Tuesday, February 14, 2012

NEX 5n - Nerdy geeky camera review.

Like the title says.. this is a review.. sorry, there wont be many pretty pictures like I normally like to post.. why?... because I went and bought myself a new toy.. however i've justified my purchase is it will be my new 'travel' companion instead of my beasty D3s. So I guess I should explain why I bought the NEX 5n... well.. there were a few reasons why, but the main reasons were:

  1. The large APS-C sensor, whereas most mirrorless cameras were either Micro 4/3's or the Nikon CX format, which i was really quite disappointed with. 
  2. The camera is well priced for what it is and what it can do
  3. The size! amazing!.. I've always wanted a DSLR in a small compact body, and this definitely ticks all the boxes in that department
Right, so they're the main reasons why I bought it, so lets see it..

There we go.. That's it.. This small little camera packs the same sensor as the amazing Nikon D7000 but only a fraction of the size. I bought the 16mm 2.8 pancake lens (pictured) as my walk around travel lens, perfect just just about most things. I only received it today in the mail so I haven't had much time to take it out for a real spin. However I might do it tonight when the sun sets.. we'll see how we go! 

And here is the Fujian 35mm 1.7 CCTV lens that I bought for a pricey $40.. can't complain ; ) Probably my favourite lens at the moment, really produces some amazing photos. 

So like I mentioned, this thing is SMALL! i've never held such a small interchangable lensed camera before and I like it! I am still amazed that this little toy like camera has the same sensor as traditional DSLR's but in such a smaller package. The down side to these cameras is that they are mirrorless, meaning that you don't have an optical view finder to look through like you would in traditional DSLR's. With these cameras it means that you look at the back of the LCD screen to line up and shoot your images. Unfortunately for me and my wallet, I find it hard to adapt shooting that way and bought myself the Electronic Viewfinder. EVF. The EVF is nice, it's bright and displays all the relevant information, however it cannot compete with an OVF - Optical view finder. The advantage with the EVF is that you can see how the image will turn out, live on screen unlike an OVF where you really need to be wary of the camera meter and some what "guess" the exposure in tricky lighting situations. 

Compared to the iPhone, the NEX 5n is a little shorter, but obviously is a bit thicker. But still! SO SMALL! 

That is a standard Nikon lens cap that I use, which I consider to be small, The NEX in height is smaller than even the lens cap! amazing.. 

So how does this thing compare to my tried and trusted D3s? Lets start with the size difference first off. 

And there you go.. Can really see why this NEX would be a perfect travel companion, especially if one was to travel through rough terrain and every extra bit of weight would make a huge difference. I've always been reluctant to buy a 2nd, smaller DSLR such as the Nikon D5100, D7000 etc, as I always knew that even if the body was small, the lenses would stay the same, and in most cases, it's the lenses which REALLY weigh me down and add onto the weight. The beauty about the NEX system is that it has the ability to attach any lens imaginable to the system, which is probably one of the other reasons I really liked this camera. With my current Nikon gear, I would be able to have bought adaptors to use the older manual focus lenses I had back home, however the body would still be big and not solve the issue of size and weight. 

For camera nerds out there, the NEX shoots RAW and full 1080i/p movies at 50 and 25. I've only briefly used the video function but I can say it looks great. Back to the RAW shooting. This is vital to me as RAW files always out resolve JPEG images and allow the photographer to tweak minor adjustments such as WB and exposure after the image has been taken. The 5n packs a 16.3 mp APS-C sensor, which like I mentioned earlier, is the same sensor as the bigger Nikon D7000 for 1/3rd the price. Sure, there are pros and cons with these systems, but having lug the D3s up mountains, through forests and in extreme heat conditions, this is certainly a welcome change, as I can be confident that the 5n is not a sacrifice in quality. 

Okay, so the 5n sounds great and amazing, suits all my needs and wants, does this mean the DSLR and D3s system is now dead? Definitely not. I have always been a believer in using the right tools for the right job and the D3s will always have a spot in my camera bag. Why? simply because the D3s and DSLR's in general, are built like tanks. Take the D3s for example. Full metal magnesium alloy construction, weather sealed, better battery life, better ergonomics, better screen, faster focus, faster frame rate, I could go on for ages. The D3s will never be replaced for high paying and important jobs, as I know that camera back to front like the back of my hand, and shooting with it has become natural instinct. The 5n is another species, where it offers my DSLR quality but in a tiny package. That is all.

As a photographer I am always wanting maximum quality, and this NEX system satisfies my needs.

SO speaking of IQ, how does it compare to the D3s, Nikon's flagship camera as of February 2012, until the Nikon D4 was announced.

It took me a while to remember which one was which and I had to look at the EXIF data to find out. Ok the exposures and WB are slightly off, but these are straight out of camera jpegs, just to sorta show how the nex competes with big BIG brother Nikon. The top image is the Nex and the bottom is the Nikon. The bokeh or blurriness in the background is quite similar, but you can really see the advantage of that big beautiful full frame sensor when you look closely at the foreground in the bottom image, and how it is out of focus, having only the blue jar in focus, whereas the Nex is still relatively sharp infront of the jar. 

These images were shot at 16mm on the nex which equated to roughly 24-28mm on FX. I tried to shoot the images exactly the same, with the same aperture, both wide open at 2.8 and same ISO of 200. I tried to shoot same shutter speed, but because the NEX has no mirror, the flange distance (distance from lens to sensor) is a lot shorter than the D3s, the NEX will always expose brighter than the D3s when shot at the same shutter speed. These tests were really a way for me to test the bokeh and see how it looked compared to each other. The top image again is the NEX and the bottom the D3s. When looking at the bokeh, you can really see the advantage of the full frame sensor, and that smooth soft bokeh. The blurriness is a lot 'creamier' in a way is more pleasant to look at. The Nex with the smaller sensor has less bokeh and thus results in images not having that same 'look' as a full frame sensor. Remember, this is due to the size of the sensor and not the camera. 

The NEX system has the biggest sensor available, besides full frame, and is the same sized sensor as professional APS-C cameras such as the Canon 7d and Nikon D300/s cameras. 

Shooting at wide angles usually makes seeing bokeh more difficult, so I tried to test the bokeh with a different lens - The fujian 35mm which is about... 52mm on a FX camera. 

At longer focal lengths, the bokeh is exaggerated more and this test meant that the images were very very similar in look. Both images shot at 2.8 and at roughly the same focal length. The NEX is the top image and at this focal length, to see the difference you would really have to look very closely. Unfortunately I was too lazy to do proper tests and ensure the images were exposed properly, that I might do next time, but this was more for the 'look' of the images more than anything. 

Right, so that about sums up my review.. A bit drier than more normal blog posts but I just needed to do a quick review of my new toy haha. 

Ok, until next time.


Thursday, February 9, 2012


Hasn't been too exciting this week, nothing new has happened that I can think of which is super news worthy. The floods around Queensland (un)fortunately are not in Gladstone. Would be nice if they were as the fella who won the APN photo of the year awards last year was in some town where the water levels were stupidly high and the town just inundated in water.. like they say, their suffering is our reward.

Anyway, I have none of that stuff, but what I do have is. 

Kids jumping in the water.. Everyone at work and centro (headquarters?) seems to like this photo.. I personally don't know why, I just had to shoot 15+ kids who were going to the swim champs and I wanted an interesting way to shoot them all. haha. Took about 3 or 4 goes to get EVERYONE in the air or somewhat in sync with each other. 

There's a big boxing match coming to Gladstone pretty soon, and these dudes are promoting it, or behind it really. Long story short. We were in the Entertainment centre and all the lights were off so i needed to light them up somehow in an interesting manner. I had one of the lights (left) and shot it out towards the seats @ 50mm spread to light everything up, and another light (right) on a tripod shooting at the people. 

In hindsight I would have reversed it and had the left light on tripod and right light on the floor as the left side is way too hot and adds a bit of distraction to the bottom left corner, A bit of underlighting would've created a nice effect on them anyway, so i'm a bit annoyed about that. SO... this image is probably 75% there.. also I think the back is about 1/2 - 3/4 over exposed and the front 1/2 a stop under.. 

Just fyi, here's a quick 2min touch up in Lightroom. It's definitely not perfect but you can see it's just  little more balanced. If we shot RAW, no probs.. but we shoot jpeg and this is what happens.. or user error.. 

Me and My Ride at the Ambulance station was meant to be about.. you guessed it, an Ambulance truck, car, thing. Somehow we (I) ended up shooting this girl and her Mini Cooper. Not complaining I reckon it looks really nice. No user error this time.. 2 lights in a tripod camera right, to light her face and body so we got an even light all over. 

Sometimes we get pretty sad stories, and this is one of them. The girl on the right is dying from cancer/disease, I can't remember off the top of my head, but she basically has a few months to live. Young mate on the left proposed to her and are due to be married in March. Really sad. I felt pretty shit after I left. The both of them really love each other which is really nice to see. Bittersweet. He has a tattoo on his neck with her name on it. Very sad. Shot it with the 50mm at 1.4 cos i knew I wanted a dreamy look. Very soft and intimate. Little kid in the background ruins it but I didn't have the heart to tell him to sod off. Natural light, no flash. 

Happier times now. Soccer. This time it's a different perspective and shot to the usual soccer type shots. Well for me anyways. This was taken behind the goals as this guy pelted a free kick. I prefocussed as I knew the camera would struggle to track him and I really REALLY wanted the shot. his face is a little off, but the feeling is there. I like how you see him follow through his kick, the ball is in a good spot and those guys dodging the ball really adds to it. My favourite soccer shot so far. shoulda shot at f4 and up but I was already on 12800 or 25600 ISO, didn't want to push it too far.

I really like this photo too. Made the back page yesterday for sport which i'm happy about. Trial bike riding. not TRAIL bike riding so i'm told. Umm... natural light, 16-35 @ f5.6 and 16mm. got down nice and low and tracked her coming down and snapped away, panning with her to make sure she was sharp. very happy with this photo. Nothing more to really say about it.. haha. There were lots of other photos but this one all falls together quite nice. =]

Now like i've mentioned a few times, i'm doing a little project for myself, which is essentially photographing Gladstone and keeping memories of this town. This is the latest photo i've take in this series. It's the NRG plant, and like its name sake, it produced energy for the town and is one if the biggest in Queensland i'm told. Slow shutter speed to make the water milky and clouds blend. I have done a bit of post work to it, but 95% of it is colour correcting. The plant has very orange ugly lights to it and I really didn't like how it sat against the blue sky/background, so I essentially dropped the orange channel down to a bare minimum and left it with a very cold, eerie sombre colour scheme to it. I think it makes a huge difference and I quite like it. 

There's a photo competition on town which is to show off Gladstone. I will be entering this photo as well as the one I took last post with the transmission towers.

Anyway, that is all for this post.. short and sweet. There may be another post soon that is not photo related.. wait and see... excite excite!