The Sony a5000: Still a Good Purchase in 2018? My Initial Thoughts

Sony a5000 Camera

I bid for and won a Sony a5000 camera on Ebay to use as a second shooter. What do I think of my purchase? Does this camera even have a place in 2018?

Sony a5000 camera
The Sony a5000 camera. A nice little camera if you keep its limitations in mind.

Well, of course it has a place in 2018. That’s a silly question, but I see a lot of videos on YouTube with a variation of that question as a title. If it takes good pictures, is compatible E/FE Sony lenses, and is easily acquired, it has a place in 2018. Don’t let anyone sell you differently.

I paid a little over $100 for it with a 16-50mm kit lens included. I purchased it so I could have a backup to my a7 and to use as a second shooter. In that role, I think it succeeds admirably. Is it a match for my a7? Not in any known universe, and I’ve been to several… but perhaps I’ve said too much.

With all that said, am I happy with my purchase? Overall I’d say I’m pleased with it, but it’s far from perfect.

The Bad…

First let’s get all the things I don’t like about the a5000 out of the way. I think the build quality is a bit plasticky — is that even a word? — for my taste, especially compared to the magnesium alloy, weather resistant body of my a7. I also think that it’s almost too small. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll accidentally whip it across the room pulling it out of my camera bag, with the tiny 16-50mm kit lens attached to it.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting a9-level performance or quality with this camera, nor should I have.”

The lack of selector dials can also be maddening at times for me. Having to go into the menu to change between Manual and Aperture Priority can be a major pain in the arsebiscuits, and when I’m trying to work quickly, I lose track of how to augment the wheel to switch between shutter-speed, aperture and ISO. The lack of custom buttons, like on the a7, doesn’t help. I really only can set about five or six custom functions between the flywheel, the center button and the ? button. No way — that I can find — to do back button focus also sucks hosewater.

The Good…

However, there’s a lot of good about this camera, too. First off the picture quality is great. Sporting a 20.1MP APS-C sensor, the pictures come out nice and sharp, and honestly the picture quality isn’t that far off of my a7. It uses the same batteries as my a7, so I don’t have to worry about charging two different kinds of batteries, which, speaking of battery life, this is where the a5000 slays my a7. The battery life is significantly better — which is to be expected on a much smaller camera with a smaller sensor size. I am also beyond jazzed that the screen flips up. For someone who wants to start dipping their toes in the world of vlogging, eventually, it’s huge for me to be able to see myself and make sure I’m in focus.

The Awesome…

The number one thing I love about this camera, however, is the lens compatibility. All of my FE and adapted Minolta/Vivitar/Canon/etc. lenses can be used with the a5000. Accounting for the crop factor, this means my telephoto and zoom lenses all give me that much more reach. My 70-300 G lens is now a 459mm lens, even if the combination looks utterly RIDICULOUS and unwieldy. If you want to get into CRAZY focal lengths, for my lunar photography, my Frankenlens combo extends from 1200mm to 1834mm on this camera. If aliens live on the moon, I may just see them personally.

Sony a5000 with the Sony 70-300mm G lens.
The a5000 looks ridiculous with larger lenses such as the 70-200 G/GM or the 70-300 G (pictured)

I definitely wasn’t expecting a9-level performance or quality with this camera, nor should I have. What I was expecting was a capable backup that would also be useful in shooting vlogs and B-roll, and I think that the a5000 met or exceeded all those expectations. I haven’t had a chance to shoot anything I would consider good enough to show here, but once I do I will either amend this article or I will post a separate one.

On the whole, I’m quite happy with my purchase, and if you are need a capable backup or second shooter, or are just starting out and want a decent camera to learn and grow on, you can’t go wrong with the Sony a5000 — or the slightly newer a5100 for that matter.

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