Recommendation for new hobbiest: NEX or DSLR?

Started Jun 4, 2013 | Discussions thread
DtEW
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Re: Recommendation for new hobbiest: NEX or DSLR?
In reply to trax87, Jun 4, 2013

For as much as people gripe about the NEX's controls and menus, it is actually more straightforward than a dSLR and hence easier to comprehend for somebody starting to take photography more seriously.

How?  The NEX is basically just Live-View (i.e. exposure & white balance preview), and perma-DoF preview, which means it's WYSIWYG.  Although a dSLR is capable of doing Live-View and doing a DoF preview, a beginner shooter has to be taught to do this... or else he just resorts to chimping.  Shortening the time between input and feedback (instantaneous WYSIWYG vs. chimping vs. having to choose between OVF/PDAF versus Live-View-really-slow-CDAF) also significantly shortens the understanding of each adjustment, and their interactions with each other.

And then there is the dSLR PDAF/CDAF dichotomy that has to be explained.  The NEX's always-there CDAF allows you to autofocus on whatever is on the screen without being limited to autofocus points, and OSPDAF (if present) merely speeds up the focusing if your subject is within its region of influence.  There is no either/or choice that needs to be made, and hence the photographer is left to focus on the central concepts in photography (aperture/shutter speed/ISO, and maybe even lens performance curves), and less on the steps in-between.

But of course, the NEX is a more limited system (even OSPDAF isn't as quick as PDAF; less flexibility in the controls; missing advanced functions; less lenses and third-party accessories).

[It needs to be noted that some (read: firmware) of these limitations are actually conscious design decisions meant to simplify the camera, as opposed to further complicating the already-derided menu system with more choices that don't amount to increased capability, but would only exist to satisfy the personal whims of people who are bent on making the camera work the way they want to, instead of adapting to it.]

So the problem is that while I think the NEX is easier to learn and can really accelerate the growth of an incoming photographer... it also tends to turn these people into whiners ("why can't the NEX do this?!  Why can't the NEX do that?!  It should be just an easy software tweak!") that don't realize that they might otherwise have ended up like millions of people with Canon Rebels and low-end Nikon dSLRs, wielding it like a P&S on Auto... daunted by its complexities and kludges that originate from its SLR forebearers, afraid/loathe to dig deeper to strive for mastery.

Therefore I'd say the NEX-6 is a good place to start.  If your friend stays a casual shooter (not even a hobbyist), the NEX-6 will meet his needs and go with him to more places than any dSLR. If he becomes a hobbyist and starts exploring the 6, he might progress pretty quickly (probably faster than if he started with a dSLR) and master the 6.  There is also the possibility that he might outgrow/whine about the NEX for the things he can't do (but see dSLRs doing), not realizing the advantages that he had with the 6 that got him so quickly and effortlessly to this point.

Since there is nothing anybody in the world can do to imbue others with a sense of perspective, c'est la vie.

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