Please excuse the poor quality of these screen captures. The NEX-5T kit does not include an AV output cable, therefore we had to photograph the display screen.
When shooting in Auto mode with the Sony NEX-5T, you'll see quite a bit of information on the screen about the current settings for the camera. Press the Disp button at the top of the four-way button to change what's displayed on the screen. There are seven different display options, including a graphical display, a large text display, a histogram display, and a guide line display.
You'll see the Auto shooting mode in the upper left corner, which may change to indicate certain shooting conditions, such a macro situation or a low light situation. The information displayed across the rest of the top of the screen, depending on which viewing display is in use, may include the number of photos remaining on the memory card, aspect ratio, resolution, image quality, movie settings, battery charge remaining, and a Menu button.
Along the right side of the screen, you'll see a variety of icons indicating shooting settings, which may include the drive mode, focus mode, image stabilization mode, and smile detection mode.
The bottom of the screen may include data such as the shutter speed, aperture, EV, and ISO settings.
You'll have the same display options in Program mode as you have in Automatic mode, although you will see much more shooting data on the screen because you have more control options. For example you may see icons representing the metering mode, white balance, and special effect modes.
With the graphical display option, which is the image shown above where the data icons occupy the entire screen and none of the scene is visible, you cannot just touch the screen on the setting you want to change. This would be a natural display option through which to give photographers the ability to make changes to the settings, but for some unknown reason, Sony chose to disable the touch screen in this display option.
The Sony NEX-5T doesn't contain a physical mode dial, but it does offer a virtual mode dial. Press the Menu button and select the Shoot Mode icon from the seven icons on the Menu screen. The virtual mode dial will appear on the right side of the screen. You can "spin" the virtual mode dial by spinning the four-way button. Once the mode you want is next to the blue dot on the screen, press the middle of the four-way button to select the mode.
The virtual mode dial options are:
- Intelligent Auto (green camera icon)
- Superior Auto (yellow camera icon)
- Program Auto (P)
- Aperture Priority (A)
- Shutter Priority (S)
- Manual (M)
- Sweep Panorama (rectangle icon)
- Scene Selection (SCN)
When you select Scene Selection on the virtual mode dial, you'll have access to the Sony NEX-5T's various scene modes. These scene modes make it easier for beginning photographers to match the camera's automatic settings to the type of scene being photographed. The scene modes are:
- Sports Action
- Night Portrait
- Night Scene
- Hand-held Twilight
- Anti-Motion Blur
Sony included quite a few focus options with the NEX-5T, giving you both manual focus and autofocus capabilities. Choose AF/MF Select or Autofocus Mode from the on-screen Camera menu to open the focus popup menus. Depending on how you've configured the Fn button on the top panel of the camera, you also may be able to access the focus menus through this button.
On the AF/MF Select screen, you can select the focus mode you want to use from the icons on the right of the screen either by touching the screen or by using the four-way button. AF is a fully autofocus mode. DMF is a autofocus and manual focus combination, where the NEX-5T will use autofocus on the scene and you then can use the manual focus ring to make fine adjustments. MF is a fully manual focus option.
On the Autofocus Mode screen you can pick from Single-Shot AF (AF-S) and Continuous AF (AF-C). The Autofocus Mode will be grayed out unless you've selected AF in the AF/MF Select screen.
Adjusting the exposure value with the Sony NEX-5T is pretty easy. As long as you're not shooting in an iAuto mode, you can adjust the EV setting from any still image screen by pressing the bottom of the four-way button. The Exposure Comp graphic will appear on the right side of the screen. Spin the four-way button to adjust the EV setting.
As you can see in this image, the NEX-5T pops up an explanation of most of the camera's features as you're using them.
You can open the Drive Mode and Self-Timer popup menus by pressing the left side of the four-way button. The options are:
- Single Shooting
- Cont. Shooting
- Speed Priority Cont.
- Self-Timer: 2 Sec.
- Self-Timer (Cont.): 10 Sec. 3 Img
- Bracket Cont.: 0.3EV
- Remote Cdr.
The Sony NEX-5T offers strong performance in low light, thanks in part to the ability to create low noise images at mid-range ISO settings. To open the ISO popup menu, press the right side of the four-way button. The available ISO settings are: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, and 25600.
One of the fun features found with this Sony camera is the ability to make use of Picture Effect options, allowing you to add special effects to your images. You can access the Picture Effect settings by pressing the Fn button or through the on-screen menus.
When you have a particular Picture Effect selected, you may see an Option command on the screen that's associated with the round button on the lower right of the back panel. When you see Option appear on the screen, press this button to gain access to additional features.
The Picture Effect options are:
- Toy Camera (Normal, Cool, Warm, Green, Magenta)
- Pop Color
- Posterization (Color, B/W)
- Retro Photo
- Soft High-Key
- Partial Color (Yellow, Red, Green, Blue)
- High Contrast Monochrome
- Soft Focus (Low, Mid, High)
- HDR Painting (Low, Mid, High)
- Rich Tone Monochrome
- Miniature (Auto, Top, Horizontal, Bottom, Right, Middle/Vertical, Left)
When shooting a movie with this Sony ILC model, you can change what's displayed on the screen by pressing the Disp button. Depending on which shooting mode you've selected from the virtual mode dial, some of the icons on the screen might not be visible. The icons that will be visible are similar to what was discussed earlier with still image iAuto mode.
When you press the menu button (usually linked with the top round button on the back of the camera), you'll see the main menu screen as shown above. Sony made the main menu resemble a smartphone screen, which is perfect for use with a touch screen LCD. This area is also well organized, and both of these features should help inexperienced photographers adjust to using this advanced camera. It's just unfortunate that the NEX-5T's other menus are not as well designed and organized as this one.
The main menu options are:
- Shoot Mode - opens virtual mode dial
- Camera - opens NEX-5T's primary shooting options
- Image Size - adjust the resolution and aspect ratio of still images
- Brightness/Color - adjust the advanced special effect features
- Playback - control the NEX-5T's playback options
- Application - access the camera's apps
- Setup - access the camera's control options
Continue reading to learn more about the features within selected menus.
Before discussing the options within each menu, I have to make note of a disappointing aspect of the Sony NEX-5T: its menu structure. While the main menu screen has a good organizational structure, the sub-menu screens do not. Trying to find an individual option within this menus is very difficult because the options don't seem to have a flow to them. For example, the Shooting Tip List option is next to the Soft Skin Effect option, both of which are under the Camera menu, which is primarily for controlling the camera's shooting options.
As an additional problem, when you select some menu options, you're forwarded back to the still image shooting screen where you'll then make the selection from a popup menu. Other times you'll remain in the menu list screen. It can be confusing to bounce between these screens, especially if you want to make several changes at one time. And it's also a bit of a waste of time to jump to a pop up screen and away from the menu screen when the only choices are On or Off.
Especially with a touch screen option, it may have been easier for the photographer if Sony had created a graphical menu system and organized it with more sub-menus to make the menu screens easier to navigate and to make it easier to find particular menu options.
One nice aspect to the menu screens is that a brief explanation of each option will pop up on the screen after a second of inactivity, providing you with additional information. This is a nice feature for those new to an intermediate level camera. And if you try to select a command option that isn't available in the current shooting mode, you'll receive a warning message on the screen explaining the problem, which is a nice feature.
The Camera menu options are:
- Drive Mode - Single Shooting, Cont. Shooting, Spd Priority Cont.
- Flash - Autoflash, Fill Flash, Slow Sync, Rear Sync, Flash Off
- AF/MF Select - Autofocus, DMF, Manual Focus
- Autofocus Area - Multi, Center, Flexible Spot,
- Autofocus Mode - Single-Shot AF, Continuous AF
- Touch Shutter - On, Off
- Tracking Focus
- Face Detection - Off, On, On/Regist. Faces
- Face Registration - New Registration, Order Exchanging, Delete, Delete All
- Smile Shutter - Off, On/Normal Smile
- Auto Port. Framing - Auto, Off
- Soft Skin Effect - Off, On/Mid
- Shooting Tip List (Table of Contents) - Basic Techniques for Shooting, Portraits, Landscapes, Night Scenes, Shooting Close-Up With Macro, Shooting a Subject in Motion
- LCD Display (DISP) - Graphic Display, Display All Info, Big Font Size Disp., No Disp. Info, Level, Histogram, For Viewfinder
- Finder Display (DISP) - for use with a viewfinder
- DISP Button (Monitor) - Graphic Display, Display All Info, Big Font Size Disp., No Disp. Info, Level, Histogram, For Viewfinder
Some Camera menu options will be grayed out, depending on which shooting mode you've selected, which can add to the confusion.
Sony attempted to give the very long Setup menu a bit of organization by including headers that introduce a section of related commands. The header, which cannot be selected, is indicated by the white text on blue shading shown above. However sub-menus would have been better, because the headers are so few and far between that you'll lose track of which header section in which you're currently located. Additionally the headers almost look like a grayed out command option, which adds to the confusion.
The Setup menu options under the Shooting Settings header are:
- AEL with Shutter - On, Off
- AF Illuminator - Auto, Off
- Phase Detection AF Area - On, Off
- Red Eye Reduction - On, Off
- FINDER/LCD Setting
- Live View Display - On, Off
- Auto Review - Off, 2 Sec, 5 Sec, 10 Sec
- Grid Line - Off, Diag. + Square Grid, Square Grid, Rule of 3rds Grid
- Peaking Level - On, Off
- Peaking Color
- Clear Image Zoom - On, Off
- Digital Zoom - On, Off
- Self-Portrait Self Timer - On, Off
- S. Auto Image Extract
- MF Assist - On, Off
- MF Assist Time - No Limit, 2 Sec, 5 Sec
- Color Space - sRGB, AdobeRGB
- SteadyShot - On, Off
- Release Without Lens - Enable, Disable
- Eye-Start AF
- Front Curtain Shutter - On, Off
- Long Exposure NR - On, Off
- High ISO NR - Normal, Low
- Lens Comp: Shading - Auto, Off
- Lens Comp: Chro. Aber. - Auto, Off
- Lens Comp: Distortion - Auto, Off
- Face Priority Tracking - On, Off
- Auto Slow Shutter - On, Off
- Movie Audio Rec - On, Off
- Wind Noise Redut. - On, Off
- AF Micro Adj. - AF Adjustment Setting (On, Off), Amount, Clear
The Setup menu options under the Main Settings header are:
- Menu Start - Top, Previous
- Function Menu Settings - Custom 1, Custom 2, Custom 3, Custom 4, Custom 5, Custom 6
- Movie Button - On, Off
- Custom Key Settings - Soft Key B Setting (Shoot. Tips, Autofocus Mode, Zoom, Face Detection, Smile Shutter, Auto Port. Framing, Soft Skin Effect, Quality, ISO, White Balance, Metering Mode, DRO/Auto HDR, Picture Effect, Creative Style, Flash Mode, Flash Comp., MF Assist, AEL Toggle, Send to Smartphone, Download Appli., Appllication List, Not Set), Select Application
- One Touch (NFC) - PlayMemories Camera Apps, Introduction, Application Management, Smart Remote Embedded
- Touch Operation - On, Off
- Beep - On, Off
- Date/Time Setup
- Area Setting
- Help Guide Display - On, Off
- Power Save - Max, Standard
- Power Saving Start Time - 30 Min, 5 Min, 1 Min, 20 Sec, 10 Sec
- LCD Brightness - Manual (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2), Sunny Weather
- Viewfinder Bright.
- Display Color - Black, White, Blue, Pink
- Wide Image - Full Screen, Normal
- Playback Display - Auto Rotate, Manual Rotate
- HDMI Resolution - Auto, 1080p, 1080i
- CTRL for HDMI - On, Off
- USB Connection - Auto, Mass Storage, MTP
- Cleaning Mode
- Demo Mode
The Setup menu options under the Memory Card Tool header are:
- File Number - Series, Reset
- Folder Name - Standard Form, Date Form
- Select Shoot. Folder
- New Folder
- Recover Image DB
- Display Card Space
The Setup menu options under the WPS Push header are:
- WPS Push
- Access Point Settings
- Edit Device Name
- Disp MAC Address
- SSID/PW Reset
- Reset Network Settings
- Airplane Mode - On, Off
The Image Size menu is divided by three headers. Still, Panorama, and Movie. The Still options are:
- Image Size - 16M L, 8.4M M, 4M S
- Aspect Ratio - 3:2, 16:9
- Quality - RAW, RAW & JPEG, Fine, Standard
The Panorama options are:
- Image Size - Standard, Wide
- Panorama Direction - Right, Left, Up, Down
The Movie options are:
- File Format - AVCHD, MP4
- Record Setting - 60i 24M (FX), 60i 17M (FH), 60p 28M (PS), 24p 24M (FX), 24p 17M (FH)
The options under the Brightness/Color menu include:
- Exposure Comp. - +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3 (in 1/3 increments)
- ISO - Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 25600
- White Balance - Auto WB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluor.: Warm White, Fluor.: Cool White, Flour.: Day White, Flour.: Daylight, Flash, C. Temp/Filter, Custom, Custom Setup
- Metering Mode - Multi, Center, Spot
- Flash Comp. - -2, -1, 0, +1, +2
- DRO/Auto HDR - D-Range Optimizer: Auto (Auto, Lv1, Lv2, Lv3, Lv4, Lv5), Auto HDR: Exposure Diff. Auto (Auto, 1.0 EV, 2.0 EV, 3.0 EV, 4.0 EV, 5.0 EV, 6.0 EV), Off
- Picture Effect - Off, Toy Camera (Normal, Cool, Warm, Green, Magenta), Pop Color, Posterization (Color, B/W), Retro Photo, Soft High-Key, Partial Color (Yellow, Red, Green, Blue), High Contrast Monochrome, Soft Focus (Low, Mid, High), HDR Painting (Low, Mid, High), Rich Tone Monochrome, Miniature (Auto, Top, Horizontal, Bottom, Right, Middle/Vertical, Left)
- Creative Style - Standard (Contrast (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Saturation (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Sharpness (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)), Vivid (Contrast (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Saturation (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Sharpness (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)), Portrait (Contrast (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Saturation (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Sharpness (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)), Landscape (Contrast (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Saturation (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Sharpness (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)), Sunset (Contrast (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Saturation (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Sharpness (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3)), Black & White (Contrast (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3), Sharpness (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3))