Sony Alpha 5100 – Travel Camera

posted in: Equipment, Reviews, Travel | 7

Back in spring of 2015 my travel plans slowly began to take shape I realised that I need a better camera if I want to cut movies. After having read through heaps of reviews, I chose the Sony Alpha 5100 which is the perfect match between a lightweight camera which offers stunning image quality.

Wide shots with the kit lense of the Sony A 5100
Wide shots with the kit lense of the Sony A 5100
Sony Alpha 5100 mirrorless camera.
Sony Alpha 5100 mirrorless camera.

Given that there are already a lot of very concise technical reviews I only write some basic information and recommend you some links for further reading. The Sony Alpha 5100
is a mirrorless camera with an interchangeable lens which weighs 283 grams with the included kit lens. This kit lens is 16-50mm and enables you to shoot everything from wide-angle landscape to macro pictures. Admittedly, the Pro’s out there may blame me now for generalising too much, but hey – this camera is definitely built for general customers and having an APS-C sensor it does a quite good job with covering nearly anything. However, the camera is able to film with up to 50 progressive frames at 50 mb per second with the XAVC-S of Sony captures impressive footage. The camera doesn’t come with a viewer to look through but has a LCD display which can be flipped up to take selfies. Furthermore, the battery has 1100 mAh which is charged in the camera itself. The image quality with 24 mp is awesome and captures detailed pictures. What I recognised as very useful feature was the ability to connect the camera by NFC with your smart phone so you can share pictures immediately or even use it as a remote control. In addition, there is a creative style mode which allows you instantly to adjust the temperature, vividness and other things.

For further or more technical information I recommend you the following links:


Test video

My videos

Lush green.
Lush green.

Having used the Sony Alpha 5100 now for more than 6 months while travelling, I am sure that it is a great companion for every traveller who is concerned about saving weight but won’t miss high quality pictures and especially movies. Given that it’s very small and lightweight you easily carry it wherever you go and you don’t miss a shot. The camera can further be upgraded with an applications such as the time lapse app of Sony. I love this feature because I can make time- and hyperlapses without any other software like Lightroom which you would normally use. The LCD screen can be flipped up so you see what you’re filming while you’re in front of the camera. This is of special interest for Vloggers (video bloggers). Even though the Camera is very robust, it happened that the lens broke after my tripod was blown away on the windy mount Eden and fell on the ground. I was therefore glad that the lens is interchangeable and bought the Tamron 18-200mm VC III which has a huge advantage in bird and other animal photography due to the 11-times zoom.

Macro photography with the Tamron 18-200mm lense.
Macro photography with the Tamron 18-200mm lense.

However, nobody’s perfect and so isn’t the Sony Alpha 5100. In my opinion there are 2 major drawbacks. The first issue which drastically limits the quality of the movies is the missing microphone input and flash shoe. Having none of these, it’s impossible to have an input of an external microphone. Although the built-in microphone does quite a good job during good conditions, wind can make whole footage useless. The only opportunity to get better sound quality is to record the audio external and add to the movie during post-production. However, being a backpacker, I don’t carry an additional external microphone with me. The second problem is the non-existence of a viewer, which I didn’t expect to miss. While sunny weather is barely an issue, the camera comes to its limits in night photography. Stars can’t be seen on the LCD screen unless you put the focus correctly. Thus focusing becomes a trial and error game where you have to adjust the focus after taking a picture until it is sharp. This is annoying. Nonetheless I managed to capture some nice night shots with the Sony Alpha 5100 – and a lot of patience.

All in all, after comparing the pros and cons I’m convinced the Sony Alpha 5100 is a reliable travel companion which is a perfect compromise between quality and weight and thus I can warmly recommend it even if there are some disadvantages as shown above.


Night photography is possible - but difficult because the camera lacks a viewfinder.
Night photography is possible – but difficult because the camera lacks a viewfinder.
Sony Alpha 5100.
Sony Alpha 5100.


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7 Responses

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  4. Great Camera

    Wow.. That’s a great camera! Sadly that there’s no microphone input >_<. I always prefer camera that has microphone input even though the built-in already good. Makes us feeling more having a better option.

    Thanks for your sharing about this camera :)

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