JPEG noise profile

The Sony Alpha NEX-5R implements extremely good noise reduction and JPEG processing. In good light, JPEGs look relatively clean up through ISO 800 and are mostly usable up through ISO 3200. Detail degradation starts to become noticeable at about ISO 1600.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 100 JPEG

On its default settings, the images look moderately sharp; I prefer that to oversharpened crunchy.

(1/80 sec, f5.6, AWB, multi meter, ISO 100, 18-55mm lens at 35mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 400 JPEG

ISO 400 JPEGs look as good as ISO 100, which is unusual in this price class.

(1/30 sec, f11, AWB, spot meter, ISO 400, 18-55mm lens at 36mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 800 JPEG

Notice how not only is the focused area crisp and sharp with no color noise, but the out-of-focus areas are smooth without notable grain.

(1/20 sec, f4, AWB, multi meter, ISO 800, 18-55mm lens at 18mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 800 raw vs. JPEG

I was able to improve the sharpness slightly by processing the raw, but the tradeoff is a little bit of color noise. (I did not try to match the white balance.)

(1/30 sec, f8, AWB, multi meter, ISO 800, 18-55mm lens at 18mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 800, no noise reduction

One of the reasons the JPEGs look so good is that the color noise is so fine-grained.

(1/30 sec, f6.3, AWB, multi meter, ISO 800, 18-55mm lens at 18mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 1600 JPEG

There's no blotchiness and there are no hot pixels in the sky, and it's reasonably sharp.

(1/50 sec, f5.6, AWB, spot meter, ISO 1600, 18-55mm lens at 55mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 3200 JPEG

Here you can see the effect of noise reduction, but the areas that don't need it -- around the neon -- look clean.

(1/60 sec, f5.6, AWB, spot meter, ISO 3200, 35mm f1.8 lens)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 6400 JPEG

While you can see a lot of artifacts when looking at this shot at full size, scaled down to about 50 percent or less it looks fine.

(1/30 sec, f3.2, AWB, spot meter, ISO 6400, 35mm f1.8 lens)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Color

While the default settings push the color saturation, there don't seem to be hue shifts, and the contrast bump doesn't look like it clips the shadows.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

App effects

The watercolor (left) and illustration (right) Picture Effects are built into the F3, but Sony only makes them available as part of the (free) Picture Effects+ downloadable app for the 5R. They are nice effects, though.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:
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