Sunday, August 29, 2010

Using the Sony NEX-5

Well my NEX-5 arrived last Friday and I have been experimenting with it over the weekend. Very pleased, but it is a bit tiny for my hands so I have to be careful not to press buttons by accident. The RAW images can be processed with Lightroom 3.2RC - a free preview of version 3.2 which is due shortly. The lens distortion correction in LR3.2 resolves one of the common issues stated in web reviews.
Learning to use the camera reduces the other issues with the menu structure. The most used functions are readily at hand with the few buttons on the camera - a utilitarian approach like that of the early Leicas. Their competitors were often armed with many bells and whistles to differentiate them from Mr Barnack's creation.
The photo is a close-up taken with the kit zoom lens (please excuse the poor lighting). I set the camera to ISO200, Aperture f/16, spot focus. The RAW file was processed in LR3.2RC. The subject is the Elmar 65mm Macro lens made in Midland back half a century ago in 1960. I have an adaptor on order which will allow me to use the Elmar on my NEX-5 at a crop to the area of a 100mm lens.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A new genre of digital cameras

I saw Fred Warner at the spring fair. He had his new Olympus micro 4/3 camera with him. I was intrigued when he said he had an adapter ring that let him use his Exakta lenses on the camera. The sensor size makes the multiplier 2x - a 50mm Exakta lens acts as a 100mm lens on the Olympus.

After the fair I started to research these new “mirror-less” digital SLR cameras. A month later Sony jumped into the category with its NEX models using an even bigger sensor. The reviews said the images made by the NEX models were very low noise - even at an ISO of 3,200. In fact, the ISO could be set as high as 12,800. The down side seemed to be a complicated menu system (the camera has very few physical buttons) and a kit zoom with higher geometric distortion at the extremes of the focal length.

Now the cameras are available, the two issues in real use seem to be much less onerous. I considered my use of the F828 and decided I would have little occasion to leap into the menu. And pictures by users were appealing. Further, Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 now include adjustments for geometric distortion further reducing the issue.

The “mirror-less” design has a very small lens mount to sensor distance allowing adapters to be used to take other lenses. And like the Olympus, two companies are making adapters for the NEX series. Novoflex in Germany have an adapter to mount Leica M lenses - and with the Leitz skinny ring, the screw mount lenses back as far as 1931. Because the NEX uses the large APS-C sensor, the multiplier is 1.5 - so a 50mm Leica lens acts like a 75mm lens on the NEX.

Videos on YouTube and stills on Flickr! taken with the standard zoom and various Leica and Zeiss lenses are fabulous. The wide angle Leica lenses take images with no distortion visible.

I ordered a black NEX-5 today...