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Thursday, 04 April 2013


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Totally agree about your assessment of the E-M5. I know I should love it, but it always manages to confuse me. Your point about not being sure what it's up to particularly resonates!
I began using an NEX-7 towards the end of 2012, and it feels so much more natural to use. It may have a clunky menu system, but you hardly ever need to access it. Everything else works without me having to dig out the user manual or press every button in various permutations until it does what I want. And the image quality excels.
Great review and I'm looking forward to part II. Now to find the dosh for that amazing lens...!

Interesting to read your take on it, Mike. I have a NEX-5 which I dislike more than I like, though most of what I dislike about it has been remedied in the 6 (and to lesser extent in other models). But I opted against upgrading until I see the lenses I want (in line with your philosophy). For the time being, I picked up an RX100 as a compact alternative to my DSLR and I'm enjoying it very much.
I took a look at the OM-D at Photoplus Expo back in October. I mentioned to one of the staff at the Oly booth that I'd read that the controls are hard to get used to. She replied that they're very customizable, but take some adjusting ... as a Nikon user she said it took her about 3 weeks to get really comfortable with her OM-D. No thanks !
It's interesting that you mention the Oly menus, because one of my gripes with the NEX-5 was the poor menu system. Most of the improvement made to other models since has been in allowing customization of buttons to avoid having to use the menu system as much as possbible. The NEX-6 was the first NEX to abandon the Sony Ericsson-designed menu interface and go back to a more traditional Alpha DSLR/SLT type menu system. Fortunately, they carried that into the RX100.
BTW, I also owned (and thoroughly enjoyed) an F717 (it was my first 'serious' digital camera). I can see the argument that NEX doesn't offer enough small lenses to people who choose an ILC for a super compact system ... but I disagree with those who suggest its handling must be poor with that L shape. Right hand on the grip and left hand on the lens is a very natural way to hold a camera (and probably superior to trying to hold a camera with a pancake lens, though personally I appreciate the compactness of lenses like the Panasonic 20/1.7).

Since many of us here have more than one camera system, I would be interested in knowing what you think about the NEX as a component in a series of systems. For example, I use a D800 for a particular kind of mostly static shot, a GX1 for street shooting, and an RX100 for everything else, mostly informal family photos. Is the NEX a "sweet-spot" camera that you'd use to replace both the Nikon and Panasonic systems? Or do you see it primarily as a replacement for one of the other -- in other words, if you bought it, would you keep the D800 but lose the Panny? Or keep the Panny and lose the D800?

[A fair question, and one I'll try to answer in Part II. --Mike]

The Zeiss goes for around $800 used from a (last I heard anyway) reputable dealer, KEH. I'll be saving up my pennies for a long time even at that price. Also it's worth noting that with the "Fn" button on the NEX-6 and the "QuickNavi" system, there's really no "menu" or "system" to learn if all you want to do is take pictures.

I can relate with your frustration with OM-D. I've had my GF1 for close to 3 years. Last year I bought the OM-D. LOVED the image quality. However, I could never get used to the user interface. Specially, inability to set it up with Center-AF point with smallest possible box. You will have to adjust it every time you turn it on!!
Returned it and got GX1 instead. However, the image quality wasn't much better than my GF1. Sold it off, too.

If Panasonic puts the GH3's sensor, in the old GF1 body, without ANY modifications to GF1 (save money), they will have a best seller on their hand.

These days, I'm playing with the original Sigma DP2... oh boy, that's one camera to love. The User Interface is as simple and effective as it gets. I love it.

It would be great to get a "report" on one these little Merrill Sigmas.

I agree that the mirrorless cameras are a bit awkward to manage in "non-shooting mode" ... they don't hang gracefully over the shoulder, or around the neck. So, I opt for a wrist strap like this one:


When I'm not shooting at all, I put my NEX-6 (usually with my Sony 50mm 1.8 OSS) in a little LowePro bag that I drop into a daypack.

Sony has won me over. I also bought an OM-D--I have long been a fan of small, nimble SLRs. I shot with a Pentax ME Super for many years and I have an Olympus OM 4ti and a bunch of exquisite lens in my cabinet mostly gathering dust now. I sold the OM-D. Like Mike, I just couldn't bond with the camera. It had the specs I wanted and the lenses I wanted, but I didn't have fun shooting with it.

I agree that the NEX6 hits the sweet spot of size and function. It fits my hands well and I can carry it at ready in my right hand with the strap around my wrist all day without fatigue. I have solved the complaint about the lack of prime lenses by using third party lenses. I use the Sigma 19 and 30 mm f2.8 EX DN lenses as primes (to achieve 28 and 45mm eFOV) and the Tamron Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Lens if I need an all day walk around zoom lens. The Sigma lenses definitely do not feel like Leica or Zeiss lenses, but they produce excellent images! Take a look at the reviews around the web, they are really highly regarded. And here is the killer deal of the year, you can buy both of these lenses together as a kit from B and H right now for $199!!!!! Jeez, I have spent more than that on a lens hood! I will probably add the Sony 60mm lens when it comes out so that I can have the 28/45/90 combo I have used for years. With one of these lenses mounted the outfit weighs nothing and produces images as good as any APC size sensor camera I have ever owned.

The NEX6 has an EVF which is excellent, but given how long in the tooth I am, I still prefer a good optical viewfinder. But, that is the nature of the beast. I'm a happy camper. All of my other DSLR stuff is going on Ebay. I'm keeping the NEX6 and the R100 for times when I need something even smaller. Sony wins!

I love how this is as much of a report on the OM-D as it is the NEX-6. If that's the m4/3 camera to compare it to, please compare the Zeiss 24mm to the Olympus 17mm f/2 someday.

And it's spelled "wack". "whack" is an onomatopoeia for a blow or an impact. keep up the good work.

On Olympus, if the OM-D pissed you off, you would go ballistic with the littler Pen E-PL5. Same sensor, same electronics (I suspect), and it makes fantastic images, has a pretty decent rapid EVF and has lovely lenses available in the range (medium telephoto) that I wanted to experiment with, but what a mind of its own! Controls like ISO, are down two menus. MF sets a focus area (where you can zoom if you get the button press timing just right) wjich is different in its resting position from AF's focus target area, and both are subject to jumping around to new locations when you accidentally press some random button. Hit the menu button with the heel of your hand (happens all the time) and it can take many seconds and several button presses to dig yourself back out -- time in which you are not able to make anything useful happen. The E-PL5's exterior has at least 12 control points, 5, 6 or 7 programmable buttons.

I noticed that Ctein admits that it took him a while to select OM-D default control settings that let him work his way. It took me several days with the E-PL5 to find how turn most of this off, leaving me in A mode, with manual focus replacing the video button, and having learned how to dial in aperture and exposure offsets. What's weird is that Olympus has excellent engineers who really appreciate cameras, but they seem powerless to resist all this feature and button creep.

But I love the camera and use it a lot.


I played with a NEX-6 at local Bestbuy and indeed it a solid sweet camera.One thing that puzzles me is that the viewfinder image is too contrasty and over-saturated that looks weir, while what comes through the viewfinder on my Nikon V1 is more natural. Coulf you comment on the viewfinder image from NEX-6?

Having owned mostly Oly's before the OMD, the menu and controls don't confuse me, but the controls sometimes fluster me. I do think they tried to squeeze a few too many buttons in a small space. The preview button next to the fn1 button is especially frustrating since I will occasionally hit the fn1 instead (and not realized I've changed to manual or whatever I have it set to until several shots later). I actually wish the camera was around 30% larger (but nice and light).

The Sony sounds very nice, and if I were starting fresh, I'd consider it for sure.

I've had a NEX-7 since last fall and I like it a lot. Image quality, metering, dynamic range, etc. are very good. Menu ans settings are, as others have said, quirky but one can adjust.

BUT I really don't like the EVF. It's been noted elsewhere that shadow areas tend to go black - boy is that true! I've learned to use the EVF for framing and take the rest on faith. Maybe it is better than other EVFs but I think it is far inferior to optical viewfinders (my other camera for comparison is an old D200).

Do others find the NEX EVF as irritating as I do?

Interesting impressions of the Sony. The 7, more than the 6, has caught my eye for some time. With Zeiss glass, Sony has been on my radar since the A900.
Still, when it came time to look for alternates to my 5DmkII, I opted for the OMD and have been quite pleased. The DPreview guide for OMD setup may be the reason why I find no issues with either the Oly menus or setup. Actually, most often, the Super Control Panel gives access to everything I need to control or want to change. It's easy to call up with the eye still on the EVF too. My only real nit is the buttons. I do think the buttons are a bit small, hope that changes on the next gen for the playback and fn1 buttons.
That said, the NEX 6 appears to be a great camera too. It is a really great time to be a photographer - so many choices, but so little time.

The NEX series holds virtually no appeal for me whatsoever. I'm sure they are very capable, and produce high quality images, but...meh. They look more like a video appliance than a *camera*.

I find my Fuji X-cameras, the awesome X-Pro1 and the sweet little X10, vastly more appealing. Their traditional "hands-on" design that forces you to intellectually re-engage with the process of making images takes me back to my photographic roots where I learned the art and craft of photography with my fully manual Olympus OM-1s. Their beautifully crafted all-metal bodies, their hands-on controls, and the optical viewfinders provide a wonderful tactile user experience and well as a more directly-connected experience of "seeing" when making a photograph. Like Michael Reichmann, I hate EVFs; give me a nice bright optical viewfinder any day of the week.

These are cameras that just make you want to pick them up and get out and generate work with them. And for me, that's what's it all about.

I had compared a Nex 6 with a OM-D in a local store before settling on the OM-D. I was already invested in Olympus. I had two very good four thirds lenses, and did not have the money for a system change. And frankly, I thought the "D" was more solidly built. In defense of the OM-D, I think you have to have Olympus camera experience as I do.
I might be missing something but the "D's" menus are not so different from any of the other Olympus machines I've used; the E-500 and 620, which although neither had truly competitive image quality, for the time they had a lot going for them. They were, I thought, "feature rich".
For those of us who have used Olympus cameras, I think, the menus and controls are no big deal.
But don't ask me about the power switch!!

In reply to John Camp's question about where NEX "fits", I'd say it depends an awful lot on why you own that D800. The IQ of the NEX system is a pretty well understood quantity - those 16MP & 24MP Sony sensors have been well tested. My own DSLR system will be with me for years to come primarily because I use a 70-200/2.8 frequently. (I actually did consider getting the Sony version of that lens to use with a NEX via the LA-EA2 adapter). The Nikon version of that lens offers me fast AF performance. If it weren't for that, I could probably replace my DSLR kit with the right ILC system. The NEX-6 could be the right body, but lacks the right lenses for me. (It isn't far off, though). But on that note, for macro & landscape use, or anything that you might do with manual focus, you have a vast array of lenses that can be adapted. And these new metabones speed booster adapters for full frame lenses on NEX are intriguing options.
Personally, I bought a NEX as a quality compact alternative to my DSLR, better quality than my p&s. I found the NEX-5 aggravating (the NEX-6 is vastly better in several key ways) but also not compact enough to want to carry it as often as I'd like. So I ended up recently getting an RX100. In light of that experience, I see the NEX more as a possible DSLR replacement (for those whose needs it satisfies) than in-between system.

I ditched my 5DMKII and lenses almost a year ago (mainly for weight and bulk) and have been using the Nex-7 and Sigma 30 (sweet lens) exclusively for all this time. I remember the angst that the switch caused me at the beginning, but the truth is that I haven´t missed the DSLR very much... I recently purchased a Speed Booster in C/Y mount and a Zeiss 50 1.7 Planar for low light situations (I might add a couple more Contax Zeiss lenses down the road). I´m still warming up to manual focusing, but focus peaking is an awesome feature. I´m a happy man...

I agree with your findings regarding handling. Shooting in aperture priority I have at the reach of my thumb all I could need for shooting all day long ( aperture, ISO, Exp. compensation and focus-aid magnification when using manual focus). I wonder if you have used a Nex-7 and what you think about it´s Tri-Nav system ( which I just happen to LOVE). I haven´t used the Nex-6 so can´t compare.

But for me things start to get rotten once you have to dive into the menus: I find the menus in the Nex-7 an absolute disaster. Hate the thing. Fortunately, I hardly ever need to enter the menus, but when I do... YMMV.

"… please compare the Zeiss 24mm to the Olympus 17mm f/2 someday."

Well, even I know that ain't going to happen because there is no Olympus 17mm F/2. There is, however, a new Olympus 17mm F/1.8 and I really like what I'm seeing from it on my E-M5 but then, unlike Mike, I like my E-M5. I haven't tried any of the Sony NEX series cameras.

Re carrying these cameras. Try a fingerloop rather than a wrist strap. Three big advantages. More secure, when you aren't holding/using the camera with a wriststrap it just dangles and bangs around. With a fingerloop it stays in position without you actually having to hold the camera. Further, you just raise your hand and the camera automatically comes into position to use with your finger poised over the release button. And loops are considerably smaller and lighter as well.
I can only put the popularity of wriststaps down to the fact that most people have never seen or tried a fingerloop. When other Nex users spot mine they tend to be curious and ask to try it. I am yet to find someone who tried mine and didn't prefer it.

Dear Mike,

While it was not my reaction to the OMD interface you cited, I had a similar one. I ended up just reading through the entire PDF manual, item by item, the first evening I had the camera. That's about the same amount of effort I'd put into learning the rudiments of some new-to-me computer language. And the experience was not dissimilar. By the end, I felt I could write scripts (i.e., programs) that would do most of what I wanted to do with the camera; the instruction set (i.e., menus) was sufficiently. But it WAS like doing computer programming... and that shouldn't be the way a camera UI works.

Can't say I've bonded-or-not to the camera, but all cameras feel pretty much the same to me. Either I don't bond to cameras, or I haven't found my true love, or I'm so "easy" there's no difference between'em.

Glad you've drunk the capitalized KOOL AID re RAW. Welcome to us unwashed masses. I've got an etymological question I bet some reader can answer:

I have this clear (tho' possibly delusional) recollection that in the dim dark past, one of the early camera implementers *did*, in fact, use the .raw suffix with their files and that they had an acronym for it. Anybody remember who and what?

It's not important. The moment each camera maker decided to create their own proprietary format and suffix but let it be referred to as "raw" it broke the acronym model. I just want the trivium.

pax / Ctein

It's pretty funny how last year's darling, the OM-D, is getting "outed" now that's it's a toddler. Reading the anticipatory reviews of the new Fuji X100s, the reviewers all mention sluggishness of the original X100 - something that was pretty much overlooked back two years ago when it came out. And what about the 2008 Camera of the Year, the Panasonic G1? You can't give them away, if they sell at all they are only $100.

It pays to be skeptical.

Why do you have 2 copies of so many books?

How times change. Cameras used to be pretty basic with controls so we used to talk about different film-types and of course lenses.Now we are having to talk about menus and camera settings! I very much relate to comments around the OM-D.I bought the first body and it worked perfectly, all my settings stayed-put, image quality was great. Then I bought a second body (I like carrying one with wide-zoom, another with telephoto-zoom, when I walk around). The second OM-D body kept changing settings and focus-points and drove me crazy. The lesson being one of quality-control. Imagine how many people who "spent days" learning about any digital camera- when they might have bought a substandard one....and not knowing....life is to short...!

I've had similar difficulties bonding with my OMD. I got my hands on an X100S last week and was up and running in minutes. I feel like I know how to use my brand new Fuji a lot better than I know my OMD. Although partially it might have something to do with me using an m6 for the two years prior and yearning for an affordable digital kindred spirit.

Wow, is the NEX-3N already on end-of-life clearance? It was just introduced a month or two back. Sony has been cranking out new models rapidly, but also making useful improvements. The 3N with the little 16-50mm is not much bigger, or more expensive, than a compact.

It is true... the the OM-D has a steep learning curve. But so do many worthwhile technologies. Mastering apertures, shutter speeds and white balance are learned in a matter of minutes. The complexity comes in learning all the other stuff which is not essential to making good photographs, and I don't care about all that.

I just love the image quality and the lens availability.

[Yes, I love those things about it too. I didn't mean to slag the OM-D generally; just in terms of its settings and controls ergonomics. It's a nice little camera that has gifted me with some wonderful pictures. --Mike]

...plus, the NEX6 has a "real" hotshoe, easy to use with a Microsync...thank you Sony...finally...

In response to Jim Henry, the NEX-7's EVF has more contrast than the newer NEX EVFs, so you have to set the camera's jpeg mode to neutral and set contrast to -3, which opens up the shadows a lot, since the EVF and LCD reflect your jpeg settings. Of course, this only works if you're a raw shooter. If you shoot jpeg, you'll be stuck with those settings.

The one thing that bugs me on the NEX-6 is the silly icons telling me what the buttons do. Especially the little running/standing man in M-mode. You'd think they'd go away when all the hand holding features are switched off. I guess I'll learn to ignore them in time.

...gifted me...

You just verbed.

Many of these cameras are very nice but... NO Optical viewfinder.

Can't live with the electronic finders like the Olympus SLR has.

Make these with an optical/hybrid like the Fuji X100 series and I'll be in quickly.

Because all cameras have good enough image quality these days, I find it's the small irritations (like yours with the OM-D) that make the difference when it comes to the acid "out of the door" test you discussed previously. These small points often seem irrelevant in a review, but they are the real differentiators these days in my opinion. (Sometimes of course you do need to use a particular camera because of the demands of a shot, but otherwise...)


I've finally seen the Nex 6 in person. I didn't ask the salesperson to take it out of its showcase, though. With the 16-50mm kit lens (retracted), it looked well-proportioned; about as big as my GXR.

It's too soon for me to invest in another ILC system, although I already own MF prime lenses which are adaptable to the Nex 6. Thus far, your rolling review ticks all the right boxes for me. Except for the Nex 6's lack of a native prime longish telephoto lens. (IMO, it already has a wide choice of native E-mount wide and normal primes, the Zeiss Sonnar being the prime—pun intended— example.) I'm happy to note that, like you, my choice of an ILC camera was driven by the native lenses available for it (ZMs & VMs).

Thanks, for your passing but telling mention about the Nex 6's (and other cameras, for that matter) putative performance in regard to the IQ of their files' largish prints. (Wish your printer was already up and running!{g}) I ought to test the IQ of my GXR's prints, given the middling (12MPx) resolution of its sensor. (I'm having my prints outsourced). However, I'm content with its IQ as seen from a properly calibrated LCD monitor.

Another material offshoot of your Nex 6's review for me is that, it has put on hold my ambition to buy another Zeiss ZM lens for the GXR. (For which, thanks!) The one on my wish list (a normal prime) costs higher than the Nex 6 with its kit lens plus a Sigma prime. If the GXR's prints suck, I might make the jump.

Which is why I'm looking forward to Part II.

"Nothing bit me in the arse". Americans say arse now? Is that recent, irony, globalisation, or did you always?

RAW can be thought of as a catchall for NEF, CR2, SR2, PEF, DNG, RW2, and other raw formats, that's why using all caps would be appropriate.

I'm surprised the Fuji X-E1 is never mentioned, by Mike and in the comments. I went to a shop comparing it and the NEX-6, and I liked the Fuji much better, particularly for the UI (and the lenses). Certainly the Sony wins hands down in term of AF speed, but I thought the Fuji would be a camera you would like a lot.

[Never seen one. So many cameras, so little time. --Mike]

There is an implication in the report and some of the comments that the alternative to the OM-D (if you don't like its handling) is the NEX series. It might be, but this logic bypasses all the other m43 cameras that are much better to handle IMO than the OM-D. In particular, the Panny G5 and GH3. Often Panny seems to get missed out in these debates because so many people seem to relate m43 only to Oly cameras. It is as if the Panny cameras don't excite people (love or hate) as much as the OM-D. Perhaps true also. But the other truth is that m43 has a much better native lens collection than NEX, with jewels like the Panny-Leica 25mm and the Oly 45mm, and now the Panny 2.8 zooms. So, Mike, I would be curious to know why you jumped to NEX especially after having such good opinions on the GF1 and avoided its more modern brethern. I accept, of course, each to their own and YMMV :)

[I haven't jumped to NEX, and I compared the NEX-6 to the GX1 I own just the other day. Prior to this I was criticized for always talking about Micro 4/3 and never giving the NEX a try. Can't win. --Mike]

I totally agree with Frank P....

Remember the Olympus E-PL2? Just two years ago it was promoted everywhere as a fantastic camera, with great JPG output out of the box. Now it seems already completely forgotten.

So if you are after a bargain: get an E-Pl2 body ($150 used) and a new Sigma 19mm EX DN lens ($100 new), and you won't be disappointed.

I love mine! The Sigma lens (38mm equivalent on the E-PL2) is marvelous by the way!

Tried the NEX, but sadly it is a disaster compared to the F717 in terms of design. What I really need is a new F707/717/F828 with a new lens and modern interior (The RX100 sensor would be nice). The F717 split body design was perfect in almost every possible way and I never understood why SONY gave it up, but then again, SONY has done a lot of strange things this past decade which has degraded this once iconic brand.

@Ctein and Mike,

I cannot say I took the trouble of reading the PDF Olympus supplied, not that it wouldn't have been a good read. I checked out some pages about the OM-D....found out about some quirks. Set about to customize the camera to my likings and mostly I'm done with it.

Things I still find disturbing are.
- Sometimes the camera displays the spirit level sometimes it doesn't (accidental button pushing while in sleep mode).

- Sometimes it lags a bit while awakening from sleep mode.

(therefore I shut the camera down after each shot aka in my cycling fases) didn't need to do that with the GF1....Olympus revise the sleep mode ASAP please.

- Some settings are a bit hard to find, now though there seems to be a logic behind it. Flash settings seem to be coupled to the fact wether the flash is up or not? I don't know sometimes I find them, sometimes it takes a bit longer.

Do I care about these quirks ah, sometimes, but hey, the camera takes great pictures and that accounts for most if not all, and it has more possibilities then I need.

Gradually I will get to know the camera and start to use more of it's possibilities.

Greets, Ed.

I absolutely refuse to believe that the OM-D has a menu system more confusing than the EP-3. I believe that is actually impossible due to some law of physics, astronomy, or something. I found and that during the first month of fighting it, that the dpreview site was invaluable in helping me sort it out. Now that I have set it up, when I need to change some simple thing that I have not changed in a while, I have to consult dpreview again. This is difficult when one is not lugging some sort of computer around. Lugging some sort of computer around in order to research how to operate one's camera tends to negate the purpose of having a small, light camera.

The Sonys are becoming increasingly interesting to me (thanks to Kirk Tuck and now you) even though I would hate to add another brand and set of lenses to buy in addition to Nikon and Olympus.

I have seen lots of the little Sonys often being carried by women. I think they look quite nice even with a supposedly outsized lens on them ( I mean the cameras, though the women ain't bad...sorry, almost did an Obama there) The ones I personally seemed well-built and handle nicely.

I concur with all the comments regarding the OMD's ergonomics, but the IQ really made up for its short comings in handling. However like Ctein I programmed it to my functional comfort the first night I had it and had no problem with ISO etc. I spent about three months with it and overall I was quite happy. Then it was stolen with my M9, lenses the lot. I needed a camera quick sharp for commercial work. I tried the NEX 7 but with anything but a pancake lens the NEX is cumbersome to me, that lens at the far LHS of the body is just not balanced.
With a long wait for insurance to pay out I bought a Lumix G3 and their pancake zoom 14-42mm on run out at$439 and to my surprize the lumix menus are excellent and the controls are all comfortable except for the aperture thumb wheel. This is also a pressure switch for the exposure compensation adjustment which took a little getting used to. Overall I am very pleased with my bargain purchase it paid for itself by the second week so no complaints there. Having always been a full frame or medium format photographer I feel that M4/3 fills most of my commercial needs where I don't have to work through an art director (who might crop for the sake of it) even then most have not questioned the kit used. I really like some of the new Olympus lenses they are truly marvellous, as good anything on the market. That 60mm macro is without doubt the best and as good as the Zeiss offerings and Zeiss for me are the standard to judge most others and recently that has been many probably too many:)

Surely the "egonomics" of the D800 are even higher than those of the GX1? ;)

For Ctein:

In my book, .RAW stands for Raw Acronym WRAPPER.

WRAPPER stands for Write / Read / Archive / Process Proprietary Encapsulated RAW.

This may not be the genuine Ursprung of the ur-.raw suffix, but the pedigree of these acronyms is 100% documented and traceable, because I made them up from scratch.

(Never underestimate an old programmer's willingness to craft annoyingly intertwined recursive acronyms.)

I have an NEX-7 and I use it with Leica and Nikon adapters. It produces good results even if the menu system takes a little getting used to. Sony needs a re-design, however - there are too many ways to achieve the same thing so the camera could be made much simpler to use. That said I've been trying to sell mine for three months with nary a bite. I found I prefer the simplicity of my Leica M8.2.

Of course for about $1000 more you could have had an RX-1, which is much smaller overall, and has twice as big an imager, but still with a Zeiss lens of the same field of view and about the same speed. No built in finder, though, but the camera does have both optical and electronic finders available as options.

I too find the NEX appealing on many levels. Michael Reichman has written extensively on his experience with the NEX-7. Much as he likes it, he finds that the electronic viewfinder has a "blind spot" when it comes to shadow detail. But I'm hoping that the forthcoming NEX-7n will add dynamic range as well as the much-touted resolution enhancements to its electronic finder.

@D. Hufford

I have a variety of cameras (Oly E-P3 and E-520, Sony S95) and I put a copy of each manual on my cell phone. The PDF versions of the manuals are either included on a CD with the camera or downloadable from the web site. PDFs are also searchable, which is much handier than flipping through the hard copy version.


Ctein, I found that Panasonic used .raw early on (before .rw2) on the LX1 and a couple other cameras (and the Leica clones). I even pulled up an LX1 user manual, though, and saw no usage of it as an acronym.

I wish I could preface my reviews with those same four qualifiers; but alas! not today.

I wasn't expecting to like my NEX-7 as much as I do - I'm twelve months in. I'm another user that shots RAW+JPG; I set my JPG to monochrome with less contrast - it gives me lazy man's previsualization and opens up the EVF shadows.

I'd appreciate your take on the Sony EVF vs. the Olympus system -- the reality of focus-peaking as well as the differences in image quality.

Any thoughts on the OMD-EM5's image stabilization system would be helpful, too. It's not built into the NEX6, but, then, the in-body stabilization of my ancient E-PL1 doesn't seem to offer a lot anyway.

I know this NEX6 wasn't meant to be an Olympus-Sony shootout, but for some of us it's a matter of so many cameras, so little money. And the opportunity for hands-on access is severely limited.

I have bonded with my OM-D. The IQ is great, the prime lenses are wonderful, and once I put a Millich grip on it, it handled well. It's funny, because I usually prefer cameras with discrete controls that always do the same thing, and the OM-D is the opposite of that. But the size, lens and image quality, and versatility won me over anyway.

The trick to liking the OM-D is to use the Dpreview setup recommendations, modified to your taste. Then use the Super Control Panel (SCP) for everything. And set up a couple of "MySets" for the way you shoot. I have one Myset for outdoors/good light, and another for available darkeness. Like several other commenters, I had experience with other Olympus cameras, so I had a reasonable leg up.

The OM-D can baffle when you want to change a menu option in the field. Some of the options control how one option relates to another option--except on Tuesday. Such as whether the viewfinder and rear screen show the same viewing options or different ones, and which ones. Another pitfall is that the button on the side of the "prism" and the Info button do two different things if you think like a programmer, but appear to overlap if you think like a normal human being.

This can lead to confusion. Having to analyze all possible permutations of three buttons and four menu items does not lead to quick photography. So if you need to routinely change things that require menus, write them down on an index card, or set them up in Mysets. Fortunately, most shooting doesn't require that. Set it and forget it, and Mr. SCP is your friend.

Dear Chris,

So you're the wiseguy who acronymized TWAIN and MINCE!

pax / Ctein

(which doesn't stand for anything, 'cause I just right now ran with "Ctein Takes Exceptionally Interesting .." and got stuck)

Dear Freddy and Frank,

Well, if you ever read a "Best of..." review that claims that some camera is absolutely perfect, with no warts or flaws, you have every right to be skeptical. 'Cept, in 45 years of reading "Best of the Year"s I can't recall ever seeing that claim made (mighta missed one somewhere). In fact, Pop Photo, which is certainly a major cheerleader, runs a "What's Hot/What's Not" prominently for each camera it reviews.

Best does not equal Perfect. No one said it did. If you're laughing at a joke, it's one you made up

My OMD gives me great "negatives." That's what I really care about. If I wanna complain about the secondary aspects, why not? As Richard Tugwell pointed out, there are so many cameras out there that make technically great photos that the secondaries gain prominence. It was secondaries that turned me off to the Fuji X-Pro1, as I wrote about last summer. Image quality, fine! Feature set? Not for me.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Only very few sites mention this quirk of the NEX 6 (I don't know why):
When you set it to shutter priority with a fast lens in a dark environment, it doesn't just select the widest aperture... it selects F4 and cranks up the ISO...!?&%§??
And you can't change that behaviour.
I can think of a reason why somebody wants to have it like that, but I hate that.
That's one of the reasons I sent the NEX back to the dealer.
The second reason is that Sony doesn't have great lenses like you have with m43.
So for now I keep my X100 (without "S"!) and wait until the prices for a PL5 or OM-D drop further.

[In Shutter Priority, isn't EV connected to the secondary dial? So if you don't like the f-stop it chooses, just flick the dial whichever way it is (one of the downsides of renting-to-review is that I can't check because I no longer have the camera) and it will max out the aperture. Don't forget that on most lenses, the maximum aperture and one stop down aren't as good as two stops down, so f/4 as a default makes a lot of sense. --Mike]

Dear Chris,

So you're the wiseguy who acronymized TWAIN and MINCE!

pax / Ctein

(which doesn't stand for anything, 'cause I just right now ran with "Ctein Takes Exceptionally Interesting .." and got stuck)

Dear Freddy and Frank,

Well, if you ever read a "Best of..." review that claims that some camera is absolutely perfect, with no warts or flaws, you have every right to be skeptical. 'Cept, in 45 years of reading "Best of the Year"s I can't recall ever seeing that claim made (mighta missed one somewhere). In fact, Pop Photo, which is certainly a major cheerleader, runs a "What's Hot/What's Not" prominently for each camera it reviews.

Best does not equal Perfect. No one said it did. If you're laughing at a joke, it's one you made up

My OMD gives me great "negatives." That's what I really care about. If I wanna complain about the secondary aspects, why not? As Richard Tugwell pointed out, there are so many cameras out there that make technically great photos that the secondaries gain prominence. It was secondaries that turned me off to the Fuji X-Pro1, as I wrote about last summer. Image quality, fine! Feature set? Not for me.

pax / Ctein

[In Shutter Priority, isn't EV connected to the secondary dial? So if you don't like the f-stop it chooses, just flick the dial whichever way it is (one of the downsides of renting-to-review is that I can't check because I no longer have the camera) and it will max out the aperture. Don't forget that on most lenses, the maximum aperture and one stop down aren't as good as two stops down, so f/4 as a default makes a lot of sense. --Mike]

no, it doesn't work as simple as that. The F/4 in shutter priority was a major annoyance for me. Plus you can't set a minimum shutter speed for auto ISO.
And I don't get it why so many reviewers (almost everybody) doesn't mention this "feature" with F/4...???
But then again, I'm just a crazy German guy, so never mind.
I like your blog and read it almost every day, keep up the good work and thank you!

The all-caps usage makes sense on another level: for us middle-aged, out of shape guys, "I shoot raw" conjures up some unpleasant mental images.

> it selects F4 and cranks up the ISO

Weird, I just tried it with the 16-50mm and it does the same thing.

> So if you don't like the f-stop it chooses, just flick the dial whichever way it is

Negative EV makes the aperture smaller but positive EV sticks to F4 until ISO 3200.

I do miss auto ISO in manual mode which was present on the Panasonic LX3. Choosing the shutter speed and aperature while the camera sets exposure by cranking ISO worked really well I thought, especially in the dark.


Somethings that are rarely mentioned when discussing EVFs: shutter black out/restart and lag. In your estimation how many generations are we away from an EVF that performs like an OVF with respects to blackout/restart and lag and with a refresh rate that doesn't call attention to itself? I undertand the advantages with pre-chimping and all of that, but an OVF isn't some sort of fetish (as Mr. Tuck would have us think) -- there are still real tangible benefits to an OVF that aren't addressed by the current generation of EVFs.


When you've finished with your Quick History of Wisconsin, I'm looking forward to the next edition of your Nex-6 review...

Speaking of which, I'd be really interested to know whether your perspective on the sensor sweet spot has changed? To date I have understood that you've viewed m4/3 as the sweet spot of image quality (as influenced by sensor at least) and physical size (mostly determined by lenses). Does the larger sensor in the Nex do enough to compensate for the apparently larger lenses in your evaluation of the trade off?

Oh, and what do you think of these (http://www.petapixel.com/2013/03/07/zeiss-glass-coming-to-fujifilm-x-and-sony-nex-cameras/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PetaPixel+%28PetaPixel%29)? As someone who'd like to invest in a mirrorless system in the not too distant future, these lenses would certainly tick the lens availability box for Nex that has been rather a problem to date. (Well, apart from a 24mm equivalent perhaps.)


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