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  1. #1
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    Sony NEX-5: one year in [o]

    So a year ago I purchased one of the new mirrorless SLRs, a Sony NEX 5. These cameras give DSLR quality plus interchangeable lenses in a camera the size to a rangefinder or most P&S cameras. In other words, very portable and I haven't ridden with my DSLR since! So I thought it fun to post up the year in review with some of my favourites...






























































    Previously I only took along my DSLR when I was doing a ride with an emphasis on photography, ie almost a planned photoshoot. Otherwise it would just stay home because as you say, its too much hassle. And it never fails that one comes across a scene that makes you scream "wish I had brought my camera!" The NEX-5 however is so portable that I take it along almost every ride even if I have no intention of doing a shoot.

    It's not for everyone but for me it is close to perfect! I wanted a full DSLR size sensor for all the benefits that entails. It came with a 16mm pancake prime lens that is perfect for landscapes and is what I mostly use, and is so small the camera fits in a pocket. I also have the 18-55mm zoom, and just ordered the 30mm Macro which should arrive on my doorstep tomorrow. Looking forward to some fun with that! Cheap adapters are available that allow you to use almost any lens imaginable on this camera! As I already posted previously, I have an adapter for my Leica M4 lenses.

    There are numerous software algorithms that allow special effects that previously required carefully planned shots and then significant post processing in Photoshop. HDR (high dynamic range) is popularbut DRO (dynamic range optimizer) works well for me. My favourite though is the Panoramic Mode which gives you a sweep of 270 degrees in a file over 8000 pixels wide. I like to combine those with standard shots to give a better sense of location. All files are down sized dramatically for the web but here's a few more panoramics








  2. #2
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    Nice photos. I've also got this camera, and i've never regretted. The best possibility in that size.
    Last edited by PeterMJ; 02-03-2012 at 02:39 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterMJ View Post
    Nice photos. I've also got this camera, and i've never regret. The best possibility in that size.
    Thanks! Here's a few favourites from just the 30mm macro lens that I have acquired since...





















  4. #4
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    BCD - great photos. Did you do much post-processing with these images (color adjust, brightness/contrast, etc.)? What are your thoughts on its video capabilities?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Void65 View Post
    BCD - great photos. Did you do much post-processing with these images (color adjust, brightness/contrast, etc.)? What are your thoughts on its video capabilities?
    Thanks! Yes, I like to post process rather than in-camera. I get to spend time with the image and enjoy it more that way. I always do a basic sharpening (using the default setting in CS3), and add a border. Sometimes I adjust the levels & white balance my self if I don't like where the camera or Photoshop has set them. Frequently I will turn up the saturation a bit to punch out the colours. And I also dodge and burn areas that need it. The typical old school darkroom stuff, pics don't make themselves!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Void65 View Post
    What are your thoughts on its video capabilities?
    I have only used the video on one occasion, and could not even take advantage of HD mode 'cause my computer won't handle it (yes, I need to upgrade)
    so this was shot standard (VGA??)mode, available light of course, dimly lit store at night. I was impressed and thought sound quality to be good too. Judge for yourself, clip isn't long....

    Muskoka's mountain bike community join together to present Buckwallow Mike with a 2011 Surly Pugsley at The Bike Shop in Gravenhurst, On. Canada!


  7. #7
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    Just curious but what kind of bag do you keep your NEX in? I just picked up a 5N and am shopping for something to carry it around in on rides.

  8. #8
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    I have a small CaseLogic which will easily hold the camera with either 16mm
    pancake or 18-55mm zoom attached.
    If I'm bringing a second lens on a ride I just slip it in my pocket.
    I prefer to slip it onto the top strap of my hydration pack.
    Its well protected there imo and very quick access for those quick grab shots on group rides.
    I have a UV filter mounted on the lens so no lens cap, and ride with the camera turned on, ready to rocknroll
    This setup is so light and compact it's not any bother at all to bring it along.
    Last edited by BlackCanoeDog; 02-12-2012 at 05:54 PM.

  9. #9
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    I ended up getting the Lowepro Edit 100 bag as it fit the 5n with the 18-55 lens and the belt loop was velcro so it could be attached to the top of my Wingnut pack.

    Just curious, what mode do you typically shoot in? Do you have any custom settings on your camera? What do you do for white balance while out in the field?

    Sorry for all the questions but your pics look awesome and I'd love to be able to match some of them.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by lost27 View Post
    Just curious, what mode do you typically shoot in? Do you have any custom settings on your camera? What do you do for white balance while out in the field?
    Sorry for all the questions but your pics look awesome and I'd love to be able to match some of them.
    Doing photography on rides (especially group rides) is all about KISS because a) the ride is the main thing and b) your riding companions don't want to hang forever while you shoot. Which makes it tough to get that 'just perfect" shot! Also I prefer and enjoy post-processing so I do not tweak pics in camera but that is certainly an option if you prefer to limit or not do post processing. ie you can set up sharpening, saturation, bracketing etc. For me post processing lets me spend time with and enjoy the pic, as well as being able to dodge & burn areas if necessary.
    Mostly I use S mode (shutter priority) and ISO200 if bright sun but ISO400 if lots of tree cover, shade etc. If deep forest cover will even go ISO800. I'm not above using Iphoto modes too.be careful where you base your exposure on is best tip imo . Nothing I hate more in a pic than blown hilights (washed-out whites, page white clouds or snow with no detail is a very common example) so I always tend to expose for the hilights and let the shadows go dark...which often as not adds visual impact anyway. This can easily be done by aiming at a brighter part of the scene, holding shutter button down half way which locks exposure and then frame your shot. Don't know if I explain that well but again its quick way to not overexpose.

    I ahve shutter set on multiple shot so often squeeze off 8-10 shots of moving riders, changing expressions to improve odds to get a good one etc love digital to just delete the crap!!

    I have DRO turned on and Sony's works very well imo. Dynamic Range Optimizer helps to avoid blown hilights also.

    AWB (auto white balance) works well for me but I use Adobe Lightroom to develop my pics and really like their AWB setting. I switch between the 2 to compare but most of the time go with Lightroom' s settings, they are a bit warmer and it does snow really well imo...again I dislike snow shots that have the blue cast commonly seen.

    After some adjustments in Lightroom ( f which many are possible) I export and then open with Adobe Photoshop for final tweaking.
    I always sharpen slightly (default setting) and adjust levels if necessary if I don't like what AutoLevels puts out. And I will dodge and burn ( lighten/darken)select areas if needed. I usually up the saturation slightly to punch out the colours somewhat. And finally I add the border. Much of this can be automated in a batch routine if one wishes...except for selective dodge & burn.
    For the web upload I reduce the pics to 1000 x 666 pixel, typically gives a file 250-350 K suitable fr web viewing only. The original files are 15Mb range and would be suitable for prints.
    That's about it, hope it helps and most of all have fun!
    Last edited by BlackCanoeDog; 02-22-2012 at 04:55 PM.

  11. #11
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    beautiful shots, the successor, 5n, has the best IQ and most modern sensor of the aps-c (most dslrs), very compact. But mirrorless systens have huge drawback of focusing on action/movement.

    Plus, with a $30 adapter you can adapt older gen nikon/canon (with f-stop on lens), for great bang bug pictures for stills.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    beautiful shots, the successor, 5n, has the best IQ and most modern sensor of the aps-c (most dslrs), very compact. But mirrorless systens have huge drawback of focusing on action/movement.

    Plus, with a $30 adapter you can adapt older gen nikon/canon (with f-stop on lens), for great bang bug pictures for stills.
    Thanks for appreciating!
    Yes, I have an adapter to use my Leica M4 lenses, here's a pic of the NEX 5 with the 35mm and 90 mm...


    I'm not sure I agree about the mirrorless system being a 'huge drawback' for focusing on action, you will have to elaborate on that. Do you mean tracking action? With today's autofocus lenses who focuses much anymore? I rarely do anyway, except when using the old manual lenses. That being said, I am primarily interested in 'landscape' photography while out riding, skiing, paddling etc. These cameras are pretty sweet for that imo, very happy with it and they are so small I rarely go for a ride now without bringing it along!

  13. #13
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    It does pretty good at capturing action especially with the 10fps burst. I've got a nice 10 frame set of Adam Craig cleaning the 'A' line at the mellow classic

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the thread and review!
    Read my BLOG!

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  15. #15
    saddlemeat
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    BCD, b13b - What is the format factor when using a 35mm lens adapter?
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    BCD, b13b - What is the format factor when using a 35mm lens adapter?
    The factor is 1.5, ie a 50mm lens from a 35 mm film camera effectively becomes 75mm and so on for C size DSLR sensors.

  17. #17
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    ^Ah, right... C sensor. duh. Thanks...
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  18. #18
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    The camera is competent but I have to applaud your good eye in the first place. It is always a pleasure for me to look at your pictures even when looking at image sizes where frankly the camera quality does not matter much.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by StiHacka View Post
    The camera is competent but I have to applaud your good eye in the first place. It is always a pleasure for me to look at your pictures even when looking at image sizes where frankly the camera quality does not matter much.
    Thank you for the appreciation! Yes these are scaled down substantially for web display, but I want to retain the capability to produce good quality large size prints from the original files and APS-C size sensors are the bottom limit for that imo. I have had several mounted prints 30" x 45" produced for a client from my Pentax K-20 that are surprisingly good!! I have not tried this yet from the NEX-5 and to be fair the Pentax lens used for them cost more than the entire NEX kit.

  20. #20
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    Funny that you should have this up as my Canon 20D is slowly dying and this year I was planning on picking something up.
    Originally I had planned on getting a 50D or something similar and going from there but at the same time I was looking for something that would give me DSLR quality photos for riding but was still quite compact. Then came along the adapters that will take my Canon lenses and I think I may be sold on the NEX-5! I figure that I can get the base body with the 16mm pancake lens and then from there if I want to bring something along I can grab my 19-35, 50 f/1.8, 24-135 or my 55-250 and call it good.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    Funny that you should have this up as my Canon 20D is slowly dying and this year I was planning on picking something up.
    Originally I had planned on getting a 50D or something similar and going from there but at the same time I was looking for something that would give me DSLR quality photos for riding but was still quite compact. Then came along the adapters that will take my Canon lenses and I think I may be sold on the NEX-5! I figure that I can get the base body with the 16mm pancake lens and then from there if I want to bring something along I can grab my 19-35, 50 f/1.8, 24-135 or my 55-250 and call it good.
    before you jump in verify if autofocus will work with those lenses. if not you will have to manually focus which may or may not effect your decision. while riding i find the photography tends towards quick grab & go shots and i personally find autofocus invaluable in those circumstances especially if ambient lighting is very bright.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCanoeDog View Post
    before you jump in verify if autofocus will work with those lenses. if not you will have to manually focus which may or may not effect your decision. while riding i find the photography tends towards quick grab & go shots and i personally find autofocus invaluable in those circumstances especially if ambient lighting is very bright.
    What do you mean? Is there a documented issue with the NEX that some lenses will not autofocus with the adapters or is it the adapters? All my lenses are EF/EF-S lenses so theoretically they should all autofocus.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    What do you mean? Is there a documented issue with the NEX that some lenses will not autofocus with the adapters or is it the adapters? All my lenses are EF/EF-S lenses so theoretically they should all autofocus.
    I don't know if they will or won't, I don't know enough about brand interchangeability with autofocus lenses to really comment. I would just make sure first to not be surprised/disappointed later. I suggest you post the question in the Sony NEX forum on DPReview or some other knowledgeable source. Let me know what you find out

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    What do you mean? Is there a documented issue with the NEX that some lenses will not autofocus with the adapters or is it the adapters? All my lenses are EF/EF-S lenses so theoretically they should all autofocus.
    I do not think you can expect the adapters to do magic between different systems of multiple vendors. Typically, these adapters offer mechanical coupling only, some of them are smart enough to provide aperture control. Some cameras offer focus assist indicators, but those still require you to operate the focus ring manually. I would be very surprised if Cannon lenses could autofocus on Sony bodies.

    For this reason, it is vintage lenses (M42, Leica, Contax, etc.) that are so popular to use with these cameras - nothing can replace the good old direct mechanical focusing of those. I sometimes shoot with a 4/3rds body and vintage Exakta lenses, but everything is manual with this combo, including aperture control.

  25. #25
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    How do you like the Sony for low light forest action shots? Living in the costal rainforest that's my biggest challenge - keeping a fast moving bike in focus under gloomy conditions.
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