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
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
Join DPReview editors Rishi Sanyal and Carey Rose on Facebook Live as they share their experience and answer your questions about the new Sony a9, Wednesday at 9:30 AM Pacific time. Click here for additional details and time zones
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
How does the iPhone 7 Plus stack up against the Arri Alexa cinema camera? Watch this short video to find out.
Canon Australia's video series "The Lab" is designed to make photographers experiment and think outside the box. In the latest video a group of photographers create images based on their sense of taste.
The GH5 is expected to get a firmware update this summer to support 400Mbps internal recording. NewsShooter explores what memory cards you'll need to make it work.
Microsoft's new Surface Pro offers Intel's latest processor generation and improved battery life.
Riding a mountain bike downhill is dangerous enough in daylight, but potentially lethal at night. Which is where drones come in.
Rumors abound that Canon (and maybe Nikon) may produce a mirrorless camera based using their existing DSLR mount. Does this guarantee immediate great lens choice or a perpetually second-rate experience? Read more
According to rumors, the next camera from Nest will be able to capture 4K video, though that resolution will be only used for 'virtual' pan and tilt functions.
Boundary's Prima 'fully modular' backpack is expandable to 30L and has a removable camera case and tablet sleeve. Early Kickstarter backers can get one for $189.
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more
The Carl Zeiss Jena BIOTAR 75mm F1.5 Red T lens is very rare and priced accordingly. It can be yours today for the low, low price of $15,000.
The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a drone that does not require any human control for recording tracking shots. Read more
In this terrifying video, Iraqi journalist Ammar Alwaely narrowly misses a sniper's bullet, which takes out his chest-mounted GoPro. Warning: strong language. Watch the video
A new report expects action camera growth to increase about 15% by 2021, with Ultra HD cameras driving demand. Read more
Profiles for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have been released for Irix's ultra-wide 11mm and 15mm primes. Like all profiles, these correct for distortion and vignetting.
An upcoming firmware update from DJI will cripple its drones unless they are 'activated' on the company's website. Live streaming will be turned off and flight radius/altitude will be limited.