August 18, 2014

New Budget Sony a5100 Mirrorless Camera Brings Professional 50Mbps XAVC S Codec

Sony's track record of introducing small, light, and higher-megapixel mirrorless cameras is pretty solid and consistent at this point. While the a7S is probably the biggest step up in terms of video quality we've seen with these cameras, some other interesting features are making it into lower-end models. Just introduced today, the new APS-C a5100, in addition to uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 HDMI up to 60fps, has added an interesting option for a consumer-level camera: a "broadcast-ready" 50mbps codec.

The a5100 also has improved autofocus in both photo and video mode, and can now do full 1080p 60fps, which is a step up from the a5000 that was limited to 60i. Here are the specs:

  • 24.3MP APS-C Exmor HD CMOS Sensor
  • 3.0" 921.6k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • XAVC S
    1920 x 1080p / 60 fps (50Mbps)
    1920 x 1080p / 30 fps (50Mbps)
    1920 x 1080p / 24 fps (50Mbps)
  • AVCHD
    1920 x 1080p / 60 fps (28Mbps)
    1920 x 1080i / 60 fps (24Mbps)
    1920 x 1080i / 60 fps (17Mbps)
  • AVCHD
    1920 x 1080p / 24 fps (24Mbps)
    1920 x 1080p / 24 fps (17Mbps)
  • MP4
    1440 x 1080 / 30 fps (12Mbps)
  • 30 Minute Clip Limit
  • Fast Hybrid AF & 179 Phase-Detect Points
  • Up to 6 fps Shooting and ISO 25600
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • Manual Focus Peaking and Zebra Function
  • Availability: September
  • Price: $550 Body Only, $700 with 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens

Here's a rip from B&H about the video recording abilities:

Full HD 1080p video recording is supported at 60, 30, and 24 fps in the high-quality 50 Mbps XAVC S codec. Other recording options include the ability to utilize the AVCHD and MP4 codecs, with support for recording up to 1080p60 video at 28 Mbps. Dual video recording is supported, as well, with the ability to select either XAVC S or AVCHD codecs plus a duplicate MP4 file to be recorded at the same time for greater efficiency when sharing videos online. Additionally, using the integrated HDMI type D output, both 1080i60 and 1080p60 uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 video can be recorded to an optional external recorder.

Complementing the video capabilities of the a5100, a built-in stereo microphone is incorporated into the design and records audio in the Linear PCM 2-channel format for XAVC S movies, the AC-3 Dolby Digital format for AVCHD movies, and the MPEG-4 AAC-LC format for web-quality MP4 videos.

Manual focus peaking and a zebra function are also available, to benefit working in manual focus and to assure highlight detail is retained, respectively. A marker setting can be shown on the rear LCD as well, in order to display a center marker, guide frame, aspect marker, safety zone, and other pertinent features for video recording.

Ports on the side of the camera are pretty limited, with no headphone or mic jack, and Sony has removed pretty much all of the buttons except for the ones you see on top, since it's got a touchscreen for control:

Sony a5100 Side Ports

Video quality is unknown at the moment, though for only $500 I don't expect it to be as good as the a7S, especially since it's a middle of the road camera that has twice the megapixels (which means it has to throw out more pixels or scale more for video). It will likely slot in right around the other cameras in the range, with the added benefit of having the solid 50mbps Sony XAVC S codec. It could definitely be an interesting 2nd or 3rd camera that won't break the bank and also gives you stills, but this is a segment of the Sony camera line that is frequently updated slowly but surely, and something better is always coming along. Eventually we'll probably see something with video quality like the a7S in this range, but probably for a little more money.

For more, and to order one, check out the link below.

Link: Sony a5100 -- B&H

Your Comment

40 Comments

Will the Brit version have 25 fps?

August 18, 2014 at 7:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sam

Hello.

Is there any word on wether or not it will support SLog or wether the higher pixel count will necessarily = worse lowlight performance even with the new sensor/processing?

Thanks,
Billy :)

August 18, 2014 at 7:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Billy

I have not seen anything talking about SLog, I'd be surprised if it did.

August 18, 2014 at 8:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Has Sony said what kind of gamma curves this camera shoot at? If it comes with Slog2 I will get it in a minute.

August 18, 2014 at 7:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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AIS

From the Sony official blog:

"Additionally, with the power of the BIONZ X processor, the camera is able to read, process and output data from all of the sensor’s pixels during video recording, ensuring that it produces the highest quality video possible by eliminating aliasing, moiré and false color artifacts."

So I guess this is a full pixel read out sensor....Pretty awesome.

LINK: http://blog.sony.com/press/sony-debuts-ultra-compact-%CE%B15100-intercha...

August 18, 2014 at 8:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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gb

That's interesting, and could mean better quality than the cameras in the range. Still obviously need to see some high-quality sample videos.

August 18, 2014 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Besides being 50Mbps, I'm not sure what makes XAVC S "broadcast-ready." That flavor of the codec only supports 8-bit 4:2:0, which doesn't meet minimum published requirement of 4:2:2 for networks that abide by those rules.

August 18, 2014 at 8:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

Sony makes great cameras today, but their lenses are extremely expensive :(

August 18, 2014 at 8:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Laurel

Compared to what? Yes, they aren't cheap but no 1st party manufacturer for APS-C and bigger really is these days.

August 19, 2014 at 1:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joel Richards

"broadcast ready" for which media infrastructure? Nigeria? lol

August 18, 2014 at 9:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

Not cool, man, not cool at all.

August 19, 2014 at 3:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Peter

Haha!

August 21, 2014 at 4:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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J

I've been really considering the alpha line for video and this camera got me exited. But then I realized it doesn't have a mic port. Sony all I want to do is to be able to plug in a rode videomic and I'm sold.

August 18, 2014 at 9:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Zack

Use external recorder though it's not the best solution.

August 19, 2014 at 3:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Christian

It would be nice if there was a hotshoe to accept the $800 XLR-K1M, rather than recording separate audio, which is not always conducive to a run & gun situation. Of course I'm being nit picky, but if they create a camera that is viable for HQ Video, why remove the hotshoe?

August 21, 2014 at 4:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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J

I just nabbed the BMPCC for $500, so I think I'll survive without this one... ;)

August 18, 2014 at 10:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Bragging much?

August 23, 2014 at 7:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marcus

It's odd that A77 II that has just come out does not have XAVC S.
.
BTW, it's $550 for body only, $699 with the 15/50mm F3.5-5.6 zoom.
.
IMO, for $200 more, Panasonic FZ1000 seems like a better bet.

August 18, 2014 at 11:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

It is time we kill AVCHD, please give us QuickTime h264/ProRes Proxy/422HQ/

August 19, 2014 at 1:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tulio

XAVC-S is NOT a professional codec.

August 19, 2014 at 3:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rob Pinna

Rumors have Nikon coming out with D750, allegedly positioned above 610 but below 810. Exact specs to be revealed later.

August 19, 2014 at 3:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

I don't know why they keep calling it UNCOMPRESSED. 422 is pixel subsempling which is the first step of compression. Let's call it less compressed. Anyway, just give me 10bit

August 19, 2014 at 4:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Giovanni

> " It will likely slot in right around the other cameras in the range "

I'm surprised NoFilmSchool is so lukewarm about what is looking likely to be an *amazing* camera! I'm betting this is going to be the best midrange camera (i.e. any camera under the GH4/A7s price level) released so far!

The A6000 is already well established as one of the very best in its price class, and by all appearances this A5100 will do as good if not even better image quality, but at an even lower price!

August 19, 2014 at 7:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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" Eventually we’ll probably see something with video quality like the a7S in this range, but probably for a little more money." - Probably not. A lot of the quality of the A7S comes from it's sensor, which is full frame. This may be as best as it gets as far as APS-C goes for this line of Sonys...other than adding more features...such as more buttons.

August 19, 2014 at 10:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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David A

It won't be the *best* that we see from Sony's APS-C E mount, it will still get better. Yes, even as good as the A7s! Plus the A7s will eventually sell for the same price as this A5100.;-)

All it takes is time! :-D Give it a few years and the A7s will sell as cheap as the A5100, and/or there will be some amazing new generation of APS-C sensors.

August 20, 2014 at 6:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hello,
Is there any test footage of rolling shutter? The a7s had big issues in that area. Would love to see a comparison test of both cameras sonce they both have the same sensor.

August 19, 2014 at 12:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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In apsc mode the 2 will likely be similar

August 19, 2014 at 12:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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SeAn Drake

Put a speedbooster on this baby.

August 19, 2014 at 3:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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John Ros

I'm just mad that the A7s doesn't have the A6000 AF system. WHY??

August 19, 2014 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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S

Only selling point is 60p while the bmpcc is this cheap.

August 19, 2014 at 5:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mike

Big question for me is "Will the A6000 get a firmware update to support this recording codec also?"

I'm totally sold on this new little A5100. I was debating A6000 or older NEX-6 etc and then Sony goes and drops this guy in the mix with a newer codec and much higher bitrate. Only loss is the EVF and physical buttons. It's a non capacitive screen from memory, so no cell phone like pinch zoom etc, but new type sensor, new type autofocus, less dollars, sold. And a Lens Turbo also ;-)

However, if the A6000 gets the firmware update, then I'd prefer that and I'm stuck with an A5100 lol. Sony historically has done this, like the Action Cam HDR-AS10/15 got the update to 1080p 60fps much later on. The A6000 is crying out for it now, or are Sony angling for a 'video focussed' model in the A5100?

August 19, 2014 at 6:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Richard Jackson

Just make it RAW video already. Or visually lossless codec like ProRes.

August 19, 2014 at 6:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Natt

August 20, 2014 at 11:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Walter

Hello Sony,
I need 50Mps intenal recording on my FS700 now. Upgrade please.

August 20, 2014 at 4:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This particular sensor is already producing extremely high quality video in the Nikon D5300 and Sony A6000. Very close to FS100/C100/300 image quality. But both these cameras don't have the processors to pull a full-sensor readout, this one does, and on top of it compresses the result to a very nice 50mbnps codec. This camera is very promising. I expect a very detailed, sharp image with no trace of aliasing or moire, and very good 3200/6400 ISO performance. These sub 1000$ cameras have really matured and giving 5000-10000$ image quality now.

August 21, 2014 at 12:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ahmed Saadawi

Hope this codec is firmware updated to the RX10 please !

August 22, 2014 at 1:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Leeroy

What no 4k? Even Panasonic has an "action" camera with 50mb/s 4k?

August 22, 2014 at 3:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Wayne Morellini

Thinking about getting one of these for a two year foreign excursion. Want something small and light for photography (leaving the BMPCC at home), but also want something that will be useful afterwards... I'm really waiting for a mid-range f2.8 zoom e-mount. Any news on that? I'm allergic to kit lenses.

August 23, 2014 at 12:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kent

I primarily do film work so the 60fps 1080p looks really nice, along with all the other features. This is a service trip though so I'll be sticking to one lens and keeping it low profile.. That's why I'm curious about the lens

August 23, 2014 at 12:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kent

I've had the camera for about a month now.

First, Sony a5100, X AVC S, Nikkor Non-AI 50mm at f/4:
https://vimeo.com/112420851

Second, Sony a5100, regular AVCHD, Nikkor Non-AI 50mm at f/4:
https://vimeo.com/111977761

Now, with my previous Canon T3i, same Nikkor lens:
https://vimeo.com/111139369

Same Canon camera, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 at 48mm and f/4:
https://vimeo.com/104030508

I have been really happy with the results. I've noticed small details that stand out more (hair, fabric, eyes), a generally sharper image, and less degradation when pushing colors or correcting exposure. My only gripes are that no matter what I do the a5100 heats up after about 20 or so minutes. The first clip is always fine. After 12 minutes I get a yellow overheating icon displayed on the lcd. Then after that it can only shoot clips for about 5mins at a time before it shuts off. Huge bummer.

For the other narrative stuff I do I have been very happy with it otherwise. I will try to film another show once again with it (with the Canon for safety alongside the Sony) but I will only use the AVCHD format. X AVC is wonderful for some of the sketches we're shooting since we don't do long takes.

I knew there'd be downsides to be had. Am I happy with this powerful little camera? Hell yeah I am. I love the stills and it's stupid easy to sneak it into concerts. I love the image it gives me. I purchased it as a b-cam but when possible I use it as my main camera.

November 20, 2014 at 5:06PM, Edited November 20, 5:06PM

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Luis Cardenas
DP, Editor
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