Sony A5100 Field Tests

Sony A5100 Field Test Part I

Out and about with a smörgåsbord of lenses

by Dave Pardue |

I've had the privilege of shooting with most of the NEX-gone-Alpha models since the beginning of the line in 2010. The NEX-5 from that year marked the beginning of the mid-level price / capability points of the line, nestled comfortably between the lower-end NEX-3 and the higher-end NEX-6 and flagship NEX-7 models. This mid-level line has been updated every year since its inception, with the A5100 being the 5th generation to date. [Though its naming struck us as odd, as many believe it to be the successor to the A5000, which of course it isn't but sure sounds like it is.]

To me, this model marks the most significant set of upgrades to the mid-level line thus far, as well as a few setbacks worth mentioning. Right out of the box it felt different than its predecessor, beginning with the rougher texture of the body, making it a bit more stable to hold and, at least to me, feeling more solid. Some will likely prefer the metal chassis of the NEX-5T, but on this size camera, I prefer the polycarbonate of the A5100. The grip is not quite as severe in its shape than last year's NEX-5T, allowing more breathing room for my fingers between the grip and the lens, especially when carrying it around. It's a bit thicker, as you'll see below, but that gives it even more stability in the holding, both with the right hand on the grip or with it resting on my left hand. Larger lenses also seem and feel more at home on this model, striking a better overall balance.

Read more about my hands-on experience with the compact and lightweight A5100.

Read Field Test Part I

Sony A5100 Field Test Part II

Catching fire and motion in low light

by Dave Pardue |

In viewing the handheld image of the A5100 with the Sony 55-210mm lens mounted in our first Field Test, it showed the nice balance of that combination, but didn't do full justice to just how small this camera can become. For shooting an NCAA basketball game as part of this second report I decided to try the A5100 paired once again with the Sony 16mm f/2.8 prime lens, and was immediately reminded of why this is such a good combination for things like travel and hiking.

We took a look at images from the 16-50mm PZ kit lens in the first part of this report, but for part two I'll be sticking with prime lenses having apertures that can open to at least f/2.8 in order to be able to fully test and show the low-light capabilities of the A5100. For anyone who's ever tried to photograph fast-action indoor sports, especially in relatively low light, you know how tricky it can be without a gargantuan camera and lens combination. And if you've read our indoor sports on a budget tutorial you've seen how the A5100's popular big brother the A6000 fares in that arena, so I thought it'd be a good comparison to take the A5100 to the same gym and see what kind of results I could get in similar lighting conditions.

Read about how the Sony A5100 performs shooting in low light, including indoor sports.

Read Field Test Part II

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