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Sunday, 17 March 2013


That combo is high on my wish list, I can't wait for your review.

Of course you could swap the zeiss glass for the 2 Sigma e-mount lenses which rate well too, and then save your wallet some agony!

When you let your self be tantalised, teased, and tempted don't be surprised when you give in.

This Zeiss 24mm ƒ/1.8 is so perfect and so expensive, it's the main reason I just bought an OM-D instead of a NEX-6. It's exactly the lens I need so I'm sure they won't build another one (cheaper and smaller).
The Olympus 17/1.8 is half the price of the Sony/Zeiss, I'm waiting for the local dealer to get them in stock to see if it's as good as I expect. And you know the qualities of the Panasonic 20/1.7...

Is it possible that some of your modestly dis-functional quirks are a significant reason we all stop by every day?

I won't reveal whether I do so primarily to note what new thing you may have got up to - or to catch up with another who shares some of my, um, er, less obviously functional traits. {;~)>

And no, I'm not going to reveal here what brand and line of cameras I seem suddenly to be accumulating and learning the small differences between, far beyond any use or sense.



Hopefully you will have same result this time, as the last time I rented a camera. I came to the conclusion that it was better than my old camera, but not enough that I didn't turn it back in...


Maine has Fall, Winter, Mud season and a short Summer. I'll bet Wisco is similar. Gorgeous and warm here in Austin.

I won't say anything when you buy the NEX6 and the CZ24 if you won't say anything when I buy a diesel-engined Mazda6.

"Will spring ever get to Wisconsin?"

You're a fickle man, Mike Johnston. On December 20th you were bemoaning the fact that winter hadn't arrived yet. (See what happens when your fans hang on your every word … and remember them?)

Patience — it'll be here soon.

[It's basically all just fretting about climate change, which I've read way too much about. Call it "climatochondria." The science suggests that falls will be warmer and the springs cooler in the northern hemisphere because of the breakdown of the thermal barrier between the arctic and the temperate zone. --Mike]

You will love the 24 mm lens. Its only drawback is that it is not a pancake lens. I use it on a NEX 7 and it consistently surprises me in a positive way.

I can't speak to the 6, but I bought a 5N when it went on sale late last year with its oft-maligned 18-55mm kit lens, and it now gets carried along with all my Pens. I even broke down and bought the two-for-$200 Sigma special for the 5N.

Sensor-wise, the 5N trumps every Pen I own by a wide margin except the latest variants (E-M5 and subsequent models). Compared to the E-M5 it's equivalent resolution, but different color rendition, at least out of the cameras. I like having both, with their different lens collections. I'm glad I have the 5N for the Sigma's sake, because I never would have bought the Sigmas in µ4:3rds mount.

I look forward to your rolling review. Who knows, I may get a NEX-6 myself based on what you write.


I'm most interested in your findings of the NEX 6's IQ (for printing) given its largish 16MPx sensor. Since you're getting a rental unit, I'm doubly interested in its build quality, i.e., how its plastic body is holding up.

The NEX 6 has been on and off my "road map" as a relacement for my GXR-M. It's been "on" because of its built-in EVF (a rarity among mirrorless APS-C's) and its choice of native wide and normal primes, including the ones from Zeiss and Sigma. And off again because it looks like Sony and others won't be making telephoto primes for it (and my reservations re its long-haul build quality).

I'm holding on to my GXR a bit longer. Ricoh's done right by me when they gave me loaner while my GXR-M is being repaired in Japan. I've been been spoiled by my Zeiss ZM and CV VM lenses (also adaptable to the NEX 6). While it has no prime telephotos either, the demise of the KO-1 makes it a bit more likely that Ricoh-Pentax will resurrect it, in the form of a Pentax lens mount for the GXR.

Then, I'll have a choice of two sweet K-mount long telephoto primes in current production (for bird- and moon shots). Something worth waiting for... knock on wood.

Good luck with learning the menus and getting the wifi to work in only 5 days...

It'll be very interesting to hear your take on the NEX, Mike.

I just went through weeks of hell deciding which mirrorless to get between the GX1 or the NEX-6, with the Sony coming out on top - so please like the NEX !!!

A very hard decision, BTW, and along the way I even managed to acquire a bargain PanaLeica 25 in as new condition.

Ultimately, focus peaking, the larger sensor and the range of adapters won and I ended up with a NEX-6 & 16-50 kit (a convenient but awe inspiringly bad lens) and the rather nice Sigmas.

Also, the lens range is nearly there now with the forthcoming Sigma 60mm, Zeiss 12mm & Zeiss 32mm lenses. Rounding out the offer quite nicely.

As others have hinted you must also try to get the very good little 30mm Siggy on to that little NEX if you can as, while it may not be a Tessar, it is a 45/2.8 equivalent.

I think you will get to love the camera but not sure if you will ever love the menus! Why is it camera manufacturers do not have a photographer sitting by their side when designing menus?

So, how is the View from atop Johnston's Mountain?
The lack of anything resembling a jaded attitude is one of the reasons that keeps me coming back.
Goodnight Jim-Bob, goodnight Michael...

I think you should also try out the Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN:


This should be the same lens as on the Sigma DP2 Merrill, and like the DP2M will give you on the Nex 6 a 45mm normal lens.

NEX primes: ultra-expensive or slow...

Why go for APS-C over Micro 4/3,
giving up IBIS,
to get shallow depth of field and less noise at the same ISO,
and then give it all back,
by accepting f/2.8 and a higher ISO?

Just say no!


Having just purchased an open box special on this camera at Best Buy this weekend, I look forward to hearing your impressions over the next 5 days.

You shouldn't need to learn the menu's. Spend enough time to get the options you need to actually use mapped to the function buttons, then leave the menus alone. I rarely menu dived with my NEX-5N and with the NEX-7 the only menu option I ever use is card formatting, and since the camera remembers where I left it, that's 3 button presses away (1 to enter the menu, 1 to select the already highlighted section, 1 to activate formatting).

The 24/1.8 is a superb lens, worth every penny IMHO. But there are two things to remember with it:

1. It's a Sonnar. Don't expect Planar/Distagon rendering. This throws a lot of people who are looking for a mini 35/1.4 Distagon.

2. It's outstanding at short & medium distances. It has a reputation for being poor at infinity but in fact it's merely less outstanding. It also is designed to prioritize centre & mid-field sharpness over corner performance. Ideal apertures for corners (ie landscape work) is around f7.1, for everything else pick whatever you like.

@Mark Gibeault: Check out the 17/1.8 review at admiringlight.com, Jordan Steele did an excellent review and seems to conclude that the 17/1.8 performs similarly to the ZA E 24, just about a step down in all regards (ie it's very good to the Sonnar's Excellent, but retains a similar performance range, where short and mid-range performance is better than infinity)

I look forward to your review Mike. I own the NEX-7 and plan on renting that Zeiss lens from LensRentals while on a break in a few weeks.

As for the menus, it mightn't be a bad idea to get an online manual pdq and give yourself a head start...

just saying...

You'll learn the camera and it will produce nice results, most likely a bit better than what the OM-D does. But I don't see you buying, unless you're a pathological gearhead :-)

The reason for "not buy" is that it doesn't make sense to have m4/3, Nex and a D800 around; the D800 has far superior image quality, the m4/3 is compact (a Nex is a small camera, but the lenses aren't really compact) and so there is not really space for a Nex. Unless you give up something...but the image quality of the D800 is like cocaine, for both good and bad.

Incidentally, I have the Sigma 30/2.8 for Nex, which must be the best value in any system at current closeout prices: image quality is excellent and it fits a Nex well. But since I'm irrational, I bought a manual focus Zeiss which is cooler and has a bit higher image quality, so will probably part with the Sigma. Nevertheless, I definitely recommend the Sigma for people who want results, compactness and not spend a cent more than necessary.

Jack said: "I can only answer one of your questions: spring will never get to Wisconsin. Summer does come in late June, but there is no spring."

And if you think it has come, you could be in for a rude awakening. After moving to Wisconsin in the early 70's, I wondered what all the weather fuss was about, as folks were walking about in short sleeves in late March and early April. It snowed 15 inches on April 15th. Five years later, when the wind chill hit 63 below, I decided not to wait for another false spring, and moved for good.

Just completed my first rental with LR and was incredibly impressed. Of course, I ended up with the same problem as you did with the D800...I'm going to buy what I rented (through a TOP link of course). From here on out, I think I had better stick to renting things I can't possibly afford...

...got a buddy with a NEX7, who bought it specifically because the lenses fit on his Sony video camera, and he says the system is the cat's pajama's; it's everything he wanted in a hand-holdable street camera, AND he uses it with the Sony NEX version of the Sigma 19mm and 30mm lenses, which he pronounces as "sharp and cheap".

My wife recently bought a NEX-6 for me. Coming from a GH1 it only took a day to figure out the menus. I've been happy with it so far (nothing printed yet) but it does have some silly UI quirks.

You have to press a button to access exposure compensation, which pops up a new menu. You therefore can't see any of the other settings or histogram while adjusting compensation.

In P/A/S modes the rear dial does nothing, so they could have easily made it adjust exposure compensation directly without needing a menu.

Unless you're in a menu, the centre button does nothing. Once you've changed e.g. shutter speed it becomes an "ok" / confirm button, which of course still does nothing (except remove "ok" from the screen).

Options such as AF/MF and ISO are vertical scrolling menus. With the GH1 all values are visible on screen and don't move, making it easy to memorise. With the NEX you have to keep scrolling until you find the value you're looking for. I think Sony had a "put XMB in everything" strategy at one point which has clearly gone way too far. It wasn't a good interface to begin with.

As the light drops the camera decreases the shutter speed to 1/60s, then ISO increases to 1600 and then it under exposes. These aren't bad choices but note it is not configurable so may not work for you. (I only have the 16-50 lens, results might differ with other lenses)

When manual focusing there is the option to have the view magnify automatically as focus is adjusted. If you disable this then you cannot assign magnified view to a button. You can have both (which is almost pointless) or neither.

Despite those minor annoyances, I'm going to stick with it as I like the flippy screen and EVF combination. I look forward to your review of the Zeiss.

Oops, my misktake - with the 16-50mm minimum shutter speed is 1/60 at the wide end, 1/80 at the long end and it goes lower to maintain exposure once ISO reaches 3200. Anyway the point is min shutter and max ISO can't be configured.

I keep thinking a "minimum shutter speed mode" or "maximum aperature mode" would be more useful than program shift which is what we get in P mode.

A friendly reminder: the idea of renting is to not spend money, not to spend it. :-)

Oskar: the line between a pathological gearhead and a non-pathological one is only a few photons wide.

@Michael Barkowski:

NEX lenses are not either expensive or slow. The 35/1.8 OSS and 50/1.8 OSS are priced quite reasonably (comparably to the m4/3 17/1.8 and 45/1.8). Only the 24/1.8 is truly expensive. The Sigma's are slow though, as are the two pancake primes (the 16/2.8 and the new 20/2.8).

I think you'll dig the NEX greatly... once you've set it up so you don't have to enter the awful awful menus. (All the buttons are customisable) I'd *really* advise that you splash out a tiny amount of money for a ebay lens adaptor for whichever mount you have most of in the house though.... Where the NEX shines for me when using legacy manual lenses. It is an absolute joy imho. I've only tried native e-mount lenses in stores but absolutely no appeal for me. Also shoot black&white jpeg+raw. Again, it's a pleasure shooting vintage lenses through that awesome screen, modern TLR style. Set peaking to medium, bottom button to magnify and wheel to shutter speed. Aperture you control on the lens. Seriously, it's a bundle of fun and a lovely change from shooting SLR's like I do for work.

And if you can get a short strap (I use a lanyard from a conference tag) it works great hung over one shoulder under a jacket. Safe, concealed and always ready to use.

Oh, and I've said this before but the NEX3 (whichever variant you can get cheapest) is probably the best bargain in photography at the moment if you have a bunch of manual lenses and a little understanding. The F3 is worth keeping an eye out for because of the much better video control but for stills, shot raw they'll all produce awesome image quality and a gorgeous shooting experience for less than most people would spend on an enthusiast point and shoot. I got my NEX3 refurb body for £175, £20 for a K-mount adaptor and it really genuinely makes me happy everytime I use it.

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