So, as some of you have noticed – I’ve been Vlogging some of my Hong Kong trip, and been playing with a new camera whilst on this trip – a Sony A5000
First up… the Sony A5000 is titchy compared to the hulking Digital SLR’s I normally lug around on trips. I brought this with the supplied lens as 1) I didn’t have time to go lens hunting for the “perfect” lens and 2) it’s a new lens system to me.
It weighs in at 210 grams. Not a lot.
Yes – you can swap the lens on this camera so you can have long reach on it, or a fixed prime lens. I haven’t spent money on lenses… so far (although as you read on… I’m considering it).
The top panel is pretty simple – a button to pop up the flash, two microphones, the flash itself, zoom controls, shutter, on/off switch and a movie start/stop button.
Another handy feature if you’re going to vlog is that it screen flips up. It’s not a true tiltly-flippy-uppy screen, but it’s not too bad to use.
A shame the screen is not a touch screen. The newer version has touch screen which is pretty easy to navigate.
The lens itself is a 16-50mm lens and with a APS-C crop, that works out to around 25.6mm to 80mm lens. It’s a fly-by-wire lens – in that the controls can be controlled either by the zoom switch, or via the lens. It’s also important to note the lens has no control when there’s no power in it. It has Optical Stabilisation in the form of Optical SteadyShot.
Battery and Charging
You get one battery with the camera, and a charger. What isn’t mentioned is that the battery can be charged in-camera via the USB port. Handy, and for those of of you who have objections to carry “yet an other charger”.
Be warned, I was struggling one battery (as the screen is on whilst you’re using it) and it didn’t like any of my USB Power packs whilst I was travelling, so get a second battery if you can/
Memory Cards and Formats
It takes the run of the mill SD Cards (SD/SDHC/SDXC), and is able to record videos in MP4 as well in full HD in AVCHD (in 60i/50i/25p/24p). The camera also takes pictures in JPG format, and as an added bonus – Camera RAW format too.
With my “pro” hat on, Camera RAW gives a lot more options than a plain JPG file
It’s light. That has positives and negatives. Positives are it is extremely chuckable and pocketable. The negatives with a low weight camera is that you can have issues balancing the camera. As you’re not holding it at eye level, it’s a bit easier to use. At least the grip is textured and easy to hold.
Right. Enough of the chat. How does it perform out in the field?
A good test of any camera is to throw it on the shoulder or put it in your pocket and just go shooting with it during the day. So let’s see what the Sony A5000 can do during daylight.
First things first – yes, there is vignetting in the corners of the image at 16mm (darkness in corners)… and there is some not so welcome distortion at 16mm. This can be laid at door of the lens. Shame.
So some faults already… mainly at 16mm due the lens distortion. That’s the trouble with cheap optics at wide angles – things need a bit of correction before you export them!
However, when there’s a little less stress on the optics (for example, shooting at 21mm or above, or shooting below the top aperture), the images come out nice and clean.
Evening time/Low Light
This can be a challenge for any camera as it decides what’s day, what’s night and what’s in-between. The Sony A5000 seems to handle it reasonably, pulling out light from darkness, and with some reasonably sharp results.
Remember the barrel distortion I talked about? Here’s an example that I’ve spend all of 5 seconds correcting in Adobe LightRoom:
As you can see, there is a difference. But good software like LightRoom, DXO Optics, Capture One Pro – even the supplied Canon/Nikon converters do a good job of fixing your mistakes.
And that’s why I shoot in Camera RAW. Even though my photo storage solution says “No more please” (My 8TB RAID5 NAS box has a paltry 360GB left on it).
Night-time photography can make any cameras life hell with a lack of light and steadyholding. Can the Sony A5000 handle my styles of night photography?
There’s a lot of noise in this picture when you take a step back (look at the clouds – not very silky-smooth) – ISO3200.
Lets have a look at Hong Kong Island at night.
Again – look at the clouds. Whilst they’re not perfect (thank the JPG compression), a tiny bit of post-processing makes a world of difference.
One of the things I like a small camera like this is that you blend in better as a tourist. People aren’t afraid of a little camera like this compared to a big Digital SLR. It also allows for easier shots like this.
I’ve been using the camera to vlog, and to be honest – it isn’t that bad. Wha? You haven’t watched the vlog yet? Have a look below:
The camera does have mind of its own when it comes to focusing sometimes, but locks on pretty quickly when its happy to under most light conditions without too much worry.
However, give it a simple task like a crossing on Star Ferry, and it’s a happy little thing.
Give it a task like locking onto yours truly, it snaps into focus quickly enough (although you’d wish it would be quicker some days).
Note, there’s no external microphone input, so you’re stuck with the internal microphones. They’re reasonably delicate enough for audio pick-up,
The one thing I would do is remove the camera strap attachments from it – they make a very nasty sound on recordings.
OVERALL: The Sony A5000 camera isn’t for everyone – and I’m sure some Pros will be looking down at this camera thinking “huh?”. However, it serves a purpose – like any camera does.
It’s a capable little camera, compact and pocketable that delivers when it comes to pictures, with reasonable quality results – although a little post-processing will never hurt to improve your results.
The 20 megapixels allow for crop and editing, and thanks to the supplied lens, you’ll be doing plenty of it.
The pictures are best during taken the daytime, and whilst not excellent at night – they do a darn good job of capturing images. The video at HD quality is pretty reasonable – and great for editing in iMovie and onto video editors.
To get the best of the camera though, I strongly suggest shooting in Camera RAW and postprocessing the images in LightRoom.
The biggest weakness of this camera… it’s lens. And whilst it maybe a kit lens, I’d expect better correction of barrelling at 16mm
But get a better lens than the one that’s supplied with the camera. The 16-50 3.5-5.6PZ isn’t the best quality glass out there by a long shot.
For those considering a Compact System Cameras/Mirrorless cameras, the Sony A5000 is a good starting point.
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