The Sony NEX-5R is not only a refinement of the Sony NEX-5N, but a significant upgrade. The inclusion of downloadable apps enables quick and easy customisation, and if the service already on PlayStations and other Sony electronics is anything to go by, the implementation of the apps should be simple enough to follow and use.

The new hybrid AF system works well, with selected focus points locking on to targets quickly, with minimal refocusing through the lens. In multi-focus point mode the camera also makes quick and intelligent choices over subject matter, and again finds focus quickly.

Although the body redesign is minimal, with the inclusion of a new dial and function button, the changes that they bring make using the Sony NEX-5R a much-improved experience compared with using the NEX-5N.

The dial beneath the thumb works intuitively when shooting and is only a small step from the feel of a traditional aperture ring. While this is similar to the dial found on the Olympus PEN E-P3, the Sony control is far better.

We liked

The Sony NEX-R5 builds on the features of the Sony NEX-5N and packs some weighty advancements in technology into its small body. The inclusion of apps gives the camera an exciting edge, enabling you to customise it to your style of shooting.

The new hybrid AF system works as advertised, finding focus quickly and locking on to your target. We also found that the continuous AF system delivers a greater number of sharp shots when shooting at high speed than most other CSC systems we've tested.

The big feature when it comes to usability has to be the addition of the new control dial. Its position and ability to quickly change settings makes the Sony NEX-5R a joy to use.

We disliked

The highly reflective finish of the LCD screen can make it difficult, if not impossible, to see in bright sunlight - or when overly sticky fingers have been using the touchscreen.

The lack of an integrated flash means that you have to carry the supplied external flash around with you. Also, the resolution results are slightly disappointing at lower sensitivities when compared against those achieved by Micro Four Thirds cameras.

Early verdict

The Sony NEX-R5 shows how compact system cameras are really coming into their own. The design doesn't have to rely on retro chic, but instead uses modern research and development to create a compact body shape that both fits the electronics and also feels comfortable to hold.

The merging of the tilting screen design from the Sony NEX-F3 and the control dial feature of the Sony NEX-7 make this a very user-friendly camera for both the beginner and intermediate photographer.

If you're just getting into photography, looking for a CSC upgrade or wanting a second body to complement your DSLR, the Sony NEX-5R is the perfect companion. As well as the basic kit, which should be priced at around £500 (around $790), we'd also recommend getting the EVF accessory to combat difficulties with the screen in bright sunlight.