Monday, 21 April 2014

Camera Review - Sony a5000

The entry-level a5000 is Sony’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens mirrorless camera.

The review unit came in pink with the E-mount PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens, which has a powered zoom mechanism. It is also available in black or white.

With this lens attached, memory card and battery inserted, the a5000 weighs only 385g. Compare this with Sony’s flagship mirrorless camera, the a7R, which weighs 416g minus lens, memory card and battery.

Slightly bigger than three decks of playing cards, the a5000 fits into a handbag even with the kit lens attached. The lens retracts when the camera is shut down.

Being compact does have a downside. The grip on the camera is so tiny that it cannot accommodate my little finger.

On the bright side, button layout is well thought out. There is a lens zoom lever, power lever and a dedicated video-recording button on the right side at the topa.

This set-up lets you quickly power on the camera and adjust the focal length of the lens using just your right hand. For compact camera upgraders, the a5000 should feel right at home.

For selfie lovers, the 180-degree tiltable display and the position of the zoom lever offers you limitless and easy self-portraits. Once you tilt the display 180 degrees, the camera automatically sets a 3sec timer to let you prep for the selfie.

The camera takes 1.7sec to power up and 1.4sec to shut down. Its peers usually take around 2sec for both power up and shut down.

Autofocus (AF) performance is not bad for an entry-level mirrorless camera, being almost instantaneous in bright sunlight. In dim light, it takes 2sec or more with the help of AF assist light to lock on to a focus. But at times, it just gives up.

Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 45MB per second, the a5000 can shoot five RAW images in 1.2sec before the buffer runs out.

The image quality is great for its class. Images were sharp, even in off-centre areas where it tends to soften. Colour reproduction is accurate with auto white balance spot-on most of the time.

Noise performance, though, is not as stellar. Noise artefacts start to appear at ISO 800 though they are not a problem till ISO 3,200, where detail loss starts to become evident.

Video quality is great, but the recording tends to pick up too much ambient and wind audio even when indoors. The lens’ AF sound is not really audible.

The camera shoots 420 frames on a full charge, which is above average. Most cameras of its type manage 300 to 350 images.

  • At $799 with kit lens included, the Sony a5000 represents great value for money for an entry-level mirrorless camera with its good handling and great image quality.

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Camera Review - Sony a5000

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