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Sony NEX-5R: Image Quality and Verdict

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Our Score:


Sony NEX-5R: Image Quality

The Sony NEX-5R offers an impressive level of performance in the metering department thanks to its 1,200-zone evaluative metering system.

Sony NEX-5R

Shadows and highlights are evenly handled, and if you’re looking for a more balanced exposure then Sony’s proprietary D-Range optimiser will boost shadows and highlights without much detriment to the overall image.

ISO performance is to the NEX-5N, especially when you consider that both models utilise the same APS-C sensor. There’s very little noise evident between ISO 100 and 800. The good performance continues at both ISO 1600 and 3200, and even though a fine grain does appear at ISO 6400 it’s not to the great detriment to image sharpness.

Sony NEX-5R

Although at 12,800 and 25,600 noise does become a lot more of an issue, colour vibrancy remains impressive and there’s little to discourage use of these settings should the need arise.

Sony NEX-5RThe contrast between Raw and JPEG files is an interesting one, as it serves as a good method of detailing the amount of processing applied to the latter.

JPEG files appear lighter and punchier than their Raw counterparts, with more detail in the shadows and highlights. This isn’t surprising, as Raw files can be processed in such a manner whereby they improve upon their JPEG counterparts, although JPEGs are impressive out of camera.

Sony NEX-5R 4

Should I buy the Sony NEX-5R?

Sony’s NEX series of CSCs have begun to make a real impression on the CSC market and the Sony NEX-5R further cements that. At launch is was a rather expensive upgrade compared to the NEX 5N, but it’s now available for around the same price as rivals like the Nikon 1 S1 and Panasonic Lumix GF6.

It’s a tough choice between the three, as each has its different qualities and merits. The Sony has the edge in ISO and low light performance, but its lack of a built-in flash and slightly fussy touch controls are irksome.

SEE ALSO: Best cameras round-up


The Sony NEX-5R is a solid CSC that impresses with both its image quality and a strong feature-set. It’s about time Sony revisited the touch controls, however, as they’re not as easy to use as they need to be.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Image Quality 8
  • Performance 7
  • Value 8


September 30, 2013, 9:18 pm

Is the nex5-T, the replacement of this camera not already out?


October 1, 2013, 8:37 am

You should be reviewing the 5T. This one is over a year old.


October 1, 2013, 8:46 am

It is coming, yes. We just realised we missed this one and wanted a review of it for reference. We also have a feature coming that includes it.

Brian O'Neill

October 1, 2013, 9:50 am

I just bought one of these last week. I got a refurb one for only £260 with the 18mm to 55mm lens. You can get some great deals from the sony outlet store, or amazon warehouse. I also have the rx100 so the good thing is the operating system is very similar. No mode dial is an odd omission, but I think this camera is amazing value. Sony cameras are fantastic all round, I was a canon man for years but now I am Sony all the way.


October 1, 2013, 9:59 am

I don't quite understand reviewer's insistance that NEX cameras "don't have a mode dial" and that this is a crucially missing feature; my NEX-C3 came with the default setting that pressing the button of back-face rotary dial brings up the mode selection then the rotary dial switches. Sure it's a couple of button presses more than a dedicated dial, but it's incredibly easy to switch modes using this central button!


October 1, 2013, 10:52 am

We will be.


October 13, 2013, 4:35 am

I just wanted to note that not ALL NEX lenses are stabilized as mentioned at the bottom of page 2. The new NEX-5T is out, but honestly the only major thing they added was NFC. If you don't need that and don't care for the 16-50mm lens(over the 18-55mm kit), you can find great deals on the "old" 5R.

Paul Deutsch

November 14, 2013, 5:53 pm

You have a typo under the Cons on the first page: Poorly though-out menu system should read Poorly thought-out. . . .

Simon Hall

July 21, 2015, 2:50 am

An excellent still photo camera. However, please be aware that the Sony NEX-5 and NEX-6 cameras have overheating issues that cause the device to shut down after 10+ minutes of video recording. These devices are often promoted as a good vlogging camera, but we ended up throwing ours in the bottom draw and replacing it with something else, because it kept turning off during video recording.

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