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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

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The lenses for the NEX system are not just too expensive -- they're also just plain too big.

Compared to DSLR's NEX lenses are very small. The NEX compared to Mico 4/3 lens size is marginal until you get into the zooms. But in exchange for slightly larger lenses sometimes... you get a larger sensor with noticeably better IQ and ISO performance. Also with adaptors lenses from other systems are much more useful on the NEX.

I guess it comes down to what it's worth to you. For me the all around better IQ is worth slightly larger lenses in some ranges.

If I were to go for the NEX 6, I would keep the size and cost of the kit down by opting for the 16-50 power zoom and limit my other lenses to the Sigma 19mm and 30mm primes. And even the Sigmas could wait until they went on sale.

Mike, I totally agree with you on the Micro 4/3s camera systems, particularly the Oly OM-D, which is a dynamite little powerhouse of a pro level camera system.

But, sorry to say, the NEXs just don't do it for me. For my sensibilities, they have all the character of a household appliance. And not much choice in the way of lenses.

I'd also be surprised if their image quality was actually better than an OM-D.

I have great results from Sigma lenses for Emount and in using Leica/Nikon/Voightlander rangefinder lenses with adapters. They are the "right size" for a NEX and the focus peaking used with one button magnification works great for me! Get an adapter with a helical mount and you can focus down to nearly 12". The only Sony lens I favor is the kit for Nex-6 16-55. It collapses small and is stabilized.

"I'd also be surprised if their image quality was actually better than an OM-D."
Do rest assured, it is.
Trust me or, until you run your own tests, head over to DXO Mark.

My Sony/Zeiss 24mm is the one that sits most often on my Nex-7 and it is quite big, but not too heavy, handles well with the small Sony body and the image quality is excellent. Focus peaking is very well implemented on the Nex-7 and my Leica lenses have a new lease of life with a Metabones adapter. (The Leica M9/M240 are just too expensive, even if you can afford them, in my opinion). I will probably not buy a Zeiss Tuit lens as, for example, my Voiglander 15mm LTM is sharp on the Nex and using an 'independent' lens system, e.g. Leica LTM/M mount, keeps my future options, and investments, open.

I might have bought a Fuji X-Pro or XE-1 if they had a 23mm lens available, (still not), and if they had had focus peaking (they do now). However, I am not keen on swapping from one camera maker to another all the time, like some people appear to enjoy. I find it takes a while to learn how to get the best out of each one and I would rather spend time on other more useful activities.

Marlon Richardson said: "[...] you get a larger sensor with noticeably better IQ and ISO performance"

No. You don't.

For the same sensor technology, in this case Sony makes recent FourThirds sensors too, there is little (but not zero) difference between a Sony FourThirds sensor and an Sony APS-C sensor.

You get a little better signal to noise ratio in APS-C compared to FourThirds because you capture more photons so photon shot noise is slightly lower for APS-C. But it's about 1dB better SNR in mid tones. You can measure that but you can't see it (except perhaps in an direct ABX comparison).

For the same number of pixels (e.g. NEX6 versus OMD) you give up a little dynamic range as slightly smaller photodiodes means slightly less saturation charge. Measured difference is about 1/2 EV.

ISO performance is roughly the same as the ADCs and preamps are the same. There is a difference in photon count noise in the shadows that gives a difference of about 1/3 EV.

The difference between the two sensor sizes is small (but not zero) but you have to measure it to find it. You won't see it in casual image inspection.

Current Sony sensors are much better than the older Panasonic sensors but that's not due to size that due to different sensor technology.

Just picked up a NEX-5R double zoom kit for myself (16-50 power zoom and 55-210 zoom), which I thought was a pretty sweet deal. The goal was not still photography though. I have been doing some video lately, and it seemed like an ideal compact alternative that would provide decent image quality as well as the necessary control for that application. The built-in viewfinder on the NEX-6 seemed superfluous. Turns out I was right about the video quality and control. It's everything I need for the time being.

However.

I had neglected to consider the fact that it just might be useful for shooting stills as well. I have a D800 for that, so why would I need another ... (I'm pretty sure you can see the big "oops" coming from a mile off). Yeah, oops. The NEX-5R can produce gorgeous stills. Guess I'll be paying extra for that add-on viewfinder at some point. Or perhaps a NEX-6 body? Ah well, live and learn.

And to cleverly tie this comment in with another TOP topic of late, I'll add that the NEX-5R with both lenses, a big ol' blower and a bunch of other bits and pieces fits quite comfortably in my old Billingham Hadley Small bag.

I'm hooked.

The PZ and the two Sigma primes have been my entire kit for 3-4 months now. The size and portability is miles ahead of a dSLR setup. One of these days I may get a M4/3 body and a couple of lenses, perhaps if they have close out deals of this generation (with the Sony-made sensors) like they did with the last and I can really do a comparison.

Instead of getting more lenses, I've started going down the adapters route as well. With the focus peaking and all electronic viewfinder setup it works a lot better than via crop-sensor dSLR with their crappy, dim, tunnel viewfinders.

Mike,
Thanks for the heads-up. If I didn't have a 5N I would surely pop for another 6 body (the range is good, however I don't care for the by-wire 16-50 that came with the 6 kit). AF operation with the 6 is very good, but it really shines with great MF lenses, plus a little peaking to aid aging eyes. If only the 6 had an articulating EVF similar to the add-on with the 5N (I'm sure Sony listens in here!)

Mike's favorite camera is my favorite too. Love the size and the weight. Quality is better then m43, even when fitted with my copy of 16-50. The menu is not that bad once you get used to it. Love the soft keys! This is camera that totally stopped me from carrying my FF dslr for documenting everyday life, day or night. The magic of the Exmor sensor is sometimes beyond belief. Here is a link to a comparison recovering shadows that seemed impossible. I'm not saying the developing is right, is just to show you how the sensor behaves by just applying ACR "Shadows". Regards. https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc3/1008581_10201315425344116_407291947_o.jpg

@Kevin Purcell:

Thank you for posting this. You're points were put more eloquently than I could, but from a physics perspective, in complete alignment with my own.

In other words, I'd be surprised if one could actually see the difference between the two in real-world photos, even though one may be to measure difference (e.g. via DxO Mark testing).

As impressive as the OM-D's image quality is, and it is impressive, the Fuji X-Pro1 is better. As I tell friends when I show them both cameras, there's magic in the OM-D's image files, but there's even more magic in the X-Pro1's.

The new GX-7 IS a NEX camera, at least for M4/3rds advocates, has the finder on it and everything...google it...


My NEX-6 journey was a bit bumpy.
I've recently got Ricoh GR and very happy since then.

Some subjective thoughts about NEX-6/lenses:
1) NEX-6 is closer to a small DSLR in size/weight/handling that to a compact camera.

2) Don't get 16-50, it's good only for video.
And while it's smaller - it's not that small to change anything.

3) Don't get 20/2.8 - if you think you need it - just get a Ricoh GR.
It's probably better than 16mm but still far from perfect.

4) 50/1.8 is really good. Nice for details shots and some landscapes, but really weird for shooting people. 35+85 pair probably would be better.

Of course this has to happen just a couple of weeks after I bought an NEX-6. Why you should never pay attention to prices *after* making your purchase...

I evaluated a fairly wide variety of mirrorless cameras before settling on the NEX-6. My requirements were small size, light weight, good still image quality, good video, and a viewfinder. My expectation was to buy one of the newer Micro 4/3rds cameras as I have a GH1 and a couple of good lenses. Unfortunately I didn't take to any of those cameras that had the newer Sony sensor. I found I could not live with the menu system of the OMD-EM5, the GH3 was too bulky (and very pricey), and the EP5 didn't have a built in viewfinder (and adding the external one made it very pricey). The other Micro 4/3rds cameras are still using older sensors, and while 12MP is actually plenty for me the poor high-ISO performance and minimal "headroom" to recover blown highlights put all the rest of them out of contention.

I tried the NEXs almost by accident, as my wife had noticed them in a store display and asked if they might be a solution. While the lenses have a way to go to catch up with m4/3rds, the 16-50 kit zoom makes for a very portable package and I can mount much of my legacy glass via an adapter (especially as I find the viewfinder is sharp enough that I can focus well manually even if I don't turn focus peaking on).

The NEX menus are not great, but you can set the camera up such that you rarely need to get into them (something I couldn't do to my satisfaction even with the "super control panel" on the OMD-EM5). I went for the -6 rather than the -7 as the clearly marked mode dial trumped the advantages of the tri-nav system (so other family members can quickly and easily put the camera into "point-and-shoot" mode), I didn't need the extra MP, and on the cameras I rented the -6's viewfinder seemed crisper than the -7's (although I think they're supposed to be the same).

Video quality out of the NEXs is not up to the level of the GH3 (or even the G6) but was equal to or better than the other cameras I tested.

For the people arguing about whether the NEX-6 has superior picture quality to the OMD-EM5, I tested them against each other and found the quality of the RAW files to be so similar that I wouldn't use that to choose between them.

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