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Friday, 12 April 2013

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So you're saying we should all get the Nex6/Zeiss 24, right?

Patrick

[I'm saying what I said, Patrick. As always, please don't put words in my mouth, there are enough of them in there already. --Mike]

You're right about the NEX6 vs. the NEX7 via price, I have a buddy with the 7, and the additional megapixels make the output outstanding, BUT, the 6 has the standard hot shoe and the 7 has that weird Sony/Minolta one...that alone makes a huge difference to people that shoot pro strobe and have to use either a PC to hot shoe adapter, or a Microsync that goes right on the top. Stacking a PC to hot shoe adapter on top of a Sony to normal hot shoe adapter, and then all of that into a hot shoe is just a whole mess.

... and the fact that the NEX-6 gives off a sort of stalwart, utilitarian vibe—it's unspecial; it doesn't impart any bragging rights. It's just a good solid workhorse little mirrorless camera, good in all ways, horrible in none, but at the same time not the bestest or the mostest in any way I can identify. It like that about it. ...

Sounds great to me.

Yeah, you're right.

Ah, this camera is so close to being great. But it irritates me that I can't assign a button to manually toggle between the EVF and LCD rather than rely on the proximity sensor (the GH3, for example, allows this). Another thing - no way to set the upper auto ISO limit, nor a minimum shutter speed.

On the other hand, the auto correction of fringing and chromatic aberrations is incredibly well done, and works for either RAW or JPEG. These are about the cleanest images I've seen come out of any digital camera. Sony's color science seems to have improved lately, too. I look forward to seeing what the NEX 7 successor brings.

I think you need more time with a Fuji X-Pro1, especially with regards to your comments about viewfinders. Just sayin....

About $2,000 for the pair? I don't know about that.
However, the best thing the NEX has over the mFT is the availability of "Metabones Speed Booster adapter". With this adapter, Focus Peaking and older fast Nikon/Contax/Canon fast primes... very small-interchangeable-lens-full-frame camera!!

This has been a nice series on the NEX6. Thank you. I own it and the E-M5. My only niggle with the NEX is that I have to take it away from my eye and look at the back to make EV adjustments and then I have to confirm my adjustment before I get taken back to where I can see the effect my adjustments made on the histogram. With the E-M5, the right finger on the rightmost top dial changes EV and the histogram can be seen changing simultaneously, all without taking your eye away from the EVF.

All that said, I love both systems.

Whichever system comes out first with a moderately fast mid-range zoom will get my next lens dollars. (I'm talking about something like a 24-100 equivalent with F2.8-F4)

Welcome to the camera company of the future. Now you need to try your hand at the a99. MMMM. Nice.

Of interest to me is your comment on the image quality we enjoy today. I've been thinking along the same lines. I remember paging through the a slick photo magazine, I think it was "View Camera" and being amazed at the other-worldly sharpness, color and detail that could be achieved by these 11"X14" viewfinder cameras with expensive lenses attached. Most of the photos were commercial and product types.

As a student, the best I could manage was a Yashica 2"x 2" and Kodak Ecktachrome with a sturdy tripod. Yet I never approached the detail, sharpness, and color I saw in those prints. Today the digital pictures I see are very close to the 11"X14" view camera images of yesterday. I'd say that a decent DSLR or Mirrorless camera today is capable of producing images as good, or even better than film-era 4"X 5" view camera photos.

Thanks for the review and conclusion II, Mike.
This Nex6 and Zeiss 24/1.8 combo really looks fantastic. Your last point in the conclusion made me think ("...although some people will still want a more compact lens."). As a happy owner of a Fuji X100 (23mm F:2 lens), I have a question about optics that I hope someone can answer. Why is this lens so big ? I mean compared to the X100's lens. After all both cameras have the same size sensor and focal lengths and apertures are very similar (24/1.8 is a 13.3mm aperture and 23/2.0 is 11.5mm aperture, not that much different) . Thanks.
Oh, and Mike, I really liked this: "so many cameras are just so good that good cameras are good enough".

I have the NEX 6 and have come to the same conclusion. It is a "competent" camera, not suited for action but otherwise the image quality and mechanics will support most ideas a user will try.

"But, for the most part, frankly, I'm getting over the rabid comparo-fest we all engorged ourselves with for ten years or more. I don't worry about sharpening routines any more; who looks at digital pictures and thinks they're not sharp enough?"

Right on

How do you even buy a camera that looks bad anymore? This poses a challenge for the camera marketing folks but it sure is nice for the rest of us.

One of the reasons I hold off on buying a digital camera is from what I see in your example photograph. Was that car really pink? Because on two monitors and different browsers, it looks more like a shade of orange. I did a Google image search for pink cars, and all of the cars looked pink, light to dark. Of course none of them were at sunset, though.

Once upon a time, I read a comparison of slide film and a couple of different digital cameras. Each image showed the colors a bit differently. This left me wondering, how do I know that the colors are ever right? So I still use film, because then I know where the colors are.

[I think it's my fault that it looks a little too orange. Trying to get it look right a) small and b) through the TypePad interface...is sometimes just guesswork. It was definitely a pink car, though--very unusual color for a car, with the exception of old Mary Kay Caddies. Sorry if I didn't get the color right through the ethers. --Mike]

"The EVF on a mirrorless camera—every mirrorless I'm familiar with, anyway—is a workaround for those inevitable occasions when the viewing screen becomes inadequate."

I'd be curious if that's typical for folks who didn't cut their teeth on cameras that had no viewfinder -- only a view screen (you're not one of them, obviously). My Micro 4/3 camera has both, and I use the viewfinder almost exclusively. I rely on the articulated view screen only when I'm photographing from an angle/position where I can't easily get my eye to the viewfinder. To me the camera seems more stable when held up to the eye rather than held out far enough in front of you that you can focus on the screen. Or maybe it's just years of using viewfinders on film cameras that make me prefer having the camera up to my face.

The electronic viewfinders obviously have disadvantages compared to optical ones (limited resolution, refresh issues in low light, time delay that makes following action tricky, limited dynamic range that makes it hard to see what's in the shadows). However you get to see the actual results of the white balance you've selected before you take the shot, get a real-time histogram to let you know if your exposure is on the money, and can see a quick review of the shot you've just taken without taking your eye away. In some situations, that makes the EVF superior.

Mike -

I don’t know if you have any of the old auxiliary bright line viewfinders that used to fit into the “hot shoes” of rangefinder film cameras. They’re a pretty good way to frame a subject when the viewing screens and electronic finders are not getting along well with the photographer. You feel a little bit silly using them with a camera with a zoom lens and matching them with a fixed focal length isn’t always perfect, but they sure do the job at times. I probably use them more with little digitals than I did with my old film rangefinders.

Bill

"So you're saying we should all get the Nex6/Zeiss 24, right?

Patrick

[I'm saying what I said, Patrick. As always, please don't put words in my mouth, there are enough of them in there already. --Mike]
"

Uh oh, I can't tell if you could tell that I was being silly and/or facetious. I was.

Patrick

Excellent observations on the NEX-6, but you were correct in doing it with a good lens ... the lens often makes the camera. I only have the Power 16 - 50mm lens and am waiting for a good affordable lens for the camera. If they don't come out with some good ones I'm afraid that I won't be keeping the camera.

If you like spontaneous photography, in the last two or three years the equipment isn't what will hold you back. The Sony 16MP chip or its bretheren are inside most every excellent APS-C camera out there giving output that is pretty much excellently equal whether you're using a Nikon DSLR, a Pentax DSLR, the NEX series, the Leica X2, and the Oly OM-D. Give or take all of these will give you good response in low light, very nice dynamic range, and all of these makers know how to put out a nice, linear response. So the question is really how big a box you want to hold and whether that box lets you do what you want to do quickly and easily.

Lots of photographers (like me) using only one or two focal lengths, and for us a mirrorless is perfect. The CDAF speed for most everyone has gone up to good enough for pretty much everything except long-lens sports use. So ease of real use, tactile response, and nice controls are the key to using one of these. I think Sony really did a great job on the NEX-7 (I've never held the NEX-6) as it just lets me take a photo and gets out of the way. In the same vein, but for the price, if you like a classic 35mm length, the X2 has a great combination of just enough controls and lens-sensor image quality. If you like 28mm length, the new Nikon Coolpix A is getting some great reviews. These days it's hard to go wrong. So if you ain't getting a good shot, it's all on you.

Mike:

Your mention of the clinical, too-perfect nature of digital images struck a chord with me. The way I think about it, that perfection is due to a uniformity of information that is not known in nature. This unnaturalness in digital images is the main reason that I have returned to film for my personal work. To me, all that image quality does not make up for the loss of the image character that is present in silver-based images. Different strokes, I know . . .

Mike, I'm glad and not at all surprised that you found the NEX6 and the Zeiss wound up being your mirrorless favorite combo so far.
I've been extremely pleased with my NEX7 for the last year now. I'm very curious about the coming NEX7N---and normally incremental iterations like this don't interest me much at all.

Now, on another matter: Tee-totally LOVE that pink car shot! will it be for sale?

Any chance you can get hold of the Fuji XE-1? Think it totally outclasses the NEX 6 even with the sleeper 18-55 Fujinon zoom. Not sure Sony marketing wonks are in touch with consumers when flogging uber-pricey Zeiss glass for the NEX line. Sony "got" MILCS in 2010. Not so sure now.

About the lack of character with digital. I use heavily subdued VSCO presets in Lightroom to try to impart some impression of film, but I always feel like a fraud doing it. Why do I instinctively reject what comes out of the camera? Is it because I knew photography first as a chemical process? I suppose Instagram, Hipstamatic and other forms of fauxtography are largely responses to digital fatigue. It makes me wonder what kind of value digital photography has as art, or can ever have.

"I also had a blast with it. It's just fun to use. Makes you want to go out and take pictures. Begs to be used."

That's the first and final word on any camera today, isn't it Mike? As you note, all cameras today are easily good enough for (and usually exceed) nearly all avocational aspirations and capabilities. I think that one of the main factors that's made Pentax cameras so popular for so many years is that they seem to have found a formula for making cameras that make you want to take pictures. (I've never used one so I can only speculate.)

I completely agree with you regarding NEX cameras begging to be used. Mine do. I would also say that the Fujifilm X cameras (X100, X-E1 and it's chunky buddy the X-Pro1) also affect many users in just such a manner.

Such gadgets cannot, and do not, make us better photographers, per se. They just nag us to practice more.

Mike,

Did you know at once that the pink car would make a good picture in the gloaming, when you parked your Rav4 in front of it?

I've been trying to get a photo as nice as this. Subject isolation by color and light in ambient darkness with a large DOF. But I get blocked shadows OOC most of the time. Maybe it's my camera :).

I have been using m43 cameras for the last 3 years, GF1, EPL1 and GH2, recently i had a GH3 for the whole day. I love the concept of m43 and find myself ok with most of its charachteristics, but surely the EVF is their biggest limit today. Well, AFC is, too. This is why i started looking into NEX when Sony started implementing hybrid AF engines to fasten AF acquisition and following. But, reading between Mike's lines, i understand that we are not still there, when you want to find in mirrorless cams the immediacy and fast action capability of a DSLR.

Regarding the comment about the colour of the car, a small group of us online photographers came to the conclusion a few years ago that the biggest advantage of a Canon camera over its (Sony-sensored) Nikon counterpart was in its ability to deliver a true red. Nikons tended to render reds and pinks with orange tones. I've not played enough recently to find whether the latest Nikons continue the trend. But it's certainly true of my NEX 5N.

Mike,
speaking of dynamic range, what do you think about the GX1 (so that I have a comparison)? I kinda like the tones of bw-conversions, but I find highlights to be ugly when they blow out. The OMD is much better in that regard.

I have switched completely over to EVF cameras, 95% of the time they work as well or better than OVF finders in comparable cameras. This was brought into sharp relief when I had to use my sisters' cameras. The 350D viewfinder is a dimly lit tunnel and the K-7 viewfinder, though a bit better, was still very dark indoors (restaurant) and I could hardly frame the scene. In comparison I have little trouble shooting the NEX-7 in similar conditions where the EVF brightens up the scene to the level as it would record it.

You may have already known this tip but to reduce the contrast of the EVF, switch to Portrait style and crank the contrast to its minimum. It doesn't affect the basic RAW file but does give a viewfinder image with greater dynamic range.

As for the Minolta iISO hotshoe, it's still mechanically superior to the old ISO hotshoe or whatever kludges have been invented to keep flashes from falling off them. I use a UKP5 iISO to ISO adapter, with PC port as well, to mount radio triggers. The adapter is small and cheap, hardly a great disadvantage for using "standard" hotshoe equipment on iISO equipped cameras.

When I use the adapter to mount standard ISO hotshoe equipment, it's such a contrast between sliding on and automatically locking the iISO part on compared to trying to either force on the ISO hotshoe if it's tight, or worse if it is loose and doesn't mate securely. You never really trust the connection, I've had multiply times where the ISO shoe was just a bit out of alignment and it fails to trigger. No such problems with the iISO hotshoe with its positive and automatic locking mechanism which can mounted and unmounted securely in a second using one hand.

Enough of sounding like a broken record whenever the much maligned iISO hotshoe gets mentioned. Glad you liked the NEX-6, I'm hoping its features like on-sensor PDAF makes it onto the NEX-7 replacement soon.

Nope, won't sell my OM-D :-).....sorry, Mike. And yes, it's interface sucks a bit (I like that once in a while) and yes, I had to apply some superglue to stop the rubber departing from the HDL-6 grip (happend also with my old F5, maybe my hands have unwanted magical powers :-)), I don't care....I won't sell my OM-D.

Greets, Ed.

Talking of the wide range of cameras and accessories available in the m43 format, what do you think of this new announcement:

http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera/

Andrew John, fixed lenses have quite an advantage, in terms of lens size, over interchangeable lenses, because you can build unique designs like the X100 and RX1, which have unusually large rear elements right up against the sensor.

@Peter F,

Why can't you just keep the camera up to your eye and hit the EV compensation button on the four-way controller to the right of the rear screen? The EV scale pops up in the VF and the four-way controller acts as a dial or up/down buttons that you use to adjust. You have an option of turning on live histogram in the VF so you can see the adjustment when done.

Most EV adjustment hasn't been really necessary with this camera, but I use the same process for ISO and it works well.

GH, thanks for your explanation. I'm still puzzled though, the Nex6 being mirror-less, the lenses don't need to be retrofocus designs as in SLR's. I'll look further into it being part of those "people wanting a more compact lens" as Mike said. Or maybe save up for an RX1!

Eduardo Cervantes,

Many of us actually prefer the more direct tilt up LCD of the NEX series to the fully articulated LCDs that swing out to the side, because you can shoot the camera at waist/chest level and look directly down at the LCD. It's almost like using a mini Rollei.

From what I've learned about your tastes in cameras, Mike, and they're similar to mine, I will look forward to a similar usage report on a Fujifilm X-E1. I've recently sold me EPL1 and Leica CL (after a delightful 38 year marriage!) to buy the Fuji, and I could not be happier with it. This is as close to the digital CL that I've found so far. I will be interested in how your refined eye responds to the particular lens/sensor combination that Fuji has come up with.

One of the things I like about the EVF on my NEX-6 is that I don't need to use the rear screen at all. With my poor near vision, I can't see detail in the LCD screens of cameras unless I have reading glasses on. With a diopter-corrected EVF, I can see the full detail in a photo, as well as set all the camera options. So now I just leave the rear screen of the Sony turned off, which also saves battery power.

Mike, you express a sense of camera fatigue, suggesting that image quality from most modern cameras is so good that differences hardly matter anymore. What you fail to mention is that your "other" camera is a Nikon D800E, the reigning king of IQ. Don't you think that may explain, at least partially, why you fail to be roused by cameras that generate excitement in most mortals who are not accustomed to 36 awesome megapixels? The Nikon may have spoiled you for anything else. How sad, if true.

as I find statement very surprising: "The EVF on a mirrorless camera—every mirrorless I'm familiar with, anyway—is a workaround for those inevitable occasions when the viewing screen becomes inadequate." in defence of the EVF ;):

I find the EVF vastly superior to using the LCD which I only use for shooting from the hip or overhead.
Albeit some disadvantages of an EVF as compared to an OVF, no need I mention them again, an EVF also has many advantages:

Manual focusing with the aid of enlargement and focus peaking inside the EVF work very well, are imo real game changers!

An EVF doesn't have to be fixed like an OVF. I use a NEX5N with the articulating EVF usually tilted up to abt. 40 degrees. This drops the camera to abt. the height of my shoulders and let's me rest my upper arms and elbows slightly pressed against the sides of my trunk. This gives me a much more stable position as compared to the camera lifted up to the eye with my ellbows dangling free, not to mention as compared to holding the camera held up in front for using the LCD. It's much more relaxed for the neck, even for low angles or pointing the camera upwards.

live histogram and any change of setting displayed prominently inside the VF.

I not only compose but also change settings and review the results through the EVF with the correct diopter adjustment dailed in, that is the EVF allows me to never having to put on my reading glasses while using the camera.
live histogram and any change of setting displayed prominently inside the VF.

I not only compose but also change settings and review the results through the EVF with the correct diopter adjustment dialed in, that is the EVF allows me to never having to put on my reading glasses while using the camera.

@Eduardo Cervantes: My Panasonic G2 has a fully articulated screen, and my impression is that every other G and GH model does so as well.

I own an OM-D (about 9 months now) and was taking a look at the NEX-6 over the weekend (OK, only an hour or so in the shop).

My thoughts: OM-D - great EVF, usable replacement for a proper OVF. NEX-6, not so much: too jerky & pixelated for me.
OM-D: great interface because it's comprehensive. At no point does it assume how I want to use or set-up the camera. I've full control - tuned it to the way I like to work with it and have forgotten about settings since. A few items are tricky to access (such as braketted shots).
NEX-6: horrid interface and way too few controls. Locks me out of a bunch of setting depending on mode. Doesn't allow high-ISO limit in Auto. Doesn't allow a separate focus button to shutter release. And while it has a mode button, it seems to need a button press to accept the change - why?

To me the NEX-6 has an interface too much like a basic P&S. Far too limited in the controls that can be set and I then found even basic controls tricky. It only took me 5 minutes to get over those problems with the OM-D, I wonder if I'd ever get used to the NEX-6.

I enjoy the 1.09x mag. viewfinder image (@ 50mm): it is reminiscent of the Leica M3. Most DSLR & Fuji vf's are only .5x to .7x. EVF's are not perfect, but neither is accessing shadow detail via viewfinder. Finders are for framing. I recommend the Sigma 19mm & 30mm f/2.8 lenses for quality & value. I have a full range of Contax G lenses which fit via adapter, but have found the 45 & 90 to be the best performers. Digital sensors don't like symmetrical WA lenses, which is why the new Zeiss offerings are larger telecentric designs. Bottom line: I'm through with being tempted by every other 'new & improved' camera.

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