Sony A5000: how does the prototypical Alpha camera hold up?

Sony A5000
(Image credit: Sony)

The Sony A5000 was the pioneering APS-C Alpha camera. Launched way back in January 2014, it's fascinating to see just how far ahead of its time this trailblazing mirrorless camera really was. 

While the original Sony A7 and A7R were unleashed on the world in 2013, it was the release of the Sony A5000 the following year that kickstarted the APS-C tidal wave that Sony has been surfing ever since. 

• Years later, the Sony A6700 is following the Sony A5000's footsteps

Although the A6000, launched the following month, is the product line that continues to dominate the market today, the Sony A5000 was a statement of intent for the crop-sensor Alpha series. 

Marketed as "the world's lightest interchangeable lens camera", the Sony A5000 really was a featherweight at just 269g / 0.59 lbs – and its svelte 110 x 63 x 36mm body really reinforced the advantage that the best mirrorless cameras presented. 

While the sensor is pretty creaky almost a decade later, its 20MP CMOS sensor offered plenty of resolution – and clean shots still look great all this time later. However, aside from the pixel count, it has definitely been left behind, with its ceiling of ISO16000, 3.5fps burst shooting, and 25-point autofocus system.

Another blast from the past is that although it captures FullHD 24p video, it also offers 60i shooting – the "i" standing for "interlaced", which was the poor man's version of progressive scan (which is what the "p" stands for in video frame rates).

Still, the camera has a 180° flipping screen for capturing selfies or video, long before vlogging and content creation became a mass market thing. 

The real drawback of the Sony A5000 – which was as true then as it is now – is that it only has a single control wheel. Yes, wheel – there are no control dials whatsoever, so you need to spin the small mode situated on the back of the body if you want to manipulate exposure values, with button presses to toggle between them.

Obviously that's because the A5000 was aimed at newcomers using auto and semiautomatic modes. Accordingly it has a built-in flash, but it doesn't have a hot shoe – so it's not an accessory-friendly body. 

All in all, while it's clearly a bit of a dinosaur today, the Sony A5000 had some prescient tricks up its sleeve. While I wouldn't necessarily recommend you run out and buy one, it's still a surprisingly capable camera in 2023!

(Image credit: Sony)

The A5000 laid the foundation for the best Sony cameras of today. And if you do decide to pick one up, it will be fully compatible with the best Sony lenses

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.