Photographic & Tech Musings by Jon Adams

Compact System Camera

Sony Nex-5n Big Camera in a Little Body - Changes My Plans

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I want to tell you about the Sony Nex line of Cameras. I'm sure many of you have seen these little cameras. Maybe some of you have heard Trey Ratcliff or Scott Bourne talk about where the future of photographic capture is going. I want to tell you about how this little Nex-5n has made me a convert to the new smaller form factor of cameras and what's in store for me.

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I've always had a toe or two into the video world. The things people do in the movie industry has always kept my interest. I have pretty much always has a dedicated video camera. I wanted my video camera to be small yet I'd like to be able to get really clean shallow depth of field video. You need a big sensor and if you could change lenses, oh my, that would be nice. Recently I decided to sell my three video cameras and purchase the Nex-5n primarily as a tiny video camera that could have different lenses and shoot really nice stills. What I didn't know is how much I'd like this camera as a still camera.


The little Sony has a good feel in the hand a great feel around your neck, actually I can hardly feel it at all around my neck. What I wasn't ready for is how good this little guy is. It has taken me a few weeks to get used to the new interface as compared to my big Nikon. I've been able to customize the controls to allow me to get to nearly every control I need very quickly. It's truly a joy to use and since it's so easy to carry, I have it with my much more than my other system. I can pop on the little 16mm pancake lens and it's a pocket camera. When I need more lens the 18-200 is a nice piece of Glass that covers a huge range. No one yet makes a really nice ultra wide for the system. I'm talking the 8-10mm range. But with the Sony adapter you can put on the Sigma 8-14mm with is a very nice lens and gives me that range. Although when someone makes a really nice native wide, that's the one I'll be after.


So I found myself choosing this little Nex over my bigger SLR almost every time and I've decided to change my camera system to one of these Nex cameras. I most enjoy shooting landscapes. You always seem to want more pixels when you're printing landscapes. Intro the Nex-7. The Nex-7 is a 23 Megapixel tiny camera. It picks up an amazing electronic viewfinder missing on the 5 and a couple control dials and some more programmable buttons. I was finally able to get my hands on one of these at CES. I have fallen in love with this camera, and for what I do or what I want to do, it's perfect for me. There are a couple things I wish Sony would do for this camera that are missing. I have figured out my workarounds for all of them. Many of these things are the same as my Nikon so I'm already doing them.


The bracketing is completely useless on the Sony cameras across the lineup. Three frames at .7 stops apart, you can't even go a full stop. As an HDR shooter I want more frames with more control of how far apart. My D7000 only does three frames now so I'm already shooting HDRs manually. There isn't a cable release port on the body. I wish there were, but the wireless remote can do a very similar thing, in fact the remote I have for Sony has a 2 second button that sets the camera timer for 2 seconds and shoots or a shoot now button. I used my remote as a replacement for a cable release for a lot these days on my D7000. You can also shoot in bulb mode with this little remote. push it once to turn it on and once more to turn it off. It is a little difficult to know if you actually got the camera to engage as there is no mirror clicking up to know if it started. Maybe Sony will as some kind of light or notification on the screen to indicate it's capturing a long exposure. They most certainly could make a dedicated cable release to work with the built in USB port. Lastly is there is no tethering support for these little cameras. I use an Eye-fi card which works very well in these cameras, but there are times at my job when tethering is nice. I'll just have to use our work cameras for those jobs. So all in all the problems are minor. For me the upsides are many.


The upsides first is image quality. I won't settle for a drop in image quality. There is only one direction to move on this issue. The 24 Megapixel Nex-7 is better at this than any camera I've had to date. I like to print big, and this will allow me to do that even better than now. The size makes it so much easier to get your gear to where you want to shoot. The cost of the system is less than my current gear, even used. By selling what I have now I'll end up with a fair chunk of cash, even after I get the camera body and lenses I want. Good glass is expensive, but the really good glass for this is about half the price of the good glass I have for my DSLR system. The video abilities allows me to shoot with the same camera whether I want to shoot stills or video. Same camera body same lenses. So I don't have to think about whether I want to bring the extra camera along to shoot video. Shooting video on these is just as it is on your digital camcorder. Focusing doesn't make noise and it's quick and easy to shoot with. There's just one last problem. With the flood wiping out Sony's factory last year, the Nex-7 is very difficult to get your hands on. I have put an order into several places, but I'm afraid it could be a while before I can actually get a Nex-7 of my own. Until then, I'm selling all of my DSLR gear and shooting with the Nex-5n as my primary camera. It's capable and the image quality is as good as my 7000. I'll give you a report on my experience with the 7 when I get it. Until then. So I get a little CSC camera thinking it'll be a nice handy good quality video camera and it changes my perspective about the future of photography and where I want to be in that future. It's an exciting time right now in the world of Photography.

PS. If you're thinking about getting a Nex-5 make sure you get the Nex-5n model. The "n" makes a big difference. The images in this post are shot with the Nex-5n. Accept the one of the Nex-5n.