NEX completely sacrifices optical quality for size

Started May 12, 2010 | Discussions thread
ForumParentFirstPreviousNextNext unread
Flat view
ljmac
Senior MemberPosts: 2,915
Like?
NEX completely sacrifices optical quality for size
May 12, 2010

In engineering, perhaps the truest saying of all is the that there's no such thing as a free lunch. A great example of that is the ultra short registration distance of NX (2mm shorter than even Micro Four Thirds, despite the larger sensor size), which has allowed Sony to make the slimmest mirrorless cameras on the market. So why isn't Micro 4/3rds' registration distance at least as short or even shorter than NEX? For one very important reason: optical performance.

Take a look at the optics tab of the NEX-5 review on Imaging Resource: at wide angle, only the very centre of the image is sharp. Across most of the frame (especially the corners of course), softness and chromatic aberration are appalling. Interestingly, one of the rationales of the original 4/3rds system was superior optical performance, by doing exactly the opposite of what Sony is doing with NEX: combining a relatively small sensor (by DSLR standards) with a relatively long registration distance (for the size of the sensor). As is borne out by the reviews of Olympus and Panasonic 4/3rds lenses, this has certainly proven to be the case, but the market is more concerned with noise performance (where larger sensors have an advantage) than optical quality it seems.

Micro 4/3rds is to some degree a response by Olympus and Panasonic to what the market wants, by compromising 4/3rds' optical quality to give consumers the other thing they want in a camera: small size. However, Micro 4/3rds only seems to compromise the optics significantly in areas that can fairly easily be corrected in software (although personally I still prefer to have correct optical performance without software correction). NEX, however, is clearly way beyond that.

But Sony is giving the market what they want: a big sensor in the smallest possible camera. Personally, I think this results in an absurdly unbalanced and awkward package when you stick a lens on it: the laws of physics still require an equivalent APS-C lens to be bigger than a 4/3rds lens, even if the former has a slightly shorter registration distance. So will people just look at that tiny NEX camera and buy it? Or will they stick a zoom lens on it then ask the salesman to show them a Micrio 4/3rds camera? Time will tell I guess, but we're talking about the high end of the consumer market here, so I'd like to think the buyers will be more discerning than Sony would like them to be.

ForumParentFirstPreviousNextNext unread
Flat view
Post (hide subjects)Posted by
ForumParentFirstPreviousNextNext unread
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark post MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow