Sony Alpha 5100 review

September 17, 2014

Overall Rating:


Sony Alpha 5100

  • Features:
  • Build/Handling:
  • Metering:
  • Autofocus:
  • AWB Colour:
  • Dynamic Range:
  • LCD viewfinder:


  • - Superb resolution and autofocus speed
  • - Lightweight, but tough with a compact body
  • - Advanced video filming capabilities


  • - Only six frames per second continuous shooting
  • - Touchscreen limited to taking pictures only
  • - No input for external microphone



With 24.3-million-pixels, 179-point hybrid autofocus and advanced video, is the Sony Alpha 5100 the most high- tech, entry-level APS-C camera yet? In our Sony Alpha 5100 review Jon Devo finds out

See our full set of sample images in our gallery

Sony Alpha 5100 – introduction

Sony’s latest compact camera model, the Sony Alpha 5100 features some of the Japanese firm’s latest technology, including the 24.3-million-pixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, with an sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600 and the Bionz X processor seen in the more advanced Sony Alpha 6000. That camera’s 179-point hybrid AF system has also made it inside the Alpha 5100’s compact frame, delivering super-fast autofocusing – claimed to be as quick as 0.06secs – making it one of the fastest cameras currently on the market.

Rather than updating the Sony Alpha 5000, which was released earlier this year, the Alpha 5100 instead replaces the Sony NEX-5T, the final NEX-branded camera in the compact range, which will now be discontinued. This move finally consolidates all Sony’s E-mount compact system cameras and Alpha-mount SLTs under the Sony Alpha branding.

Sony A5100 product shot - top

Sony Alpha 5100 – Features

Looking at the spec sheet for the Alpha 5100, it’s hard to see any weaknesses. It ticks most of the boxes that anyone in the market for a compact system camera could want, and in use, these features shine.

The 179-point AF with touchscreen focus functionality covers over 90% of the frame and can deliver incredibly quick focusing responses. This is because each of the camera’s AF points features on-chip phase detection, further enhanced by the inclusion of 25 precision contrast AF points positioned around the centre of the camera’s 24.3-million-pixel sensor.

Sony A5100 product shot - front flash

When shooting in low light, such opportunities can be better exploited with this camera’s sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600, and Bionz X-enabled, area-specific noise reduction. However, a small pop-up flash with a guide number of 4m @ ISO 100 is also provided for shooting nearby subjects in extremely low light.

Despite the challenging metering scenario of a white subject in a dark setting, the camera exposed well for the entire scene Sony E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

Despite the challenging metering scenario of a white subject in a dark setting, the camera exposed well for the entire scene
Sony E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

Sony Alpha 5100 – Specification

Price: £549 (with kit lens)
Sensor: 24.3-million-pixel, Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor
Output size: 6000 x 4000 pixels
Focal length mag: 1.5x
Lens mount: Sony E-mount
Shutter speeds: 30-1/4000sec, plus bulb
ISO: 100-25,600
Metering system: 1,200-zone evaluative
Exposure compensation: ±3EV in 1/3EV steps;
Movies: ± 2EV in 1/3EV steps
Drive mode: 6fps continuous shooting
LCD: 3in TFT with 921,600 dots
Viewfinder: No
AF points: Hybrid (179 phase-detection AF points)
Video: 1920 x 1080 pixels at 50p/50i/25p
External mic: No
Power: NP-FW50 (up to 400 shots)
Memory card: Memory Stick Pro Duo, SDHC/SDXC UHS-I
Dimensions: 109.6 x 62.8 x 35.7mm
Weight: 283g (with battery and card)


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Free download!

Get your free digital download of Improve Your Photography - Photoshop & Lightroom!