For a moment lets pretend like this camera hasn’t been leaked already and that you don’t know any of its specs! Today Sony has shocked us with a new NEX camera and there are a few features of this camera that are brand new to companies iconic camera series. There are six main features of this camera that we are going to go over and some of them are a big big deal for this style of a camera.
The camera will feature an upgraded 16mp sensor, new fast hybrid AF, changes in the body and display, Wifi support, and last but not least what Sony calls the PlayMemories store where you can add additional apps. Since you haven’t heard or read about any of these features before lets dig in and see what Sony has brought to the table.
I hope you all sense my sarcasm but I’m pretty serious when I say that this camera is an excellent upgrade from the 5N which is widely seen as a fantastic compact camera. This camera I feel is a solid upgrade unlike the minor bump from the NEX-C3 to the F3.
Sony’s new Hybrid AF system allows you to shoot 10fps with AF tracking, this is a step up from the 10fps with fixed focus from the 5N. The 5R is able to do this because it now has a Phase-detection and a Contrast-detection AF system and these together eliminates the hunting that a camera normally has to do to obtain focus. The sensor now features a 99 point phase detection AF array in addition to the 25 area contrast AF which has been with the NEX series from the beginning.
The 5N had a touch screen but now the 5R features a better user interface including a touch shutter. With this you can either touch an area in which you want to focus and take a photo as well as touch the area in which you want to track. There is also a new function button as well as a new control dial which can be seen at the top right on the image above. This new control dial can adjust the usual aperture or shutter speed depending on what mode that you are in. When using the function button on the top right you can set up and cycle through 6 different user selectable menus which each can link to 15 functions that you can declare . Each of these can be set or removed so that you can program the camera to your liking. This sounds very similar to the control ring on the Sony RX100 and I loved this feature of that camera.
Same as the NEX-F3 that came before it the 5R now features a 180 degree flip up screen. The screen when flipped enables a self-portrait mode in which enables a 3 second timer when the photo is taken. The image on the display is also showed in a mirror like mode so viewing is very familiar. The screen is the same 921k pixel touch display found in the 5N.
The camera now has Wifi so that you can push images wirelessly to a computer, DLNA enabled tv or the PlayMemories Mobile App for iOS and Android. This will also enable you to share your images directly from the to social networks when on a wireless network.
The 5R also is the first Sony to come with an App Store. Their implementation of apps is an interesting one because they seem like they chose the smartest and safest choice for Sony as a business. Other companies like Nikon recently have added Android but this allows to a system that is a bit too wild for a controlled company. The pros to a closed Apple iOS type system is that you know you will have good quality control but the con is that 3rd party developers won’t be able to hack and push the limits of the camera. Open systems and hacks like the one done on the GH2 can open great opportunities and free the camera from the small cage that its enclosed in. Now the idea of an App Store on a camera sounds great but please keep your expectations low for the first generation of cameras that feature apps. The 5R is sadly one of those cameras in which you have to keep low expectations. For one it is closed off and that would be okay if the opening lineup of apps was an impressive one…. in this case its not. Out of the gate the lineup will surely cause an uproar on the internet, the apps include some watercolor picture effects, Bracket Pro (offers bracketed shutter speeds), Multi Frame NR (yes the feature that has been coming with the Sony cameras is now an app), Photo Retouch (basic editing like brightness, saturation, contrast, aligning horizon, soft skin effect, resize and framing), a remote control app (actually a cool feature that lets you control your NEX from a distance with your phone) and the ability to upload to Facebook / social networks.
I had a moment to speak with the smart people behind this model and I asked about their timeline and future apps. They let me know that these will be their launch apps and they are planning to add more but there is no scheduled apps or release dates as of yet. Maybe they are just trying to get on the app and social bandwagon but I really hope they take advantage of this feature. I am done ranting but I hope you get my point.
In addition to the features previously mentioned the camera includes all of the other features of the 5N and adds a few others including Auto Portrait Framing, 2x Clear Image Zoom and better better life with up to 430 images per charge.
The camera will weigh in at 7.7 ounces (217g) for the body only, it will come in black, silver and white. The body only will cost $649 and the kit with the 18-55mm lens will run $749.
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