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Mirrorless camera Sony A5100 (ILCE-5100L): review and testing 

The arsenal of Sony includes a large number of cameras: from standard compact to full-frame mirror one. Such a variety of forms and solutions allows you to choose any technique to the needs and size of the purse. A special place in the hierarchy is occupied by mirrorless digital camera with interchangeable lenses that are actively developing and already gained recognition not only by fans, but also professionals of digital photography. We have to acquaint you with the solution on the example of top-end camera with sensor (Sony α6000), which left a lot of positive emotions. Today we have its younger item, a model Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L) that is positioned as a more affordable solution. It should be noted that this model was awarded the prestigious award TIPA Awards 2015 as the best compact mirrorless digital entry level camera.

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

New product has inherited a corporate sensor Exmor CMOS with type of APS-C with a resolution of 24.3 megapixel, fast hybrid AF, high functionality and a number of other interesting features. The main differences lie in the simplified case design. All this will be explained in more details. To begin with we suggest to familiarize with the technical specifications of Sony α5100:




α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

Type, class

Digital camera, mirrorless

Light receiving element

Matrix Exmor CMOS type APS-C (23,5 x 15,6 mm); effective number of pixels – 24,3 MP

Picture format


JPEG (DCF version 2.0, Exif verions 2.3, compatibility with MPF Baseline), RAW (format Sony ARW 2.3)



Bayonet joint




6000 x 4000, 4240 x 2832, 3008 x 2000, 6000 x 3376, 4240 x 2400, 3008 x 1688, 8192 х 1856, 3872 х 2160, 12416 х 1856, 5536 х 2160


1920 х 1080, 1440 x 1080, 640 х 480 up to 60 fps

Photosensitivity, ISO


Exposure range, s



1200-zone evaluative dimension

Light meter mode

Multi-segment, Center-weighted, point

Exposure compensation


±3,0 EV (with step 1/3 EV)


±2,0 EV (with step 1/3 EV)


Hybrid autofocus (autofocus with determination of phase/contrast): 179 P (autofocus with determination of phase) / 25 P (autofocus with determination of contrast)


Focal-plane with electronic control and vertical transition

Continuous shooting, fps


6 (in mode high speed continuous shooting)

Picture stabilization

Is not supported (picture stabilization is supported by lens)


Rotary, LCD, 3", resolution 921 600 P, aspect ratio 4:3




Built-in stereo microphone


Built-in, monophonic



Data carrier

 Memory cards Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, SD, SDHC (compatible with UHS-I), SDXC (compatible with UHS-I)


micro-HDMI (Type D), micro-USB




Lithium-ion, interchangeable, Sony NP-FW50 (1020mAh)


Input: 100~240 V AC at 50/60 Hz

Output: 5 V DC 0,5 А


Sony E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS 


109,6 x 62,8 x 35,7 mm


224 g (only case) / 283 g (including battery and data carrier)


Black / Silver/ Brown


12 months

Producer website


Package and delivery 

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

The camera comes in a traditional square box of medium size. It is made of cardboard and quite informative design is characterized by a predominance of orange and white colors. The front side of the package has the logo of the manufacturer, model name, and a large camera image with a complete lens. Here you can see several icons that tell about key features of the new product: a matrix-type Exmor CMOS APS-C with a resolution of 24.3 megapixel, fast hybrid autofocus shooting and focusing one-touch, built-in flash, proprietary processor BIONZ X, support for some communication interfaces (Wi-Fi, NFC, DLNA) and shooting videos in 1080p. Additionally on the side faces you can see the list supplied, supported accessories and technologies.

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

Supplied set of Sony α5100 contains everything you need to complete the work with the camera:

  • documentation;
  • warranty certificate;
  • lens Sony E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS;
  • power supply Sony AC-UB10C (2,5 W 5 V at 0.5 A) with power cord;
  • cable micro-USB↔USB;
  • battery Sony NP-FW50;
  • strap.

Traditionally, there is an additional number of accessories that can be purchased separately. The full list is available on the manufacturer's website.

Design and elements layout 

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

Sony α5100 (ILCE-A5100 or A5100) is made in the corporate style, which has remained well-recognized since the days of a single lineup of Sony NEX (now all the cameras with interchangeable lenses are combined into one lineup of Sony Alpha). We have a compromise between the miniature and bulky mirrorless cameras. If we compare the new product to its predecessor (Sony α5000), there is a similarity in the arrangement of functional elements and mass-dimensional parameters, but there are some visual improvements.

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

The device has a handle with a stylized skin (instead of perforated material), and the case was textured (instead of a smooth plastic). This not only improves the appearance of the camera, but also alludes to its kinship with the older model Sony α6000. In addition, the material is absolutely easily soiled, but not the lens. The chassis of the camera is made of polycarbonate, which has a positive effect on its weight (399 g together with a complete lens and battery). Due to modest dimensions (109,6 x 62,8 x 35,7 mm), the camera will not take much space in your bag, and easily able to accommodate a wide pockets. New product is available in three colors: black, silver and brown.

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

The front panel has: bayonet (Sony E-mount) lens with release button, AF lamp illumination, as well as a series of logos of device and manufacturer. Nearby there is a considerable handle, which provides secure grip and a pleasant tactile sensation, but somewhat lacking deepening under the middle finger. IR receiver for the remote control is absent. 

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

Most of the back side has the folding screen. To the right side there is the main amount of functional elements. The most important of them is four-way drive selector with input button in the center. In addition, there are three keys: the menu, switch to playback mode and the call reference that initiates the removal of the footage. Central and reference key can be reprogrammed by the common shooting functions. It is a pity that there was no place to call the quick menu button (Fn). It would greatly simplify the life of the user during the search an item. At the top right is quite convenient platform under the thumb. The absence of the electronic viewfinder is a feature of the junior mirrorless cameras.

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

The face side Sony α5100 has eye strap. To the left (under the big split folding cover) you can the interface connectors micro-HDMI and micro-USB. Moreover, there is also a memory card slot, which is next to the battery and complicates the process of replacing. On the right side has a pad for NFC, which hides the antenna. 

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

The upper end contains a minimum of elements: flip the flash release button (a long move), stereo microphones and an inscription «α5100», informing the camera model. As you can see, the "hot shoe" is not available, so the external flash cannot be installed. Toward the end of the handle there is the shutter key, belted with ring control and zoom on/off. Dials are available. On the border of the back and the top face you can find video activation key (nearly drowned) with characteristic red spots in the center.

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

On the bottom there are the usual elements: battery compartment (covered with a lid with a spring bolt); the memory indication (flashing red); speaker system and thread for tripod mount, which is located on the optical axis, and a sticker with the service information.

Build quality of Sony α5100 is at a very high level. Under moderate attempts to pressure or torsion body is not pressed. Key elements are fit perfectly, without any gaps. The case doesn’t have water or dust protection.

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

The ergonomics of the device is good enough. While you can adjust all the necessary parameters. Experienced users may lack the mode dial and a few functional elements that would greatly accelerated the process of shooting with full manual control options.

In general, the camera will fully satisfy enthusiasts. Thanks to the comfortable handle the grip is comfortable enough for most users. Some discomfort may occur only for people with large hands or fingers because of the relatively short distance between the lens and the handle. In any case, it is quite comfortably to operate the camera with both hands. Even you can use one hand, since the controls are grouped in one location. The keys are on the level with the body, and have a clear move that prevents unwanted tripping. Special attention is given to zoom control ring that adds convenience when using lenses with motorized drive.

As you can see, the camera Sony α5100 has modern and quite stylish appearance. It received a very modest size and weight, making it a great solution for everyday use. The quality and performance of the materials are at a high level.

Display and viewfinder 

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

Camera Sony α5100 is equipped with 3-inch LCD screen with an aspect ratio of 4:3 (commonly used ratio of 3:2, so when shooting at the maximum resolution at the edges have black bars). Its resolution is 921 600 pixels (i.e. 640 x 480 pixels). The screen is characterized by relatively high detail with nice color reproduction and sufficient contrast. The level of brightness is pretty good. It allows you to review the information, even on a bright sunny day (a special mode), although the image and visibly fade. The screen has wide viewing angles without any significant deviations.

Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)Sony α5100 (ILCE-5100L)

The display unit is equipped with a folding design, but only in the vertical plane (up to 180°) that allows you to conveniently use it from the lower position or self-portraits. The developers have taken care of the possibility of touch control, which provides a variety of shooting or the focus point with one touch. Also we would like to navigate the unit through the menus or paging or zooming gestures. This is especially true for the model, given the lack of quick settings menu and the mode dial.

The viewfinder and an accessory are absent due to lack of a universal connector (Multi Interface Shoe) support for function "hot shoe" which is the privilege of the older model.

Interface and setting capabilities

Camera Sony α5100 has a unified interface, inherent in other models of the manufacturer. This solution facilitates the transition from one device to another, without the need of additional adaptation. As before, we have a plain and visually pleasing interface with black and pale red hues in the design. The main menu settings are represented as a matrix of icons (6 pieces). It is filled with lots of features and capabilities that may cause some difficulties in finding the right settings, especially considering the lack of quick settings menu and command dials. So you have to scroll the menu for a long time in search of the necessary functions, which in some cases may even have additional submenus. However, after several days of active work with the device almost trouble disappear.

It should be noted that the model Sony ILCE-5100L is optimized for one-handed operation, and you can quickly control the basic parameters of the shooting. So, using the four-disc-selector by default you can quickly get access to the value of ISO, exposure compensation, drive mode, continuous shooting and bracketing. Pressing the center key you can access to shooting mode. In addition, there is the possibility of reprogramming the five keys to the needs of the user (click "Settings user keys") that allows them to make frequently used settings and thus greatly accelerate the process of shooting.

The user can use four types of the main screen (by pressing the switch «DISP» on the disk selectors). The screen displays all the basic and advanced options. In the mode «Live View» you can display the grid, histogram, shutter, speed dial and aperture, as well as activate the "Zebra", where are colored overexposed area that allows you to conveniently monitor the level of exposure. But the horizon is not available.

Traditionally, there is service Playmemories, which is a store of applications that helps to extend the functionality of the camera using specially designed software. The choice is wide and constantly updated from all sorts of functions and effects to manual image correction.

It should be noted that the camera and the lens were tested with firmware versions 1.0 and 0.1, respectively. To update the software you need to download the relevant files from the official site Sony and follow the instructions described in detail.

In general, the camera interface works quickly and smoothly without any delay.

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