is something else to be yearned for; at least initially.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.