Bought a NEX

Started Sep 9, 2013 | Discussions
joe6pack
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Bought a NEX
Sep 9, 2013

NEX-3N was on sale for $329 - over $100 less than my original XZ-1. Too much temptation. Just to see what it is like on the other side...

It is a mixed bag.

The NEX-3N body is near identical in size to my XZ-1. And the included 16-50mm kit lens is really very compact. But while XZ-1 can barely fit in my pants' pocket, the 3N has to wait until winter to be in my jacket. I still haven't get used to carrying the lens cap.

What makes the 3N an all round camera is the video capability. It shots in both AVCHD and MP4. But most importantly, it is free of focus hunting. XZ-1's video is only for emergency!

The first shock is the interface. My last Sony is the DSC-W1. So clearly the interface has changed a lot. What comes as most awkward is the placement of the review/play button. It is at the exact location of XZ-1's power button. I found myself constantly hitting the review button after taking a shot. But there is less chance to turn the camera on by accident than XZ-1. I still have a lot to learn about the NEX system and I definitely have not unlock its potentials.

The lack of physical buttons is also an issue. No more friendly mode-dial. But being able to do manual focus with the lens dial feels great. Especially with the focus peaking feature.

NEX-3N's LCD screen has a resolution of 460K, less than XZ-1's 614K. On top of that, the NEX-3N has a 16:9 LCD which means your practical preview area is even smaller. I prefer my XZ-1's OLED for practical use. But the ability to flip the screen 180 degree for self portrait must not be overlooked. Yes, I am looking at your, XZ-2!

Both have great battery life. No complains here.

But it is becoming clear that the SELP1650 kit lens is no match with the XZ-1's Zuiko lens' sharpness. Bokeh appear to be slightly weaker as well. But the image stabilization feature (OSS) of the kit zoom seems to be better than XZ-1.

For some reasons, the NEX-3N really like ISO 3200. Maybe it prefers fast shutter speed (1/60). Technically speaking, the NEX-3N's APS-C sensor should have 3-4 stops advantage over the XZ-1. But the XZ-1 has an F1.8 lens that beats the F3.5 kit lens with a 2 stops advantage. So the overall advantage of ~2 stops. The gap can be reduced to 1 stop if you compare 3N's jpeg with XZ-1's raw. (Sony did not include RAW processing software, the 1650 kit zoom also needs a lot of lens correction). Of course, you can spend $$$ to get a F1.8 E-mount prime. But you will soon have to deal with a shallow DOF due to the much larger sensor.

It is only after using an interchangeable lens camera that I become more appreciate of what XZ-1 has to offer. The 1/1.7" sensor size is almost perfect - it allows a fast zoom lens that is practically useful. Even with an ND filter to compliment its fast lens for bokeh.

I said it before and I will say it again. For portable still photos, nothing beats an XZ-1 under the sun!

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Ben O Connor
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Re: Bought a NEX
In reply to joe6pack, Sep 9, 2013

joe6pack wrote:

NEX-3N was on sale for $329 - over $100 less than my original XZ-1. Too much temptation. Just to see what it is like on the other side...

It is a mixed bag.

The NEX-3N body is near identical in size to my XZ-1. And the included 16-50mm kit lens is really very compact. But while XZ-1 can barely fit in my pants' pocket, the 3N has to wait until winter to be in my jacket. I still haven't get used to carrying the lens cap.

What makes the 3N an all round camera is the video capability. It shots in both AVCHD and MP4. But most importantly, it is free of focus hunting. XZ-1's video is only for emergency!

The first shock is the interface. My last Sony is the DSC-W1. So clearly the interface has changed a lot. What comes as most awkward is the placement of the review/play button. It is at the exact location of XZ-1's power button. I found myself constantly hitting the review button after taking a shot. But there is less chance to turn the camera on by accident than XZ-1. I still have a lot to learn about the NEX system and I definitely have not unlock its potentials.

I also used to own a DSC-W150 back in 6 years ago. It was my first digicam (second cam, after my film cam since 2000 ) and i thought it was nice, usefull etc. Untiil I use XZ-1. Its menu is more easy and practical to use. And now I just bought E-PM1 , it feels "I am at home!"

The lack of physical buttons is also an issue. No more friendly mode-dial. But being able to do manual focus with the lens dial feels great. Especially with the focus peaking feature.

Lacking of buttons are issue for me too. Only time can solve it.

NEX-3N's LCD screen has a resolution of 460K, less than XZ-1's 614K. On top of that, the NEX-3N has a 16:9 LCD which means your practical preview area is even smaller. I prefer my XZ-1's OLED for practical use. But the ability to flip the screen 180 degree for self portrait must not be overlooked. Yes, I am looking at your, XZ-2!

Well, I think XZ-1´s screen is tricky. Nice but not the best. However Sony´s screen is a small Vravia TV screen It has much better resolution I guess.

Both have great battery life. No complains here.

But it is becoming clear that the SELP1650 kit lens is no match with the XZ-1's Zuiko lens' sharpness. Bokeh appear to be slightly weaker as well. But the image stabilization feature (OSS) of the kit zoom seems to be better than XZ-1.

For some reasons, the NEX-3N really like ISO 3200. Maybe it prefers fast shutter speed (1/60). Technically speaking, the NEX-3N's APS-C sensor should have 3-4 stops advantage over the XZ-1. But the XZ-1 has an F1.8 lens that beats the F3.5 kit lens with a 2 stops advantage. So the overall advantage of ~2 stops. The gap can be reduced to 1 stop if you compare 3N's jpeg with XZ-1's raw. (Sony did not include RAW processing software, the 1650 kit zoom also needs a lot of lens correction). Of course, you can spend $$$ to get a F1.8 E-mount prime. But you will soon have to deal with a shallow DOF due to the much larger sensor.

It is only after using an interchangeable lens camera that I become more appreciate of what XZ-1 has to offer. The 1/1.7" sensor size is almost perfect - it allows a fast zoom lens that is practically useful. Even with an ND filter to compliment its fast lens for bokeh.

I said it before and I will say it again. For portable still photos, nothing beats an XZ-1 under the sun!

Enjoy your purchase Joe. Hope your bought was a drama-free (check my latest updates )  Waiting to see more form you.

Cheers.

Ben

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Timbukto
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My own comparisons
In reply to joe6pack, Sep 12, 2013

I've had the 3N + 16-50 before (sold it).  I currently have a 5R + 18-55 and I ran a few test shots...but again my gut feeling was...this camera is more expensive, heavy, with a louder shutter, and *much* larger size profile...and I'm not 'feeling' it in terms of IQ.  I don't care if DxOMark says about paper measurements on sensors which I *know* the Sony Exmos is top of the class...lets see some real proof of what matters...the *system* with lens + sensor combined!

I will let you pixel peep these original un-altered just ACR converted RAWs and come to your own conclusions and will reply to my own post for what *I* think about the results.

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Timbukto
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My findings
In reply to Timbukto, Sep 12, 2013

Despite the 16MP Exmor with a *significantly* larger 1.5x crop sensor, it is obvious the Sony lens is nowhere near as excellent as its sensor. The DOF for the wide angle should be pretty deep for both camera's and you can see the XZ-1 can do infinity to the grass towards the bottom of the frame sharp. The Sony 18-55 can not do this and it is not explained by thinner DOF...feel free to punch in numbers into a DOF calculator the DOF difference is not huge. On the tele shot (which again the XZ-1 does better again), I punched in numbers into the DOF calculator and the NEX should have approximately 15.5 ft of DOF compared to the XZ-1's 18 feet or so. Not a *huge* difference in DOF, yet again look at the grass and midframe to border performance...the XZ-1 looks sharp and the Sony looks like it has thinner DOF...but this is not *true*...it is only that the Sony can only be sharp in a rather small central zone of the image...the *only* area that the larger, heavier, more expensive and much louder shutter camera can be seen to have an advantage (besides shadow detail). However I can't say I care that the shadow detail on the 16MP Exmor is that much more impressive when so much more of the image is *mushy*.

Look at the tropical plants on the wide angle shot in the back or near infinity elements...the XZ-1 is just doing superbly for what is an underdog camera that is poo poo'd on via DxOMark sensor scores.

Yes buying a shooting a NEX to shoot only their kit lens is pretty pointless, but unfortunately I feel Sony lens standards are still lower than other brands as complaints of border sharpness and uniformity are rather common. They do have some gems in the line-up, but overall I think its rather weak...and carrying premium CSCs like the XZ-1, LX7, or RX100's definitely make a ton of sense if a standard zoom is what you want to shoot!

*ugh*, I re-installed Lightroom and just realized my default export settings have terrible jpeg quality...so the mushy jpegs are smearing the results of the XZ-1, etc...

Anyhow I can re-upload later if anyone is interested.

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Everhandy
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Re: My findings
In reply to Timbukto, Sep 12, 2013

I couldn't agree more that DxoMark scores are not indicative of a camera's real world performance. I do not refer to their tests anymore for making a decision on a camera.

I'll give two examples.

Case study #1: GX-1 vs. E-PL5. I sold my Panny GX-1 and bought an E-PL5 based on the fact that the E-PL5 bested the GX-1 on Dxomark (72 vs. 55 overall score). After reviewing the images from both, including some controlled studio comparison shots, the GX-1 images were at least as good if not better than the E-PL5 with exactly the same lens! In my studio shots, with identical settings, the OOC jpegs from the GX-1 were sharper, cleaner and had better color. I literally had to shell out $250 more to find out I had a lesser camera than I started with. Of course, the E-PL5 has more features but, at the end of the day, the images were no better.  The GX-1 is better built and less than 50% the price of the E-PL5.

Case study#2: XZ-1 vs. S100/S110 (had both). XZ-1 score=34, S100 score=50. Let me say, this is simply incredible. The S100, as good as it is, can't touch the XZ-1 in IQ. Just look at the lenses, side by side in a front view and note the hefty glass in front of the XZ-1 sensor, which is also slightly bigger. I've taken many shots with both cameras and several shots at the same subject at the same time and when you A/B the images, the S100 disappoints. The S100 images look great if you don't compare them side-by-side with the likes of an XZ-1. Canon sure knows how to get nice punchy bright pictures out of their cameras, which a lot of people like. I prefer a nuetral ooc jpeg and the option to brighten it up later in pp. Thanks Canon but, no thanks to your "vision" of what my image should look like. Even noise at base ISO is noticeably greater in the S100 than it is in the XZ-1 yet, the S100 score blows the XZ-1 away on paper. I call BS.

So, on-line authorities like Dpreview, DxoMark, Image-Resource, etc are not to be trusted entirely for judging cameras or basing purchase decisions on. You have to do your own due diligence. Take your own pictures.

I'm entirely open to suggestions but, these are my axioms of photographic equipment as of now:

1. Expensive, full frame DSLR's, with expensive, heavy lenses take the best pictures. Mine are sitting in the closet, collecting dust. How about yours?

2. M43 cameras are a waste of money. They cost more than entry level DSLR's and take worse pictures. The lenses are expensive and slow. My Nikon D60 with the kit 18-55 VR II takes better pictures than any OMD EM5 and is not much more bulky or heavier to carry and has an enjoyable and truly handy optical viewfinder, for a fraction of the price. Have you seen the body only price of the OMD-EM1? WTF?!?!

3. Any EVF-ILC cameras such as NEX, Fuji X, etc. See Axiom #2 above.

4. Premium compacts are the way to go for the best balance of IQ and portability. The Sony RX100 (not the RX100M2) is the finest camera in the world, regardless of IQ, size or price. It's not the best of any one thing, it just puts so many great things together into a small, well built body that it's ridiculous. Kudos to Sony for producing the masterwork that is RX100. I love mine and would not part with it. Just in the first few days of use, I fell in love with it. It really is that good. You literally NEED no other camera, unless you make money taking pictures. Apart from the RX100, I still enjoy my XZ-1 as it makes me feel so good when I'm using it. An F1.8 lens and the 1/1.63" CCD sensor are a dynamite combination and a true benchmark for small sensor compacts. The RX100 is better but, with a bigger, more modern Sony sensor and incredibly sharp Carl Zeiss glass, that's no surprise. Maybe I'll use my XZ-1 less now but, it's still the camera I throw in the glove box on every trip. Even when I have the RX100 out for a shoot, the XZ-1 is not far away from me. My other favorites are the LX7, G15 and S110.

5. Mega-zooms, super-zooms and any bridge camera. Not for me. Any camera that has as much noise at base ISO as my XZ-1 has at 800, is garbage, sorry. I could maybe try an FZ-200 but, it's not cheap and I would feel like a tourist with that camera. In any case, I'm developing an aversion for any camera with an EVF.

6. Fixed Focal Length Premium Compacts such as the X100S, Ricoh GR, Sony RX1, etc. Based on what I have read and heard, they have great IQ and high quality builds. Several drawbacks for me however. 1. Expensive. 2. Not compact. 3. No zoom. I love rangefinder style cameras. That's probably why I love the compacts in general. The Fujifilm X100S seems like a camera I would really love. Haven't had the guts to buy one yet though.

Looks like I got long winded again. Time to take a break.

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Timbukto
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Re: My findings
In reply to Everhandy, Sep 12, 2013

On full-frame camera's I can get by with a moderately expensive Canon 6D + light EF primes that are pretty good for the money.  But yes I still do not find myself using it too much disproportionate to the price, but I do plan on using it plenty for some future in-door baby pictures and house parties, etc.

I think MFT camera's are still nice but have some faults...particularly that both Olympus and Panasonic can be shutter shock type camera's and require the double mechanical shutter release actuation because none of them really do electronic first curtain shutter by default (and man are these leaf shutter type on premium CSCs wonderful in both sound, lack of vibration, and flash x-sync).  This tends to interact in negative ways with the OIS or IBIS mechanisms.  I swear I have 1/4k images where somehow one image has micro blur compared to the other or different regions of softness, etc.  This is what I love about my XZ-1...no more unexplained images of softness.  Having great FPS is nice...but not so nice to *have* to shoot 2x-3x the exposures and spend time afterwards weeding out the 'weaker' shots.  My XZ-1 doesn't shoot crazy FPS, but I find absolutely no differences between exposures except for minor handheld variations of panning and tilt, etc.  No random 'soft' zones or exposures, etc.  No flaky IBIS.  Only the most expensive and most recent MFT camera's have the more reliable IBIS.

Panasonic CDAF is a bit better than Oly CDAF although both are good...jury is out on how good Oly's EM-1 PDAF hybrid CAF tracking works but preliminary accounts only say that its 'ok'.  Unfortunately many APS-C camera's are much better than ok at FPS and CAF at that price range.

Also unfortunate that obviously camera companies will never couple FF sensors with outstanding FPS and AF without huge premiums.  We can see moderately priced FF camera's with poor AF/FPS combinations, or moderately priced APS-C camera's with good AF/FPS...put the two together however and you take away any special traits for their 'flagship' sport cameras.

I agree with your stance with many other camera's but as always you can always find particular strengths for using other cameras.  Having a E-PM2 + a good copy of the 45mm 1.8 is not a bad idea and you still get pretty darn good portability factor even if you have to carry both the E-PM2 + XZ-1 (and they share accessories).  It's good that you like the Sony RX100 lenses...and obviously the RX1 lens is good too...but I have no idea what is going on with most NEX lenses.  Again the most recent DxoMark finding shows the NEX's UWA angle is not as sharp or consistent as the Canon M mount UWA...despite being shot on a 24MP sensor vs 18MP!

DxOMark still has some purposes in some test results if you don't put too much weight on their 'overall' scores or remember that there is sample variation among lenses, etc.  On sensor scores remember that a big part of the scores are based on 'Noise' and the definition of noise is an engineering/mathematical one of standard deviations of average signal, etc.  But remember that the perception of noise is *subjective*.  In engineering terms the signal to noise ratio of any lossy audio compression algorithms is typically extremely poor on paper, but subjectively acceptable because its perceptually encoded.  Like wise some types of noise on images are more acceptable than others.  In addition there is an interplay between noise on an image and sharpness/details from lenses.  If you have a lens giving you mushy details, you tend to focus on noise more.  If you have a tack sharp image full of details, it tends to mask noise.

My Olympus XZ-1 I picked up recently at Fry's for $160 and absolutely love it for the price.  I see Panasonic LX7's are dropping significantly in price recently as well...Sony RX100's have kept their premium and rarely ever get sold second hand either, etc (even the mII announcement only caused a slight rise in resales and none of which were really 'bargains').

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Ben O Connor
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Re: My findings
In reply to Everhandy, Sep 12, 2013

Everhandy wrote:

I couldn't agree more that DxoMark scores are not indicative of a camera's real world performance. I do not refer to their tests anymore for making a decision on a camera.

I'll give two examples.

Case study #1: GX-1 vs. E-PL5. I sold my Panny GX-1 and bought an E-PL5 based on the fact that the E-PL5 bested the GX-1 on Dxomark (72 vs. 55 overall score). After reviewing the images from both, including some controlled studio comparison shots, the GX-1 images were at least as good if not better than the E-PL5 with exactly the same lens! In my studio shots, with identical settings, the OOC jpegs from the GX-1 were sharper, cleaner and had better color. I literally had to shell out $250 more to find out I had a lesser camera than I started with. Of course, the E-PL5 has more features but, at the end of the day, the images were no better. The GX-1 is better built and less than 50% the price of the E-PL5.

Interesting example, sometimes (seriously) some reviews can smell "commercials". Well maybe reviewers fall in love with product (The reviewers are also human beings, they hate /love stuff!) but they should control their enthusiasm and trying to be objective as much possible. Yours is an example of this case.

Case study#2: XZ-1 vs. S100/S110 (had both). XZ-1 score=34, S100 score=50. Let me say, this is simply incredible. The S100, as good as it is, can't touch the XZ-1 in IQ. Just look at the lenses, side by side in a front view and note the hefty glass in front of the XZ-1 sensor, which is also slightly bigger. I've taken many shots with both cameras and several shots at the same subject at the same time and when you A/B the images, the S100 disappoints. The S100 images look great if you don't compare them side-by-side with the likes of an XZ-1. Canon sure knows how to get nice punchy bright pictures out of their cameras, which a lot of people like. I prefer a nuetral ooc jpeg and the option to brighten it up later in pp. Thanks Canon but, no thanks to your "vision" of what my image should look like. Even noise at base ISO is noticeably greater in the S100 than it is in the XZ-1 yet, the S100 score blows the XZ-1 away on paper. I call BS.

TOTALLY AGREED. There can be some cases , where S100 might beat. better video , etc. But there is somethings wrong with S95/100 colors as far as I checked. Their Black is lighter than it can seen on olympus. After used olympus about 3 years, My color scale might move to Oly side.

So, on-line authorities like Dpreview, DxoMark, Image-Resource, etc are not to be trusted entirely for judging cameras or basing purchase decisions on. You have to do your own due diligence. Take your own pictures.

I'm entirely open to suggestions but, these are my axioms of photographic equipment as of now:

1. Expensive, full frame DSLR's, with expensive, heavy lenses take the best pictures. Mine are sitting in the closet, collecting dust. How about yours?

Do you  want to make a donation today, and make someone happy on the other side of the Earth He will pray to you sooo much I promise

2. M43 cameras are a waste of money. They cost more than entry level DSLR's and take worse pictures. The lenses are expensive and slow. My Nikon D60 with the kit 18-55 VR II takes better pictures than any OMD EM5 and is not much more bulky or heavier to carry and has an enjoyable and truly handy optical viewfinder, for a fraction of the price. Have you seen the body only price of the OMD-EM1? WTF?!?!

Well, E-PM1 (not the best MFT no doubt) costed me 99 euros body ony. With my 2,8 30mm sigma 169 ... Its just cheaper than my XZ-1. And DOF is just unbelieveable ! My XZ-1 can not make that much blur at the wide end, but I am in the same boat about E-M1...

3. Any EVF-ILC cameras such as NEX, Fuji X, etc. See Axiom #2 above.

4. Premium compacts are the way to go for the best balance of IQ and portability. The Sony RX100 (not the RX100M2) is the finest camera in the world, regardless of IQ, size or price. It's not the best of any one thing, it just puts so many great things together into a small, well built body that it's ridiculous. Kudos to Sony for producing the masterwork that is RX100. I love mine and would not part with it. Just in the first few days of use, I fell in love with it. It really is that good. You literally NEED no other camera, unless you make money taking pictures. Apart from the RX100, I still enjoy my XZ-1 as it makes me feel so good when I'm using it. An F1.8 lens and the 1/1.63" CCD sensor are a dynamite combination and a true benchmark for small sensor compacts. The RX100 is better but, with a bigger, more modern Sony sensor and incredibly sharp Carl Zeiss glass, that's no surprise. Maybe I'll use my XZ-1 less now but, it's still the camera I throw in the glove box on every trip. Even when I have the RX100 out for a shoot, the XZ-1 is not far away from me. My other favorites are the LX7, G15 and S110.

5. Mega-zooms, super-zooms and any bridge camera. Not for me. Any camera that has as much noise at base ISO as my XZ-1 has at 800, is garbage, sorry. I could maybe try an FZ-200 but, it's not cheap and I would feel like a tourist with that camera. In any case, I'm developing an aversion for any camera with an EVF.

6. Fixed Focal Length Premium Compacts such as the X100S, Ricoh GR, Sony RX1, etc. Based on what I have read and heard, they have great IQ and high quality builds. Several drawbacks for me however. 1. Expensive. 2. Not compact. 3. No zoom. I love rangefinder style cameras. That's probably why I love the compacts in general. The Fujifilm X100S seems like a camera I would really love. Haven't had the guts to buy one yet though.

This I Don´t understand.

Paying over 500+ Euros/dollars/pounds on a cam, that I just cant change its lens. And that lens is also fixed ! I only can understand the Rx1 somehow, coz its size/sensor index. But othervise... There are smaller cams with APSC (nex) with sharper lenses thn fujifilm 100s

Looks like I got long winded again. Time to take a break.

Its good to share ideas...

 Ben O Connor's gear list:Ben O Connor's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Olympus PEN E-PM1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm 1:2.8 Pancake Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 R +6 more
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joe6pack
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Background Blur test
In reply to Timbukto, Sep 22, 2013

XZ-1 at F2.5, from RAW with NR off

NEX-3N with SELP1650 kit zoom

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