Sony NEX-3 / NEX-5 Review
The Sony NEXs are provided with the following software:
- Picture Motion Browser 5.2 (Windows) - An easy to use and fast image and move
cataloging and browsing application with a fairly unique calendar based animated interface.
- Image Data Lightbox SR 2.1 (Windows / Mac) - An image browsing and workflow
application designed for rating and selecting images from a large collection. Provides synchronized
side-by-side comparison of images.
- Image Data Converter SR 3.2 (Windows / Mac) - A further development of the previously
seen Image Data Converter SR, provides advanced RAW conversion capabilities, adjustments
include Creative Style, Sharpness (including overshoot / undershoot tuning), Highlight Color
Distortion reduction and Noise Reduction.
Image Data Converter SR 3.2, the RAW converter that is bundled with the NEX, is, compared to most third party packages, a relatively simple RAW converter that nevertheless offers all the usual conversion parameters and is easy to use. It provides for the fine-tuning of brightness, color, white balance, sharpness, noise reduction and tone-curve and also lets you choose your preferred Creative Style, reduce the effects of vignetting and change the in-camera setting of the D-Range Optimizer. There are no browsing, tagging or catalogue functionalities - these are handled by Picture Motion Browser (PMB), which can open Image Data Converter when needed.
When you install Picture Motion Browser, it asks you to connect your camera and then installs the relevant tools - movie trimming for the NEX-3 and a handful of AVCHD tools for the NEX-5.
|Picture Motion Browser will import and catalogue your images, allowing you to recall them by date, face or location, if you tag the images appropriately.||The movie trim feature allows you to cut your video clips down to the most interesting sections.|
The AVCHD tools that come with the NEX-5 allow you to browse and trim videos but you cannot convert them to other formats. You get the option of creating DVDs of your videos but you first have to 'authenticate' your device with Sony in order to download the DVD-Video Add-on for PMB.
As is normal in our digital SLR reviews we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software, any optional manufacturer RAW conversion software and some third party RAW converter. As is often the case, the only converters available at the time of writing the review are the manufacturer's software and Adobe Camera Raw. Here we compare these two converters to the camera's JPEG engine to see how each of them pulls detail out of the images.
- JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
- IDC - Image Data Converter
- ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 6.1 beta
Place your mouse over the label below the image to see the color from a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart produced using each RAW converter.
Not surprisingly Sony's IDC produces pretty well identical color to the camera JPEGs. Adobe Camera Raw is also very similar, just a little muted in comparison, especially in the reds.
Sharpness and Detail
Here you can see that the supplied software is applying much lower levels of sharpening, by default, than either the camera JPEGs or Adobe Camera Raw. Adobe Camera Raw, in part because of its more subtle response to the browns in this scene, it pulling out much more detail than either the camera or Image Data Converter.
|Sony Image Data Converter ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
|Adobe ACR 6.X RAW ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
|JPEG out of camera, High quality setting (all settings default)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
In this more readily comparable example, it can be seen that the supplied raw converter is extracting similar levels of fine detail to the JPEG engine. Both are showing some degree of pattern in the chart up to about 2500 lph but the camera's JPEG output is much more heavily sharpened, making everything look crisper (though staying impressively free from haloing). ACR treads a path somewhere between the two, in terms of sharpening but manages to extract a fraction more detail from the files than the others.
|JPEG from camera||Sony Image Data Converter (RAW)|
|Adobe Camera RAW (RAW)|
As is usual upon experimenting with Adobe Camera Raw we found that we could recover highlight detail for around 1EV beyond the point at which it would appear to have clipped to white in the JPEGs. However, as you get to the top of this range there's a risk of a second color channel clipping, at which point you can only expect to recover detail but not color accuracy.
|JPEG from Camera
(F6.3, 1/200th seconds)
|Adobe Camera Raw recovery
(F6.3, 1/120th seconds)
These images compare one JPEG that is starting to show signs of clipping to a shot exposed two thirds of a stop brighter, then pulled back in Adobe Camera Raw. The recovered raw shows a similar amount of highlight detail to the JPEG, but we found that on overexposing further, highlight color accuracy started to be lost. So you can use raw to pull back highlights that have been lost by the camera's JPEG processing, but (as usual) you're only likely to gain a stop at best.
Real world advantages
The other advantage to processing from RAW is that you can use the more powerful processing of your computer to apply more sophisticated sharpening and noise reduction. The NEXs both offer pretty good noise reduction but it's fairly simple to get more out of your images by applying different sharpening. Here we've applied a fine radius unsharp mask in Photoshop and got a much more convincing representation of the scene. The amount of sharpening you choose to apply will depend on your output method.
|JPEG from Camera
(default settings - ISO 200)
|Adobe Camera Raw conversion
(Sharpening set to 0, Unsharp Mask in Photoshop - Radius 0.6 pixels, Amount 150)
RAW files for download
Here we provide RAW files, both from the review and the sample shots we take, to allow you to apply your own workflow techniques and see whether your experiences match ours.
Jun 7, 2010
Feb 28, 2011
Jun 14, 2010
Jun 4, 2013
|Hot Air Balloons Over Bagan by User9320321874|
|Yellow Warbler by LeeS|
from A Big Year - birds
|Waiting for the Parade by tcoker1103|
from - La Vida Loca - (Black and White Street Photography+ A Border)
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not known as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you know where to look. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.