In this Sony Alpha A5000 review I will go over everything you need to know including image quality, build quality and design, usability, and much more! I did extensive lab and real world testing with the A5000, so I have lots of sample photos and video using both the 16-50mm kit lens and the 16-70mm f/4 OSS Zeiss lens. The kit lens does a decent job once you get up to about 30mm, but on the wide end (16-24mm) it’s pretty bad optically in the corners.
The E-mount Zeiss badged 16-70mm lens however, is awesome all around with way more zoom to play with, plus it’s much sharper, has killer contrast, and is much more consistent in optically quality throughout the focal entire range. You will see the difference in the sample photos below for sure, don’t worry. I also was fortunate enough to have some help with the filming on this go round, so the footage in the field is much better than normal as you will see in the video review. I also used some new gear to enhance filming which I will write about in more detail shortly 😉
A5000 Build Quality and Design
The Sony A5000 is pretty much the best of the Nex-5t and Nex-3n camera bodies in one unit. It has the 180 flip screen, beefier grip, and built in pop up flash, but sadly no touchscreen. The Sony A5000 has decent build quality, but it’s not like my Nex-6 hardened plastic, or the Nex-7 metal body. It’s the more affordable style smooth plastic which looks nice and makes for a very lightweight camera. Basically the same skin as the Sony Nex-3n and Nex-5t.
It does feel a little more like a toy in comparison to my Nex-6 which is also pretty lightweight, but has the more rugged textured plastic.
The A5000 camera body is available three colors including black, silver and white! The lcd screen is a lower resolution style which means the images don’t have that extra crisp look when viewing on the camera. It still looks good, but once you have a higher res screen it’s hard to go back 😉 It’s not a touchscreen either, and this is a little disappointing in my opinion. It really should be a touchscreen at the very least in my opinion, and higher res would be preferred. Same goes with the A6000 for that matter. In the end, the cheaper lcd screen does the job just fine for photography and video purposes, plus manages to keep the camera at a low price point of only $499 US.
The ON/Off switch is the rotating toggle style and also houses the shutter button, just like the one on my Nex-6. It’s located much higher up on the camera body though due to the smaller more compact grip design. The grip could be a little deeper in my opinion, but it does offer enough leverage considering how light the camera is with the kit lens. It’s a huge improvement over the skimpy Nex-3n rubber grip design. The Sony Alpha A5000 also features a built in pop up flash which is a very nice feature that the previous 5-series Nex-5t did not have. The older Sony Nex-6 and Nex-3n do have built in flash units however. Hence the Sony Nex-3n is still selling like hotcakes on amazon today (click Here)
The A5000 has limited physical buttons considering it does not have a touch screen, but it is enough to get the job done most of the time. If you’re a newer user the buttons will be fine. It’s only the much more experienced users that look for those manual buttons, and Sony decided to design this camera as the Nex-5t and Nex-3n best of. I think they did a really good job in that regard for sure. Custom button – The ? can be used as a custom button and I made it the focus mode, so I could easily switch to flexible spot when needed.
The Sony Alpha A5000 performed very well in all testing I did including high ISO, even though it only goes to 160000. Check the lab pics below for the 100% crop close-up shots!
The Auto Focus is fast just like the full frame Sony A7r, even though it’s only contrast detection, thanks to the Bionz X processor. The faster the processor, the faster the camera can process the contrast in the scene and focus the camera for you. Very impressive for contrast AF only! I was first amazed by this af speed improvement with the Sony A7r vs the Sony A7, but the A5000 vs the Nex-6 is very similar in that speed relation. I would still give the edge to the Sony Nex-6 however, considering the higher frame rate and consistent accuracy with moving subjects. In certain situations the hybrid is still better, but in 90% of real world photography the AF is the same speed from what I experienced. The Sony Alpha A6000 on the other hand is on another level with the AF speed, but I’m not talking about that just to be clear. My Nex-6 and the Nex-5t have the 1st generation hybrid af sensors, and they are very similar in speed to the contrast af only A5000 in my opinion. I did some testing with my Nex-6 yesterday and confirmed that it was a little bit faster, but still struggled in a few areas just like any camera would pretty much. Moving subjects and high contrast scenes etc. The everyday photography with the Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 OSS lens was pretty much the same in speed and accuracy. Live AF testing in the video review, so be sure to check that out!
Sony A5000 Features
The Alpha A5000 is packing some advanced features like Zebra for video recording and AF Micro Adjustment for fine tuning lenses, which are usually only available on higher end models.
The Auto Exposure Bracketing spread is also the full 3 EV like on the Nex-6. This is great for HDR photography shooters in particular. The A5000 also has tons of creative modes and effects, plus facial recognition technology which makes focusing a breeze, with both photography and video. A full feature list is just below this section for more detailed info 😉 The menus system initially greets you with the picture based options, but once you select anything, the pro style menu with cascading drop down lists pops up. I prefer this menu over the older picture based style that is on my Nex-6, because you can get to everything with just the one thumb wheel. I have to go back out to the main picture menu and then into another “section” with my Nex-6. This style might be easier for the very beginner that knows nothing at all about photography and needs the pictures, but for everybody else buying an interchangeable lens camera, I think the pro style menu is the way to go.
One nitpick I have with the menu system is the location of some settings. Formatting the memory card for example is in the suitcase section as opposed to the “media area” or whatever Sony is considering that. I would definitely have the format card option in there. All the new Sony Alpha cameras menus are like this for the record, not just the A5000…. Canon and Nikon folks coming over to Sony are liking this type of stuff, but IQ is never mentioned as an issue. We all seem to agree in the end that Sony sensors are the best!
Sony Alpha A5000 Review – Video Version
Be sure to select the HD Quality once the video starts playing so you full screen with full clarity! Trust me, it’s worth it 😉 I put a lot of effort into this production as well, so I hope you like the cool slider effects and what not….
Sony A5000 Real World Sample Photos
I took a lot of sample photos with the Sony A5000 in both the lab and outside in the real world and overall the camera performed very well in my opinion. I did miss the EVF outside for sure, but the LCD screen has a Sunny Day option that really does make a huge difference. Once I enabled that I was able to see the screen outside much easier. At the cost of some battery life though I would gather, but I did not actually test that possible effect.
Real World w/ the 16-50mm kit lens
First from the creepy pool scene we have a few captures that were taken during the video that I wanted to show you first, then a few more.
Here is a photo of my friend Matt’s fluffy microphone which shows off the resolution power quite well thanks to the fine hairs.
Here is a quick natural light portrait of Matt taken in jpeg mode full auto. Exposure looks dead on, WB and colors looks natural and accurate to me, sharpness where it matters is excellent, and the fine details are retained in the hair for the most part. The noise reduction went a little to far I think, but overall the on camera jpeg processing looks pretty darn good on the A5000.
A quick HDR made of three raw file exposure’s and processed using Photomatix and Lightrom 5 to process. No additional editing was done, so it looks fairly natural to my eye.
[divider] Lab Scene Here is the lab scene wide open (f/5.6) with the 16-50mm kit lens. I was also zoomed in to 50mm with the camera about 2-3 feet from the crayons which was the focus point. Shooting raw quality no adjustments.
[divider] Same exact everything except stopped down to f/8 this time so you can see a little more depth of field and sharpness detail in the 100% crops.
@ 16mm The 16-50mm kit lens compacts down to a pancake size when the camera turns off. It’s also very lightweight, small, and has power zoom built in, so I understand why it makes a great kit lens, but when using 16mm the optics are horrible on the edges. When shooting Raw quality the camera does not correct the distortion of the lens that much, so you can clearly see it in the Lab scene below. Be sure to click the 100% Crops, so you can see how sharp the center area is compared to the upper left corner area. This is why I don’t care for this lens and prefer the 18-55mm kit lens for photography. The other features make the 16-55mm kit lens a better overall solution for the average consumer which makes sense to me.
Here is the same shot as above, except I applied the lens profile correction in Lightroom 5 which really helps with the distortion big time. Amazing in fact how good of a job it does with the check of a box 😉 Note the horizontal and vertical lines in this image vs the one above with no lens correction.
High ISO Testing The ISO performance on the A5000 is so good that it’s hardly even noticeable until you get to about ISO 6400, which is why Auto ISO only goes to ISO 3200 I suppose. In any event, check out the High ISO testing shots from ISO 6400 – ISO 16000 in the lab.
|ISO||Middle area||Upper left|
Real World with the 16-70mm f/4 OSS Zeiss lens I took a lot of sample photos with the Zeiss lens also in mostly jpeg mode. First a street scene from the town of Liberty, NY taken at 21mm. Be sure to check out the amazing sculpture on the right side by ZacMax.com.
Here is pretty much the same scene, but zoomed in to 56mm this time.
Next, I took a few photos in the morning glow at the Basha Kill Wildlife preserve the killer Zeiss lens.
As you can see, the e-mount 16-70mm Zeiss lens pumps out some killer color and image quality when mounted to the Sony A5000! It could be a little sharper wide open, but overall the lens performed really well when just pointing and shooting. A full review of the sel1670Z with lab testing and much more is also coming soon, so stay tuned…. [divider] Lastly an Auto Pano sample shot which came out pretty good, although takes a little practice getting the panning speed correct if you never tried it 😉
DXOMark scored the Sony A5000 mirrorless camera sensor at a 79. They also compare the A5000 sensor to all the relative competition really nice if you want to check it out (click here) Here is how the A5000 compares to the Sony A6000, and Nex-5t:
Sony A5000 Review Conclusions
Sony A5000 real world usability and review conclusions: I had a good time using the Sony Alpha A5000 most of the time, but honestly missed my electronic viewfinder which I use constantly on my Nex-6 when in bright sunny conditions. However, the A5000 does offer a nice feature to combat this in the monitor brightness section of the menu called “Sunny Weather”. If you select it and press the enter button a this special mode can be selected and it really helped a lot, but basically jacked the screen brightness all the way up which has to suck more juice from the battery. Regardless it’s nice to be able to see the screen better when you have no other option, so use the feature sparingly to save battery life is my suggestion. The 180 degree flip screen is a killer feature that I wish my Sony Nex-6 and/or Sony A7r had! It allows for extremely easy self recordings and/or self portraits. When you can see the screen, framing the image is much easier. An alternative is the use of the remote apps and a smartphone or tablet, which works great on the Nex-6 and A7r! Having the flip screen built in is a really nice feature though.
The bottom line for the Sony Alpha A5000 review is the usual from Sony as of late, killer image quality and puzzling features missing like the touchscreen that make you scratch your head. I understand keeping costs down, but these days that feature is a must on introductory level cameras in my opinion. Remember, most users are upgrading from a point and shoot or smartphone. Sony’s answer to this? As best I can tell is, to use your smartphone and the Playmemories Apps for extended functionality and versatility. I guess that is a decent answer, but including a high res touchscreen would really up the quality of the camera in a big way.
I’m giving the A5000 a high rating for exceptional performance across the board including excellent image quality, fast contrast only AF performance, and a nice sleek body design with ergonomic grip and awesome 180 degree flip screen.
The flip screen sets this model apart from the other new A6000 camera, and if you film yourself or like to take self portraits, it’s a really great feature. The lack of touchscreen and electronic viewfinder option is where the negative comes in, but otherwise the A5000 is a great overall value for the dollar in my opinion for ~$498 US. If you have a little extra cash and don’t require a 180 degree flip screen, then the new Alpha A6000 is a much better option worth considering! A full review of that camera is coming very soon, so stay tuned for that.
That is it for my Sony Alpha A5000 Review, but please feel free to ask questions or comment below 😉 Your support is also greatly appreciated and keeps these reviews coming and the website functioning in these ever changing times and growing challenges…
Thanks again, Jay
SonyAlphaLab A5000 Review Support Links:
My gear used for filming:
- Sony Nex-6 – $898 US @ BHPhotoVideo
- E-Mount 55-210mm OSS Lens (sel55210) – $348 US @ BHPhotoVideo (Click Here)
- E-Mount 18-55mm OSS Lens (sel1855) – $298 US @ BHPhotoVideo (Click Here)
- Revo 47″ Camera Track Slider – $129 US @ BHPhotoVideo (Click Here)
- Impact Three-Light Mini-Boom Kit – $219.95 US @ BHPhotoVideo (Click Here)