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- Sony Alpha NEX-5R
- While this inexpensive mirrorless is marketed as entry-level, performance and image quality are anything but.
Sony Alpha NEX-5R Digital Camera Review$749.99
Like many Sony cameras, the NEX-5R is equipped with two fully automatic modes: Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto. Both are scene-detecting auto modes, so they'll react to shooting conditions like macro photography or low light. Superior Auto is distinguished by a tendency to use faster shutter speeds to reduce motion blur, along with some extra noise reduction.
Buttons & Dials
While the 5R lacks the dual control dials found on the older NEX-7, the overall control scheme is spiritually similar. The single control dial is used for important settings like program shift or shutter / aperture control, while the rear rotating dial is used almost exclusively for menu navigation (though it does take over shutter speed control in manual mode).
Above and below the rotating dial are two contextual buttons, which should be familiar to current NEX owners. These do take some getting used to, but once we wrapped our heads around them, we found these buttons to be a decent way of handling flexible control without extra keys on the panel.
Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
A variety of scene modes are included in-camera, and these are mainly old favorites like Sunset, Macro, Landscape, Portrait, and all the rest. But for a real treat, you'll want to check out the 5R's in-camera effects, which include the very convincing Illustration and Watercolor modes, as well as other popular choices like Miniature and Toy Camera. Sadly, these features have been relocated to one of the 5R's pre-installed apps called "Picture Effect+." From what we can tell, the "+" is referring to the extra steps necessary to open up the app, wait a second or two for it to load, and then use the effects, since the functionality seems otherwise identical to previous iterations.
NEX menu systems have never been very intuitive, and they still aren't. Opening up the main menu reveals an array of sub-menus with names like Shoot Mode, Camera, Brightness/Color, and Setup. Shooting variables of different degrees of importance are scattered haphazardly around each of these sub-menus, and it will require memorization to learn where each of the disparate settings you need are located. The Camera menu, for example, contains autofocus settings, but the Brightness/Color menu contains white balance settings. It's a mess.
The Function button opens up a quick menu overlay, but again, this button is hard to physically reach for, and the menu itself is only capable of displaying six options total. Mercifully, they're all fully customizable.