Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    NEX-5T 275 wide.jpg
  • 16.1 megapixel Exmor APS-C HD CMOS image sensor
  • Kit version includes SELP1650 16-55mm zoom lens
  • 3.0-inch tilting touch screen LCD display
    • Only 1.2 inches deep when full retracted
    • Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • Fast Hybrid AF
  • Speed Priority Mode capable of up to 10 frames per second
  • Full Programmable Control Dial
    • Fn (function) Button
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity
    • Near Field Communication (NFC) One Touch for Android smartphones and tablets
    • PlayMemories Mobile Apps for iOS and Android devices, including:
      • Direct Upload (to Facebook and Flickr)
      • Motion-Shot
      • Time-Lapse
    • Smart Remote Control feature
Pros
  • APS-C sized image sensor great for image quality
  • CMOS image sensor helps with low light results
  • Fast autofocus eliminates shutter lag
  • Minimal shot to shot delays, even when using the flash
  • Up to 10 frames per second in continuous shot mode
  • Smaller and lighter camera versus other interchangeable lens models
  • Offers both built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity
  • Touch screen LCD is bright and sharp
  • Easy-to-use camera, thanks in part to touch screen
  • Having tiltable LCD is nice for using this camera with a tripod
  • Right-hand grip is a great size
Cons
  • Menu structure is poorly organized
  • Playback mode button is oddly placed
  • Movie recording button is too small and too tight to the camera body
  • Method of connecting the flash is odd
  • If flash isn't locked in place, it's easy to bump it loose
  • Start-up is a little slow versus similar cameras
  • Design doesn't quite have the charm of retro ILC cameras, such as Olympus PEN family
  • Lens really dominates the camera's look
  • Not enough advancements from its predecessor, the NEX-5R
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.1 seconds 
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.2 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay without flash = 3.2 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 0.8 seconds with review Off
  • Shot to shot delay with flash = 3.7 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 1.1 seconds with review Off
  • Continuous Mode = 10 frames in 3.0 seconds @ 16M
  • Speed Priority Continuous Mode = 10 frames in 1.2 seconds @ 16M
  • All tests were taken using a PNY Class 10, 16 GB Micro SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
If you're someone who purchased last year's Sony NEX-5R ILC model, you aren't going to want to upgrade the recently released NEX-5T, as the two cameras very similar. The NEX-5T introduces NEC wireless capabilities to this family of ILC models, but otherwise the 5R and 5T are basically the same camera. That doesn't mean the Sony NEX-5T isn't a great camera. It offers very good image quality, an articulated LCD, built-in Wi-Fi and fast response times, all of which you'll find in one of the smaller mirrorless ILC cameras on the market. The introductory price on the NEX-5T is a bit lower than the NEX-5R's introductory price from last year, which is a nice advantage for those who may have closely considered the NEX-5R last year but ultimately chose to pass. 
Pick This Up If...
You want a smaller than average ILC model that has a very good level of performance, both in terms of response speed and image quality, and you can deal with quirky menu structures.
Sony's family of ILC models have always provided quite a few nice features, merging the latest technologies with really good image quality.

But in the case of the latest member of the Sony ILC family -- the NEX-5T -- it merges really good image quality with the latest technology, as in singular.

The biggest complaint regarding the NEX-5T is the fact that it doesn't offer enough differences from last year's release, the Sony NEX-5R. The primary difference between the two ILC models is the inclusion of NEC connectivity technology in the NEX-5T. That limits the potential audience of customers for the NEX-5T, as those who purchased the NEX-5R aren't going to want to upgrade.

Still, the NEX-5R was a really nice camera, and Sony is offering the new version at a lower starting price than where the NEX-5R initially appeared, which means that the NEX-5T is going to give you a good value with its strong features.

The NEX-5T isn't quite the smallest ILC model on the market, but it's pretty close. The design is interesting, as the right-hand grip and the lens dominate the look of the camera when viewed from the front. I prefer the retro-type look found in some other ILC models, but this model understandably will have fans of its design. 

Even with a lightweight camera, Sony did a good job of balancing the weight by including the battery completely inside the hand grip, which helps to offset the weight of the lens.

Image quality is pretty impressive with the NEX-5T, thanks in large part to this model's APS-C sized CMOS image sensor. Some smaller mirrorless ILC models may not include an image sensor as large as what you'll find with the NEX-5T. You also have the option of shooting in RAW or JPEG, which is nice because not every ILC model offers RAW capabilities. Sony has included quite a few special effect options with this model, which helps make this camera fun to use. 

And by including CMOS technology with the NEX-5T, Sony guaranteed a strong, fast performing camera in low light with or without a flash. You won't notice much noise in your images even at mid-range ISO settings of 3200 or 6400. The NEX-5T offers ISO settings up to 25600.

Sony does not offer a built-in flash with the NEX-5T, which makes sense as the protruding interchangeable lens would almost certainly cause vignetting in images with a flash unit embedded in the camera body. Instead the NEX-5T box includes a tiny external flash that attaches to the camera through a port rather than a traditional hot shoe, which saves space on the camera body. The external flash extends above the lens to provide a better angle to the scene. The flash's design is a bit odd, and it can be bumped out of position if you don't remember to lock the flash in place.

Even when you're using the flash, you won't notice many delays with this quick camera. Shot to shot delays are minimal with this camera, as long as you remember to turn off the image review function. Shutter lag is not noticeable in most situations, and the NEX-5T offers a couple of really nice continuous shot modes at full 16.1MP resolution. The NEX-5T does struggle a bit with a sluggish start-up.

You can choose to purchase a viewfinder as an add-on to this camera, but you're more likely to frame photos with the high-resolution LCD screen. Sony gave its 3.0-inch LCD the latest features, including a touch screen option as well as the ability to tilt on a horizontal axis up to 180 degrees for self-portraits. I wish Sony had chosen to rework its menus a bit more to take advantage of the touch screen, as the menus are very frustrating to use. Sony did include plenty of help features and popup explanations to give less experienced photographers a better chance to learn to use the NEX-5T's features more quickly.

When working in Playback mode, Sony also missed a chance to make the NEX-5T work better with the touch screen, as it's very difficult to make the touch screen recognize pinching and dragging movements like you'd use with a smartphone or tablet. Making a camera's touch screen work like the touch screens consumers are already familiar with is a good idea, but Sony didn't take full advantage of that option with this model. Overall I felt like the touch screen wasn't as responsive as it could have been, which makes the touch screen feature a little frustrating to use. 

One area where Sony took advantage of smartphone-like capabilities is with the built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities and the use of apps with the NEX-5T. Sony's PlayMemories Camera Apps work well for adding shooting functions and other features to the camera. However there are a limited number of apps available as of now, so Sony likely will need to add more apps to make this aspect of the NEX-5T a better value.

While full HD movie recording is of a high quality with the NEX-5T, the movie recording button is a bit too small and is too tight to the camera body, which makes it difficult to press it when you're in a hurry. You also probably will jar the camera badly trying to press the movie button, which will lead to reduced movie quality, unless you're using a tripod.

I thought the battery lifespan for the Sony NEX-5T was pretty good. By incorporating the battery into the right-hand grip, Sony was able to include a pretty large battery with this camera, and its lifespan is estimated at about 330 photos. However my tests showed between 250 and 300 photos were a more realistic number, especially if you use the touch screen quite a bit. This is still a pretty good battery life for such a small mirrorless camera. Using the Wi-Fi or NFC feature more often will drain the battery more quickly, too.

Bottom Line - The Sony NEX-5T ILC has a lot of great aspects to it, including fast response times, very good image quality, and strong low light performance, all of which is available in a mirrorless ILC camera body that's smaller than many other ILCs. This Sony design includes an articulated, touch screen LCD, which attempts to help this model overcome an oddly configured menu structure. It would have been nice if Sony had reworked the camera's menus a bit more thoroughly to take advantage of the touch screen. Despite a lot of nice features in the NEX-5T, those photographers who purchased last year's Sony NEX-5R aren't going to find enough differences in the NEX-5T to consider upgrading. The upgraded version added NFC wireless transfer support to the already included Wi-Fi support, but otherwise the NEX-5T is almost identical to the NEX-5R. Sony did reduce the introductory price on the NEX-5T versus what it offered the NEX-5R at last year, which should entice those who skipped on the NEX-5R last year to give the NEX-5T a long look. Versus other small ILC models, the NEX-5T is a good performer that offers a pretty good value.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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