Sony A5000 full review

Sony’s smallest and lightest CSC to date, the A5000 is another Sony NEX-type camera re-branded as an ‘Alpha’, the name shared with Sony’s DSLR range. In effect the A5000 is a follow up to the likes of the NEX-3N and NEX-5T, and continues their flat-fronted rather utilitarian design, even though the A5000 sports a nicely rounded handgrip this time that we were able to clasp with two fingers.

Whatever Sony is calling its interchangeable lens cameras this week, the A5000 is worth flagging amongst rivals for featuring a physically large APS-C sensor that is well-endowed with 20 million pixels. That at least suggests image quality practically on a par with a proper DSLR. Sony also provided us with an ultra-compact 16–50 mm Power Zoom, operated by switch rather than a twist of the wrist, and which retracts into its housing when not in use to allow for a slim possible profile with attached lens in transit.

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Keeping the tech bang up to date, Sony supplies the A5000 with Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for interacting with Android and Windows phones, plus a 3-inch backplate LCD that, in lieu of any means of fitting a viewfinder, flips up to face anyone looking into the camera lens.

As this is the budget model in Sony’s latest CSC line up – with a second, pricier A6000 recently added – we don't get touch-screen operation on the A5000, even though the button and control layout has been pared back to the bare minimum and this feels like it might have been a possibility if the A5000 wasn’t positioned as the baby of the range.

A zoom lever encircles the shutter release button, whilst a second zoom control is provided on the lens barrel itself for left-handed convenience. To power up from cold to the lens extending to its maximum takes around 3 seconds. So it’s not lightning fast but may be fine for what is a consumer model.

Handling wise the camera might be small but it doesn’t feel compromised; everything is within reach and the body feels solid in the hands too despite its narrowish depth. Room has even been found to include a pop-up flash, hidden within the top plate.

A larger than average sensor for a compact, plus a high-quality kit lens, translated into sharply defined, well-saturated, colourful results straight from the camera. Like the rest of the Sony Alpha range, rather than the usual 4:3 image aspect ratio of most digital compacts we’re here given the choice of 3:2 or 16:9, the latter at a reduced 17 Mp resolution as it crops the image.

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