New NEX user impressions and 5n mode concerns

Started Oct 18, 2012 | Discussions thread
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New NEX user impressions and 5n mode concerns
Oct 18, 2012

After doing a fair bit of research and reading forums, I jumped on the sale of the 5n+18-55 kit a couple weeks ago.  I've spent a few days shooting and, for the most part, am very impressed with the camera and thought I would share some of my impressions as someone with a decent bit of experience with Pentax DSLRs and Canon compacts (S95):

- I knew the lack of physical controls would be a bit adjustment.  Even my S95 has a lot more controls (mode dial, ring control) than the 5n and I've heard the horrors stories about the Sony menus.  With expectations appropriately set, I actually didn't find the 5n very hard to get comfortable with.  Within a day I had the custom buttons programmed and was familiar with the menus and settings.

- The lack of a viewfinder was not too bad since I'm used to using camera with and without it.  Some part of me still feels it's just wrong to have a manual zoom lens without a VF since that's such a wonderful human-camera interaction but I'll get over it. The LCD is not overly impressive either (I find the S95 crisper and better overall) but being able to tilt it up and down so easily is great.  I used to think I wanted a tilt and swivel type LCD but now I'm convinced that the simple tilt up-down is the way to go.

- The sensor quality is fantastic and the big DR and great high ISO is readily apparent.  I had some great shots at 1600 and even 3200.

- The sweep panorama works great and it a lot of fun.  Auto HDR and twilight shooting are more gimmicky IMO but still have their place.  Hats off to Sony for pioneering these new features which everyone else if now copying.

- The 18-55 lens is meh.  I'm not blown away by sharpness or contrast at any aperture although it's not terrible.  Certainly capable of good shots but I had a little higher hopes after reading so many folks rave about how good it was for a kit lens.  I found it to be average among modern kit lens. Maybe I got a dud copy.

- Focus peaking and DMF focusing are game-changers.  This offsets the mediocre AF performance.

- Not being able to set limits for Auto ISO is an obvious omission and really a bummer.  Maybe I'm just missing how to set it but I've looked pretty hard.

So overall I'm very happy with the 5n and think it's a great value, even at a price above what I paid for it.  Honestly, I'm just waiting for the 16-50 to arrive so I can dump the 18-55.  Even the 18-55 is too bulky for my needs (mostly hiking and climbing) and the small body with big lens doesn't really have nice ergonomics for me.  I realize others may disagree.

I do have one MAJOR gripe, though, which is making me consider returning/selling the camera.  There are no custom modes!  There is only PASM + the other more automatic modes but no custom/user mode.  Even my little s95 has this.  I wouldn't mind this so much if the settings for the other PASM were specific to each mode.  On the 5n, if I change the ISO in A, the ISO changes in all other modes, too.

This is completely baffling to me and I feel I MUST be missing something.  For example, I often use A mode for my landscape shots and T for action.  On my s95 or K-x, in A I want low ISO, single focus, RAW, and single shot drive.  In T, I was JPG, continuous focus, continuous (high speed) drive, and auto ISO (capped at a limit).  On the 5n, I need to change each of these settings individually every time I switch between A and T since changes made it one mode seem to apply to all others.  What would take 1-2 seconds on my s95 or DSLR takes about 30 seconds on the 5n.  This pretty much always translates into missing the shot you wanted to take in T mode.

I hope someone can point out the obvious thing I must be missing.  I am mostly enamored with the 5n and the NEX but this one issue could be a deal-breaker.  Do the 5r, 6, and 7 have this issue, too?

Thanks for you feedback.

Canon PowerShot S95 Pentax K-x
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