First Look: Sony A5100 Mirrorless Interchangeble-Lens Compact

Adorama is accepting pre-orders now for the Sony A5100 in kits in Black or White Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis. Credit cards will not be charged until orders are shipped.



The Sony A5100 is a mirrorless interchangeable-lens compact digital camera (MILC) built on an upgraded 24.3MP APS-C sensor, features Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities so it will work in tandem with a smart phone or tablet, and is loaded with many video and still imaging features. The A5100, which accepts Sony's E-mount lenses, replaces the NEX-5T in Sony's MILC lineup, marking the end of cameras with the NEX branding.

Sony A5100 Key Features:

  • 24.3mm APS-C (23x15.6mm) Sensor
  • 179 Autofocus points
  • E-Mount Lenses
  • 6 FPS
  • Wi-Fi and NFC wireless connectivity
  • 1080/24/60p video up to 50MB/s
  • Half the size and weight of DSLR
  • ISO range 100-25,600
  • Flip-up touch screen LCD
  • PlayMemories Camera Apps
  • Pop-up flash
  • Power zoom
  • RAW + JPEG

For snapshooters looking to upgrade from a smart phone or compact digital camera, the A5100 offers a large selection of interchangeable lenses, much better image quality, fast and responsive autofocus based on 179 wide-area focal plane phase-detection AF points, and 6fps continuous AF/AE shooting. The camera has a handy touch-screen interface that includes the ability to touch any part of the screen and the scene snaps into focus. Other AF features include Lock-on AF for active subjects, and Eye AF, which detects and focuses on a subject's eye—big plus when shooting portraits.

For DSLR owners, the A5100 is a rich-featured camera in a more compact body. The camera's sensor and many of its features are identical to those found on the more expensive Sony A6000 (which also has an eye-level viewfinder) but the interface is designed for intuitive operation, even for users who have little or no technical knowledge.

Compared: Sony A5100 vs. A5000 vs A6000

Let's see how the A5100 compares to other cameras in the Sony APS-senor MILC lineup.

Vs. the Sony A5000 (Adorama price $498 with kit lens): Both the A5100 and the older A5000 are positioned as step-ups from smartphones and compact digital cameras, and also as smaller alternatives to entry-level DSLRs. The A5100 offers a slightly higher-resolution sensor (24.3 vs. the a5000's 20MP); Sony also boosted the top ISO from 16,000 to 25,600 and added touch screen operation to the flip-up LCD. The AF system has been bumped up to a faster, hybrid Phase Detection/Contrast Detection system, with 179 Phase detection AF points and 25 contrast-detection AF points. The A5000 only had contrast detection. Burst rate is almost doubled, to 6fps with a maximum of 56 frames per burst, also twice the capacity of the A5000.

Vs. the Sony A6000 (Adorama price $648 body only): Both cameras share the same 24.3MP sensor, top ISO of 25,600, hybrid AF system, and large buffer capacity. The big advantage of the Sony A6000 is that it has a built-in eye-level electronic viewfinder, which can be a big plus especially when shooting in bright sunlight.


The Sony A5100 In Depth

Focus: Sony has come up with several ways to make its autofocus system stand out: It offers a dual-AF system that combines Phase detection and Contrast detection with 179 AF points that span almost the entire image (this works for both stills and movies), 6fps burst rate with AF tracking (great for capturing moving subjects). Touch-screen control lets you put your finger on the part of the image you want in focus and the image jumps into focus. In addition , the camera has lock-on AF, Eye AF (focuses on the closest eye in a portrait), and you can change the size of the AF spots or shoot with Zone AF.

Sony claims AF capture speed of 0.07 seconds, which is pretty darn close to instantaneous. If you prefer to focus manually, Sony offers Peaking MF, which highlights the in-focus areas of the image in real time, and a focus magnifier with 5.9x and 11.7x magnifications.

The Sensor: The A5100 utilizes a newly-developed 24.3MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor that employs the same gapless on-chip lens structure as the full-frame sensor in the A7R, which Sony says will improve overall image quality and especially low-light performance.


LCD Monitor: The 921,600 dot resolution 3-inch TFT LCD monitor flips out up to 180 degrees. So, even if you are using this camera instead of your Smart Phone, you can still shoot selfies. And speaking of smart phones...

Connectivity: Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to control your camera with your compatible Smartphone or Tablet. Frame an image on your smartphone’s LCD, and simply click the camera’s shutter you’re your device.  You can even transfer the images taken directly to your mobile device for quick editing and uploading. With NFC (near field communication) - connectivity has been simplified to one touch. Simply touch the camera to the compatible NFC enabled device to connect.

You can use your wireless connection to trick out your camera with PlayMemories Camera Apps, which give you greater control and chices for portrait, close-up, time-lapse and other types o fphotography. You can then share and save photos via Wi-Fi and view them on your smartphone or post them on social media without connecting to a computer.


Picture Effects and Creativity: The Sony A5100 has 13 Picture Effects:  Posterization (Color), Posterization (B/W), Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color (R/G/B/Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera(Normal/Cool/Warm/Green/Magenta), Soft High-key , Soft Focus(High/Mid/Low), HDR Painting(High/Mid/Low), Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature(Auto/Top/Middle(H)/Bottom/Right/Middle(V)/Left), Watercolor, and Illustration(High/Mid/ Low). There are 5 levels of dynamic range optimization, and creative color intensity settings for Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Black & White and Sepia, as well as manual contrast, saturation and sharpness controls.

Making movies: Make movie magic with Full HD 1920 x 1080 video in cinematic 24p, or capture fast action at incredible 60p and 60i frame-rates.3 Made even easier with the α5100’s 179 point AF (auto focus) system – tracking moving subjects is not a problem. Selectable in-camera – XAVC S for broadcast quality – high 50Mb/s bitrate, Blu-ray™ quality - AVCHD™ or simple and easier upload to the web - MP4 codecs are available. For serious videographers, uncompressed 8bit 4:2:2 clean-screen video files to external recording devices is possible via the HDMI® connection.

You can choose 7 types of movie picture effects: Posterization (Color), Posterization (B/W), Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color (R/G/B/Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera(Normal/Cool/Warm/Green/Magenta), Soft High-key. Recording formats are AVCHD, XAVC S, and MP4, and compression modes are XAVC S: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, AVCHD: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, MP4: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264. The camera has a built-in stereo microphone.

Customization: You can reprogram the camera to do what you want. Two dials on top and a rear-mounted control wheel allow quick selection of shooting modes and camera settings. In addition to the Fn button, there are seven customizable buttons on this camera which can be assigned any of 47 functions.

System: Sony has been building its E-Mount lens system. Additionally, Sony's A-mount lenses for DSLRs are extensive, and available via an LA-EA3 or LA-EA4 mount adapter. In addition to the A5100, Sony announced the LCS-EBD Body Case for the a5100 as well as the A5000 for $39.99, and the Sony RM-SPR1 Remote Commander for $24.99.

The Sony A5100 will be available in early September. Price for body only is $549.99. The A5100 is also available in Black or White with a 16-50mm kit lens for $699.


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