Sony NEX-3 / NEX-5 Review
Ever since Panasonic and Olympus created their Micro Four Thirds mirrorless system, all the talk has been about what the other players in the market will do. Micro Four Thirds has been steadily building its market share, seemingly without response from the three companies that account for over 80% of DSLR sales (Canon, Nikon and Sony), to the extent that 'Micro' risks becoming the generic term for these mirrorless systems ('When will Brand X make a Micro camera?' has become a fairly common thread title on our forums).
The waiting is now over as, following the showing of some mock-ups at PMA and a torrent of teasers and leaks, Sony finally officially announced its NEX system last month. The details are exactly what you'd expect - HD video capable APS-C sensors in small bodies. What might take you by surprise is just how small the bodies are - the NEX-5 in particular being tiny. In fact the cameras are too small to include in-body image stabilization units, as found in Sony's SLRs, and instead use lens-based 'Optical SteadyShot'. These NEX cameras will come under the Alpha brand but do not make use of the Alpha lens mount, instead using the completely new all-electronic E-mount.
Sony has made clear that it is aiming for compact camera users who wish to upgrade (a market it estimates at around 10 million potential buyers), rather than trying to offer a second camera for existing DSLR users. And the NEX models have more in common with compact cameras than DSLRs - including very few buttons and a resolutely unconventional interface.
As part of this interface it offers not only the standard Sony option of showing a small description of each selected option, it also has a full user guide built in to the camera. Relevant sections of this guide are available in each shooting mode to give hints and advice about everything from how to hold the camera to how to achieve an out-of-focus background.
The company told us that it felt its competitors had merely miniaturized, rather than revolutionized, so it's no surprise that the NEXs are more than just the company's SLRs with the mirrors removed. Instead you get a wholly new system with metal-bodied kit lenses (something we didn't expect to see again in a mainstream product), and an accessory port instead of a conventional flash hot shoe.
As with Samsung and Panasonic, Sony's background is electronics (rather than cameras) so the incentive to move away from the optically complex DSLR design to one based more around electronic displays makes sense. Sony's situation is a little different in that it bought the respected Minolta brand and know-how but, despite plenty of new models, it has only been able to make a big impression on the DSLR market in a few selected regions. Consequently, it's understandable that it might want to combine its DSLR knowledge with its electronics expertise to establish some compelling competitive advantage.
Three E-mount lenses are being announced alongside the cameras - an 16mm F2.8 pancake, a standard 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 stabilized kit zoom and a stabilized 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 superzoom. Although the company talks a great deal about shallow depth-of-field, none of the lenses initially offered will offer a great deal of control in that respect. Being based around an APS-C sensor as used in the majority of DSLRs, the NEX cameras are subject to the same 1.5x 'crop factor' as them, so a 16mm lens will give the same field of view as a 24mm lens would on a 35mm film cameras.
Three kits are available: the 'snap' kits which include the 18-55mm zoom, the 'go out with me' kits that feature the 16mm prime lens and the 'go out and snap' kits that include both. And, while we think a 24mm equivalent prime lens will make sense to somebody and are quite able to look beyond the comedy potential of calling a product 'go out with me,' we cannot make any sense of the decision to bundle such a potentially challenging lens with what we're told are point-and-shoot cameras.
The majority of people walking into camera shops will be very badly served if they leave with a camera and nothing but an ultrawide angle lens. And, still more disappointingly, despite its F2.8 maximum aperture, the 16mm lens will not offer much scope for blurring backgrounds, so shouldn't be sold on that basis either.
|NEX-5 with 16mm F2.8 pancake||NEX-5 with 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 OSS|
Sony is also taking the unusual step of offering adapter lenses for the 16mm F2.8 pancake, which attach via a bayonet mount on the front. In a manner familiar from compact cameras, it will be possible to adapt the lens from its usual 24mm equivalent field-of-view using either an ultra-wide adapter to take it to 20mm equivalent, or a fisheye that gives a 16mm equivalent view.
|VCL-ECF1 16mm equiv. fisheye adapter, which attaches to the bayonet mount of the 16mm F2.8 pancake lens.||VCL-ECU1 20mm equiv. ultrawide adapter which attaches to the same bayonet.|
An Alpha mount adapter will be available, giving the ability to use Sony and Minolta SLR lenses. The LA-EA1 adapter has a motor to control the lens aperture, but nothing to drive the autofocus though, following a firmware update, is able to autofocus 14 SSM- and SAM-designated lenses. This allows only single, not continuous, AF and, in common with most attempts to use contrast-detection AF with lenses designed for phase-detection, is a fairly slow process. It does allow the use of some Alpha-mount lenses until Sony can start to provide the impressive-sounding E-mount lens lineup it has set-out.
|LA-EA1 Alpha-mount to E-mount adapter|
Sony proposed E-mount lenses:
• Wide fixed focal length CZ (2011)
• Telephoto zoom (2011)
• Macro (2011)
• Portrait (2011)
• High performance standard zoom G (2012)
• Wide zoom (2012)
• Mid-telephoto (2012)
Jun 7, 2010
Feb 28, 2011
Jun 14, 2010
Jun 4, 2013
|Douaumont Ossuary by Eric 54-BNF|
from Armistice Day
|Silhouette at sunset by Jill Hancock|
from Portrait Lens (around 80mm or equivalent - please check the full rules)
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear ain't fly? You gotta hit us up and read our treat yo' self guide.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.