For an entry-level CSC the Sony A5000 offers a relatively broad ISO sensitivity range of 100-16,000, as did last year’s A3000. However, ISO performance appears to be better on this camera, with noise handling among the best for in this class.
For instance, luminance noise only begins to seriously impact at around the ISO 800-1600 mark where significant detail begins to be smudged.
The Bionz-X image processor can apply area-specific noise reduction and has been fine-tuned to tackle it very well, colour noise especially.
If anything, looking at the shadows in images shot beyond ISO 500, it appears that the noise reduction works a little too well. Some luminance noise can help define detail and texture, so without it, surfaces can look unnaturally smooth and painterly.
In terms of dynamic range is around average for cameras in this class – but when faced with a mix of colours and high contrast, the Bionz-X processor in the A5000 works hard to deliver an image that is a good overall representation of the scene.
Even very contrasty scenes contained almost no blown-out highlight detail or completely black areas.
In general, the A5000’s white balance is faithful and consistent. Auto-white balance works well, producing natural tones without a bias towards any one colour. Cityscapes taken with the Sony A5000 look great - the camera managed to render deep and vibrant blues while avoiding over-saturation or leaving a yellow cast.
However, when we selected the appropriate white balance preset for the conditions the results were just that little bit more accurate. Overall, then, a very pleasing performance.
The Sony A5000 is effectively a rebrand and refresh of the NEX-3N, with noticeable improvements made in areas such as noise reduction, white balance and metering. However, it is disappointing to see no improvements made to the LCD display. And continuous AF is a poor performer.
The addition of NFC along with Wi-Fi and the increased functionality that comes with its inclusion, such as apps and remote shooting functionality has put the A5000 in step with the competition.
All the above, and the inclusion of the new Bionz-X processor means the £400 A5000 offers great value for money. As for its target market, it is vying for the attention of enthusiasts upgrading from a digital compact who may be considering entry-level DSLRs, such as the Nikon D3300 (with a TR review price of £599), as well as other manufacturers’ compact system options.
So who would the Sony A5000 suit best? People upgrading from a standard compact camera to CSCs – or indeed a newcomer to photography – would do well to consider the A5000 with a view to upgrading again within Sony’s E-Mount system.
So, if that sounds like you then the A5000 would be a sensible buy.
The Sony A5000 is a very good everyday compact system camera that offers a lot for its entry-level price. It's just a shame Sony has chosen to stick with a slightly underwhelming screen.