Cameras

Sony A5100 review: Your next compact vlogging camera

Small and with a selfie screen!

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My needs for a camera are different. While others opt for all the frills and functionalities that come with a full-on camera and shooting rig, there are other things I tend to prioritize when looking for a camera — like it being in a size that my frail arms can actually carry. (Seriously, how do vloggers carry those heavy cameras with just one arm? 😱)

Sure, I want good photos and videos, but I also really need a camera small enough to fit inside my purse.

My grab-and-go vlogging attitude, in tandem with my tinier body frame and the small shoulder bags I bring when I run around, are all considerations when looking for a shooter I plan to use.

These things considered, the Sony A5100 looked like a good contender for being my next vlogging camera. But, was it?

Look and feel

The Sony A5100 is a pretty compact mirrorless camera — one of the smallest in the market. This thing was pretty easy to bring on my trips and events, even without a dedicated camera bag.

I got to play with the white unit, which made for a good camera look. The matte white finish certainly made it stand out from all the bland black cameras in the market.

It’s really the lens that makes up the bulk of this camera’s size — it’s almost as thick as the camera body. But, it’s the price you pay for having interchangeable lenses.

Up top is the shutter button and a dial that lets you zoom in and out. There’s also a movie record button and another button that makes the flash pop out.

You can find most of the controls on the back of the camera. There are dedicated buttons for “Menu,” “Playback,” and “?” — which gives you basic photography tips at the press of a button.

A series of button pressing and dial turning will navigate you through the camera menu and bring up anything you need the camera to do. It might take a while to get familiar with everything; and for those who like tactile camera controls, it might prove to be annoying.

The three-inch screen has touch capabilities but the best thing about it, though, is this:

Yep, not only is it easier to shoot because of the hinge, you can even go as far as entering selfie mode which is a big help for vlogging or composing timer photos on a tripod. Hooray for flippity screens!

Ready, set, shoot!

The A5100 is a good shooter. Focusing is fast and photos are crisp and bright. That bokeh mode effect is achievable with the stock 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens it came with. Here are a few unedited samples:

I’m definitely a sucker for any camera’s tap to focus capabilities, and this one isn’t an exception. However, I did find that the touchscreen capabilities are limited to this, which is a bummer for menu navigation or even photo and video playback.

Nevertheless, the A5100 was fun to shoot with. It’s light and looks good so I looked great with it. 😉

The big question: Is it a good enough shooter for your Instagram feed?

I sought to answer this question with a mini shoot. I took MJ, our resident IGBFF (that’s Instagram best friend forever, for those who are uninformed), and we did an IG challenge. Armed with this camera, we spent 30 minutes in a random well-lit balcony and the resulting photos are as follow:

Thanks to MJ and some pretty sick foreground action, I now have photos to post on my IG. I only did a little editing with Photoshop and Lightroom mobile (because that’s the only editing I’m capable of 😅) and I’m pretty happy with them.

Vlogging time!

Most cameras I review, I use to vlog. In my experience, the A5100 is definitely a good fit for novice vloggers such as myself. First of all, it’s pretty small so it was easier to bring it around — which meant more footage as I always had my camera on me. Trust me, it’s easy to get lazy to bring shooting gear when they’re big and bulky.

I especially love that this entry-level camera has a dedicated movie mode, which is something you’d think is pretty basic in 2018, but there are still new releases out there that don’t offer this specific mode. This is a pain if you want to be able to compose and adjust your settings before shooting the actual video. Thankfully, the A5100 offers this and different movie modes that range from fully manual to programmed auto.

Here are a few clips I put together featuring the time I had with the camera. No, I did not edit further after I strung them together and added music and transitions. (Also, no, this isn’t a full vlog because there’s no way I’m editing one in time for this review’s publishing date. 😂)

The camera shoots in 1080/60p or 24p which is just a bunch of numbers to me but know this: Video quality was good and focus was pretty quick. Again, I especially love that you can tap to focus, even while you’re shooting video. Even the stock lens the camera comes with has a good wider angle that’ll allow you to comfortably vlog without a Joby pod.

Unfortunately, there’s no audio jack or a hot shoe mount on this camera, so you won’t be able to add on a mic or even lights. It also doesn’t shoot in 4K, which isn’t as bad as it sounds since a lot of people don’t shoot in 4K (including me) anyway.

Is the Sony A5100 your next vlogging camera?

For my needs, the A5100 fared pretty well. It ticked off things that I prioritized: It was handy enough to bring around everywhere, it has a flippity screen, and content quality did not disappoint.

If you’re the type who loves to point and shoot, whether it be photos or videos, but want a capable entry-level camera that will give you more options when you do need it, the Sony A5100 may be for you.

Sure, it may not be able to do all the fancy shmancy stuff pro cameras can do, but it’s an easy camera to learn on. I found it to be one of the most enjoyable vlogging cameras I’ve tried.

The Sony A5100 retails for US$ 550 in the US and PhP 34,999 in the Philippines.

Cameras

GoPro HERO9 Black launched with improvements across the board

5K videos below $500?!

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GoPro has released the latest iteration of its flagship camera. The new GoPro HERO9 Black brings major improvements across the board from bigger resolution to a whole new display upfront. It also brings battery life and performance improvements over its predecessors.

The main highlight of HERO9 Black is its improved camera resolution. This year, GoPro is upping the resolution for photo stills: it can now shoot 20-megapixel images. This is a considerable improvement over its predecessor’s 12-megapixel photo still.

Video performance has been given a boost too. Users can now shoot up to 5K videos on this camera. However, frame rates are limited to 30fps so users should stick to 4K for recording 60fps videos. HyperSmooth 3.0 is here too, bringing in-camera horizon leveling.

This year, GoPro is also bringing back a huge, missing feature from last year’s HERO8: detachable lens cover. The company is introducing a “Max Lens” mod this October to make use of the feature. This mod brings ultra-wide lens and max HyperSmooth technology allowing for a more cinematic effect.

Speaking of mods, users can still select from a variety of choices such as media mod, light mod, and display mod.

Another addition to the GoPro HERO9 Black is an LCD color display on the front. As such, users can now preview images and videos on the fly without resorting to the display on the back.

Meanwhile, the display on the back also gets some nifty upgrades. The company is sticking a bigger 2.27-inch touchscreen display this time around, which is a boost from its predecessor’s 1.95-inch display.

To accommodate all these improvements, HERO9 Black comes with a bigger 1,720mAh removable battery. The company touts 30% more battery life with this when compared against the HERO8.

Pricing and availability

The GoPro HERO9 Black is now available to purchase for US$ 449.99. It can also be had for US$ 349.98 when purchased with a GoPro Plus subscription. Each purchase comes with an included 32GB SD card to get users up to speed.

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Cameras

The Sony Alpha 7C is a compact full-frame camera

World’s first smallest and lightest full-frame camera

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If you’ve been waiting for a full-frame camera that’s easy to carry around then this latest from Sony was made just for you. The Sony Alpha 7C is the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera.

The new camera features a 24.2MP (approx. effective) 35mm full-frame back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processing engine, offering high sensitivity, outstanding resolution, 15-stop6 wide dynamic range and high-speed image data processing.

At 124.0mm x 71.1mm x 59.7mm and weighing just 509g , the Alpha 7C is a similar size and weight to an APS-C camera. Sony achieves this build through upgraded 5-axis in-body stabilization and shutter units, and the utilization of monocoque construction, which is often used in the bodies of cars and aircrafts.

Full-frame image quality, Advanced Autofocus

Standard ISO extends up to 51,200 and is expandable to ISO 50-204,80012 for low-light environment captures with low noise. The Alpha 7C also supports 16-bit processing and 14-bit RAW output13 for natural gradations.

The Sony Alpha 7C is also equipped with Sony’s vaunted autofocus tech. It has the Real-time Eye AF for both humans and animals feature. In addition, “Tracking On + AF-On” is now assignable to a custom key. It can  be activated at once while the AF-ON button is pressed.

It locks onto the intended subject instantly without losing focus, thanks to its 693-point focal-plane phase-detection AF system covering approximately 93% of the image area, with an additional 425 contrast-detection points to ensure reliable focus, even in busy environments.

The Alpha 7C also features continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with AF/AE and it’s also possible to shoot continuously at up to 8 fps17 in live view mode, with minimal viewfinder/monitor display lag for easy, stable framing, even with intense subject motion.

Shoot 4K video

Full-frame full-pixel readout without the need for pixel binning makes it possible to capture
more than twice20 the amount of data required for 4K video (QFHD: 3840 x 2160). It’s then oversampled to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth.

In addition, the Alpha 7C supports HDR (HLG21) and S-Log/S-Gamut profiles, Slow & Quick motion, high-speed full HD recording at 120 fps3 and other advanced video features which offer exceptional video capabilities to capture high quality video footage.

The Alpha 7C features a side-opening vari-angle LCD monitor, making it easy to record selfies, overhead shots, low ground-level shots or whatever the user requires. The Movie button has been placed on the top of the camera making it easier to operate while recording in selfie mode.

A digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface (MI) Shoe, allowing the ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit to be connected to input digital audio signals directly to the MI shoe for cleaner, clearer audio recordings.

New lens perfect for the Sony Alpha 7C

Launching alongside the Alpha 7C are the FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 and the HVL-F28RM.

The new FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 offers the world’s smallest and lightest form factor in a standard zoom lens. From everyday shooting to scenery, portraits and travel, it’s the ideal lens for any type of on-the-go shooting in a wide variety of environments.

The FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 is dust and moisture resistant and accepts a variety of 40.5mm filters.

The HVL-F28RM is a compact flash designed to match Sony’s mirrorless cameras for a compact, manageable system. This compact, easy-to-use flash unit delivers the capabilities and dependability to meet the needs of both professional and advanced amateur content creators.

Pricing and availability

The new Alpha 7C compact full-frame camera will retail for US$ 1799.99 (body only)/ US$ 2,099.99 (with kit lens) and will be available at selected retail shops and online stores from October 2020.

The FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 zoom lens will retail for US$ 499.99  and will be available at selected retail shops and online stores from January 2021.

The HVL-F28RM flash will retail for US$ 249.99 and will be available at selected retail shops and online stores from November 2020.

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Apps

Imaging Edge Webcam lets you use Sony cameras for video calls, live streams

Adapting to the new normal

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If you’ve been working from home, chances are you’ve attended more than your fair share of video calls. If you have a Sony camera, you can elevate the quality of your video with the new Imaging Edge Webcam app.

Considering we’re months into being quarantined already, Sony sure took their time in launching this product. That said, it should still be a welcome addition for anyone who might possibly need it.

It currently only supports Windows 10 64bit so you might have to wait a while if you’re using a Mac. You may download the desktop app here.

The Sony cameras supported are: Alpha 9 II, Alpha 9, Alpha 7R IV, Alpha 7R III, Alpha 7R II, Alpha 7S II, Alpha 7S, Alpha 7 III,
Alpha 7 II, Alpha 6600, Alpha 6400, Alpha 6100, RX100 VII, RX100 VI, RX0 II, RX0, ZV-1.

There are more cameras supported and we’ll update this article once we have the full list.

Quick note for anyone who will use it: The aspect ratio is automatically set to 16:9. It will remain set to 16:9 after using Imaging Edge Webcam, so set it to the previous value if necessary.

SEE ALSO: The Sony A7S III is a low light video beast

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