Sony NEX Lens Impressions
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Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: dont have to be semi-pro to want better camera on 10/28/2011 18:02:39 MDT Print View

"But, there was more I wanted. Better dynamic range, better low-light performance, better night photography. While there is plenty of technological trickery to make up for..."

Methinks that technological trickery is the whole raison d'etre behind the move to digital from film. Digital off loaded the work of the professional photolab on to our personal computers. Now the trend is to move the processing off the PC and into the camera.

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/28/2011 18:10:05 MDT Print View

I could be wrong, but I think Tony wants better quality images from his camera, not to become more of a photographer maximizing lenses and manual control of the focus, shutter, and aperture.

The Sony NEX would be great for Tony, IMO. It can take pictures fast enough to satisfy his needs at home and on the trail. The images are sharp. More manual features satisfies a photographer, but the small sensor on the dlux5 left me unimpressed.


Something like the x10 could work well for him, but a dp1 would be far too slow, quirky, and lacking in battery life.

The manual small sensors provide creative control, but not better image quality IMO.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re:...Tony wants better quality images from his camera, ... on 10/28/2011 19:06:23 MDT Print View

Depends on what you think makes a quality image. If you define photo quality by the technical aspects of sharpness and resolution, color saturation, contrast, pixelation or "noise" characteristics then the true benefits of a larger sensor will only reveal themselves in print, and rather large prints at that. As Roger Caffin posted earlier, with electronic output all these qualities are hindered/limited by out rather pitiful 2MP HD monitors with their limited color gamuts and dynamic range. Once you attend a few nature photography photo exhibitions of glorious hi-rez poster-sized prints, this difference is starkely clear.

All modern compacts have very sharp lenses, can produce good color and contrast and display little sensor "noise" and pixelation at or near their base ISO provided you do not crop excessively, i.e., more than 30%. Using a small tripod will let you shoot at base ISO more often by allowing longer exposures and judicious use of polarizing and ND filters will help you with difficult lighting situations.

Unfortunately, setting this up while thinking about the shot, framing the scene with perspective, waiting for or shaping good lighting with diffusers/reflectors, and setting exposure for creative effect are features/skills the camera OEMs have yet to build into the camera. So if one wants to improve beyond taking "I am here" snapshots these skills need to be practiced and mastered.

Edited by rmjapan on 10/28/2011 19:09:15 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re:...Tony wants better quality images from his camera, ... on 10/28/2011 19:52:09 MDT Print View

"Using a small tripod will let you shoot at base ISO more often by allowing longer exposures and judicious use of polarizing and ND filters will help you with difficult lighting situations."

Your statement assumes that you are shooting at a stationary target.

Typically, I am not, and I don't think there is a compact camera that can get the job done for me.

--B.G.--

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: ...Tony wants better quality images from his camera, ... on 10/28/2011 20:31:15 MDT Print View

Maybe you need a GoPro then?!

http://gopro.com/

FWIW, I think this is most innovative camera to come to market in a long time. Outside of being bombproof it is a very simple P&S. Yet, it allows one to get amazing engaging pics.

Yes, always best to match the tools with the job and no one camera has yet to master it all. Fast shutter speeds can require bigger lenses and higher ISO of full-on dlsr. If you need a focal length much longer than "normal" a Sony Nex 5n or m4/3 is not the right choice either. But I argue if you regularly need more capability than a current compact offers, UL hiking is no longer your main objective of being out in the sticks.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: ...Tony wants better quality images from his camera, ... on 10/28/2011 20:39:19 MDT Print View

To go backpacking without any camera would be a sin, I guess. I don't know if it is a venial sin or a mortal sin. Ultralightweight backpacking gear techniques simply allow me to carry the necessary photographic gear and still cover the necessary miles per day.

--B.G.--

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/28/2011 21:18:05 MDT Print View

The GoPro is indeed a remarkable camera but not exactly a replacement for an enthusiast camera.
Great for action movies and for wide views but you take everything with the equivalent of a fisheye lens (127 or 170 diagonal angle of view) so that excludes a lot of shots people take with their compacts but introduces a previously not so affordable perspective.
Franco

Eli .
(Feileung) - F
@Rick on 10/28/2011 23:50:27 MDT Print View

Rick,

I think you're saying something different than Roger was. I agree with his perspective that (paraphrasing) you should bring the camera that you'll actually use and that super high megapixel ratings are more than most people will need most of the time.

It sounds to me like you're implying that because this conversation is focused on technical merit that the people involved aren't concerned w/ the artistic component. I don't think this is true. I also don't think its true that even *most* consumer digital P&S cameras are technically on par to a decent SLR or what I've seen from the NEX; even when the eventual output is a relatively low res display . If your experience doesn't match this (mine does) then check Jacobs blog for examples or just google for comparison shots. The difference is vast to my eye.

Maximizing the technical quality of an image maximizes the artistic potential of the photo as the photographer isn't limited by a low-information source.

That said, I'm currently taking pictures with an iPhone :(

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/29/2011 14:08:10 MDT Print View

Cameron,

Thanks for giving your opinion on this.

Given that you have taken trips with me, you know exactly how I shot my shots and under what conditions, so your thumbs up means a lot.

In fact, I have you to "blame" for starting me out on this path.

After seeing the shots of our JMT trip that you posted on BPL, it definitely gave me a case of camera envy.

Mixing that with Jacob's education on photography from his website, I really got an education, plus his recommendation to take a look at the new NEX-5, it started me down this path.

http://hikeitlikeit.com/2011/photography-and-backpacking/

To add to the discussion on this, maybe I should mention how I take shots.

I am basically taking shots on the run here, traveling between 10-15 miles per day, sometimes a little more than 20 miles per day.

I probably get about 5-10 seconds to pull out my camera, compose, and to shoot my shots. Any longer and I am going to be left behind by the others.

I so have a tripod, but I have not taken it with me on a trip in 3-4 yrs.

http://www.rei.com/product/777249/pedco-ultrapod-mini-tripod

Cameron gave me the nickname/trail name, "Snapshot" and it is probably accurate.

Given the limited amount of time that I have, I am heavily relying on automatic features and a simply camera menu layout to access features.

I have never used features to adjust my exposure plus or minus, I simply use the Auto Lock feature to control exposure and recompose my shots to adjust for lighting conditions.

Looking at my camera, and I have no idea of what this means, here is what the lens says:

5.0 - 20.0 mm 1:2.8 - 5.8 (Zoom Lens 4xIS)

Okay, now that I think about it and having recalled Jacob's essay on lenses, this must be the F Stops?

Given this is what I am used to shooting with and my understanding that my camera is a Wide Angle Lens, I am hoping that the NEX-5 with the 18-55 mm lens covers the same range that I am currently getting.

If it does, great!

Nothing "worse" than I am getting now.

I am hoping to:

1. Have a general improvement in my shots (not sure how to define this)

2. Better low light performance for dawn & dusk....night time shots

3. Similar easy of use like the pocket camera that I have now

Cameron is correct in that I am not looking to have more manual control over the camera...simply looking for better results via larger sensor?

Frankly, if I can use the 18-55 mm "standard" lens for all of my shoots I would be a very happy camper indeed as I really would not have time to swap lenses while on the go.

That said, I can see, like UL backpacking, having the option to have a wide angle lens like the 16mm pancake, would be a nice option to have to give me more options in the field.

I could see coming into a Canyon like Deadman's Canyon in SEKI where I would appreciate putting the 16 mm lens on and then shooting the whole afternoon with that on, but I would not want to be continually swapping between lenses the whole afternoon.

My style of hiking just does not permit it.

I am first and foremost, out to hike, taking the pictures is very important as a means for me to remember and document my trips.

That said, I am incredibly honored that everyone has been so passionate and freely sharing their thoughts to guide me on this decision...I am lucky to have a community of friends here.

Hope this helps.

That said, between the photos that I have seen posted up and what I have read here, I am pretty convinced that this should be the camera for me.

-Tony

Edited by Valshar on 10/29/2011 15:12:09 MDT.

Bill Law
(williamlaw) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/29/2011 14:28:06 MDT Print View

I haven't seen the discussion that started this thread. But, coincidentally, I had asked about the lens Eric used in a Desolation Wilderness trip report he posted a while back.

I too carry only the 16mm lens with my NEX. Where I hike, it's the ideal lens, if perhaps not wide enough. I am more than happy with the image quality of the pictures I take using that lens.

I carry it in the Sony hard-sided case (don't know what the model number is, it's a bit pricey at $45 or so). It only fits the camera with the pancake lens, which is Ok for me. It is very lightweight and I find it works perfectly hanging from the shoulder strap of my pack, or from my belt. Getting the camera in and out is pretty effortless.

I also have the SEL18200 lens and the SEL1855 (the latter never mounted on the camera).

I was replacing a Panasonic TZ with long lens and thought I would want a telephoto lens with the Sony. I tried carrying it on the camera for one hike (around my neck!). I tried carrying in my pack. What I found was that when I used it, it was mostly to take picturs at 18mm. And stopping to swap lenses just was too inconvenient (especially since I'd just be taking shots at 18mm anyway). Now I use the big lens around home or carry it in the car to stop and take pictures when I stop at Olmstead Pt. on the way back home.

Of late, I have started carrying another 300mm (or so) lens: the one built into my old Panasonic TZ. It is way more compact and lighter than the SEL18200. And "swapping" lenses is trivial: I just grab the camera from the other shoulder strap. But the truth is, I never even used it on my last trip, and maybe not the one before that. But if a marmot popped his head up, I'd be ready to snap off a shot.

I experimented with MF lenses. I have a MD Rokkor 45mm pancake lens. But with adapter, it is almost exactly the same length as the kit 18-55. And it weights slightly more, to boot.

If I could find a case that conveniently carried the camera with the 18-55 lens, I might be tempted to try that. But for hiking purposes, the 16mm is all I probably need.

I also fitted my lens with a graduated ND filter which I've left on ever since I got it. I thought that might help with the typical bright-sky conditions I use it in. Not sure about that, but it protects the lens if nothing else.

As to the debate about mirrorless vs. DSLR vs. P&S: I take pictures of what I see and want to have some memory of (not sure why I want the memories, but let's ignore that). That means pictures of what I see in the mountains, and pictures of my grandchildren. A P&S may well work as well in the mountains, provided it has reasonable image quality and a wider lens (24mm). But they suck at taking pictures of kids. I've never put the flash on my NEX. I'm perfectly happy with the indoor shots at ISO6400. There's no shutter lag. With my P&S, I might as well have closed my eyes and shot in a random direction. The odds of catching the kid standing still and in focus when the flash went off would be just as high, probably.

I'm going to try out the 18-55mm around the house for the portraits. When I head out for a hike, I'll put on the 16mm. I hope that will prove to be pretty close to the ideal system for me. Until I upgrade to the next NEX (features of the 7, but with smaller sensor, I hope).

Bill

BTW, one can see most of my pictures at http://williamlaw.shutterfly.com. I've been taking pictures faster than I can post them, fortunately. I've got 3 trip reports yet to be written.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/29/2011 15:37:32 MDT Print View

From Tony :
Looking at my camera, and I have no idea of what this means, here is what the lens says:

5.0 - 20.0 mm 1:2.8 - 5.8 (Zoom Lens 4xIS)


The 5.0-20mm is the focal length and that gives you the angle of view , the 1:2.8 -5.8 is the F stop (lens aperture)
The F stop is easy to understand . 1 to 2.8 means that the maximum amount of light your sensor gets is 2.8 times less than available at the wide angle end. On full tele you lose 5.8 times.
The 5.0mm to 20.0mm is a bit tricky because to know what it means you need to know the size of your sensor.
My guess is that you have a Canon with a 1/2.3" sensor, that makes your lens a 28mm to 112mm equivalent (in 35mm lingo)
That is the reason why people normally now use that "35mm equivalent" so that you can compare figures.
To verify just go to DPReview and look into the camera data base there.
Franco

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/29/2011 17:40:08 MDT Print View

Franco,

Thanks for info and suggestion....research really helps give me a sense of how the NEX-5N compares to my Canon SD880IS

The Canon SD880IS works out in 35mm equivalent as 28-112mm.

The NEX-5N 18-55mm lens works out to 27-82.5mm.

The NEX-5N 16mm "Panoramic" lens works out to 24mm.

You were spot on with your estimate on the 35mm conversion- crazy good.

The DPReview of the NEX-5N was really impressive, helpful, and must of it went over my head, but it gave me a lot of good information to get educated.

-TOny

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/29/2011 18:32:24 MDT Print View

Incidentally knowing the 35mm equivalent also allows you to know how much smaller than a 35mm frame (also known as "full frame" ) your sensor is.
So your Canon 5mm (the wide end) is equivalent to a 28mm. Divide the two and you get 5.6 , your sensor has a diagonal size 5.6x smaller than a 35mm sensor.
The NEX 18mm is a 28mm equivalent, 28:18= 1.5, the NEX sensor is 50% smaller than a 35mm sensor...
Franco

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re:Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/29/2011 20:13:22 MDT Print View

I was able to handle the NEX-5N, the two new Nikons, and the Panny GF3 and G3 in a store today. If I had to choose among them based on ergonomics and the realities of shooting outdoors in direct sun, I'd go with either the V1 or the G3. They're "shooters'" cameras, if you will and the EVFs are brilliant. The Sony probably has the best rear display of the bunch. It's a good thing the Sony has the big grip, as it's pretty unbalanced with the kit zoom.

The Nikons, while small, are bigger than I'd expected given the small format. They're very refined in finish and layout.

cheers,

Rick

Matthew Marasco
(BabyMatty) - F

Locale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
re: on 10/30/2011 00:04:53 MDT Print View

Here is a report from my trip to the Adirondacks earlier this month, shot entirely with the 18-55.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=54665

I also own the 16mm pancake and a cheapo 35mm (51 equivalent) Michael Lens ($47 on ebay) which I actually really like, but didn't bring either along.

I like the shots I get from the 16mm, but it's not that much wider than the kit zoom to warrant bringing it along. Every NEX owner should get the Michael lens, IMO. Here's a link:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Michael-Lens-35mm-F1-7-for-SONY-NEX-3-NEX-C3-NEX-5-NEX-5C-NEX-7-NEX-VG10-/180735730585?pt=Camera_Lenses&hash=item2a14b06399

It has a slight vignetting, and at f 1.7 it can produce a nice bokeh superior to that of the 16mm pancake.

I am looking at the 55-210 telephoto next. I'd like to see some sample shots with it first, though. I'm also considering getting a higher-quality non-Sony lens and adapter, as I have seen some impressive results doing that.

Craig Shelley
(craig_shelley) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
OLED Viewfinder on 10/30/2011 08:41:36 MDT Print View

I have the 5N with the new OLED Viewfiner. I love working with it. I like composing in the viewfinder, seeing the exposure in the viewfinder, depth of field at all times, and various other information, such as shutter speed and aperture. Here's a photo from this week taken of the Double Arch Alcove (lower portion) in Taylor Creek, Zion National Park.Double Arch Alcove, Middle Fork of Taylor Creek in Zion NP

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
NEX on 10/30/2011 11:17:21 MDT Print View

Tony, I appreciate the sentiment but I would not consider my advice as expert, more like friendly words of encouragement. I'm just a dood with an NEX-5N who's excited about it. You and I should go on a hike sometime in the near future, I'll let you carry and use the NEX for a day to check it out.

I readily admit that my trip photos are not amazing, and I'm no landscape photographer. I am highly critical of my photographic gear though and I have worked out an SLR kit that I've grown very fond of using over the years (mostly for family photo journalism, friends, events, etc...) for photographing people, which is my forte I suppose. On hiking trips I either lug the SLR or settle on the P&S (same one that you have by coincidence), which is "ok" but completely uninspiring to use.

I don't disagree with the others that suggest high end P&S cameras can produce some nice results. It's true that making a great photo is all about the photographer, the light, and the subject. Sure, some great photos have been made with all sorts of cameras. Miroslav Tichy even makes his cameras from random bits of trash... that's pretty low-tech :) Sometimes I process grain, noise, vignetting, desaturation, or off-tone hues (in other words, "defects") into my photos to enhance the mood. I've even done some pinhole photography with my 5D; that's one expensive pinhole camera! Having the freedom to do work with photos this way is nice. I own several cameras, film and digital, and most of my favorite photos could have been taking with one or more of them, but I might not have got the shot due to having to adjust to the conditions or limitations of the gear. In some cases I might not have even attempted the shot due to lack of confidence. The gear is not the end-all-be-all, but it can inspire confidence and excitement and those are good things for a photographer to have (regardless of the technical merits of the gear). I would say HYOH, shoot with what inspires you, use what you enjoy, and what you have fun with. If the gear inspires you to learn more about photography, that's an added bonus, if not, don't sweat it.

I think in the context of the thread, which was originally an extension of a conversation several of us were recently having about the NEX and lenses, it's gone a little off topic, but still a good conversation about the NEX which I hope keeps going here.


From those of us here who are NEX users there seems to be a concurrence that the 18-55 kit is a good all-around lens for hiking/backpacking, no? I think this makes for a really simple setup, especially by using the camera in Auto or Aperture Priority (which is a good step towards learning a little more but still in realm of simple to use).

I'm guessing nobody here is using this combo, but Voigtlander makes an ultrawide 12mm lens (Heliar 12mm f5.6) that is fairly compact and gives a true "ultrawide" perspective. Here's a photo of it mounted to the NEX. Here are some photo samples from the combo. I think this would be a sweet lens to have as a companion to the 18-55; although not an inexpensive lens at $550 (without adapter)... well, depending on your perspective this could be also bargain :)

One thing to note about the NEX and non-Sony lenses is anything below 28mm *may* cause some strange color shift at the edges of the image. Some lenses exhibit this, some do not. In addition to that the effect is mitigated with each iteration of the camera (NEX3 being the worst, 5N showing much lesser effect). Just food for thought.

This is a spreadsheet that I started before I bought my NEX. I'm very interested in ALT lenses, so this may not be all that interesting to others but, none the less. This is just a start. Most of these lenses are rangefinder lenses, I think I'll eventually remove the SLR lenses as the idea with the NEX is keeping it small and light.

So do any of the other NEX users posting here have alternate lenses for your camera? I know a few have been mentioned, can we get a roll call?

Edited by JacobD on 10/30/2011 11:34:18 MDT.

Ismail Faruqi
(ismailfaruqi) - F
ALT lenses for NEX on 10/31/2011 00:16:44 MDT Print View

how about Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye? They are planning to release the NEX version according 43rumors.com... To my surprise, after owning both ultrawide and fisheye lenses, i found that the fisheye get out more often than the ultrawide lens. It is simply more... dramatic, although that "dramatic" effect wears out after one-two hikes :p

Fisheye also could be defisheyed, and it makes superb VR panorama with simple setup.

Today I'm only using a fisheye, a 20mm mFT (40mm eqv) lens, and a 100mm equiv macro for backpacking but they cover all my needs, sans long-range wildlife.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: ALT lenses for NEX on 10/31/2011 09:05:51 MDT Print View

I see you do like the fisheye from your avatar (self portrait?) :)

Samyang has shown they can produce some nice lenses, if they came out with a fisheye for the NEX it would sure be fun to try out, assuming it's small and inexpensive.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/31/2011 12:02:29 MDT Print View

I purchased the NEX-5 after our 4-year old Canon P&S was dropped by a friendly person taking our photo. I have taken this as a lesson and now carry a tripod (full size or Ultrapod Mini) to take photos of myself. In the search for a replacement I knew that the camera had to have some sort of PASM mode as we had become accustomed to using it on our fallen Canon. I was also interested in using different lenses but was intimidated by a full DSLR. I found the IQ of the NEX camera to be superb and in handling the camera in-store alongside Olympus' offerings I thought that the NEX's menu was more intuitive and the lenses felt like an actual camera instead of a plastic toy. Thus, I became and EVIL convert!

I purchased the NEX-5 with the 18-55mm and 16mm pancake as a package, which at the time was only $100 extra to include the pancake lens. It would have cost $249 separately if I hadn't bought it as a package.

My wife had an old Pentax K1000 with a few lenses that was not being used so I bought a Fotidox Pentax K to Sony E-Mount adapter to use the lenses on my NEX.

My current setup with the NEX-5 is as follows:
Sony 18-55mm/3.5-5.6 with UV filter to protect lens
Sony 16mm/F2.8 with UV filter to protect lens
Fotidox Pentax K to Sony E-Mount Adapter
Pentax-M 50mm/2.0
Pentax JC Penny - 135mm/2.8 ($8 at thrift store)
Pentax JC Penny - 80-200mm/4.5
Pentax JC Penny - 2x Teleconverter


I've also purchased some second-hand lens filters to help with some of my landscape images. A 49mm filter fits my Sony E-Mount lenses as well as the Pentax-M 50mm. These include a Neutral Density filter for longer shutter speeds in daylight (to get those silky waterfall/moving water photos), Closeup filters for pseudo macro work, and a Circular Polarizer that I'm still getting used to working with.

Lens filters:
ND 4 - At F22 this still lets in a considerable amount of light. Good for fast moving water but I hope to get a ND 6 or ND 8 for better results without resorting to F22. Stacking these filters is possible but IQ suffers with additional glass. Also, stacking filters may result in vignetting at the corners of the image.
Closeup +2 - ok
Closeup +4 - much better for pseudo macro work. A keeper in my opinion. Works great with 18-55 or 50mm lenses.
Circular Polarizer - My newest purchase. It is somewhat difficult to tune it properly with the NEX's screen.

In general, I use my NEX on A/Aperture Priority mode during the day. Only when photographing water features do I turn to S/Shutter Priority. I'll use S or M/Manual mode when attempting to shoot star/night shots. I need more practice in this area and I believe a IR remote would be beneficial here.

I found that on my recent trip to Yosemite that the 18-55 stayed on the camera most of the time. I'll post a link with some images from my trip later this week or weekend. I'll include some unedited images for comparison as well as show the natural vignetting that happened when I stacked my ND 4 and CPL filters.

I think my next purchases will include a Gradient ND filter, ND 6 or ND 8 filter, a Pentax manual focus prime lens in the 24 to 35mm range, a 35-70mm/2.8 zoom (if I'm lucky), and an IR remote.

Edited by cobberman on 10/31/2011 12:08:12 MDT.