Sony NEX-5T review

Mid-range NEX is replaced again

Sony NEX-5T review
The Sony NEX-5T has the same 16MP sensor as the 5R

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We have been very impressed with Sony's output of late, and the 5T is no different. We had, of course, expected this: we'd already tested the 5R, which shares the same sensor and processor.

Images are generally excellent, with vibrant and pleasing colours and plenty of detail resolved. Skies, which have been known to suffer in Sony and Minolta cameras previously, fare especially well, with beautiful blue tones.

Sony NEX-5T review

The 16-50mm kit lens, bundled as standard as part of the package, is a good all-round performer and an excellent option as a carry-around lens for every day usage. Zooming into the images at 100% reveals very little image smoothing, while images are sharp at both ends of the zoom ratio.

Thanks to its large sensor, you can create beautiful shallow depth of field effects, especially when shooting with a lens such as the 50mm f/1.8 optic. Drop off in focus is smooth, with out-of-focus areas rendered beautifully. Even when using the kit lens, which has a maximum aperture of f/3.5, it's possible to achieve some very creative effects.

Using automatic white balance produces mostly accurate colours, though the camera has a slight tendency to err towards warm tones when faced with artificial lighting conditions. Similarly, general-purpose metering does a good job of producing accurately exposed images, though it can sometimes be fooled by high contrast situations.

In these kind of conditions, it's a good idea to activate the Dynamic Range Optimiser, which works to help to even out the exposures and bring back detail in shadow areas. If that still doesn't help, it's usually possible to bring back details from the raw format files.

Autofocusing is generally quick and accurate, especially in good light, although it's not quite on a par with the ultra-quick speeds of Panasonic and Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras. There were a couple of occasions during our testing period where the camera missed focus or hunted around for a while longer than we'd have liked. When the light levels drop, autofocusing speeds also drop, but it's on a par with other cameras of its kind.

Noise is very well controlled throughout the sensitivity range, only starting to become problematic from around ISO 3200 and above. But even then, these images would be fine at small printing sizes and for online sharing.

Normally, NEX cameras come with a number of pre-defined digital filters you can apply. For some reason, these are available both in the camera and via a free download on the PlayMemories app store for the 5T.

Sony NEX-5T review

A good range are available and they're definitely worth experimenting with; our favourites include the Toy Camera option. Unfortunately, you can't shoot in raw format when using a filter, so you'll be stuck with whatever you choose even if you decide you don't like it at a later date.

If you prefer, you can shoot with a different Creative Style, which includes the option to shoot in black and white. These are less abstract than the Picture Effects, but they have the advantage of being able to be used while shooting in raw format.

Processing speeds are generally quick, with shot-to-shot time being more than adequate and a reasonably quick boot-up time also boasted by the camera.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.