Sony NEX

Sony Mirrorless Full Frame - The Future of Photography?


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I love gadgets. So it's no surprise that I make it pretty clear what I'm using, and occasionally, what I find intriguing. About a year and a half ago I bought my first modern digital Interchangeable lens camera and as I detailed here, I chose the Sony NEX system.

Sony is a company that has shown a willingness to push the boundaries. Here are some examples: Release of the NEX (First mirrorless APS-C system), RX-1 (First Full Frame fixed lens Mirrorless camera), Focus peaking system, and the Alpha SLT system. They make the sensors used in Nikon's flagship Full frame cameras and the sensor used in the iPhone 5 and 5s.

So, with the release and subsequent success of the RX-1 it isn't that much of a surprise that Sony is only a few days from releasing an interchangeable lens Full Frame Mirrorless system. It will use the same lens mount as the NEX system and the first 2 models will carry a center-mounted Electronic Viewfinder. posted a couple photos which have been confirmed by Andrea at Sony Alpha Rumors. To my eyes, the camera looks like a hybrid. The body and top controls are like an RX-1, the grip and mount are from the NEX bodies, and the hump on top of the body for the EVF that looks like an old school pentraprism box.

There have been quite a few exceptional photographers that have moved to mirrorless systems as their primary kit over the past couple years. Trey Ratcliff recently started using the NEX 7 for his epic landscapes. Zack Arias is a hardcore Fuji X series user. TED photographer Duncan Davidson has been using the RX-1 as his main camera for day-to-day use. Aaron Courter, who is an exceptional Portland based photographer and a long time friend has been incorporating the Fuji X cameras into his personal work, wedding and portrait business with great success.

I'm in love with the Sony NEX. I never even considered a DSLR camera because of the size, the weight and what I perceived to be its imminent demise. Up until now, you couldn't really get the same image quality and crazy shallow depth of field from a mirrorless camera, but I think the A7 and A7r will be the start of a large scale move away from large DSLR bodies for most photographers.

Sure, there are some times when the larger camera really makes sense. The Mirrored design still allows for faster focusing in sports contexts and there is certainly an expectation in event photography that will take awhile to pass. In addition, the larger bodies do have many features still missing from the new breed of mirrorless cameras and certainly handle big glass much better.

This is a moment. It feels like the rise of ultra portable notebooks such as the Macbook Air which have almost negated the need for more powerful desktops for all but the most demanding of users. I believe we are witnessing the birth of the future of photography.


Metal Lens Hood for Sony NEX

Metal Lens Hood

Sony Plastic Lens Hood

This week I ordered and received a metal thread mount lens hood from EZPhoto. I kept seeing photos of the Sony RX-1 and Fujifilm cameras with these classy, and short metal lens hoods and thought it seemed like a better idea than the fairly long, plastic hood included with the lens.

A lot of folks seem to snatching these up to use with their cameras as the official version from each manufacturer is pretty overpriced. There are some 3rd party optionsthat use the built in bayonet system, but even they are overpriced.

There are two advantages I've seen so far. First, this new hood is shorter, which makes it less obtrusive from a visual sense. Secondly, it's narrower which means that it does a better job of keeping objects and stray light away from the glass.

The one disadvantage I've seen thus far is that it mounts via filter threads which makes it a tiny bit more of a hassle to remove and prevents you from using a lens cap. I don't use a lens cap on the lens currently mounted to my camera, so no big deal.

Edit- Small warning- This hood causes a bit of Vignette on anything wider than 24mm. Stick with the Sony Stock hood on your kit lens.

As always, when you make purchases through links on my site, Amazon gives me a small cut for sending you their direction and it doesn't cost you any more. Thanks for the support!

Sony NEX Firmware updates

Quick Note: If you are looking for more information about custom controls, Lenses and tips for the Sony NEX series, take a look here for my guides, reviews and links.

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Sony just released firmware updates for the F3, 5N, 5R, 6, and 7 models. Most of these updates are tweaks that improve compatability with different E-Mount lenses. I just updated my firmware and there is one big feature update that I'm pretty excited about.

With this new update there is now a much greater spread between Exposures in the bracketed shutter mode. Previously, you only had the option of 0.3, or 0.7 EV compensation.

Now, the options are 0.3, 0.7, 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.

I've used the in camera HDR some, but was always frustrated that I had no way to do it in RAW format, or to merge the images manually. These greater Exposure spreads have been available on the newer models so this update just brings the 5N up to parity.

Here's the link


Sony NEX 35mm F/1.8 Preview

Quick Note: If you are looking for more information about custom controls, Lenses and tips for the Sony NEX series, take a look here for my guides, reviews and links.

In addition, I've posted my full review after using this lens for 4 months.

This week I picked up a lens for my Sony NEX 5N. It's the 35mm F/1.8. This is a Prime, Fixed focal length lens with in-lens Optical Stabilization. I've been thinking about this lens for a few months now and am hoping that it fills a large spot in my day-to-day photography. These are just some initial thoughts and I plan to post a more detailed review after I spent more dedicated time putting it through its paces.

As I outlined in a previous post, this lens has a 35mm focal length, but my camera has a smaller APS-C format sensor so the field of view it offers is very similar to the classic 50mm lens on a 35mm film camera.

I've been using it out and about this week and so far I'm very impressed. It is a bit smaller in actual size than the kit 18-55mm Zoom Lens or the 50mm Prime (they are roughly the same length). I'm able to fit it in my compact bag with the lens hood on, which I can't do with any other lens that I own. I like this as I prefer to keep the hood on. Partially for stray light blockage, and partly to protect the lens. I used a filter for awhile, but I've found that I like the images without it a bit more.

The field of view is close enough to the 50 that portraits are easily within reach, but it's also wide enough that I can just leave it on my camera and not feel too constrained. Anyway, most of the photos from this week were made with this lens. I can't wait to see its capabilities.

More Mt. Hood - WallpaperDownloads

Closer | 365 Project | Jan 13th, 2013

Downloads | Desktop | iPad | iPhone

So after yesterday, and a few cold, clear evenings this winter wishing I was in a better location for it, I decided to be intentional about getting a good clear image of Mt Hood right at twilight. I looked around online and discovered Jonsrud viewpoint in Sandy. There were 5 other photographers that had the same idea.

When I was processing these I just couldn't decide between color and B&W. I went with one of each. I think each is complimented well by the choice.

The first was made using my Soligor OM Mount 75-205mm at f/8. The second is with the Sony 18-55mm at f/8.

Breaking Through | 365 Project | Jan 13th, 2013

Downloads | Desktop | iPad | iPhone

Sony NEX Custom Settings and Upgrading Camera Gear

Quick Note: If you are looking for more information about custom controls, Lenses and tips for the Sony NEX series, take a look here for my guides, reviews and links.

Last night and this morning I went into the camera settings menu and reprogrammed all of my custom key settings. Within about an hour of unboxing back in March when I bought the camera, I had assigned all of the available custom keys. I haven't really touched them since then.

I was out shooting earlier this week and found myself annoyed that a setting I wanted to change...which I change quite often was a couple layers deep in a menu. That started my tinkering. The 5N has two dedicated user assignable buttons and one Custom menu that can be assigned to the center button. The custom 1 touch buttons should logically get me to places that I either use often or need to be able to change quickly.

I've found that my most used functions are Quality, HDR, MF/AF and ISO. I had all of these except for HDR in the custom menu, and then the custom soft key on the screen was set to quickly access different modes.

I switched them around a bit as the ISO, and ability to switch to manual focus are the most important to me. Truthfully, I would love to have access to at least one more variable in the A,S and M modes.

What if there were more buttons available?

I had a chance to visit a local camera shop near my office this week and check out both the NEX 6 and The NEX 7. Both have very similar menus and the same custom button options are found in the same areas.

I've considered both as upgrade paths, but have held steady for a few reasons.

  1. The actual image quality in tests has appeared to be remarkably similar on the 5's and the 6. In fact, SonyAlpha Rumors linked to a great article by DxOmark who did some tests and the results seems to show that the sensor quality on the NEX 6 is identical to that of the 5N. There are some differences in the sensor that primarily assist with auto focus as well, but I haven't had many issues with that so it wouldn't really make much difference to me. I already posted some thoughts on the sensor in the 7. The short summary is that it probably has too many pixels for its own good.

  2. Now that I'm a few months in, I really wish that my camera had an electronic viewfinder which both the 6 and 7 have. There is an EVF unit that snaps right onto the top of my camera, but at nearly $300, if I were to consider it, I might as well look into a new body.

  3. The NEX 7 has a beautifully designed user interface with 3 active control knobs that are active most of the time and are user-assignable. In other words, When you are in Aperture Priority, one knob obviously controls the aperture, and the others can control Exposure compensation and ISO. When in Manual, There can be a dedicated control for ISO, one for Shutter, and one for Aperture. Sweet.

  4. The 6 has a dedicated function knob which is great, but the control wheels are not very flexible and most of the time, the one dial on the back of the camera is rendered inactive. In other words, though the size and the form factor is almost identical to the 7, they didn't really take advantage of the extra space or dedicated knobs. They just gave you a new knob, and force you to use it instead of the other


Any upgrade would be one of form and not function at this point. I love the idea of better and more controls, but I don't think that the image quality would improve significantly. I'm glad that the data backs this up because I'm the type to look for reasons to upgrade. What I'm seeing even more clearly is that a solid body doesn't need to be replaced all that often, and that it makes more sense to invest your time and money into a couple of great lenses that you can trust.

I love what John Carey has to say about it here, and here

Seems as though any time I casually start looking at, reading about, or considering a new camera I always come to the same conclusion...Why?

His images are primarily created with a 6 year old Canon 5D and are stunning. He does use one hell of a lens though. I'm new at this, but taking notes from John.