Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grossman's Tavern

Grossman's Tavern -- NEX-5N & Carl Zeiss Distagon 35mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Spadina Avenue in Toronto is one of the widest streets in Toronto, and it has a lot of old and interesting buildings.  Many of the buildings are converted to modern standards but keeping the old charm.  Grossman's Tavern is one of the longest running live music venues in Toronto.  It definitely stands out with its paintings on the outside.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Full Frame Temptation

Leslieville -- NEX-5N & Tokina 17mm f3.5. Click for larger.

The recent price drop of the 5D II in Canada to under $2000 caused the used 5D II's price to also go down.  I have seen some were selling for around $1700CAD on Craigslist.  Almost purchased one for $1600, but I found the camera has more than 100K shutter actuations on it, and I backed out of the deal. I read somewhere that this new price should stay at this level for at least until Christmas.  Personally, I think Canon is about to introduce a 5D II replacement, hence the price drop.  The current 5D II really has no competitors except the Nikon D700, as the Sony A850 and A900 have been discontinued, and the 5D II is already outselling the D700, so there isn't much of a reason for the price reduction.

Some may question what's the big deal about a full frame camera.  After using one (3 actually: 5D, 1Ds, Kodak SLR/c), it's nice to be able to use lenses as they were intended to use.  The picture above was taken with a 17mm lens, but the field of view is 25.5mm on the NEX-5.  The impact from the ultra wide 17mm is definitely lost in this 25.5mm equivalent picture.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Old Lenses on High Density Sensors

Link -- NEX-5N & Zoomar Kilfitt Makro 90mm f2.8. Click for larger.

I have noticed that from the Canon 2Ti, some of my favourite old lenses, like the Kilfitt Makro 90mm f2.8, did not work very well on high density sensors.    Same problem on the 7D.  What looked very nice on the 11 MP 1Ds and the 5D classic full frame cameras look very lifeless and boring on the T2i and 7D.  Even tried the Angenieux Speciale Cine 210mm f2.8.  Pictures looked much better on the 5D than on 2Ti/7D.

I think that older lenses just do not have the resolving power for today's high density sensors.  They produce beautiful pictures on older cameras but not so nice on newer ones.  This is not scientifically proven, of course, so I could be wrong, but pictures do look duller and less sharp on newer cameras.  On the other hand, lenses like Carl Zeiss Distagon 35mm f2.8 (Contax Mount), and 60mm f2.8 S-Planar Makro perform about the same on most cameras.  So, perhaps, there is a connection.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

1D III Gets Some Love

Spider Plants on Barb Wires -- 1D III & EF 100mm f2.8L Macro. Click for larger.

Every so often I would question if some of the gears I bought are sensible purchases and the answer often is no.  I can give many examples, but it may be too long for this post :)  One such item is the 1D III.  I really, really like this camera. The later version of this camera that had the sub mirror fixed in factory do not seem to exhibit focus problems.  At least not with the one I have.  But, I only use this camera a handful of times a year.  The NEX-5/5N gets the most use the 1D III only gets used when I need auto focus, like my kids sporting events.  I justified it by telling myself that when I need a camera to do AF work, get the best that I could afford.

The RAW files from the 1D III is so beautiful.  There are so much details available event in ISO 3200 and ISO 1600 is very very clean and I would not hesitate to use.  I would say at ISO 3200, the 1D III is better than the Sony NEX-5N.  The pixels are bigger in the 1D III, but it's almost five year old!

If only it were smaller and lighter.  I would carry it everywhere!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sony NEX-5N First Impression - Image Quality

Under Construction -- NEX-5N & Sun Xebec 135mm f3.5 in Exakar Mount.

Didn't have much time to shoot a lot of pictures today, but I managed to spend sometime with the NEX-5N.  The most obvious and noticeable improvement is the speed of operation.  Everything seems faster (except image write time to the SD card seems a bit longer, but it could be because the card is slow [class 4] and the 5N's files are larger, and I was shooting RAW+JPEG.  There is a big improvement in image quality.  I downloaded a trial version of the Capture One RAW converter and looked at the 5N RAW files and found that ISO 100 is very clean.  But, starting with ISO 800, details starting to smear a bit but still excellent.  Much better than what I could get from the original NEX-5.

I meant to do a side by side comparison with the NEX-5 and the NEX-5N, but I already found a buyer for my NEX-5, and sold the camera this morning, so I guess that would be out of the question.   Does the image quality warrant an upgrade from NEX-5 (or NEX-3 or 3C)?  It all depends on what you consider acceptable.  Many people are happy with the NEX-5's images, but I was never quite that happy with it.  The 5N has much cleaner files from low to high ISO settings.  So, yes, to me, it's worth it.  It cost me around $350 for the upgrade (difference between the NEX-5 I sold and what I paid for the 5N), but considering I have been using the camera nearly everyday for almost nine months, it is not so bad.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Couldn't Resist

Bicycle -- NEX-5N & JML 50mm f0.95 @ f0.95, ISO 3200. Click for larger

After reading the NEX-5N reviews, I couldn't resist so I went out and bought one today.  This will be an upgrade to my current NEX-5.  Once I am happy with the 5N, I will sell the NEX-5.

One thing I immediately noticed after I turned on the camera, was the speed of operation has improved markedly.  Everything seems faster.  The old NEX-5 was excruciating slow when it comes to image review, and the turn on time from wake up was unbearable.  The second thing I noticed was the shutter sound is quite a bit quieter with less vibration, due to the front curtain shutter release.  I shot RAW+JPEG and the JPEG image shows a lot of heavy noise reduction, even on ISO 800, but the images are very clean even on ISO 6400.  There is almost no chroma noise.  The jpeg engine in the 5N seems to be much better those from any Sony cameras before.

Eager to test out the RAW output so I installed the Sony RAW converter.  What a mistake.  It's one of the most horrible piece of software.  Compared to the Canon DPP, the Sony version is just plain bad.  I will wait for Adobe to update its DNG converter to support the 5N.

Overall, it's a much more refined camera than the origianl NEX-5.  I will wait and see what the NEX-7 offers in terms of image quality when it's available in November.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nikon's EVIL

Red Pedal -- NEX-5 & Leica Summicron 90mm f2.

The long rumored Nikon EVIL camera(s), the V1 and J1 have finally been unveiled. I think people are just surprised to find that the sensor size is some weird 2.7x, and than many got angry.  Most would expect Nikon's version of the mirrorless camera to be better than the offerings from Sony and the Micro 4/3 camp, but it turns out to be not what everyone expected.  Personally, neither the J1 and V1 interest me even one bit, I guess they are not targeted at consumers like me.  I understand they do not want the new mirrorless system to directly compete against their own entry level DSLR line.  So, to Nikon, this makes perfect sense, just not to the Nikon dire hard fans who were expecting more.

The samples I have seen look disappointing.  ISO 400 is already too noisy.  Seriously, they don't look much better those from the Canon G12 point & shoot.  What's the point?

So, Canon is now officially the only major camera maker who does not have a mirrorless camera system.  If they are planning something similar to Nikon's offering, I would be very disappointed.  I am hoping Canon will make something more innovative, better than what's already or soon to be on the market.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Canon 5D II Price Drop

Prelude to Autumn -- NEX-5 & Voigtlander Zoomar 36-82mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Just checked Henry's and the price of the Canon 5D Mark II is now officially under $2000 ($1999.99).  This is great news, not the least is that it will drive the price the used 5D II way down, but also makes my decision even more difficult to choose between the NEX-7 and 5D II.  There are two things that are going for the 5D II: exceptionally good high ISO performance, and full frame.  The NEX-7, of course, is the small size, view finder, and hopefully good enough image quality.  At this moment, I am considering a 5D II, and then upgrade my NEX-5 to the NEX-5N.  Decisions, decisions.

Voigtlander Super-Dynarex 135mm f4 Sample

Bicycle -- NEX-5 & Voigtlander Super-Dynarex 135mm f4 @ f4.

Voigtlander and Kodak were the two major camera makers that used the DKL mount.  DKL was not really that common and therefore there aren't that many DKL mount lenses out there.  Most of them were made by either Voigtlander or Schneider-Kreuznach.  I have small collection of DKL lenses, but unfortunately, all except the Schnieder-Kreuznach 50mm f1.9 have very long minimum focus distance.  We complain about this on rangefinder lenses, like the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.7 with MFD of 0.7m.  Both the Schneider 135mm f4 and the Voigtlander 135mm f4 have MFD of 4 meters (15 ft)!  So, any kind of close up is out of the question without extension tubes or close-up filters.

Strangely enough, the Voigtlander Super-Dynarex has a 40.5mm filter size, and the Schneider Telexenar 135mm f4 has a 58mm filter size.

The Super-Dynarex 135mm f4 is a very nicely made lens.  The one I have is in amazing shape and very clean inside and out.  Being such an old lens, it's remarkably usable optically, even at f4.  Due to the very long MFD, this is the second time I actually used the lens, after acquiring it for a while.  I find long lenses like 135mm or 200mm, very hard to focus on the G1 or NEX-5. If I magnify the image, it shakes too much due to small angle of view, add to the problem is the lack of a view finder on the NEX-5, which makes manual focus even harder.

I don't see myself using this lens or the Schneider Telexenar 135mm f4 much.  I don't like lenses with very long minimum focus distance.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5 -- First Sample

Signs -- NEX-5 & Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5 FD. Click for larger.

This is one of the few lenses I picked up at the camera show.  Unfortunately, it's in Canon FD mount, which means it's really usable on M43 or NEX, if you shoot digital.  I know there are adapters with glasses inside for EOS, but these kinds of adapters never really interest me, having tried one before.

Back in the olden days, a 24mm lens is consider very wide, and 20mm is extremely wide; a 17mm is approaching fisheye territory.  But, nowadays, 20mm equivalent wide angle is so common, even on the APS-C format.  But, ultra wide angles were very expensive back then, even for third party lens marques.  It was (is) difficult to design ultra wide angles that have good distortion, sharp at corners, great colors, with good flare control.  So, inexpensive ultra wide angle were not really that good a performer.  I had a Sparitone 18mm f3.2 a few years back, and it was just a so so lens.  But, that didn't stop me from using it and got some memorable pictures from it.  This Tokina seems to be a lot better than the Sparitone.  Haven't taken enough pictures to assess its image quality, but the initial pictures look promising.  More pictures to come.

As a side note, I bought the LCD cover for the NEX-5.  A piece of plastic that costs $22!  Unbelievable.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shooting at f0.95

William -- NEX-5 & JML 50mm f0.95 TV Lens @ f0.95, ISO 800. Click for larger.

Every time I used the JML 50mm f0.95 lenses, I thank my lucky star, to give me an opportunity to acquire this (and its little brother, the JML 25mm f0.95) lens.  For portraiture, it's completely usable at f0.95, as long as there are no point light sources that would make the picture distracting.  A lens with a maximum aperture of f0.95 is a dream for lots of people.  It affords one to take pictures with ultra thin depth of field, but at the same time is relatively affordable to own, unlike the Leica version.

Also tried the JML 25mm f0.95 on the NEX-5.  This lens already vignettes pretty bad on my G1, and on the NEX-5, there is a dark boarder.  With some cropping, it's still usable, as the picture below shows.  After cropping, the pictures is about 7 MP, still has enough resolution of a relatively big enlargement.  As with its bigger brother, the 50mm, this lens is also usable wide open at f0.95 but with the same kind of problem as the 50mm with point light sources.

William -- NEX-5 & JML 25mm f0.95 @ f0.95, ISO 400. Heavily cropped. Click to enlarge.

Uncropped from camera jpeg.

With such fast lenses, I find myself able to shoot at very dim lights and still use a low ISO setting, typically 400 or 800.  The biggest problem is focusing.  For anything that moves, it's next to impossible to get critical focus at f0.95.  It's much easier with the G1 than the NEX-5 for this kind of shooting.  Often I don't need to enlarge the area to obtain critical focus on the G1, due to its great view finder.  That's why I so look forward to the NEX-7.  Just hope the image from it won't disappoint.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Rare Beauty

Voigtlander Zoomar 36-82mm f2.8 DKL -- World's first zoom lens for the 35mm format phtography. Here fitted with the DKL to EOS adapter 

Today's show changed venue from the Thornhill Community Centre to a hotel conference room in Toronto, closer to where I live.  I found it to be smaller/more crowded than the old place.  There seemed to be fewer vendors as well.

I went there with some M-Mount/LTM lenses in mind, but all of them are way out of my budget.  I especially was looking for a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 for the Prominent.  I saw some sample pictures from this lens and I really like it.  But, couldn't find one.  Instead, bought a Voigtlander Zoomar 36-82mm f2.8 lens.  This is definitely not a common lens and it is in really good condition.  It was the world's first zoom lens for 35mm format, with a constant f2.8 aperture to boot.  It definitely set a high standard for others to follow.  It come in different mounts, like DKL (which mine is), Exaktar, M42 and possibly other mounts.  This lens was built like the proverbial out house.  Even after 50 years, the lens feels like it was made this year.  The focus is butterly smooth and the zoom action is amazing. Truly one of the best engineered lenses.

William -- NEX-5 & Voigtlander Zoomar 36-82mm f2.8 @ f2.8. Click for larger.

I knew being the first zoom lens, there were many compromises in the design, so I didn't really expect it to perform well.  Definitely not a contender with today's zoom lenses.  I have a DKL to EOS adapter for my other DKL lenses and I was able to snap a few pictures with this zoom.  Sure enough, the corners are bad, even on the 1.5x sensor of the NEX, but the center of the frame is reasonably sharp.  Even stopping down didn't produce sharp corners.   I bought it purely because it was the world's first zoom lens for 35mm format, and I want to own a piece of photographic history.  Do not buy this lens if you are looking great optical performance. Any of today's cheap zooms will be optically better, though built quality is entirely another matter.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4

Pink Roses -- NEX-5 & Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 @ f1.4. Click for larger

At last, my NEX-5 is back.  I picked it up from Sony's repair center this morning.  Sure enough, it now has a brand new LCD screen.  I will buy a screen cover for it tomorrow to prevent the coating from coming off again. I was, however, very disappointed to find the sensor covered with lots of dust.  Every time I had my camera serviced at Canon, they always cleaned the sensor, even without asking.  It would have been nice of Sony to do the same.  I am sure it won't take more than a minute of their time.

Also got a chance to try the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 on the NEX-5.  I like how small but well built the Nokon is.  It's very sharp lens even wide open.  Very happy to find that with the 1.5x sensor, I don't see any vignetting at all even at f1.4.  It take a bit of getting used to to have aperture on the front and focusing ring at the back (like many c-mount cine lenses).  I did fumble a few times trying to focus and changed the aperture instead.  Natively at 40mm, it's equivalent to 60mm on theNEX-5, and I guess it's still considered a normal lens.  Due to its very short flange distance, the adapter is relatively thin which makes the lens look small, as opposed to SLR lenses where the adapter is very thick; even a pancake lens would look ridiculously large.

The only thing I don't like about the Nokton, is its 0.7m minimum focusing distance.

I can already see myself in trouble.  M-mount lenses are perfect for the NEX.  Just thinking about putting this lens on the NEX-7 with a gorgeous viewfinder increases my heart beat.  I just hope that I will go slow adding M-mount lenses.  My next target is likely a 12mm, or 15mm or a 21mm Voigtlander, since it's quite a bit cheaper than other makes.  The 35mm is too close to the 40mm I already have.

Heaven have mercy on me, and give me strength to resist emptying my account on M-mount lenses.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Sony Repair Experience

Pine Cones -- Panny G1 & Kern-Paillar Switar 75mm f1.9. Click for larger. 

Two weeks and and a day ago, I dropped off my Sony NEX-5 at the Sony repair center and I was quoted that the camera should be fixed between 1 and 10 business days.  That's pretty good in my opinion, because my experiences with Canon didn't fair very well, in terms of length of time and quality of service.

Let me get the negative aspects of this Sony repair experience first.  My major complain is that their repair status on their web site does not work.  I always receive errors.  Contrast to this, Canon is very good in this regard. I just think that a company this large, can not have a simple function that many people actually use, working.  I can't imagine what consequences for me is, if I were responsible for this function, at my job.  I don't think my manager will be too happy about this, but it doesn't seem to bother Sony.

So, I called three times over the length of the repair, to inquire on the status of the repair.  On my second call this Wednesday, I was told that the camera was fixed, and they asked if I wanted to have it shipped to me, or I would like pick it up.  They told me I could receive the camera on Friday (today) if I had it shipped.  I agreed to having it shipped and was expecting to receive it today.  But, I didn't.

Called again today the customer service rep told me the camera wasn't shipped.  I was pretty unhappy that they gave me conflicting information, but I told them I would pick it up on tomorrow (Saturday).  I am hoping there will be no issues getting the camera tomorrow.

Now the positive.  From the dropping off to the telephone calls, every one was courteous and friendly.  The facility was very good.  They didn't give me a hard time about replacing the screen, since, technically, the screen was not broken, just the coating came off.  They did fix the camera within ten business days as quoted.

Over all, I would rate this as a positive experience.  Hopefully, I won't have to use it again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why a Bargain Could Push You into the Deep End

Algoma Provider Toronto -- Panny G1 & Kodak 50mm f1.6 cine lens. Click for larger.

Most of us have one or more "lucky" moments in our life time.  The most common is buying something much cheaper than the market value.  Last week, I was browsing in a store than sells second hand stuff, and noticed a lens on the shelf.  It was a Leica M-Mount Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 MC, with a original hood.  The owner didn't know anything about lenses and consequently, I bought it for a ridiculously low price.  To me, this could mean trouble.

Around 2005, I started using manual focus lenses on my digital SLR.  It all started with a cheap 50mm M42 mount lens.  Then I got hooked, and started to try different mounts and eventually any kind of lenses that can form images.  As of today, I have spent many thousands of dollars on manual focus lenses, not to mention more than a grand on adapters.

Long ago I told myself to steer way from M-mount lenses, because they are usually very costly, albeit very good quality optics.  Getting the Nokton 40mm f1.4 could be the start of another expensive adventure.  I have already gotten the M to NEX adapter, and have started looking at other M-mount lenses.  The short flange of the M-mount means the adapter is relatively thin, which mean M-mount lenses look very good on the NEX body.  I can see the allure of a fast, yet small M-mount lenses on the NEX.

Can't wait to try the Nokton 40/1.4 on my NEX-5.  It should be back tomorrow if all goes well.

I am just hoping I won't go over the cliff.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Re-acquainted with C-Mount Lenses

Tree & Bench -- Panasonic G1 & Cooke Ivotal 1 inch f1.4 @ f1.4.

Most of my c-mount lenses do not work well on the NEX-5, due to the larger sensor, hence I have not been using them much.  The Panasonic G1 has been my walk around camera for a bit over a week, and I got to use the the various c-mount lenses again.  In particular, this Cooke Ivotal 25mm f1.4 lens will vignette severely on the NEX-5, but not so bad on the G1.  I like the soft, luminous quality of the Ivotal wide open.  With the right lighting, it can produce some interesting pictures.  As with most wide angle c-mount 16mm cine lenses, the image circle is just not large enough to produce sharp corners, but sharp corners are not really that important with this kind of lenses.

Another c-mount lens that's not usable without cropping on the NEX-5 is the JML 25mm f0.95.  I am pretty disappointed.  It's the fastest wide angle lens I have and would produce some nice and unique images on the NEX-5.  Just for this lens, I will probably keep at least one M43 body.

Sony's 24MP Sensor RAW File Samples

Today I read Luminous-Landscapes first impression of the Sony A65 camera, which shares the same sensor with the A77 and NEX-7.  Looking at the RAW converted images, I must say that I am not impressed with the image quality.  This really reminds me of the NEX-5 images, or even a bit worse.  I was expecting nice low ISO quality but instead, it's very noisy, especially when compared to the 3-year old A900.

Well, this is disappointing.  No matter how good the ergonomic of the NEX-7 is, if its image quality is not up to par, nothing matters.

I should use my NEX-5 and patiently wait for the final verdicts when the NEX-7 finally comes out.  But, if prices of the 5D II drops, I might just buy that instead.  It's bigger and heavier, but gives me the quality that I want, with full frame to boot.  On the second thought, perhaps I should stop reading anything about NEX-7 until it's officially available for sale.

Window -- Panasonic G1 & Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7 with Close Focus.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Are We Spoiled?

A Walk at Distillery District -- Panasonic G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 102mm f2.7 Cine Lens.

Since my NEX-5 is still at Sony for LCD screen replacement, I have been using the Panny G1 that I have been neglected for a long while.  This is a love-hate camera for me.  Love the ergonomic of the G1; its flip screen, handling, and most of all, the EVF.  But, it's a relatively noisy camera above ISO 400, compared to the 5D, 1D II, or even the Sony NEX.  Perhaps, I have been spoiled.

More than ten years ago, when I got my first digital, the 3.2 MP Canon G1, it was hailed as the camera with the cleanest images in its class.  DPReview called it silky smooth noisy free at ISO 50.  But, when I look back at the RAW images I captured, ISO 50 on the G1 is at best as good as ISO 400 on my 1D III, and ISO 200 was barely usable.  Advancements in sensor technology just make us crave better and better image quality, forgetting what the images (noise) used to be like before.

So yes, I think I am spoiled.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Are Ultra Fast Lenses Still Relavent?

William -- Canon T2i & EF 200mm f1.8L @ f1.8, ISO 6400. Click for larger.  This picture looks horrible in color, but is actually not bad when converted to B&W.  To me, the T2i/7D ISO 6400 is only usable in Black & White. 
For most people, they need want fast lenses so that they can shoot at low light or have high enough shutter speed to stop the action; some will buy them because they are less common.  A small percentage would buy high speed lenses for the super thin depth of field affect. Of course, others will buy them because they could.  Personally, I like fast lenses for the first three reason I listed above, but mostly so that I can take blurry-free pictures in low light. 

With today's new crop of sensors that are so good in high ISO performance, we can take relatively noise free pictures at ISO 3200 or higher.  Your slow f2.8 lenses are no longer the limiting factor, if you can accept the slightly noisy pictures.  So, if you had a very capable camera that can take clean pictures at high ISO, given a chance, would you still buy that f1.2/f1.4 lens that you have always lusted after?  The price of a Canon EF 24mm f1.4L II and the EF 24mm f2.8 is $1849 vs. $419 CAD (approximate, at as of today). The difference is two stops faster for the f1.4 version over the f2.8, but at about four times the cost.  Well, yes, there is more to an expensive lens than just letting more light through.  The built quality and materials used are better, but under normal use, I doubt there is much difference in logivity.

There are legitimate reason for fast lenses, especially if you are into actions/sport photography. I know that my 200mm f1.8L is often not fast enough for indoor use, so for this kind of uses, we need all the speed we can get.

But, most of the time, for me at least, I often buy stuff irrationally.  For example, the 50mm f1.2 vs 50mm f1.4 Canon lenses.  It's a 1/3 stop faster for the f1.2, but many times the price over the f1.4.  When I bought the lens, I fully understood that under normal use, they practically have zero difference shooting from f2 on.  Yet, I bought the more expensive version.  What justified my decision?   My reason was really simple.  I wanted something less common than most others.  This also explains why I have "made" so many of my own lenses from projection and enlarging lenses, because majority of people would not have these kind of lenses, and therefore, pictures that look different from these kind of lenses.

Of course, all of these talk is nil if money is the primary factor.  I would not be able to do it again today, because my personal disposable income situation has changed.  If I wanted the 50mm lens today, I would be buying the EF 50mm f1.4, not the 50mm f1.2L.  So, I think another factor in buying faster lenses is because we could afford it.

From my point of view, for most people, the faster lenses are no longer a neccesity to take blurry-free pictures, and they would be happy with a slower lens.  For lens junkies like me, we want fast lenses.  In fact, the brighter the better!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

NEX-7 It Is

Pretty Flowers -- Panasonic G1 & Kodak 50mm f1.6 Cine Lens. Click for larger.

Thanks to all who have given me your thoughts on NEX-5N/NEX-7.  Today, I took out the Panasonic G1 since my NEX-5 is in the shop, and I can't believe how much I missed the EVF, and how much easier it is to focus manually through it.  The EVF is already very good in the G1, I can't imagine how much better it is in the NEX-7.  Therefore, I have decided to wait for the NEX-7.  Will sell the NEX-5 and get the NEX-7 with the black kit lens and the E-Mount 50mm f1.8.  I would love to get the Zeiss 24mm f1.8 but it's more than a grand.  It will have to be in the next year's toy budget.

I know it will be a torturous couple of month before I can get my hands on the NEX-7, I just hope I won't be disappointed with the image quality.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gear Thoughts

Lights -- Canon 1D Mark III & EF 85mm f1.2. Those black dots are birds, not dust!

Since I got the 1D III (the second time), I have had used it a few times. I am quite happy with it so far and it seems to be a lot more reliable (in terms of focusing) camera than the Mark III I bought originally.  Focus seems to be very accurate, with the exception of the manual focus is slightly out of whack, possibly due to the shims missing on the focusing screen.  But I really do not use manual focus lenses on the Mark III.  Looking at the ISO 1600 and even 3200 pictures, I am happy to say that it's very clean.  Much better than those from the NEX-5.

Now that we know what to expect from the NEX-5N, which has amazing low light capabilities.  If this camera has a built-in EVF, I would have bought one today, but adding the EVF to the NEX-5N is almost the same price as the NEX-7!  Sony should really make a NEX-6: a camera with NEX-7 body and NEX-5N sensor.  As optimistic as I am, I don't think the sensor in the NEX-7 will be anywhere close to be as good as the one in NEX-5N.

Originally, I wanted a full frame body, and my eye was set on the 5D II, and I will have something like 1D III, 5D II and NEX-5.  But I have really been spoiled by the NEX-5.  I took it with me everywhere I went and took a lot of pictures with it.  You can't beat the portability of the NEX bodies.  Now that the NEX-7 will be out in a couple of months, and it almost has everything I want in an EVIL camera, except the sensor, and unfortunately, it not cheap.  If I buy the NEX-7, I will have no funds for the 5D II.  On the other hand, if I buy a 5D II, I can probably squeeze out enough money to upgrade to the NEX-5N.  And then there is the 50mm f1.8 OIS that I really want too!  Now you can see why I am slowly going insane!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

NEX-5 Back to Sony for Repair

Actually, there is nothing really wrong with my NEX-5, in terms of operations and functionality.  It's purely a cosmetic problem: the anti-reflective coating on the rear LCD has all but rubbed off except near the center of the screen.  It looks really disgusting when the screen is turned off although it's not as bad when it's on.  I don't think it's acceptable that the coating comes off so easily.  Sony should either provide a glass cover for the LCD screen or make the coating stay on more permanently.

At the moment, I don't know if it's even covered under warranty until the technician has a look at it.  This is the first time I have had to use Sony's customer service and so far it's been very positive.  The reception and the facility is excellent (although it's hard to find the customer service department.)  I was quoted a turn around time of 1 to 10 business days, depending on availability of parts.  This is a far cry from the Canon service when I regularly had to waiting at least two weeks and most often four weeks.

When the screen is fixed, I will put on a screen protector first thing.

On a side note, I have been really going gaga over the NEX-7.  Today I read the image comparison of the A65 (version 1.02 firmware) versus the the A850 on a Chinese site and I am really impressed with the high ISO performance of the 24MP APS-C sensor on the A65 (and the A77, NEX-7).  Too bad these are all jpg images but the improvement is like night and day in terms of noise reduction, especially chroma noise.  Given the translucent mirror that causes a 1/3 EV light loss on the A65, the NEX-7 image should actually be marginally better.  If the final image quality of the NEX-7 is similar to what I see on the A65, I will not hesitate to buy NEX-7 as soon as it hits the dealers' shelves.

Skylon Tower in the distance, Niagara Falls -- Sony NEX-5 & 18-55mm kit lens.