The NEX 5R is coming on August 28th according to Sony Alpha Rumors - and Sony is finally taking DSLRs into the ’10s. This camera features a new app platform (a first on a camera like this).
The camera has WiFi built in and the apps could be more interesting than just a few gimmicky filters, because it is possible Sony may provide a full SDK / dev kit for developers. This would be required if third party apps are planned. But it may also be the case that only Sony will provide apps, with each firmware update.
A dev kit is basically an open door for hackers to improve video functionality, after which we won’t call them hackers but developers.
It may also be that apps can be downloaded on a PC and stored on the camera’s SD card, so a smartphone style AppStore is not 100% necessary on this camera.
So could we see high bitrates, flat picture profiles and Filmic Pro on the NEX 5R?
The NEX 5N was one of my favourite DSLR type cameras for video, certainly it offered a lot of good stuff for the first time such as a APS-C sensor in mirrorless body, 1080/60p – features which other DSLRs don’t yet have. Image quality however was a mixed bag and it didn’t capture the kind of detail, or at high bitrates of the GH2 and it doesn’t quite have the large sensor look of full frame. It suffered some moire and aliasing, also in warm conditions overheating was a problem.
The badge on the leaked picture above is almost identical to the NEX 5N and states 50i, denoting PAL. That implies that again 1080/60p/50p/60i/50i and hopefully 24/25p will be present. Maybe we will see 720p get 120fps? The camera takes one of the tri-navi dials from the NEX 7, placing it on top of the camera. The rear dial is maintained. The mode dial is still a customisable option or menu item, it doesn’t have a dedicated dial. It is good to see that additional dial on there, in my view it is a better use of limited space than a mode dial would be. The video button has moved to the left of this dial, under your thumb. Again a nice change. There’s also a custom function button near the shutter release.
Unfortunately the SD card slot remains underneath the camera, behind the battery door!
Apparently the sensor, whilst remaining at 16.1MP is all new and has phase detect AF sensels. As far as I believe Fuji pioneered this kind of sensor (and patented it), but since then it seems other manufacturers have found it very easy to develop their own non-patent infringing version, or are licensing it from Fuji. On the 650D, phase detect AF on the sensor was hardly any faster than their already miserably slow contrast detect live view AF which is pretty bizarre. On the Sony SLT cameras however, with Alpha lenses the phase detect works fantastically quickly in live view mode. On a compact camera, it has proved to be very fast too. On the NEX 5R – who knows?
My big question about the 5R is about the new sensor in terms of its readout for video. Has image quality been improved, has moire been fixed? Also on the codec side – does it maintain plenty of detail rather than smudging it away? Bitrates are sure to remain within the AVCHD spec for this one, but if Sony improve the codec, 24Mbit should not be a problem. For example the FS100 is just fine most of the time in 24p at 24Mbit.
What is exciting is the apps platform for increasing bitrate and video performance. It shouldn’t be hard to do a Filmic Pro like for the iPhone which increases the bitrate to at least 44Mbit.
How about the NEX 6?
The NEX 6 is pictured below. Essentially this isn’t a direct replacement for the NEX 7 but a lower priced model, but again it is an opportunity for Sony to refresh the sensor and image processor for better video.
The camera loses the tri-nav controls unfortunately, for a mode dial with a control ring around it. But it does have a build in flash, hotshoe and EVF unlike the NEX 5R.