Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions
mgn2
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Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
Mar 27, 2013

I own: Fujifilm X100, Nikon D40, Nikon D5100, Nikkor 18-55mm VR, Nikkor 35mm 1.8, Nikkor 55-200mm VR

I shoot a mix of subjects - indoor, moving children, portraits, landscape/travel, low-light/night, street, and almost no sports/action/wildlife.

I want to try mirror-less with the main intention of being able to have a high-end setup (only limited by my photography skills) that packs a punch in the smallest package possible and focuses reasonably fast, particularly on moving children and people.

A few more things:

I never shoot RAW, only JPEGS. I don't like post-processing and know very little about it. Maybe in the future.

I typically carry the X100 with me or the SLR with one lens (max 2). No camera bags ever.

I almost never use the 55-200 on the SLR and most commonly use the 35mm 1.8. The 18-55 is ok I think as its slow, but I use it mainly if I want a wider view.

I like the fast response time and focusing on my D40 and D5100 (although they are entry level DSLRs) and sometimes get frustrated with OOF and blurry pictures with the X100, however the keepers from the X100 are on average far more beautiful to my eye than the keepers from the Nikon SLR+35mm.

I was going to buy a good wide angle lens for the D5100, which will cost me approx. $500 (Tokina 12-24mm new or Nikon 12-24mm used). The D5100 is within its return period and I paid $500 for it very recently. So potentially I could just spend the $1000 and stop there.

OR I can buy the NEX-6 or Fujifilm E-X1 with the kit lenses, sell off my Nikon gear (D40+35mm+18-55mm+55-200mm) for about $300 and start acquiring new lenses for the mirror-less system I chose. The intention would be to end up with 1 fast 'normal' prime, 1 wide angle zoom/prime, 1 normal zoom/kit-lens and 1 longer zoom (55mm-200m or so). I would really like the camera with any of those 4 lenses attached to be significantly smaller than my D5100+lens, else I don't see the point of switching systems. The only exception would be with the long zoom, which I really can't avoid being bulky with either camera.

I am torn between the NEX-6 and Fujifilm E-X1 or waiting for the next best thing in mirror-less within the next few months that would address speed and AF issues that I am most concerned about losing vs. the D5100 and getting better bang for my buck.

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Nikon D40 Nikon D5100 Sony Alpha NEX-6
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fquails
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to mgn2, Mar 28, 2013

I've found that I need both DSLR and NEX cameras.  My Nikon DSLRs for fast action requiring fast and accurate AF; my nex 5n or 7 for portability (walk around town, backpacking/hiking, etc.) where fast AF is not needed.

My recommendation, is keep your DSLR and get a NEX as a complement to your DSLR.

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El Matadurr
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to mgn2, Mar 28, 2013

mgn2 wrote:

I own: Fujifilm X100, Nikon D40, Nikon D5100, Nikkor 18-55mm VR, Nikkor 35mm 1.8, Nikkor 55-200mm VR

I shoot a mix of subjects - indoor, moving children, portraits, landscape/travel, low-light/night, street, and almost no sports/action/wildlife.

I want to try mirror-less with the main intention of being able to have a high-end setup (only limited by my photography skills) that packs a punch in the smallest package possible and focuses reasonably fast, particularly on moving children and people.

A few more things:

I never shoot RAW, only JPEGS. I don't like post-processing and know very little about it. Maybe in the future.

I typically carry the X100 with me or the SLR with one lens (max 2). No camera bags ever.

I almost never use the 55-200 on the SLR and most commonly use the 35mm 1.8. The 18-55 is ok I think as its slow, but I use it mainly if I want a wider view.

I like the fast response time and focusing on my D40 and D5100 (although they are entry level DSLRs) and sometimes get frustrated with OOF and blurry pictures with the X100, however the keepers from the X100 are on average far more beautiful to my eye than the keepers from the Nikon SLR+35mm.

I was going to buy a good wide angle lens for the D5100, which will cost me approx. $500 (Tokina 12-24mm new or Nikon 12-24mm used). The D5100 is within its return period and I paid $500 for it very recently. So potentially I could just spend the $1000 and stop there.

OR I can buy the NEX-6 or Fujifilm E-X1 with the kit lenses, sell off my Nikon gear (D40+35mm+18-55mm+55-200mm) for about $300 and start acquiring new lenses for the mirror-less system I chose. The intention would be to end up with 1 fast 'normal' prime, 1 wide angle zoom/prime, 1 normal zoom/kit-lens and 1 longer zoom (55mm-200m or so). I would really like the camera with any of those 4 lenses attached to be significantly smaller than my D5100+lens, else I don't see the point of switching systems. The only exception would be with the long zoom, which I really can't avoid being bulky with either camera.

I am torn between the NEX-6 and Fujifilm E-X1 or waiting for the next best thing in mirror-less within the next few months that would address speed and AF issues that I am most concerned about losing vs. the D5100 and getting better bang for my buck.

Based on your (extremely specific) plethora of restrictions, the NEX-6 is currently the best camera you are looking for. The Fuji E-X1 uses contrast-detect autofocus only. Although fast in good light on stationary things, no CDAF is known to track movement well, especially in low-light. The NEX-6 has a hybrid PDAF/CDAF system that does work a bit better, but when the lights go down your d5100 will still focus a bit faster.

Based on the lenses you eventually want to acquire, they currently exist in e-mount:

  • Wide Angle Zoom: 10-18mm f/4 OSS-great reviews, no magenta cast on NEX-6
  • Normal Zoom: 16-50mm PowerZoom or 18-55mm. Both have obvious compromises, but perform alright for kit lenses (some people have exceptional copies of the 18-55mm that I've seen on here)
  • Fast Normal: 35mm f/1.8 OSS-I personally own this one, and it's great. Pretty much every review will tell you that too. Only issue of note is bokeh fringing at large apertures. It doesn't really distract me all that much, except in worst-case scenarios.
  • Long Zoom: 55-210mm OSS-good zoom, but generally thought of as "kit" in performance. Zackiedawg on here uses one with a teleconverter and gets some awesome birding photographs. 

To my knowledge, every one of these lenses is fully compatible with the NEX-6's hybrid AF.

One note that I can't comment on, DPReview has stated in their NEX-6 review that JPEGs from the camera are a little disappointing. I come from the school of thought that all JPEGs are disappointing from most any camera, period. You may want to try one out at a best buy or (preferably) camera shop where you can take it outside for a bit with your own card to see if its JPEGs suit your taste. There are multiple settings and creative styles for the JPEGs, too, so don't forget to give them a shot.

Finally, the only thing to wait for in NEX-land is the upcoming NEX-7n. Rumored to be announced in a couple months (obviously not available for some time after), it'll be more expensive than the NEX-6.

Hope this helps.

matthewdurrphotography.com

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El Matadurr
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to fquails, Mar 28, 2013

P.S. I'm saying all this as I went from a Nikon DSLR(s) to a NEX-7 (d40 and d300). The compactness and lighter weight is immediately welcome and noticeable. I've never had a sore shoulder/neck from a long day of shooting with the camera bag slung on or the camera around my neck. It's just a feather in comparison.

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wb2trf
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AF now not the issue for children in my experience
In reply to mgn2, Mar 28, 2013

Using 5R with the new firmware in the lens I just shot 500 frames of two fast moving children (2 and 4 yrs old) indoors for a day using the 50mm 1.8 SEL. They played, running around the house, doing whatever they wanted. I shot.  I had no out of focus shots.  I have done the same with the Nex 3 (CD autofocus only) and I would lose 10 shots, on average, to OOF.  Light levels were "indoor medium", brighter than nigh time indoor light, much dimmer than outdoor.  Typically I was shooting at 800-3200 iso and 125-250.  Note that the SEL5018 is the slowest AF of the SEL lineup, I believe.

Also note that in the situation I was in, the touch shutter is great. (Not available on the 6)  The two kids may be close to one another but one may be clearly the "subject" for that shot and no camera can decide which face to pick out.  In one action you touch, to choose the subject, the AF happens and the shot is taken.  It's great.  So, that, I think is what you can expect from that kind of shooting.

To my mind the AF is not the biggest factor distinguishing the Nex from the 5100. The biggest is getting the camera out of your face, shooting children while interacting with them, using the lcd to frame.  I have the electronic viewfinder but generally leave it off when shooting children indoors, my main subject.  Kids move too fast and are too low to the ground for you to hop around, with the viewfinder in your face, crouching all the time. That produces stilted non-spontaneous pictures as a higher percentage than a very mobile camera at arms length when need be.  Also the smaller the camera the more natural the kids are are with you.  AF on Nex for kids is not an issue.  Size and fast "liveview AF" is a big advantage.

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mgn2
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to El Matadurr, Mar 28, 2013

El Matadurr wrote:

P.S. I'm saying all this as I went from a Nikon DSLR(s) to a NEX-7 (d40 and d300). The compactness and lighter weight is immediately welcome and noticeable. I've never had a sore shoulder/neck from a long day of shooting with the camera bag slung on or the camera around my neck. It's just a feather in comparison.

matthewdurrphotography.com

Thanks for your reply. If the next thing coming for NEX is the 7N and its going to be expensive, I agree the NEX-6 may work best for me with the hybrid cdaf/pdaf. In terms of lenses, how does the sony 35mm compare to my Nikon 35mm 1.8 you think? I really like my Nikkor lens. The 10-18mm lens seems very expensive to me, not sure I would ever stomach that price. How is the 16mm or the Sigma 19mm (I know not ultra wide)? The 55-210 is something I would acquire later when I feel the need for it. So my initial outlay might be something like $1700 with the nex-6+kit lens+35mm+16mm or $2000 with the 55-210. With the jpegs, I hear Fuji jpegs are the best. My X100 spits out great jpegs that I am very pleased with. Do you think the NEX-6 can be tweaked to produce similar jpegs? Where could I find settings for that and examples? I wonder if Fuji is going to release a new system with hybrid cdaf/pdaf to rival the nex-6.

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mgn2
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Re: AF now not the issue for children in my experience
In reply to wb2trf, Mar 28, 2013

wb2trf wrote:

Using 5R with the new firmware in the lens I just shot 500 frames of two fast moving children (2 and 4 yrs old) indoors for a day using the 50mm 1.8 SEL. They played, running around the house, doing whatever they wanted. I shot.  I had no out of focus shots.  I have done the same with the Nex 3 (CD autofocus only) and I would lose 10 shots, on average, to OOF.  Light levels were "indoor medium", brighter than nigh time indoor light, much dimmer than outdoor.  Typically I was shooting at 800-3200 iso and 125-250.  Note that the SEL5018 is the slowest AF of the SEL lineup, I believe.

Also note that in the situation I was in, the touch shutter is great. (Not available on the 6)  The two kids may be close to one another but one may be clearly the "subject" for that shot and no camera can decide which face to pick out.  In one action you touch, to choose the subject, the AF happens and the shot is taken.  It's great.  So, that, I think is what you can expect from that kind of shooting.

To my mind the AF is not the biggest factor distinguishing the Nex from the 5100. The biggest is getting the camera out of your face, shooting children while interacting with them, using the lcd to frame.  I have the electronic viewfinder but generally leave it off when shooting children indoors, my main subject.  Kids move too fast and are too low to the ground for you to hop around, with the viewfinder in your face, crouching all the time. That produces stilted non-spontaneous pictures as a higher percentage than a very mobile camera at arms length when need be.  Also the smaller the camera the more natural the kids are are with you.  AF on Nex for kids is not an issue.  Size and fast "liveview AF" is a big advantage.

Thanks for the assurance. I will definitely keep in mind. Do you have any sample pics?

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El Matadurr
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to mgn2, Mar 28, 2013

mgn2 wrote:

El Matadurr wrote:

P.S. I'm saying all this as I went from a Nikon DSLR(s) to a NEX-7 (d40 and d300). The compactness and lighter weight is immediately welcome and noticeable. I've never had a sore shoulder/neck from a long day of shooting with the camera bag slung on or the camera around my neck. It's just a feather in comparison.

matthewdurrphotography.com

Thanks for your reply. If the next thing coming for NEX is the 7N and its going to be expensive, I agree the NEX-6 may work best for me with the hybrid cdaf/pdaf. In terms of lenses, how does the sony 35mm compare to my Nikon 35mm 1.8 you think? I really like my Nikkor lens. The 10-18mm lens seems very expensive to me, not sure I would ever stomach that price. How is the 16mm or the Sigma 19mm (I know not ultra wide)? The 55-210 is something I would acquire later when I feel the need for it. So my initial outlay might be something like $1700 with the nex-6+kit lens+35mm+16mm or $2000 with the 55-210. With the jpegs, I hear Fuji jpegs are the best. My X100 spits out great jpegs that I am very pleased with. Do you think the NEX-6 can be tweaked to produce similar jpegs? Where could I find settings for that and examples? I wonder if Fuji is going to release a new system with hybrid cdaf/pdaf to rival the nex-6.

Check out my review of the 35mm f/1.8 if you haven't already to get a better idea of how it actually performs--I can't speak towards how it may compare to the Nikkor. I agree, the 10-18mm is very expensive, but from what I've seen from Richard NO and a couple others just on here alone, it's a fantastic lens. The 16mm has problems on all the NEX cameras, and is a lens design that wasn't meant to produce high-quality images (I believe it was the first NEX prime when the camera bodies were introduced); instead, it's meant to be pocketable. That said, between f/5.6-11 it seems to do alright, and there is actually a "16mm appreciation" thread on here to put the little guy in a positive light.

The Sigma 19 is a great and cheap lens as well, though not as good optically as the Sigma 30mm f/2.8. Both have telecentric optical designs that give superb performance corner-to-corner.

Your ideas for either kit are sound. If you do get the 16mm and also get the ultra-wide converter, you'll have a good focal range covered (remember to stop that 16mm down pretty hard though, hehe).

Color is extremely subjective, but yes, the majority of reviews/posts I see talk about how Fuji's JPEGs have a certain pleasing look to them. I'd imagine you could get pretty close to that depending on how you tweak the JPEG parameters (creative style, contrast, saturation, sharpness, etc.). Where you could find those settings and specific examples, I don't know.

So far, Fuji's focus hasn't been on operation speed with their mirrorless cameras (they aren't strictly-speaking "clunky" from the times I've played with them), so I doubt they'll introduce a hybrid system anytime soon. If there is a Fuji rumor site, keep an eye on it to pique your curiosity.

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D Cox
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to fquails, Mar 28, 2013

fquails wrote:

I've found that I need both DSLR and NEX cameras.  My Nikon DSLRs for fast action requiring fast and accurate AF; my nex 5n or 7 for portability (walk around town, backpacking/hiking, etc.) where fast AF is not needed.

My recommendation, is keep your DSLR and get a NEX as a complement to your DSLR.

And get a suitable NEX adapter for your Nikon lenses.

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Marla2008
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to D Cox, Mar 28, 2013

Like many of us I'm also a DSLR shooter, and know the Nikon line-up very well.

Reading your needs carefully I think a NEX 6 with SEL35/1.8 is a very good option. Yes you'll lose some AF speed, but you should be able to live with it (not so with the X-E1, it'll drive you crazy). Disclaimer, I've shot all the gear I'm writing about, so while this is only my opinion and may not apply to others, it's also first hand experience.

I don't think the NEX would replace your Nikon gear entirely, at least not in the beginning. But get a 6 with 35/1.8 AND a Nikon adapter. It'll gve you a very good idea of what you can or cannot do with mirrorless. NEX has its weaknesses and limitations, but IQ is NOT one of them. The NEX sensor holds its owns VERY well against any competition, including the much hyped, and truly excellent Fuji X. I did play extensively with the XE-1 and it did not sway me from my NEX gear. Focus Peaking is a revelation and the NEX chip, when you put good glass in front of it, is second to none.

Do yourself a favor a try a 6 (even though I personally have chose the 7 over it, I still think the 6 is a great option for first time mirrorless users).

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GodSpeaks
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to mgn2, Mar 28, 2013

mgn2 wrote:

I want to try mirror-less with the main intention of being able to have a high-end setup (only limited by my photography skills) that packs a punch in the smallest package possible and focuses reasonably fast, particularly on moving children and people.

Stop right there.  AF speed is the achilies heel of mirrorless (except maybe the Nikon 1 series).

For fast moving subjects, DSLRs still rule.

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mgn2
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to GodSpeaks, Mar 28, 2013

I think I am sold on the NEX-6 and will return the D5100. The Fuji is very appealing, but I'd rather have a faster and more responsive system and adjust settings to get the jpegs I want. I will probably play around with the kit lens for a while before making any big lens purchases, but since its inexpensive I might buy an adapter and manual lens and play around with that. Anything that fits the profile in the wide and normal lenses? Canon FD 50mm f1.8 looks good although a bit long. Ideally I want to replicate my D40/D5100 + 35mm combo in a much smaller package (although the Nikon combo is very small, its not quite pocket-able) with the NEX-6.

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lowincash
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to mgn2, Mar 28, 2013

I think you'll be happy with the NEX 6. Even though the newer Fuji cameras have faster AF than before, it still doesn't feel as fast as the slow NEX cameras.

I have a NEX 6 and was about to sell it to get the X-E1. I really like their lenses especially the nice kit 18-55 lens, quite a fast lens for a kit lens. I checked it out at a local camera store and really liked how it feels in the hand. A year or so ago I went to check out the X100 and was put away by the overall slowness of the whole thing. Since the new Fuji has the faster AF I thought I try it out. The store demo had the 18mm f2 lens and AF was just okay, noisy and jittery. However, I think the 18-55 might be faster and quieter but they didn't have one for me to try.

In the end, I ended up keeping the NEX 6, performance is overall faster and more responsive. Plus, since I use a lot of manual lenses, I like the focus peaking on the NEX cameras. I think if the X-E1 had focus peaking it would have made for an even tougher decision. One day if they have some focus assist option then I'll give them a try, really like Fuji.

To cure my itch to spend $$$ I ended up buying a new fisheye lens to satisfy my GAS lol

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Marla2008
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to lowincash, Mar 28, 2013

35mm or around prime ? Very easy.

AF : SEL35/1.8 NO question asked, awesome lens.

MF  PEN F 38/1.8. NO question asked, even better lens, very compact, cute, thin adapter, wickedly sharp wide open, gorgeous character. Peaks very well. Around 200$.

Sigma 30/2.8, not for me (too wide, too slow, very slow AF, not enough DOF control, etc). But it thousands of followers, so it must be some good....

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wb2trf
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Some samples
In reply to mgn2, Mar 28, 2013

OK. Here are some samples. Note that all of these are taken at f1.8 or close to it.  So, extremely shallow dof, which you can see.  These were from my first set with the 5R and the new firmware for the SEL50.  I'm still working on my technique and I'm not always so good.  The one with the tiger you can see that the the focus is an inch off or so re: his eyes because his shoulder is in perfect focus. But, that is not a focus speed question. Focus speed problems are fairly gross.  I think this is my fault, but I'm not so sure it is bad, but probably it could be better.

Some other things.  These are not posed. They just happened while they played.  Note that none are taken from an adult standing height.  I dislike such photos.  They were all taken with the lcd and the camera moving, shot to shot, about as fast as the kids do, at arm's length.  Obviously I was pushing the shutter speed down into a risky zone to keep the ISO down.

The only real points are two: I don't think the AF speed is an issue for this class of subject generally.  I think, and this is fairly personal aesthetic preference, that maximizing camera mobility and minimizing camera intimidation are big factors favoring small cameras and framing with lcd for young children.

http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/4179087231/albums/nex-5r-w-sel5018

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EinsteinsGhost
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Face Recognition
In reply to wb2trf, Mar 28, 2013

wb2trf wrote:

OK. Here are some samples. Note that all of these are taken at f1.8 or close to it.  So, extremely shallow dof, which you can see.  These were from my first set with the 5R and the new firmware for the SEL50.  I'm still working on my technique and I'm not always so good.  The one with the tiger you can see that the the focus is an inch off or so re: his eyes because his shoulder is in perfect focus. But, that is not a focus speed question. Focus speed problems are fairly gross.  I think this is my fault, but I'm not so sure it is bad, but probably it could be better.

Some other things.  These are not posed. They just happened while they played.  Note that none are taken from an adult standing height.  I dislike such photos.  They were all taken with the lcd and the camera moving, shot to shot, about as fast as the kids do, at arm's length.  Obviously I was pushing the shutter speed down into a risky zone to keep the ISO down.

The only real points are two: I don't think the AF speed is an issue for this class of subject generally.  I think, and this is fairly personal aesthetic preference, that maximizing camera mobility and minimizing camera intimidation are big factors favoring small cameras and framing with lcd for young children.

http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/4179087231/albums/nex-5r-w-sel5018

Does 5R have it? And if so, have you tried it (complete with face registration) and using it for tracking?

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wb2trf
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Re: Face Recognition
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, Mar 28, 2013

I have tried face tracking for subject identification.  I wouldn't say that I have systematically pushed all the corners of testing, but my basic observation has been that there are two issues: 1. It is a little slow for fast children. Anything that isn't as fast your subject is hard to use. 2. There are situations in which there are two faces in different focus planes and as you look at the photo you can quickly discern which one will be the real subject and which one will be ancillary or even cropped out.  The camera can't make that decision. The face recognition is supposed to help by allowing you to prioritize people.  I haven't tried that at all, but that is not the problem that I see. The reason why during this 1 second this child is the subject is only because he is holding the toy dinosaur in a cute way, or she is smiling nicely. In the next second it is the other child.  After some fussing my current view is that touch shutter is the best.  It lets what only my brain can do get into the camera faster than anything.  I am just starting all this testing though. I have used the touch shutter only 15% of the time so far because its use isn't ingrained in my brain yet and hands yet.

I also shoot a lot of MF.  It is very hard for me to justify, because I do lose shots to OOF, maybe 15% and that is counting only when I snap the shutter.  I keep trying new lenses, but the truth is the SEL5018 cleared out a lot of them from my bag because it is very very hard to beat.  The Pen F 40mm sometimes is just magical.  Yes, it is sharp, but it has some wonderful quality that is hard to describe, and that sometimes appears, sometimes is elusive.  I just started testing the famous 8-element Super Takumar 1.4.   A very fine lens, but I can't yet say that I must keep it. We'll see.   The Canon FD 3.5 50mm Macro is amazingly sharp, but hard to justify putting it on.  I digress.

What did you think of these shots?

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mgn2
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to Marla2008, Mar 31, 2013

Marla2008 wrote:

35mm or around prime ? Very easy.

AF : SEL35/1.8 NO question asked, awesome lens.

MF  PEN F 38/1.8. NO question asked, even better lens, very compact, cute, thin adapter, wickedly sharp wide open, gorgeous character. Peaks very well. Around 200$.

Sigma 30/2.8, not for me (too wide, too slow, very slow AF, not enough DOF control, etc). But it thousands of followers, so it must be some good....

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If you're tired of starting over, stop giving up.

Bit the bullet and bought the NEX-6 with 16-50mm kit lens today on amazon for 898. Not a bad price, it dropped 100 all of a sudden. D5100 on the way back. Going to get the wasabi charger and batteries, don't want/need a case for now, and will look to get a normal 35mm lens. Perhaps the sony SEL35/1.8 or PEN 38/1.8. Will also try to add a wide-angle after, but so far 16mm of kit lens should do fine. I hear/read the 16mm is not much better than the kit lens at 16mm, although it is available for $150 used and is tiny which is a huge plus. As for the long lens that I intend to use not very often at all, will keep my Nikkor 55-200 and buy a Nikon adaptor to see how that works out. What sort of SD card should I buy to get the most of this camera? Size is going to be 16gb or 32gb.

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svgklingon
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Re: Nikon DSLR -> Mirrorless
In reply to mgn2, Mar 31, 2013

Bit the bullet and bought the NEX-6 with 16-50mm kit lens today on amazon for 898. Not a bad price, it dropped 100 all of a sudden.

Thank you, thank you!!! I bought a Nex6 on Friday from Amazon and it hadn't shipped yet. Saw this post and contacted them right away. They are refunding me $100. That's a nice little Easter Egg for me.

Thank you!!!

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Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Sony Alpha NEX-6
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