Best Compact Interchangeable-Lens Cameras: Sony Alpha NEX-5T

Sections: Cameras for Beginners, Digital SLR, DSLR Cameras

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The versatile NEX-5T compact system camera combines a stylish, ultracompact design and the creative capabilities of interchangeable lenses with large-sensor image quality, speedy autofocus (AF), and the convenience of Near Field Communication for easier Wi-Fi connectivity.

Sony-NEX-5T-reviewWith NFC, you can simply tap the camera to an NFC-enabled tablet or smartphone, and both photos and videos are transferred with just one touch! Your content is then safely stored on the connected device, where you can share it via social media and e-mail. For devices without NFC capabilities, you can wirelessly transfer images and videos via Wi-Fi and Sony’s PlayMemories mobile app, available for both the iOS and Android platforms.

Additionally, a “smart remote control” feature on the NEX-5T utilizes Wi-Fi to send a live preview to a wirelessly connected camera or tablet, so you can use it as a remote viewfinder, adjust common photo settings, and release the NEX-5T’s shutter button. It’s a fun feature that can be used for framing and shooting group portraits that include you!

Inside the camera is a large, 16.1-megapixel APS HD CMOS sensor that’s identical in size to the sensors found in traditional full-size DSLR cameras. With 13 times the area of the typical point-and-shoot image sensor, the NEX-5T’s sensor delivers gorgeous, artistically blurred backgrounds in DSLR-quality photos, as well as richly detailed Full HD videos.

You’ll also appreciate the camera’s fast hybrid AF autofocus system, which combines two technologies: phase-detection autofocus for quick response that’s ideal for tracking fast-moving subjects; and contrast-detection autofocus for added precision. It’s a match that ensures speedy, accurate autofocus in any shooting situation.

For the more creative, the NEX-5T features a fully programmable control dial and Fn (function) button—a combination for photographers accustomed to the flexibility and direct control of a DSLR. Its photo creativity touch interface enables you to enjoy the creative expression of DSLR imaging without the complicated settings; changes can be easily made using the control dial with results seen in real time on the LCD. Settings include background defocus, brightness, color, vividness and most picture effects. Plus, the intuitive 3.0-inch touch-screen LCD can flip downward for high-angle shots over crowds or up 180º for easy arm’s length self-portraits. It also has a touch-shutter function for more convenience.

And, of course, you can record movies in your choice of super-smooth 60p, standard 60i or cinematic 24p, all at Full HD 1,920×1,080 resolution. The NEX-5T also records in both the AVCHD codec for stunning picture quality and the MP4 codec, which lets you compress to smaller files for easy uploading to the web.

Other features include: 15 variations of picture effects for photos and video (posterization in color or b/w, pop color, retro photo, partial color, high contrast mono, toy camera, soft high-key, soft focus, HDR painting, rich-tone mono and miniature); auto object framing that give your photos a professional look; Sweep Panorama technology to capture expansive landscapes automatically (press the shutter, sweep vertically or horizontally, the camera does the rest); and auto HDR mode, which combines the best highlight detail from one shot, the best mid-tones from a second and the best shadow detail from a third for one incredible photo. The camera also has a multi-interface smart accessory that lets you attach optional accessories like an external flash unit.

You can also personalize the camera by adding new features of your choice with Sony’s PlayMemories camera apps. Find apps to fit your shooting style from portraits, detailed close-ups, sports, time-lapse, motion shot and more. You can use apps that shoot, share and save photos using Wi-Fi, that make it easy to control and view your camera from a smartphone, post photos directly to Facebook, or backup images to the cloud without connecting to a computer.

The camera comes in a kit with the compact SELP1650 motorized zoom lens, which measures only about 1.2 inches thick when fully retracted. The lens contains built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization that lets you take clearer handheld images, and it has a smooth power zoom dial that’s particularly useful during video shooting.

Sony’s NEX-5T compact system camera is offered in silver, black, and white models for about $699.99 in a kit with the SELP1650 lens or body only for $550.

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