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Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Why I am Thinking of Stepping Up to the NEX-5 on 10/27/2011 10:58:09 MDT Print View

Just because you can change lenses doesn't mean you have to. A lot of people, including Ryan J., shoot with one lens most of the time. Ryan generally uses a 35 f1.8 lens on his D7000 and that's my combo for most situations as well.

Edited by simplespirit on 10/27/2011 11:07:19 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
P&S on 10/27/2011 11:02:44 MDT Print View

Tony,

You can of course leave one lens on the camera at all times, like the kit zoom. I don't change lenses very often when I hike. Something like kit lens for the hike, change to fast prime in camp (or don't change at all). You still get the benefit of the bigger sensor.

You can use the NEX like a P&S (same is true of just about any camera). It has full auto mode, it also has some other modes such as a really neat panorama sweep mode, automatic HDR, and an evening capture mode that takes several fast shots and merges them in camera to greatly reduce the effects of camera shake. These are more 'auto' modes and I have not fully delved into them, besides the panorama - which is pretty cool.

These are all conveniences that your camera, and many newer cameras don't yet offer. I think if anything you will take MORE photos with the NEX (shudder) ;)

Additionally you can customize the few buttons that are on the NEX. I know you've discovered the technique of locking exposure, you can customize one button on the NEX to do this, which is a better way than using a half press on the shutter and recomposing because there is no focus involved with the single button lock (the SD880 can do this too, but it's a multi button press). Just an example of another way that you can leverage the camera as an even more powerful P&S


(edit: Chris beat me to it)

Edited by JacobD on 10/27/2011 11:05:46 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: Bulb Exposure on 10/27/2011 11:13:38 MDT Print View

@Eric

That may be a valid concern. The NEX is so small and light it might be tricky. Weighting the tripod like we were talking about might solve the issue. Then again it looks like a basic off brand IR remote can be had for ~$10, small and light to boot.

Matt Mioduszewski
(water-) - F

Locale: pacific nw
can't emphasize the NEX enough! on 10/27/2011 11:23:00 MDT Print View

almost bought a DSLR, so glad I didn't.
Lens range is limiting factor unless you get a converter and go for manual, which, at the moment is something I'm not doing for backpacking and climbing use at least.

crala flwrs
llaosrk
hood sunset

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Why I am Thinking of Stepping Up to the NEX-5 on 10/27/2011 11:56:50 MDT Print View

Hi Tony, may I offer a suggestion? Go through your existing photos and parse your shooting habits. By which I mean look at the zoom settings you used most often, what light conditions you shot in (and the various ISO settings), what subjects you shot most commonly and--very importantly--which photos you really like. i.e., What shots transcend the chasm between snapshot and treasured image? (Some photo software can give you camera setting statistics, which is a big help. If 62% of your shots are at the widest zoom setting, that's a clue.)

After doing this with a few hundred or better, a couple thousand shots (one Saturday kid soccer game for me) you should have an idea of what sort of photographer you are. Do you like sweeping wide-angle scenery? Do you like compressed scenery through a long telephoto view? Do you like macro wildflowers and bugs? Do you like portraits? Do you like evening time exposures? Do you like marauding deer and other large critters?

Once you've self-examined, look around at others' work and see what they're doing that you'd like to yourself, but aren't because of either technique or equipment. I wouldn't spend a nickle until determining what I'd like to accomplish with my images that I can't now. Sometimes it's a learning hurdle; sometimes it's a gear hurdle.

Nearly every camera has an "Auto" setting that delivers trustworthy results 90% of the time, so if you buy something completely unfamiliar you can still successfully use it immediately upon charging the battery. Cameras are easy. Then, as your skills expand you can take it off Auto and control it yourself to enhance and extend your vision. Don't be intimidated by gear.

What I find gets in the way of shooting a lot while on the go is lack of easy access. DSLRs are crappy backpacking companions because they're not easy to comfortably keep at the ready. The new mirrorless system cameras are much smaller, presuming they're fitted with compact lenses. A chunk of the size advantage bleeds away as lens size increases, though. And there exist fixed-lens compacts that take images that compete with the most expen$ive dslr, they're just not as flexible.

In sum, before opening the wallet try to decide what you'd like to accomplish. The gear is actually pretty unimportant compared to clarity of vision. The big mistake is buying a "metric" camera when your needs are actually "Imperial." Then, the camera stays in the toolbox, unused.

Cheers,

Rick

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Re: Why I am Thinking of Stepping Up to the NEX-5 on 10/27/2011 13:09:13 MDT Print View

I must admit I've never had any difficulty carrying a DSLR (and before that a film SLR) so it was accessible. I've carried one in a padded case on a strap slung across my chest on every trip in the last 30 years. Sometimes I've carried two SLRs like this. I'm changing to the NEX system (I've had an NEX 5 for the last year) because it's smaller and lighter and produces the same quality images but if compact system cameras handn't come along I'd have happily stayed with DSLRs.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Why I am Thinking of Stepping Up to the NEX-5 on 10/27/2011 14:29:56 MDT Print View

> one of my concerns is that a newer, more complex camera might mean taking fewer photos.

Been there, done that. I used to use an expensive SLR with film and many lenses, and I found I was missing lots of good shots. By switching to a slightly smaller camera which I can carry in a pouch on the shoulder strap of my pack, I get to take MANY more shots. Also, the slightly smaller size means I can get the camera out with one hand while I am doing something else. A wrist strap is a very good idea if you are going to do that, btw. That doesn't meant going down to the phone camera or tiny P&S size though.

> I am struck by how clear, sharp, and vivid the images are vs. my humble Canon 880.
I am going to disagree slightly with some comments about this (sorry Rick and Chris and all). The dynamic range found in a jpg image from an ideal silicon sensor is 256:1. That is because the data has only 8 bits resolution. This is a far cry from the 3+ decades available from Kodak Gold etc!

However, that is a bit misleading for 2 reasons. The first is that the transfer function found in modern cameras is S-shaped, which gives the *appearance* of greater dynamic range. The second is because noise plays a big part in how an image looks. If the sensor is cheap and noisy, the dynamic range looks much worse. (Little P&S and phone cameras have tiny CHEAP sensors.) If the electronics uses lots of gain (=high ASA), the noise will rise.

This leads to a couple of questions. Do you use your camera on Auto? If so, be aware that it will often push the gain/ASA up to keep the shutter speed fast. That can put a lot of noise into your pitures, which will make them look lower in quality. The solution here is to never use Auto; use P(rogram) instead and keep the ASA down. This may mean you need to rest the camera against something at times: do so.

The next question is how have you set you camera to save the images? If you are using medium to high compression, then image quality will suffer. I never use anything but the maximum allowed image size, or even RAW. I don't think the 880 can save as RAW however.

Then there is cheating - well, editing. Many of the photos I see on the web have been enhanced. A photo-editor can balance the colours and boost the contrast a bit to make the image look better. A little adjustment of the jpg settings can boost the edges just a little to make images look sharper. Oh, there's so many trick to the trade! (And Playboy Bunnies are 50% photo-enhancement, along with any other 'enhancements'!)

I am not saying you can't take better photos with a more expensive camera, but I am saying that the skills needed to properly use a DSLR can be applied to a pro-compact to get VERY similar results.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 10/27/2011 14:30:59 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Why I am Thinking of Stepping Up to the NEX-5 on 10/27/2011 14:39:26 MDT Print View

Roger - that's why I have an Oly XZ-1 for light and fast trips. Good combination of weight, price, and a sharp bright lens with an ok zoom range.

I looked hard at the Nex and other mirrorless systems but couldn't justify the cost since I already had an investment in Nikon.

Edited by simplespirit on 10/27/2011 14:40:48 MDT.

Matt Mioduszewski
(water-) - F

Locale: pacific nw
I would second mr caffin's statement on 10/27/2011 14:41:49 MDT Print View

I used a decent P&S up until this year. Was able to take many great shots, camera did a ton of what I wanted, with ease most of the time. The main issue was dynamic range during a lot of mountaineering where you have bright white slopes and dark green valleys below. There were work arounds for this but a bigger better sensor help a lot.
That said with my P&S I was able to make gorgeous calendars that I gave to family/friends each christmas (about 25-35 copies each year)--this was from an 8mp camera and most of the shots were blown up to the full size of the calendar. Generally the colors were warm and rich, things not grainy, and resolution fine.

The NEX line has been an incredible upgrade for me in terms of getting the significantly higher IQ without sacrificing much at all as far as size. I almost bought a DSLR (canon) but after I watched people lugging them around their neck up Mt St helens in the winter and then got to use a guy's NEX to take some group shots for them, the seed was planted. Yes it is not quite as pocket-able. Yes I cannot just use AA lithiums. Yes the native mount lens availability is limited right now. BUT, all these are outweighed by quality of the pictures I get and the increased photographic capability I have with the equipment. I had maxed out the P&S's capabilities but I imagine getting something like the latest Canon G12 or whatever, would not disappoint and be quite field-usable. I wouldn't even consider a fullon DSLR in a million years now. Small systems will only grow in popularity, features, and quality. I can subtly bring the NEX with 16mm to a dinner party. There is no subtly with any of the DSLRs.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Sony NEX Lens Impressions on 10/27/2011 16:55:05 MDT Print View

I have had a small photography and writing business for about 12 years now, but in the last two years it has been pretty much in hibernation for various personal reasons. In the early days I concentrated on landscape photography and then in later years on bird photography. My photos were published in magazines and books, I contributed to a couple of stock libraries, sold a few prints and did a little commissioned work.

When I carried an SLR I didn't take many photos, but those I did were of high quality, often taken at either the end or the start of the day. I always used a tripod and setting it all up, trying different compositions, bracketing exposures (film days), using filters etc. just took too long to stop that often. Also I never liked carrying an SLR round my neck whilst hiking.

On recent trips I have just taken a point and shoot and have really enjoyed taking a lot more photos as I go along and have ended up with a much better record of the trip. Unless you are going to devote some serious time to your photography whilst hiking , or are just into photography, then I feel that for most people a DSLR is a bit of an over kill, as there are some excellent options now available.

I am now looking to swap my entire DSLR system for something smaller, as my photography will now be mainly for on-line display and some magazine use. However, it is a somewhat bewildering choice and choosing backpacking gear is a breeze compared to choosing between photo systems.I would likely already be on the waiting list for a NEX-7 if the lens line up was a little more inspiring, as it looks lovely. Then some days I decide to go with the Olympus system :). Then there's the Fuji X-100 and the possibility of using manual focus lenses with an adapter on the 4/3 and Nex cameras - help:). Finally there are the high end compacts like the XZ-1 and the Fuji X10. Hoeing to make some kind of decision pre Christmas.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
NEX vs. SLR's on 10/27/2011 20:34:23 MDT Print View

There are very few reasons why someone would actually need an SLR any more, but they could be good reasons if they matter to the camera user.

- Faster autofocus
- Advanced AF features, like subject tracking
- Wide(st) selection of AF'ing lenses vs. other camera systems
- Ergonomics & handling

Aside from backpackers who are capturing fast moving wildlife in action the first three reasons are of little significance. As far as handling goes, I definitely wouldn't fault anyone for wanting to stick with an SLR (or SLR-like) camera.

Now that large (APS-C and full frame) sensors are found in bodies that look like rangefinders and, in the case of the NEX, a P&S style body, all of the other benefits can be reaped including the wider dynamic range, better ISO, better resolution, raw file format, raw file support in Lightroom, and so on. There are now several fixed-lens large sensor cameras, as well as interchangeable lens versions such as the NEX which paves the way for SLR users to make the jump.

I am a reluctant convert from a Canon 5D, which in my experience has been an excellent camera even at 6 years old. That's like a millennium in the digital world, but it still manages to keep up with some of the best modern cameras (as far as image quality goes). The NEX-5N is on par with the 5D and, in some respects, surpasses it. It's exciting to find this kind of performance in such a small system. Sadly my wife has mandated the sale of my 5D as she won't give up her SLR as of yet. That camera has photographed both our kids as babies! She's a tough one, someone buy me a beer ;)

I admit to liking the prospect of the NEX-7 as far as ergonomics and handling are concerned (this is the camera that initially sparked my interest in NEX's in general) but the 24mp sensor leaves me cold and I doubt I will have any interest in it. I am very curious though to see some how the files look when production models are available, especially with the Sony-Zeiss 24/1.8 that's coming this fall.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: NEX vs. SLR's on 10/27/2011 20:50:00 MDT Print View

Good Luck Selling your 5D. If you are lucky you will get $100 for it.

True, its far more likely to sell than my Sony r1 that is on the fritz with metering problems...

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: NEX vs. SLR's on 10/27/2011 21:00:06 MDT Print View

Hahaha... Brian. I'm not sure if that was tongue in cheek, but market price for a 5D in good condition is about $1000 :)

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: NEX vs. SLR's on 10/27/2011 22:27:02 MDT Print View

"I'm not sure if that was tongue in cheek, but market price for a 5D in good condition is about $1000"

That depends on whether the Canon 5D is a Mark I, Mark II, or Mark III.

--B.G.--

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Why I am Thinking of Stepping Up to the NEX-5 on 10/28/2011 12:49:58 MDT Print View

Rick,

Brillant advice and very much appreciated.

In fact, I want to thank everyone here for the input and education.

I am pretty excited at the future possibilities of what this camera can do for me.

Having shot rediculous number of shot and having sorted them out for my past photo essays, my shots tend to fall mostly with large landscapes and shots of people on the trail and in camp.

Occassionally, I will take some Macro shots of flowers along the trail.

I guess from that perspective the NEX-5 with the pancake 16mm might be the lens for me to have on my camera most of the time and then swapping to the kit 18-55 mm while in camp or at lunch time to capture close up shots of people.

If that sounds reasonable, it might be a great setup for me as the 16 mm lens makes the NEX-5 more "compact" vs. having the 18-55 mm lens on all of the time.

Given that I am shooting outdoors, the ISO is low...in fact, in manual mode, I like to push the ISO down to 80 to get the best looking shots that I can, but I just have to make sure I am really stable to prevent blur with my pocket camera.

One of the things that Jacob mentioned about this camera is that there are programable buttons. Three of them if I recall???

I would definitely program one of them for panoramic shoots, which I love to take.

Another one would be for night time shots....which might involve a higher ISO preset.

Chris mentioned that Ryan uses just one lens and that might appeal to me.

However, I have a feeling that as I get into this and with Jacob's expert guidance, I am going to see the advantages of having a second lens in the field to give me more flexibility.

I am completely blown away with the images that have been posted up with this camera!

Me wants now! (But will have to wait to buy new shiny toy later).

-Tony

Edited by Valshar on 10/28/2011 12:52:37 MDT.

Matt Mioduszewski
(water-) - F

Locale: pacific nw
customize buttons on 10/28/2011 12:54:36 MDT Print View

i actually use the 18-55mm as my all-around lens. Only occasionally outdoors do I put the 16mm on, and often that is in conjunction with the WDA (wide angle adapter).

as far as customizable buttons, you can do this on the NEX-5, but the NEX-C3 and NEX-5N I think give even more options as far as settings.

The ones I change the most are: ISO, HDR, and White Balance.

I have personally found the pano feature of the NEX to suck (or maybe it is me!) as far as lots of poor alignment and obvious edges where it has joined the pano. I end up better just taking 3-5 pictures and joining them myself in a program.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Re: Why I am Thinking of Stepping Up to the NEX-5 on 10/28/2011 16:42:48 MDT Print View

"Having shot rediculous number of shot and having sorted them out for my past photo essays, my shots tend to fall mostly with large landscapes and shots of people on the trail and in camp.

Occassionally, I will take some Macro shots of flowers along the trail."

Nothing about this statement screams you need anything more than an enthusiast compact like a Canon G12, Nikon P7100, Pany LX5, Oly XZ-1, Fuji X10, or even a vacation compact like the Fuji EXR600. Add in a small Gorilla Pod, and/or polarizing/graduated ND filters if compatible and you will have a very capable and versatile kit for your INTENDED OUTPUT.

Importantly, no need to fumble with lenses and risk getting dust in the sensor. Any dynamic range shortcomings of the smaller sensors can be overcome with exposure bracketing and HDR processing. Seriously, unless you are printing for publication or photography is the main reason for your hike ANY current changeable lens camera is overkill. IF you have time to think about and set up a shot a modern compact can take very nice photographs for small prints and electronic publication.

Edited by rmjapan on 10/28/2011 16:46:19 MDT.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Why I am Thinking of Stepping Up to the NEX-5 on 10/28/2011 17:07:53 MDT Print View

Rick,

Truly appreciate your input and thoughts.

I know that hte pocket camera that I have serves me well, maybe by evidence of the numberous photos that I have posted on BPL of the trips that I have taken.

I admit that there is more hassle here with this sort of camera, but I believe that the "better" looking photos might be worth it for me.

I fully admit that I have photo envy going on here or perhaps I am just considering this step as part of moving on to learning more about photography.

Not looking to publish, sell, or have photography as a living.

This i purely for my self enjoyment to look back at the memories of the trips that I have had and sharing them online with the photo essays on BPL.

Maybe this helps put some context to what I am trying to do.

-Tony

Matt Mioduszewski
(water-) - F

Locale: pacific nw
dont have to be semi-pro to want better camera on 10/28/2011 17:21:48 MDT Print View

really comes down to enjoyment!

like i laid out, I did plenty great stuff with my point and shoot. 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 not having a large sensor, the short and sweet is that a larger sensor (of quality) will give much better results in a variety of areas, all things being equal with the photographer behind the camera.

On a strictly analytical level for all of life, people would be best off with a whole host of simplified and exceedingly cheaper options (like smaller homes, less/smaller cars, healthier diet, etc) but that analysis isn't really tenable for how people actually live.

Same goes for camera, people like to have options. Whats the worst thing that happens if you spend the money to get into the NEX system (or anything beyond P&S basically) and find you don't like it? You sell it used, get back some money, and home in on the better photo-enthusiast p&s of the day like whatever the G12, etc evolves into.

Additionally, you may be very happy with your ASP-C sensor produced photos and find yourself slowly migrating into large prints simply for your own home or family/friends. Or may grow as a photographer and find yourself further into the system.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Re: Why I am Thinking of Stepping Up to the NEX-5 on 10/28/2011 17:45:38 MDT Print View

"I fully admit that I have photo envy going on here or perhaps I am just considering this step as part of moving on to learning more about photography.

Not looking to publish, sell, or have photography as a living.

This i purely for my self enjoyment to look back at the memories of the trips that I have had and sharing them online with the photo essays on BPL.

Maybe this helps put some context to what I am trying to do."

I think all the compacts I mentioned have the basic PASM modes that will let you learn/play with exposure just like any dlsr/icl camera. They shoot RAW too so you can waste time/have lots of fun in post processing. Today's compacts are more capable than even the best 35mm film cameras ever were. Pulitzer-prize winning photos have been taken with iPhones. Great pics are not about the camera but the artist behind the lens. I suspect Galen Rowell, patron saint of UL hikers/photographers would be using the Fuji X100 if were still alive. Well, probably a Leica M9....naw he'd still be shooting film!

You will improve your skill by learning what makes a great photograph, NOT because you have a shiny new camera with lot's of useless features. The ART of photography is making a pic that tells a story and draws your audience in. Watch people at a print exhibition and you will see them stop in front a pic that catches their "eye" and inevitably they move in closer to appreciate the details.

Now if this were not a UL hiking forum, I'd say knock yourself out but buy a real dSLR like a Pentax K5 or Nikon D700!

Edited by rmjapan on 10/28/2011 18:08:13 MDT.