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Review: The Sony a5100 camera

We take the compact mirrorless camera for a spin through a day at ELLE, including selfies, #ootds and one rogue cat

By Emma Chong Johnston | Published: 7 Apr 2017

Review: Sony a5100
Photo: ELLE Malaysia

There comes a time when a mobile phone is simply not enough to capture everything that goes on in life. Enter the Sony α5100, an incredibly powerful camera that is also surprisingly easy to use. If you've got camera game, great; if not, don't worry, because the α5100 does the hard work for you. We took the camera on the road with us and it seamlessly adjusted to our needs: outfit photos in the midday sun, product flatlays under a flickering tube light, detailed makeup tutorials or brochure-worthy shots of the city, all while being compact enough to fit in one of this season's baby bags.

The feature: 24.3 megapixel sensor and BIONZ X image processor
What that means: Sharp, refined images in any lighting
Would that we all had professional photographer boyfriends to follow us around all the time, like Aimee Song and Chiara Ferragni. For those of us in the real world, colleagues, friends and bystanders are most often pressed into #ootd service. And forget about catching the golden hour for perfect light conditions – for Team ELLE, the golden hour is lunch, because that's when we eat. And also ootd. So our outfit photos often take place under the direct noon sun, which means harsh, unforgiving light and shadows exactly where you don't want them. But with the right camera, these conditions can turn a bad photo op into an intriguing one: the α5100's sensor (as big as those found in DSLRs) and image processor combo is able to pick up details in even super low light, delivering crisp, clear pictures even when the lighting isn't perfect. 

Extreme lighting conditions 1: Andy's #ootd in the 2pm sun
Extreme lighting conditions 2: Taking #foodgrams in yellow restaurant light

The feature: Fast Hybrid AF system
What that means: A clear shot on a moving target
I take a lot of photos of my cat Percy, because he's very cute and makes for good Instagram filler. The problem is that he's always either sleeping or yawning, swatting, squirming or parkouring across the room in pursuit of a fly. The α5100's Fast Hybrid AF system has 179 phase-detection autofocus points that can track motion and grab a crisp frame of any action, which means I now take a lot of unflattering photos of the cat mid-yawn or rolling around in an undignified manner.

When the photo subject keeps twitching
When the photo subject stays still

The feature: 180° tiltable touch-enabled LCD monitor
What that means: Perfect selfies
One of the smart phone's great advantages over the compact camera has always been the front-facing lens, now that selfies have become their own major photo category. The α5100 is one step ahead with an LCD screen that flips out to 180° and a moulded, ergonomic body that sits comfortably in the hand for easy selfie-taking. (Also perfect for vlogging!)

Taking selfies in the five minutes before the meeting starts

The feature: Wi-Fi/NFC and PlayMemories camera apps
What that means: One-touch transfers
No mucking around with cables or desktops – transfer shots to your phone for immediate Instagram purposes. The camera also comes with a host of accompanying apps (both paid and free) to boost your photo-taking experience. There's a very handy remote control app, one for retouching, as well as apps that can help you create stop motion videos, multiple exposures, timelapses, the works.

The Sony α5100 retails at RM2,599.


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