Sony Alpha 5000 – User Review
Remember that I attended the Sony Alpha 5000 bloggers gathering at Carcosa Seri Negara (you can read about it here – https://timchew.net/2014/05/12/sony-alpha-5000-bloggers-preview-2/)? Well the nice folks at Sony Malaysia let us bring the camera home to try out and try I did. As I work in the media, I attend lots of different sorts of events and I decided to bring the very portable and light Alpha 5000 with me.
Now I was one of only two (2) people who took home the set with 2 lenses:
The kit lens which was an E-mount 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 which weighs only 116g, , with Lens-based Image Stabilization (SteadyShot)
E-mount 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 Telephoto Lens with Optical SteadyShot
So how would this light and portable interchangeable lens camera perform in my day to day life in the media which consists of attending lots of different events? I call it practical application of sorts while MHB’s Andy Kho calls it a “field test”. Well let’s find out how the camera performed.
First up was an ice cream launch.
Shot this one in Program Auto mode and I’m very impressed with the camera’s white balance. This was not an easy scene to shoot as you can see as the ballroom was bathed in purple light but the camera managed to get this pic right as I enabled the Face Detection function and the camera locked on to Estelle’s face.
Yet again the white balance was spot on while skin tones come out very natural.
This one was a somewhat tricky shot to take as I was holding the plate of ice cream in one hand and the Sony Alpha 5000 in the other but thanks to the SteadyShot it managed to compensate for the hand shake (mind you that both objects were shaking) to come up with this crisp photo.
Shot this one using Intelligent Auto mode while I was walking in from the entrance to the stage at Future Music Festival Asia 2014. The skies were gray and hazy but somehow this pic turned out pretty nice with the ferris wheel contrasting against the sky.
Girls were very impressed with the camera when I showed them the pics that I shot of them. I guess this is due to the fact that their skin looks pretty flawless thanks to the soft skin effect which has three (3) different settings – low, medium and high. Here’s a shot of DJ Alexis using Soft Skin effect (on low setting).
It was a pretty hazy night in Bukit Jalil. Here’s a shot of the main stage at Future Music Festival Asia 2014 on the second night.
A trip to the Malaysian Formula One GP 2014 followed and this was a shot taken of me winning a pair of gloves signed by Ferrari driver Kimi Raikonnen, which was shot by Stephanie on Intelligent Auto mode. The Face Detection feature is really useful as it focused on my face instead of everything else in the photo.
During the pit walk, I spotted the beautiful gull winged Mercedes SLS which is the Safety Car quietly sitting in the garage. Unfortunately I didn’t bring the zoom lens, so I zoomed to the maximum 50mm focal length and snapped this shot. As I set the camera’s resolution to 20.1 megapixels, I could easily crop this pic and still retain the details.
I was pretty lucky as I got to watch the race in the M-Scape VIP lounge which was right above the Ferrari pits. Switched to shutter priority to catch this action shot of a pit stop.
I really like the fact that there’s a dedicated video record button which is very convenient when you need to quickly shoot video such as in this situation.
I finally found an event to use the 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 lens with the Sony Alpha 5000 and that was during the Mid Valley Fashion Week 2014. Shot this one without flash using Aperture Priority mode.
Had to use the zoom lens at its maximum 210mm focal length for this pic as MC Jun Yong and the models were right at the far end of the stage (I estimate at least 100 feet away). Quite impressed with how the colours and textures of the outfits turned out! I believe the APS-C sensor had a big part in capturing the details.
OK so it’s pretty darn good in good light but how would it perform in night event/ clubbing settings?
This took a few shots to get the focus and light correctly set. And as a clubbing environment has lots of lighting effects, I set the cam to continuous shooting mode and held the shutter button and the camera started shooting at 2.5 frames per second shooting until it reached its maximum of 15 frames at Fine setting. The next day, I downloaded the pics to my laptop and just selected the nicest one!
This was a one in a thousand shot as the club’s strobe light came on at exactly the same time as I shot the photo. Of course I don’t count on this happening very often but if you look at the following two (2) photos you’d see that the camera does pretty well under difficult lighting too. Focusing took 2 – 3 attempts even with the focus assist beam but that is pretty normal under low lighting.
Here’s a shot inside a club taken with Aperture Priority mode with direct flash.
Another shot using Aperture Priority mode which beautifully captures the ambient light. I really the camera’s white balance and I dare say that it’s one of the best among a lot of interchangeable lens/ micro 4/3 cameras that’s I’ve reviewed lately.
OK so the camera’s pretty darn good with people. What about objects? Used Aperture Priority (it’s one of my fav modes) to shoot these five (5) bottles of vodka through a glass case with backlight.
Shot this magnum bottle of vodka in a really dark environment with some light coming from the LED light afixed to the bottom of the bottle. This pic has some background defocus effect focusing the attention solely on the bottle but if you look carefully to the bottom left you can even see the condensation on the outside of the ice bucket as it was almost the same focal length as the bottle. wish there was more lights in the background so I could have the “bokeh”effect but Providence is just one really dark club!
Speaking of condensation, look at the water droplets on these bottles of beer. It’s really quite amazing how such a compact little ICL camera can capture such details and look at the background defocus effect. Makes it look like a professional shot even though it was just me with the Sony Alpha 5000 and no additional lighting. BTW on Intelligent Auto mode you can manually adjust the amount of Background Defocus (see how the background is blurred out in this pic?) and Brightness that you want. This is especially useful for beginners and admittedly lazy photographers like me haha!
This was a tough shot but somehow I managed to get a nice pic as the club’s strobe light happened to turn on during this shot out of the 15 shots I took using continuous shooting.
The night view of Damansara and Bandar Utama from The Roof, First Avenue Bandar Utama using the Hand-Held Twilight mode. I didn’t have a tripod so I held it as steady as I could and the SteadyShot did the rest.
Here I am using the Hand Held Twilight mode again. This time at The Club in Saujana, Subang outside their Italian restaurant Senja. The light from the walkway was captured beautifully. Quite impressive as this was using the kit lens which had a maximum aperture of F3.5
Stood further back and snapped this shot of the restaurant as I wanted the effect of the light coming out of the windows. Mind you, it was pretty dark where I was standing with the only light coming from the restaurant and the walkway.
There are times when you have to quickly capture a shot at events. I didn’t have time to set this one in any of the P, A, S or M modes so I trusted the Intelligent Auto mode and it got me the photo I needed!
Used Program Auto with direct flash for this one. Had to adjust the EV (Exposure Compensation a bit but this was quite easily done and the camera can go up to +/- 3.0EV).
The tiltable pop up flash was pretty useful too! Now if you look carefully you’ll see that the ceiling is black so not much chance of much light bouncing off that. Luckily behind me was a white wall and as the flast could tilt up to about 110 degrees I managed to bounce the light off the wall giving a more natural colour to the photo as compared to direct flast.
I love doing food reviews because I get to eat lots of delicious food and having the Sony Alpha 5000 with it’s tiltable flash is really handy. Didn’t need any extra lighting (I would normally use the flashlight function on my smartphone to provide some additional light) as I simply bounced the light off the ceiling. Shot this one in Macro mode under Scene.
Another shot using Macro mode.
Natural smile x natural lighting (bounced the light off the ceiling for this pic as well) = one of my fav photos!
Start up time was about a second and it’s great when you have to hurriedly shoot! Aimed the camera at him, the camera was quick to focus and I snapped this shot before this naughty fella who was looking for bananas at the back of my house had time to react ha ha!
One of the key features that I didn’t use was the 180 degree LCD screen for taking selfies. Obviously I’m not a big fan of taking selfies but girls love it and you can read about what some of the MHB bloggers wrote about this feature here – https://www.facebook.com/myhotbloggers
Another feature was the creative filters. Well my photos are mainly event photos so I didn’t really bother about this feature either but the more artistic types would certainly appreciate this feature.
And there’s also the WiFi/ NFC connectivity which is why if you follow me on Instagram at @timchew1311 you’d notice that recently all my photos are very nice. This is because I did not have to use the phone’s camera to shoot the photo but instead shoot it on the Alpha 5000 then transfer it to my phone via WiFi.
MHB’s Careen Tan did a very thorough write-up on the NRC/ WiFi connectivity and you can read about on her blog – http://www.careentan.com/
I really enjoyed using the Sony Alpha 5000. Not only was it really portable and light. But it also delivered where it counted and by that I mean crisp photos with beautiful colours even in dark settings. Not once did I need to go to full manual mode to achieve the photo I needed. In fact most of the time I was shooting with P or A modes or the scene modes or when I was in a terrible hurry – the Intelligent Auto mode.
With such capabilities in such a small body, I really don’t see the need for a bulky DSLR any more.
The Sony Alpha 5000 is available in Malaysia from 21 February 2014 onwards with the suggested retail price:-
Single Lens Package (Body + 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens) at RM1,999
Twin Lens Package (Body + 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 + 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3) at RM2,799
For more info and the technical specs of the Sony Alpha 5000, head over to – http://bit.ly/1eLboU1