Updated : Nov 21, 2016 in Camera reviews

Sony Nex 5t: My initial thoughts

Sony Nex 5t. What is it like? It is worth a few hundred dollars? Well, I got a great deal on one recently online and wanted to test it out!

It is important to know that since I do not have any Sony E-mount lens, I have not tested the autofocus on the camera. I know many would be interested in that and I will update the article when I have lens to use on it. I sold my E-mount lens some time ago when I quit using mirrorless.

The other thing to disclose is this is a second model that I picked up off Amazon. Given that this is a few generations old (Sony A5100 is the latest in this line), buying used made it very cheap. I paid $169 for a body.

sony nex 5t selfie mode

5 things I love about the Sony Nex 5t!

1. The selfie mode

I am not a selfie type of guy but this was the main reason I even looked at the Sony Nex 5t. I wanted the screen that went all the way around to face me. I will use this camera for my vlogs on Youtube. It works perfect for that.

Thank you, vain teenage girls that need selfies non-stop. Sony may have made it for you but it works for my vlogging too!

The only thing to really say about the screen up in “selfie mode” is some things you need to reach around. However, it is touchscreen for most things and you can manually focus by touchscreen! Very cool, Sony.

2. Weight

I am a DSLR guy. I do not mind the weight of a Nikon D810 or a Sony A77 II one bit. However, when walking around doing vlogs, it is nice to have a smaller and lighter camera. This camera is about a fifth the weight of my Sony A77.

I have been using a Nikon D7000 for the videos the last few months and it was great to get it out of my hands and have something like the Sony Nex 5t to replace. The lack of weight unleashes the creativity ability. It really does.

Is there times that I will need to pull out a DSLR to do something? I am sure. However, in most cases this camera will do the same thing just as good.

3. 60 frame per second video

Another major selling point for me was the 60 frames per second video at 1080p. I wanted to use the 60 frames option because it is, in my opinion, cleaner video. My Nikon D7000 could only do 30 frames at 720p. Not the end of the world but was important to me.

The few videos I have put out recently have had much better quality and people have commented about it too. That is always good.

The small downsize to this is rendering the video in Adobe Premiere Pro and uploading it to Youtube is quite the project. It takes about triple the time but the improved quality is worth it if you ask me.

4. Exposure Composition is smart

This is really a camera so talking photography, one thing I really like is how they did the exposure composition. It is not a button that requires the changing of the shutter.

Nikon has a +/- button that requires the shutter dail to change. If you release the +/- too fast, you have start over because you changed the base shutter. Smart move, Sony!

It really makes getting bracketed images and High Dynamic Range shots very easy and they could be used for professional images. The resolution is 16MP, the same as the Nikon D7000; one of the most used camera in the market still to this day.

5. Looks like a point and shoot!

I also like that to the common thief, it looks like a point and shoot that he probably would not get much money at the pawn shop. When you travel in dangerous cities like Manila, this is something to think about.

I will give you that the Sony Nex 5t is not the image of a cheapo point and shoot but it also does not scream “DSLR” or “expensive camera” all over it either!

At the end of the day, it is not the worth of the camera that matters. It is the precieved worth of the camera to the gadget thief watching your every move waiting to get your camera, right?

sony nex 5t kit lens

5 things I do NOT like about it!

1. No 3.5″ mic jack!

Being a vlogger, I wanted to use it for video and that means audio. I can use the onboard stereo mic (which is not bad for being onboard), however, I would have liked to had a 3.5″ jack more.

Using a Rode Video Mic Pro is MUCH better than any onboard microphone will be. However, only the Sony Nex 7 offers the jack. I do not understand why it is so hard to include this in the design of models.

I do understand that because of the screen going in selfie mode (straight up) putting a hotshoe with a microphone would be a challenge but I am sure there was a way to do on the side or something.

Solution: Use a Rode SmartLav+ off camera and your smartphone as the recorder.

2. No hotshoe in “selfie mode”

That leads me to my next point, there is a jack for special Sony accessories like a mic made by them and a flash also made by them. However, when you use them; forget using the screen up all the way!

If you are thinking of getting this for vlogging, like I did, this is a major problem. The flash is not a deal but using a microphone is.

I really wish they would have gave more thought to the hotshoe issue. One option could have been is making a “door” in the screen that you lift to move the flash or mic through when you want to use them. Sony’s research and development are smart people. I am sure they could find something.

Solution: Do everything for audio and flash off camera. Normally better that way anyways. 

3. Battery life sucks

The battery on the Sony Nex 5t seems to be like most Sony cameras and drain very quickly. I get that this is because everything on the camera is electronic and therefore takes more power. I really do get that but having 2 hours of battery activity really sucks.

This is an issue across the Sony camera lines and it has never really been fixed by them. I really wish they would do something about it. I have to say even the batteries for the Sony DSLR go much faster than a battery for a Nikon DSLR.

So make sure you always, (every night) charge up the battery for the camera. It is a pain but it is better than turning it on to find the battery at 0%.

Solution: I would buy an extra battery or two if you do a lot of shooting in a day. 

4. Memory hog!

I do not know if this because of the 60 frames per second or not but it seems that a short video takes up a lot of room on the memory cards. I can’t use my 8GB cards for much of anything when you using the Sony Nex 5t. Not a huge issue but an annoying one.

I am not sure if there is some setting in the menu to compress the video files down. If there is, I would love to know where it is. That would be very nice to have.

The other thing is make sure all the memory cards are Class 10 and have a high transfer rate. This will make using the video function more quite a bit better. You can forget class 4 completely!

Solution: Only use memory cards that are at least 16GB and completely free space for a day or shooting. 

5. Record button needs to be moved.

When you put the camera in selfie mode, the screen almost covers the record button, it is a real pain to get active sometimes. It is not the end of the world but it is an oversight that should not have happened.

I am kinda wondering if there is a reason to start recording from somewhere on the screen (after all, it is touchscreen). That would be a great workaround. If there is something like this, I have not found it!

The only thing I found to do is program the function button on the front of the camera to record. I did successfully do that but it was quite the job to do. Not as simple as a click or something in the menu.

Solution: Click record before lifting the screen to selfie mode or program it to the function button on the front. 

sony nex nikon 20mm

About the Auto focus on the camera

I have only Nikon and Sony DSLR lens right now so I have been using an adapter that lets me use my Nikon lens in manual mode. Due to this, I have not tested the auto focus yet.

I do have a Sony 16mm (2.8) lens coming that is made for the mirror less cameras. It just has not came yet. The camera store is backlogged on orders.

As soon as it arrives, I will update this section with information about the auto focus possibilities of this model.

sony nex cameras

Do I regret buying the Sony Nex 5t?

Not at all. The things that I do not like can mostly be worked around easily.