Posts Tagged ‘Sony’

Sony alpha NEX-5 Review

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Sony Alpha NEX-5 Review

The Sony alpha NEX-5 is “The world’s smallest lightest interchangeable lens camera”.


Reading the spec the Sony alpha NEX-5 sounds like the most amazing camera ever invented, I just can’t get over the fact that they made the body smaller than the lens diameter. Still that’s just my SLR preference speaking. What the Sony alpha NEX-5 is is a mirrorless, interchangeable lens, system camera. The system is very small, but clearly Sony have tapped into the market niche opened up by Panasonic and Olympus with their Micro Four-Thirds system, and it will grow. This camera, with its 16mm (24mm equiv) pancake lens is light and will slip into a pocket or a bag quite comfortably. And what this gives you is SLR quality JPEG or RAW images straight from the camera.

Still, the Sony alpha NEX-5 has a hefty price tag, so what do you get for your money?

The advertised selling points:
· DSLR-quality images with 14.2 megapixels Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor (The HD added to the HPS on the sensor just means that you can crop, in camera, to a 16:9 ratio)
· AVCHD Full HD 1920x1080i video (that’s technical for it’s a video camera too – it also does MP4 at 720p if you prefer)
· High-speed shooting up to 7fps
· Sweep Panorama (you click the shutter and ‘sweep’ your camera across the scene, and the NEX stitches it all together into one image)
· 7.5cm/3″ tilt-angle TruBlack LCD, with 920,000 dots
· Simple operation with on-screen Help Guide (hints and tips to help you take better pictures built in to the camera – it’s a book, it’s a video-cam, it’s a panoramic cam…)
· E-mount interchangeable lens system
· Sony claims the battery is good for 330 shots (though this will vary depending on view screen usage)
· ISO200 – 12800
· Max image size 4592×3056 (3:2)
· Max panorama size 12,416×1,856
· Stylish magnesium body
· 1.5x crop sensor (for ex-35mm users, multiply lens focal length by 1.5 to get the 35mm equivalent lens power)
· Jpeg & RAW
· Takes memory Stick and SD

NEX 16mm F2.8 pancake lens

The Magnesium alloy body, which despite its tinyness, allows a good two-handed grip, has a real quality feel. A range of 3 ‘E’ lenses is available at the time of writing: a 16mm F2.8 pancake; a standard 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 stabilized zoom; and a stabilized 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 superzoom. Now although Sony is marketing the NEX range under its alpha brand, these cameras do not take alpha mount lenses (I don’t pretend to understand this), the NEX range has its own E-mount range. However with the purchase of the LA-EA1 Camera Mount Adapter it allows you to make use of your collection of alpha DSLR lenses. This adapter is also compatible with A-mount optics by Konica-Minolta.

NEX E18-200mm F3.5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens

One of the features that made me smile is “Background Defocus Control – Just turn the jog dial to adjust depth of focus and see beautiful blur effects previewed on screen. Create professional-looking images with a crisp foreground subject against a smoothly blurred background, just like a DSLR camera” This is a highly hyped aperture control, but of course to people who just want to click and have a great picture, ‘aperture’ is starting to sound scarily technical. All cameras have this (they don’t all let you control it) – it’s the hole the light goes through. But as soon as you mention something like f5.6 you’ve probably lost a lot of customers, so this is a clever move on Sony’s part to sell you something you can’t not have in a camera as a new feature – brilliant! Hat’s off to you Sony.

The sweep panoramic feature needs a little practise but works acceptably well. And is so much easier than using stitching software to join up a series of separate images.

The flash is not built into the camera, but comes in the box and has a guide number of 7, which is not very powerful but will be adequate for the indoor social situations where it is most likely to be used.

Still, you probably want to know if it’s worth buying, and I think it is. For a compact camera the picture quality is very good, the menus are simple, clear, and helpful as well as giving you handy hints and tips, not only on the camera’s use, but also on photography. And if you just want to point and click, that works very well, and if you want to get a bit more involved with the creative side, you can do that too. And if like me, you like a proper viewfinder – you can have one, it’s an optional accessory. But if the price is just a little high, you might want to consider the NEX 3 almost identical, slightly different body shape, not made of magnesium and around £80 cheaper.

Michael Hadfield

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Jessops, the Home of Good Photographic Advice – Maybe Not

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I was in Jessop’s yesterday and there was a saleslady in there who was very keen. When I arrived she was talking to a family, the daughter of which appeared to want to buy a dSLR. I only noticed them because they were parked right in front of the Canon display window that I wanted to have a look at. Anyway she said something that caught my attention. An SLR is an SLR and whichever one you buy you’ll get brilliant pictures.

Mmm! I thought is it really as simple as that.

Then before I had a chance to position myself in front of the Canon Gear (of which there was a disappointing quantity I might add) a gentleman started looking at the same stuff and there she was again. The guy said he was looking for a full frame dSLR, she hesitated and I was about to offer my knowledge when she said, the 7D is full frame and the 5D. There was no mention of the two EOS 1d’s – neither of which they had on display, and interestingly no mention of any full-frame Nikons in the very next case.

Canon Digital SLR Camera EOS 5D Mark II + EF24-105 Kitcanon5d

Now here was a guy who was looking for a full-frame dSLR and this young lady was happy to sell him a 7D with an APS-C sensor which is a lot smaller than full-frame. I got the feeling she didn’t know much about photography, though I guess Jessops had trained her well enough to be able to demonstrate how a camera’s controls work.

Canon EOS 7Dcanon-eos-7d-2

Me, if I’d been selling, I’d have asked him what was the reason he wanted a full-frame sensor. My gut told me he was moving from film to digital (his apparent age was one of the factors that suggested this might be the case) and that a full-frame sensor was a belief that they maintained 35mm film quality.

Anyway, having now established that this young lady did not know as much as she was pretending to know, my thoughts returned to her opening comment. An SLR is an SLR.

Now I own two dSLRs a Canon 400D and a Canon 40D, and I’d upgrade to a 5D, 7D, or either of the 1D mkIII’s at the drop of a hat. Do both my cameras produce identical quality images? That is a much harder question to answer, but I’m sure if I rooted out some old photo magazine reviews I’d find that there was an improvement with image quality in the 40D over the 400D, or would I? It would certainly be an interesting comparison to make. I tend to use one or the other body, with the same set of lenses. I take the 400D with me when I want to have a camera, but can’t be bothered with the weight and bag full of lenses that I always take with the 40D. So I have no comparison images. This is something I need to correct.

The 40D is undoubtedly a much nicer camera to use with a better control layout and features that suit my photography. Now, as to whether Canon is better than Nikon or what I believe to be another contender for the crown – Sony. That is an interesting point to consider.

I wasn’t convinced by the young lady’s comment in the slightest. Every review I read finds some good things and some bad things, and picture quality is one of those things that varies from camera to camera. And if you ignore sensor-size/pixel count, which tends to be comparable in similar priced cameras from the big dSLR manufacturers, then the lens makes a big difference. The kit lens that comes with the 400D is pretty much fit for the bin. I only realised this after I bought the 40D and immediately noticed superior image quality from its kit lens. The 400D kit lens, when the camera was available, cost around £60. The 40D kit lens around £300. Then I bought my first L lens, and that shifted everything again.

The lens is the single most important factor for picture quality, yet the advice that was being given was, shortlist 3 cameras and then come and handle them and pick the one that feels best in your hand. Excellent selling technique. Puts responsibility for actual choice in the hands of the customer – no comeback in the form of ‘you advised me to buy this junk’; yet acknowledges that buying is an emotional rather than a logical act. The one that feels right. You’ll know it as soon as you hold it, she said.

I handled neither of my cameras before purchase; I bought them, mail-order, based purely on reviews and my (this is my emotional bit) 30 year experience of Canon SLRs. They both did exactly what I expected them to and I am very impressed with the performance of both.

To me there is only one reason to own an SLR and that’s to make use of the fact that the lenses detach and can be changed to suit the subject matter. Without this it’s just a big clunky camera bought to impress, rather than a tool to actually use. This aspect of SLR ownership was, interestingly, ignored.

So, to get back to the original comment – an SLR is an SLR, clearly suggesting that it makes no difference what you choose as long as you like it. Clearly ignoring lens quality as a factor. Clearly ignoring the size of the manufacturer’s lens range as a factor. I don’t believe the statement to be true.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

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