Customer Reviews: Sony NEX-5TL Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens
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Color: Black|Style: w/ 16-50mm|Configuration: Base|Change
Price:$548.00 - $1,028.69
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on September 13, 2013
I have been shooting with the NEX system for a couple years now, starting with a NEX 5n. I am thankful I found this system because NEX is the reason I am so into photography today. Since the release of the original NEX 3 and NEX 5, Sony has done an excellent job at building a strong ecosystem with high and low end models for every type of shooter and every budget. The NEX 5 series is famous for being the best compromise in price and performance of all the other NEX cameras.

Standard for the NEX 5 series the 5t has the following advantages vs. other cameras in its class:
-Small size, yet powerful "big camera" performance.
-Some of the best low light capabilities thanks to the Exmor sensor and 16 megapixels
-High speed 10 FPS shooting for action/kids
-Wifi and apps
-Very fast auto-focus
-Excellent video performance
-A great lens lineup that keeps getting better each year

This model, the NEX 5t, is another incremental upgrade for the NEX 5 series. It brings some cool and innovative features to the table. This year's model take all the great features from last year's 5r and adds NFC and changes the kit lens to the 16-50 power zoom, making this system even more compact. The NFC is really cool because for those with android phones equipped with NFC, it means quicker pairing between the two devices. The only real drawback is for those NFC equipped laptops, windows doesn't support large file transfer. The new kit lens is a welcome edition.
Now the NEX isn't a perfect system, but Sony has worked hard to introduce new features with every new release. The only problem with this is Sony decided it would be a good idea to release these features in incremental upgrades every year, rather than release big upgrades over a longer period of time. Those looking to upgrade from a NEX 5r will find themselves with mostly the same camera. Going from a NEX 5n, this may be a worth upgrade however. I really think the 5r and the 5t could have been the same camera.

Sony's aggressive release cycles don't affect the performance of this camera, which is nothing short of amazing. Sony put a DSLR sized sensor in this tiny body, making for a potent but tiny camera. It has 10 FPS, faster than most canons/Nikons. It has quick autofocus. It has extremely good dynamic range (most people call this better picture quality). Sony's sensor has some of the best low light noise performance of any camera in its class, largely due to its 16 mega pixel count. One mostly unknown fact is that lower megapixels tend to have better low light performance, and high 24+ mega pixel sensors are historically nosier due to pixel density. I applaud Sony for keeping it at 16, and do not wish for the NEX line to move to 24 any time soon (excluding NEX 7).
The NEX also has a very small distance between the lens mount and the sensor. This is a huge advantage because it allows for a wide range of adaptors to be made for the system. The Sony A mount adaptor offers all functionality of the alpha lenses on the small NEX. After market dealers have even created canon/Nikon mounts for the NEX, allowing the use of those lenses, minus the electronic functions (like autofocus). This is important because older lenses can be found for cheap on the used market, and gives the NEX one of the largest list of lenses to date.

But no, even the NEX 5t isn't perfect. There are some small, but noticeable flaws with this system.

-Small buffer, it can take 10 photos each second, but it can only do this for about 2 seconds before it slows down to fill the memory card. This is historically a problem with all Sony cameras, or any camera of this class.
-Occasionally inaccurate auto focus. The AF system isn't quite up there with DSLR's, but its getting closer and closer each year.
-Average battery life. I recommend a spare battery for long days.

These shortcomings are all pretty minor and expected in a camera of this class, so I do not hold them against it. All 3 of these problems are due to its small size, which alone makes up for it.
If you're coming from a smart phone, or a standard point and shoot, this camera will be a HUGE upgrade. Size alone makes this a worthy choice over larger DSLR's. The 5 in particular is the best price/performance compromise in the NEX line. For those a little strapped for cash, but still want similar performance look at the NEX 3n, mostly the same camera just much slow, plastic build, and weaker video performance compared to the 5t. If you want a little bit of an upgrade, look at the NEX 6, offering a viewfinder and a hot shoe.

Feel free to ask me anything regarding this camera or any other NEX camera in the comment section, and I will try to respond quickly. I hope my review helped with your buying decision.
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on February 26, 2015
If I could give this 20 stars out of 5, I would. I agonized over which camera to get, almost went with a Canon Rebel T3i (which I'm sure is also wonderful! It's a consistently popular choice), and I am seriously thankful I went with this. I bought it for beauty blogging, and there are several reasons it's ideal for this purpose:

1. A built-in, adjustable skin softener. I recommend keeping it on 'low', as it does just enough. It looks insanely natural on this level.

2. WiFi connectivity. It's not the smoothest thing in the world, but it does the job of getting your photos to your phone well enough, and at a decent speed. Does just what I need it to do.

3. Adjustable screen! A must-have!

4. The camera adjusts and auto-focuses like a dream for what I'm using it for. It gives you a beautiful focus on your subject, and softly blurs the background automatically, exactly as I need it. Do keep in mind though that if you're going in for a super close-up (say, just shooting an eye), it takes a little longer to adjust. This isn't exactly an issue though.

5. This is SUPER beginner-friendly. Seriously, I know nothing of photography, but was able to jump in right away, easily adjust my settings as I wanted, and start shooting in minutes. It's not convoluted like I had feared. The finer tuning options are there for the more savvy, but if you're like me, you can get by without any hassle.

My one con with this is the touch screen when navigating through the menu - it's a little clunky. I feel like this could potentially be a frustration for someone who is really doing in-depth work through the menu and manually adjusting settings. For someone like me who isn't really getting into all that though, it's only a minor annoyance.

I recommend the package including the memory card (you will need it) and case. I haven't done any video with this yet, so I can't really speak to that feature, but will update if I do.
But all in all, this has been one of my greatest Amazon purchases. It's been a dream for a beginner like myself. You won't regret this one!
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on December 12, 2014
I wanted a camera I could take into concerts. The big cameras are usually turned away at the door. This one was small enough that it doesn't look like a full production. The camera feels well built, not cheap. It does feel like something you could drop so make sure you get some kind of wrist strap.

FLASH: I hate the flash. It blows everything out. It attached to the top and sets up at 45 degrees. I can't believe they didn't let it rotate straight up or even back to bounce light. Would have made the flash sooooo much better and usable.

CASE: You need protection on this camera. I found an awesome case, guarantee it's the best you can get for this with a little mod. Get the Lowepro DV 35 for 13 dollars. (When it gets there CAREFULLY cut out side straps and sim card holder. It will open up like a clam and be a an unbelievable case that fits snugly and secure. Will also hold your flash case. Trust me on this.

LOW LIGHT: I thought the camera did a fairly good job in low light. Like anything, you gotta shoot a bunch to get a few. It handled the colors pretty good. One thing thats cool is when it shoots multiple shots at once, like 9. Then it pieces them all together to make one great shot. Its pretty unreal. I felt like I shot better shots in the manual mode adjusting the ISO myself. I included a couple photos from an Easton Corbin concert.

WIFI: You can drop photos right onto your phone for upload to Facebook. Pretty cool. You may be able to upload to computer wifi as well.

OUTSIDE LIGHT: Shoots really nice shots. here is where this unit shines. It may not be high end camera stuff but if you know what you're doing you can get it damn close.

VIDEO: Good video, probably comparable to iPhone 6.

OVERALL: If you want a good camera that you can take with you on the go this is it. It's not as compact as others but it's not as large as a full blown cannon. Take a look at some of the shots I've included and if you get make sure you get the case and do the the mod.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 27, 2013
The NEX-5T is Sony's midrange-ish mirrorless camera. It's not as compact as the NEX-3, but is still much more pocketable than a lot of interchangeable lens cameras. I've had the older NEX-5N for a couple of years and never really took to it, even though it produced great photos and videos. It was just too much of a chore to use most of the time, so I ended up taking photos with my smartphone camera or my dSLR. I had high hopes for the new NEX-5T, especially with its Wi-Fi support, but alas, the 5T is probably destined to sit in a bag most of the time too.

- Excellent photo quality
- Great video quality
- Very compact for an ILC
- Articulating LCD
- USB charging capability
- Reasonably fast autofocus

- Not enough physical controls
- Proprietary "accessory port"
- No built-in flash
- No external battery charger
- Wi-Fi feature is just so-so

I really like the design of the NEX-5 series. It's smaller than most mirrorless cameras, has a good grip and is pretty easy to carry around. The new 16-50mm power zoom kit lens is much smaller than the old 18-55mm lens, making the whole kit just that much easier to carry around. The power zoom lens takes a little getting used to and I'm not a huge fan of the power zoom, but it's fine.

The LCD is nice and bright and articulates. In addition to being able to shoot above your head or below your knees with the aid of the LCD, you can now also shoot selfies with ease. The external flash does get it in the way, however.

There are more physical controls on the NEX-5T than was on the NEX-5N, but it still lacks a PASM dial for whatever reason. Sony included a new control dial for aperture value and shutter speed, but I personally would've preferred a shooting mode dial, like on the NEX-6.

The NEX-5 series is the only NEX camera that still uses the old proprietary "accessory port." If you don't use a flash and don't want an EVF, then this might not be a big deal for you. I personally avoid flash photography whenever possible, but it's not completely avoidable. I actually have the larger flash unit (HVLF20S) from when I used my 5N, but it is a pain to put on and take off. Leaving it on all full time takes away the compactness of the NEX-5, which is one of the primary benefits of having the NEX-5 in the first place.

One neat thing about the NEX-5T is that it can be charged via USB. So you could essentially charge it with your computer or maybe even your smartphone charger (microUSB). The downside is that Sony no longer includes an external battery charger with the NEX-5, which is unfortunate.

Photos and videos look very good with the NEX-5T. I've taken more photos with the 5N than the 5T, but I haven't had any complaints with either of them in regards to the quality of the shots. I've been happy with the detail and color in nearly every photo I've taken. I shoot mainly in RAW for the occasional exposure fixes, but I don't do too much in the way of post processing with Lightroom or Photoshop. Videos also look great most of the time and I mainly use it to record my kids at recitals, pageants, talent shows, etc. I normally use the 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 lens for those occasions.

I don't use NFC so its inclusion in the 5T isn't a big deal for me, though, I suppose it might be for some. I was, however, pretty excited about being able to use Wi-Fi to send photos to my phone or PC so I could share my shots on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I previously used an Eye-Fi card in my 5N, so to have built-in Wi-Fi and be able to use a high performance SD card was enticing. Unfortunately, the iOS and Android apps aren't that great and its implementation isn't as intuitive to use as I would've hoped. Beyond that, most of the downloadable in-camera Sony apps cost money and you're required to use a Sony account to download them -- no thanks.

The Sony NEX-5T takes terrific pictures and video and at $600 for the lens kit, is a pretty darn good deal. However, if you can put up with a slightly larger size, the NEX-6 might be a better camera for only $150 more. For one, it comes with a built-in flash and a real hotshoe for accessories. It also includes an EVF, so when you're out in the sun and can't see your LCD at all, you can take the guess work out of it and get your shot. Did I mention that the NEX-6 also has a physical PASM dial? Yeah. I think Sony has one too many NEXs, and the 5T is the one that really doesn't seem to have a proper place in the lineup.
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on December 17, 2014
This tiny camera has a APS-C sensor that that takes just as good or better pictures than the entry level DSLRs from Nikon and Canon, but it blows away those entry level cameras when it comes to features. Not only that, it will fit in a coat pocket or purse. No more lugging around a huge camera to get DSLR quality photos. I don't necessarily rate this camera as better than the Nikon 3300 or the Canon strictly on image quality. This is an older Sony Nex and the newer C/N DSLRs do have more pixels. That being said, the 5T will probably outperform them low light, though maybe not the newest Nikon. 16 pixels is plenty and produces more manageable file sizes. You will need to pixel peep to find any noticeable differences in image quality.

Here is were the 5T shines:

It will focus faster. It has both phase detection and contrast detection auto-focus.

It will snap off a blazing 10 frames per second. Granted the buffer fills up fast, but I generally want to catch that perfect action shot within a one second time frame. The Canon will only shoot 3 frames per second and the Nikon 5 fps.

It has all the features that a mid-range DSLR has and then some. The Nikon 3300, for example, won't even exposure bracket. I teach a college level Into to Photography course. One thing I cover is HDR photography. Students that use any of the Nikon 3000 series cameras need to use a tripod to exposure bracket for HDR work. All of the Nikon 3000 series cameras lack an auto Exposure bracketing feature. Heck, I haven't even come across an advanced bridge camera that didn't have this feature.

It has useful scene modes like "Hand Held Twilight" and Auto HDR. Once you learn to use your camera, you don't need most scene modes but the 5T has a couple of scene modes that don't just adjust your settings for you. They use the cameras fast shutter speed to take multiple pictures and combine those multiple pictures in camera. The Hand Held Twilight mode lets you get low noise pictures at night without a tripod. Auto HDR lets you combine pictures to give your photo more dynamic range (detail in highlights and shadows).

It has a touch screen. Some may like the ergonomics of the larger DSLR with more buttons. I have several cameras including a Sony A55 (the 5T actually takes better pictures) and a full frame Sony A99. I will say that the A99 is a dream to use ergonomically. I'm not necessarily sold on the the touch screen but I do really like it for selecting focus points.

It is wireless - you can send pictures to your phone or computer. This will be important to many though not so much to me as I do usually want to use at least Lightroom to edit my pictures before I post. The wireless feature also lets you use your smart phone as a remote, something that I probably will use in the future. The latest Nikon has an optional device that you can connect for wireless.

It has a tilting screen that lets you see it at just about any angle. This is great when you need to do over your head (for crowds) shots, lower shots, or macro shots. It also lets you take selfies, though the removable flash gets in the way.

You can add apps that perform specialized functions. Some say they shouldn't have to pay for additional features, but since the 5T already comes with more features than other entry level cameras and many mid-range cameras, I think it's nice to be able to add apps such as an automated time lapse photography function and multi-frame noise reduction. You don't get that opportunity with the other cameras.

It takes better videos. It particular, it will focus much more seamlessly, if you do not use manual focusing.

It currently (12/15) costs less than the other entry level cameras. This is an older model and it is being sold at a heavy discount. Sony has replaced it with an A5000 (the 5T is better) and an A5100. I picked it up because I couldn't resist the Amazon pre-Christmas flash deal. It fits in my pocketbook easily and is replacing a Panasonic LX-7 that I never really like all that much.

All that performance is packed into a package that will fit in a coat pocket or purse.

There are a couple of negatives.

In my opinion, the biggest negative is a lack of lens choices. The Sony E lens offerings are pretty sparse, particularly when it comes to less expensive lens options from Sigma and Tamron. On the other hand, you can buy cheap adapters that will let you use old legacy lenses that you can find quite inexpensively on Ebay. Using these lenses requires manual focus. To help you with the manual focusing, the 5T has a feature called "Focus Peaking". Focus peaking outlines your in focus areas and makes manual focusing much easier. You can buy an adapter that will let you auto focus with Sony Alpha and older Minolta lenses but the adapter costs as much or more than the cost of the 5T.

It doesn't have a viewfinder. You may buy a viewfinder but is costs almost as much as the camera. For those that have previously used point and shoot camera, you might find that the multi tilt screen is more of a plus than the lack of viewfinder is a minus.

The flash is screw on and not internal. This doesn't bother me, I just leave the flash on the camera. Adding it doesn't change the small form factor much. The flash is included with the camera.

A larger DSLR can be more ergonomically friendly. You need to decide if the small form factor is more important than better ergonomics. I have both this camera and a full frame DLSR/SLT Sony A99. I love my A99 but I don't want to carry it with me all the time. The 5T now lives in my purse and will be with me most of the time.
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on March 28, 2015
I purchased this camera as a lightning deal not really knowing what to expect. I was blown away by the quality of the photographs it could capture of my kids. My wife and I had been searching for a camera that could capture our fast moving kids and this camera nailed it! The camera consistently captures clear pictures (not blurred) of our kids even inside. Before this camera we had a point and shoot Nikon that could not focus fast enough to take good pictures of our kids in action. The Sony NEX-5TL is just what we needed to start capturing the moments that really show our kids personalities. My wife is a photographer and uses a Canon 6D to photograph clients. The 6D takes great pictures of the kids, but it is hard to get it out and running before a good moment of the kids is past. The Sony NEX-5TL is not a full DSLR, but it is dang close in its shooting ability. My wife and I can now grab this camera quickly and snap pictures of the kids when they are doing something funny or cute. This camera is great and I am sold on buying these cameras in the future instead of a point and shoot. This camera is fairly small with the included lens, but also gives the options of other lenses if desired. I will not purchase another point and shoot in the future. I also purchased the Lowepro Adventura 120 Camera Case which is perfect for holding the camera and the Sony 55-210mm lens. I would definitely recommend this camera to a friend. This camera can also shoot in RAW format if that interests you.
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I have a white NEX-3NL I purchased last summer that I'm happy with, so I was very excited to try the NEX-5TL, thinking it would be a substantial upgrade over the 3NL. Personally, I don't think it is.
Sony NEX-3NL/W Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera Kit (White)

Not to say this is a bad camera, especially if you want Wi-Fi and NFC, which the NEX-3NL does not have. I don't own anything that uses NFC - Near Field Communication - (such as a newer model Android phone or tablet)-- and while the Wi-Fi feature is OK, I can live without it. The Wi-Fi connects easily if you use the WPS button on your router, otherwise you will be entering the password on the screen manually. But the actual file transfer from camera to PC is slow, may be partially my network's fault, but I find myself just popping out the SD card and inserting it directly into my computer to get the photos off much quicker.

Comparing the NEX-3NL with the NEX-5TL, a few points I'd like to make about each camera:

* The cameras come with the same kit lens, the SELP16-50 (16mm to 50mm).

* The separate flash with the NEX-5TL camera is a pain to attach and limits your use of the articulated screen. That is, if you're lucky enough to get it connected with that tiny screw which doesn't grab hold 1/2 the time, you can't move the screen much with the flash attached.
* The NEX-3NL has a built-in flash which can be held upwards to bounce the light. Although this flash also inhibits the use of the flip-up screen if trying to do a selfie with the flash. Still preferable to me because the flash is always there and ready, just push the flash button and it pops up. No need to attach the flash.

* The NEX-3NL is, as of my review date, $150 cheaper (but pricing can change from day-to-day on these cameras).

* The NEX-5TL has a touchscreen. I tried it for a couple days, and then disabled it in the Set-Up Menu. I hate greasy screens and it used substantially more battery power.
* The NEX-3NL does not have the touchscreen feature.
* The NEX-5TL has a better-looking screen over the NEX-3N, 921,000 vs. 461,000 pixels.


If you are wondering what the difference in model number is:
* NEX-5T is the camera, body only.
* NEX-5TL is the camera with the kit lens included.

* The older NEX-5RL is the same as the 5TL, but doesn't have NFC. Not having NFC on the NEX-5RL is the only difference I can find, and the NEX-5RL comes with a choice of lenses, either the Sony NEX5RL/B 16.1 MP Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens and 3-Inch LED (Black), or the Sony NEX-5RK/B 16.1 MP Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 18-55mm Lenses (Black)

* There are many Scene Settings, but no Pet Scene setting like my cheaper Sony Cyber-shot cameras have. Yes, I could probably tweak some manual settings with this camera for the same effect, but it's hit or miss when you have a fast-moving pet that won't hold still on command.

* Neither camera does well at very close-up macro shots with the kit lens. I guess you need to buy another lens for macro, or back-off the subject a bit to get "focus".

* This is a well-built line of cameras, no matter which NEX you choose. My NEX-3NL has been used constantly since I bought it last summer and I've had no problems.
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on March 29, 2015
Easily the best camera I've owned. I bought this as a travel camera so I didn't have to take my DSLR. I had used compact cameras for travel before but I was looking for better images. This camera takes great images, even in low light.

If you take most of your photos without a flash then this camera works really well.
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on November 4, 2013
No need to repeat what others have praised or faulted with Sony's NEX compact camera system.

Overall, I am very pleased with the features and performance of the 5T. My favorite feature with this compact camera is the ability to tilt the LCD screen down allowing the user to hold the camera overhead in order to shoot downward.

Highly recommended.

I purchased a Case Logic SLMC-200 Compact Systems Camera Case from Amazon. The case provides good protection and has room for the camera with power zoom lens attached, spare battery and a couple of lens filters.

EDIT November 26, 2013: Downgraded my overall rating from 5 stars to 4 stars. I continue to enjoy using the NEX, but the WiFi features, particularly the ability to transfer photos from the camera to an iPhone, is clunky and slow. What should be a simple process is confusing and slow. Sony, look at the app PhotoSync to see how easy photo transfers should be.
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on January 20, 2015
Not selling my Canon DLSRs anytime soon, but I will tell you that this camera is very impressive in IQ and it's abilities. As other reviewers have noted the menu goes pretty deep and until you get to know it, can take some time finding what you want. As the saying goes, "the best camera you can have, is the one that is with you". I take this thing everywhere!
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