Sony's mirrorless cameras get better and better, and now they're good enough that the company says it's taking aim at your DSLR. Sony just announced the NEX-5R at IFA in Berlin, and the successor to the NEX-5N has a few key new additions. There's finally a physical control dial on the 16.1-megapixel camera, so you can flip through settings much more easily. There's also a new Function button that makes the scroll wheel even more versatile. The camera's autofocus performance has been improved, using a hybrid AF system that combines phase-detect and contrast-detect focus to give both faster and more precise focus — we've seen something similar on the Canon T4i, and it really works.
The other new feature is Wi-Fi connectivity: the NEX-5R is Sony's first interchangeable-lens camera to come with Wi-Fi, and the implementation is actually quite clever. It connects with Sony's PlayMemries apps and service, giving you an easy way to backup and transfer photos off your camera. There are Android and iOS apps for PlayMemories, and both apps work well and connect easily to the camera — PlayMemories is a fairly mature service, so Sony didn't have to reinvent the wheel for a Wi-Fi camera. Sony's also going to be developing "Camera Apps," small bits of added functionality or new features, which can be easily downloaded to the phone instead of requiring a huge firmware update.
A camera with an app store
Otherwise, the changes between the NEX-5N and the new NEX-5R are fairly evolutionary. The camera has a tiltable touchscreen with tap-to-focus and tap-to-shoot functionality, and can shoot 1080p video at 60 frames per second. It only weighs 7.7 ounces, too, which is perhaps its most compelling advantage over a DSLR.
The NEX-5R will be available in October. It'll come in silver, black, and white (we preferred the silver when we tried out the new camera), and will cost $650 body-only or $750 with an 18-55mm kit lens. We're not sure we're ready to kiss our DSLRs goodbye yet, but Sony's creeping ever closer to that day.