Sony NEX-5R review
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The Sony NEX-5R replaces the award-winning Sony NEX-5N - one of our top recommendations throughout 2012, thanks to its svelte magnesium alloy body and stunning photo and video quality. The outgoing 5N has had some strong competition to contend with, though. No other CSC at this price has beaten it for photo quality but the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 bettered it for performance, hands-on control and the quality and choice of compatible lenses.
The new Sony NEX-5R addresses many of the 5N's weaknesses without diminishing any of its strengths. There's a new Function button and command dial for quicker access to photographic settings. Pressing the button reveals six customisable functions, which can be picked from a list of 15. With ISO speed, drive mode and exposure compensation available separately via the navigation pad, there's little reason to visit the main menu in normal use.
The old 5N can be configured to provide a similar set of controls, but only by reassigning the centre button on the pad, thereby losing quick access to the shooting mode. On the 5R, the centre button brings up a virtual mode dial on the screen, which is adjusted by spinning the wheel on the back of the camera. It's not quite as effective as a dedicated physical mode dial but it's a big improvement on the 5N.
The 3in wide-aspect screen tilts up and down as before, but now it can tilt upwards by 180 degrees for self-portraits. Doing so automatically enables a three-second self-timer, so you have plenty of time to steady your arm and gurn before the shutter goes. Various other CSCs have articulated screens, but none are as petite as this one.
Otherwise, the 5R and 5N are virtually indistinguishable, and that's fine by us. It's an extremely handsome camera, and surprisingly comfortable to hold and use considering its diminutive design. Our only lingering concern is the detachable flash unit, which isn't as tidy as an integrated flash and is likely to be left at home as a result. Then again, building a flash into the camera would inevitably make it bigger – as demonstrated by the Sony NEX-F3.
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