It's not a P&S, or my Nex-5 frustration

Started Nov 19, 2012 | Discussions thread
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GaryW
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It's not a P&S, or my Nex-5 frustration
Nov 19, 2012

Ok, I know, the Nex is supposed to be for "P&S upgraders", but if you use the Nex as a P&S, you may not get the best results.  Normally, I can use P mode (or perhaps A or even S depending on the situation) and Auto ISO (switching to high ISO on rare occasion in dim light), and it does OK.  As a P&S, I think it does better than a P&S.  If you don't think so, try using them side-by-side -- we did.

Recently, the family attended a friend's wedding, and the lighting went from poor to worse!  (Just so noone gets confused, there was a hired photographer, and I was not it.   However, it's nice to be able to get some other, additional photos that the couple and their family may appreciate.)  In my photography experience, it seems to me that weddings are just the worst for photography.  The light is low, people moving around, and it's just generally not so good.  I'd been very unhappy with my P&S efforts in past weddings, and even not happy with DSLR results, although perhaps I'm being a bit negative; with one wedding, the bride was very happy to get a disk full of photos even if many of them were a tad blurry, as I only had a smaller-sensor P&S at the time.  They documented people milling about and enjoying time with friends and family, and most would probably look fine printed at 4x6.  Not every photo needs to be a winner.  But, yeah, a larger sensor raises the bar.

After dusk, P&S photos had very dark backgrounds and a lot of blur, and only flash could help.  Results were poor, but better than nothing.  The Nex did much better, and the large sensor really shows its stuff. Eventually, the combination of low light and movement took its toll.  But what surprised me was missed focus in late afternoon light, before it got really dark, and with people who were standing still (not the usual example of kids running around). What happened to the facial recognition?  I got too many photos focused on the bushes behind those I was attempting to photograph, but it was close enough that I couldn't tell at the time in the LCD display.  Was this because I use multi-point AF and not center?  Normally, it knows enough to focus on faces, with the facial recognition, so that shouldn't matter, but now I wonder what I could have done differently.  If I had the time (assuming the subjects are patient) and I picked up on the mis-focus, I could use DMF, which I use on occasion.  I guess I was just surprised in this instance.

Late in the evening, I expected trouble, as the dancing starts.  Low light and now movement!  The Nex has AMB, so I tried that.  It did well in some shots, and others, faces were blurred, and occasionally, legs that were in motion seemed a bit too invisible.  To do it over again, I think I wouldn't use AMB and just go with ISO 6400 and take my chances.

In the meantime, we also brought the DSLR with the 50/1.7.  Well, that's almost like cheating, as I was trying to use the kit lens on the Nex, but I can't say that the DSLR fared much better, as it can't do the high ISO well.  Also, earlier, when light was better, it also misfocused, sometimes choosing the woodsy background rather than people in the foreground.  In other cases, where there were people in front and behind, of course, you're going to get "whatever" particularly with multi-point AF, but then there are photos where it just doesn't seem to be focused on anything!  So, yeah, I think the big-sensor cameras are an upgrade over a small-sensor P&S, but it can still be a challenge, and PDAF is not a cure-all.

So, I think what I've learned is that next time, I'll try center-point focus, avoid AMB, and maybe upgrade to a Nex-5R.  

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Gary W.

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Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 +12 more
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