May 272014
 

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The Sony A6000 Digital Camera Review by Steve Huff

Sony is back once again with a camera that may appear to be just like the previous NEX-6 but takes it to the next level with new branding (No more NEX name or Menu, this is the ALPHA 6000), a new more robust and square body, and a very good price. The new Alpha line came about when Sony released the A7 and A7r and renamed them from NEX to Alpha. With the NEX camera line, Sony always had loads of complaints that the menu..well..sucked. It sort of did. I even complained about it on a few occasions and said “why do they not just use the Alpha menu system”!?!? Well, now they do and it is so much nicer than the old NEX menu system. Much quicker, easier, and laid out better in every way. The last NEX, the NEX-6 was and is a great camera. Nice size, built-in EVF, good speed and finally, some great lenses for the system. The new A6000 kicks it up a notch and the result is Sony’s best APS-C NEX style body to date. This one is a screamer and a sleeper that many will pass up.

Before I get into the review and the images, let me state that I have had this body for 3 weeks, thanks to Sony sending me the review sample. So thank you Sony! If they did not send it I myself may have passed on reviewing it as I originally thought it was just another re-hash of the NEX cameras. While it is a rehash to some extent it is so much better than any NEX camera that if I were to offer an Editors Choice” or “Steve’s Pick”, this would be one of them. In the past I have reviewed all of the NEX cameras (almost) and you can see those reviews HERE at Mirrorless Central in the Sony section, the place where I archive all of my mirrorless reviews. BTW, This review will be of the shorter variety so I AM NOT re-hashing my reviews.

Most of what I felt of the NEX-5, NEX-7 and NEX-6 is the same with the A6000 because at its core and heart, it is still a NEX camera in design, in feel and in use. Basically we are getting the new menus, faster speed and the best IQ in a NEX type of camera to date. We also get the WiFi and camera apps but WiFi is in almost every camera today so it is a must for most companies to throw it in, and it works great here in the A6000. The apps are cool but I never use them as it slows me down too much. Some love them though. For me, the A6000 is a REAL camera that can offer someone wanting to step up from a P&S to professional quality images (with the right lens). It can also offer owners of the NEX cameras the new interface and the super fast speeds.

My biggest bang for the buck system of the year – The A600 and Zeiss Touit 32 1.8 – Under $1400 for the set. This one was shot at f/2.2 and is a JPEG from the camera. Click it to see it MUCH better. This impressed me, especially being a JPEG. 

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The A6000. What are the specs?

The best of the  A6000 specs are below:

24.3MP Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor and BIONZ X Image Processor – The latest processing power and the latest Sony APS-C sensor. Sony always leads the way in Sensor design IMO.

Fast Hybrid AF System – The Fast Hybrid AF system utilizes both a 179-point phase-detection system and 25-point contrast-detection system to achieve precise focus in as little as 0.06 sec. This system also provides AF tracking when shooting up to 11 fps in continuous high mode and functions seamlessly when recording full HD movies. In real world use, this camera is FAST. One of the most responsive cameras I have ever used. No slowness here. I remember the very 1st NEX-3 and NEX-5. They were so slow when compared to this new A6000. How things have improved.

There is also Eye AF! A detail-oriented focusing function that can prioritize a subject’s pupil and dedicate focusing performance on that for sharply rendered portraits; Lock-on AF is a dedicated focusing method for use with moving subjects and adjusts the target frame size as the subject moves throughout the image frame; AF area settings allow you to prioritize specific regions within the frame for increased accuracy; and AF-A (Automatic AF), AF-S (Single-shot AF), AF-C (Continuous AF), DMF (Direct Manual Focus), and Manual Focus modes can also be chosen.

Full HD Video Recording – Full HD 1080i/p video recording is supported at both 60 and 24 fps frame rates to produce high-resolution movies with a smooth, cinematic look. Full HD videos are recorded using the high-quality AVCHD codec, while 1440 x 1080 and 640 x 480 formats are also supported in the Internet-friendly MP4 format.

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Body Design – The Tru-Finder 0.39″ 1,440k-dot OLED EVF features a refined optical system that integrates four double-sided aspherical elements to provide 100% frame coverage and a wide 33° viewing angle for clear edge-to-edge viewing. The electronic viewfinder’s design offers a true live view image, which is able to simulate the appearance of the finalized image prior to shooting and also avails focusing aids, such as MF Assist and the Peaking function. The 3.0″ 921k-dot rear Xtra Fine monitor is a larger alternative, suitable for making accurate compositions, reviewing imagery, and navigating the menu system. It features a tilting design that can tilt upward approximately 90° or downward 45° to benefit working from high and low angles. Additionally, WhiteMagic technology works to increase the overall brightness of the screen to better support use in bright or sunlit conditions.

Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity

Additionally, PlayMemories Camera Apps are also supported via the built-in Wi-Fi connection, and allow you to personalize the camera’s features depending on specific shooting styles. Apps are available to suit creating portraits, detailed close-ups, sports, time lapse, motion shot, and other specific types of imagery.
Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Retractable Zoom Lens.

The Zeiss 32 1.8 on the A6000 is fantastic though the front bokeh can be a bit odd at times. Still, one of the best lenses i have used on a Sony camera. I was not a HUGE fan of the Touit 32 1.8 on the Fuji system but love it on the Sony. 

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My First thought on the A6000 after it arrived

When the A6000 box arrived I was thinking “Great, a variation of the old NEX-6..not exciting”.  Then I took it out of the box and thought..“Damn! This is the best feeling and looking NEX style body ever”. Sony sent me the silver version and it looked pretty sharp. All I had was a kit zoom so I knew I had to try something better but even so, the kit zoom was doing great. I love the fact that the new 16-50 is so small and sleek when compared to the old long and fat 18-55. Yes, these Sony’s are getting better and better with each release. The best part about the A6000 kit is the price. Coming in at $798 for the camera body AND kit zoom, it makes me feel dirty to recommend other APS-C cameras that cost more because the A6000 is so good in so many ways. It is a little on the lightweight side but feels just as good in build, if not a little better, than the Fuji offerings. So again, good bang for the buck.

I looked the body over and remembered I also had that Mitakon 50 0.95 and it was a native E mount lens! Why not slap it on and give it a try? I did just that and the snapshots I snapped with it are below (all were at f/0.95), as well as a look at the A6000 with the lens attached:

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The combo of A6000 and the Mitakon ROCKED! Not as good as it was with the A7 but it was nice to have that shallow DOF and a super fast WELL MADE lens on the camera. It felt solid, it inspired confidence and for me, was easy to focus just using the EVF. While not a perfect lens (it has some odd Bokeh qualities) at $799 it gives you a taste of those super shallow DOF lenses like the Leica Noctilux that comes in at $11,000. While I feel the Sony 55 1.8 or Zeiss 32 1.8 are overall better choices if you are only going to have one lens, the Mitakon is great if you want to add some artistic flair to your photos. The thing is a beast of a lens and well worth the $799.

With more use of the A6000 I started to realize that this camera was actually pretty special. For under $800 I was seeing the fastest response of any camera in recent memory (mirror less). The response, the AF and even the shutter were fast and gave me an actual sense of speed while using it. Like AIM, FIRE, FIRE – BAM! Done! As I said I have reviewed nearly all Sony NEX cameras and while the A6000 is VERY similar to all of them in many ways, it is the most responsive in all areas without question.

Oops, they did it again! But no biggie. 

After looking through the box more I realized that Oops, Sony did it again. No external dedicated battery charger. This time I will forgive them though as for $798 (yes I keep relating the price because it is such a value) they could not have given it all. If this camera were $1200 I would have been upset at the fact that all we get is a USB cable to charge while the battery sits in the camera. At $798, it is fine. You can buy an external charger for Sony batteries at Amazon for cheap, so no big deal. Look at this crazy deal. For $19.99, and using Amazon prime, you can get a dedicated charger and extra battery. Yes, a battery and charger for under $20. SNAG IT if you have an A6000 or A7 as they use the same battery.

The Kit Zoom is pretty nice. 

Usually I am not too fond of the kit zoom’s that are included with camera kits. They are usually slow, soft and cheap in build. The A6000 includes the better Sony Kit Zoom, which is the 16-50 OSS lens that normally sells for $350 on its own.  Some people are not a fan of it but I happen to think it does great on the A6000. If you have light and need the versatility that a zoom offers, it is a great lens and gets the job done. I used it while walking around rural areas in Southern Illinois with my Mother over Mothers Day and it did great.

These are all OOC JPEGS using the kit zoom and A6000. Click them for larger! 1st two shot by Brandon. 

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So while I am still not a fan of zoom lenses (I prefer primes) the kit zoom is actually a nice and small little lens. Not perfect, not high end, not anything giving a WOW factor but when it is included in a camera of this price it is very nice indeed. The color is very nice right from the camera as well, which is not the case with many of the cameras that are even priced into the thousands.

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The need for MORE speed!

The Sony A6000 is a monster in the speed department. It can shoot 11 frames per second and due to its crazy focus points covering 92% of the sensor, it is uber fast. It has contrast and phase detect AF, which in laymen’s terms means IT IS FAST. When I was shooting with the bundled kit lens the camera was lightning fast. I shot the camera in all kinds of light and never once had an issue with Auto Focus. As i mentioned earlier, I do not remember any other camera being this fast. It is faster than my old fave, the Nikon V1..faster than ANY other Sony to date (much quicker than the A7 flagship) and faster than any Fuji. I think it even edged out my Olympus E-M1 which has been my benchmark for speed and response. While the Sony system does not offer the lenses that Micro 4/3 does, nor does the A6000 offer the build and features of the E-M1…it is up there and maybe faster in the speed department.

Sony also excels here with focus tracking. If you want to shoot sports or action, this is probably the best mirror less to date to do just that. In fact, I know it is. So I will say it clearly: In May of 2014, the A6000 is the best mirror less camera for tracking moving subjects as well as overall speed. 

An APS-C sensor that is super fast, responsive and has amazing AF? Yep, that has finally become a reality in the Sony A6000. Every year cameras get faster and add more features. Sometimes they are not really worth the upgrade and sometimes they are. If you value speed and an APS-C sensor, you MUST try the A6000.

All three images below were shot as JPEG using the Zeiss 32 1.8 Touit lens. The 1st one was converted to B&W using Alien Skin. STILL my fave filters!

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Overall Image Quality

I knew from the get go that the A6000 would have excellent IQ. I mean, would Sony release this camera with anything but at least as good of IQ as the older NEX-6? No. In fact, I feel it surpasses any NEX to date for IQ and I am just talking about JPEGS! The JPEG quality from the A6000 is fantastic. I shot this camera as a JPEG shooter to make it more challenging and to see what kind of color and quality would come out. I was surprised as every JPEG I looked at was sharp (though would be better and cleaner with RAW), clear and with pleasing color. The A6000 has the same color modes as previous NEX cameras so you have the usual Standard, Vivid, Nutral, Clear, Light, etc. While I feel they should drop 75% of those and just concentrate on the core color modes, the Sony’s always offer all  kinds of gimmicks and things to try. Still here is the Sweep Panorama mode, the Intelligent Auto and the Picture Effects, none of which I ever use. For me, just give me Aperture Priority and a good Auto ISO and I am off to the races.

As for JPEG shooting, below are a couple of direct from camera JPEGS. You can right-click on them to open them in a new window and see the full size file. Both were shot with the A6000 and Zeiss Touit 32 1.8. 

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High ISO and low light. Is it any better than previous models?

High ISO on the A600 is excellent as one would expect. Today we should not have to worry about ISO capabilities of modern-day cameras as they give us so much more in this area than film ever did. EVER. We can shoot clean with many cameras right up to ISO 3200, some even 6400. With the new Sony A7s coming soon we can go to levels we would have ever thought possible in our lifetime just a few years ago. So shooting the A6000 in low light with higher ISO is as good as one would expect but below is some ISO crops from 1600 and up.

The A6000 has very good high ISO performance all the way up to 6400 ISO, which is all anyone would really ever need. I mean, how many of you shoot past ISO 1600 on a regular basis? The test image below was shot in my office with natural light coming in through slightly open blinds. Noise Reduction was turned off 100% in camera and what you see below is all OOC JPEG.

Bottom line, the ISO capability rocks on the A6000 but then again, Sony has always been good at this. You can see the detail at 6400 and it gets lost at 12,800 so 6400 is as high as I would want to go.

The Test Image

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The Crops

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A Crazy JPEG Comparison! The A6000 and Zeiss 32 1.8 Touit vs the Leica M and 50 Summicron APO

Ok, here we go. I was not going to do this but I had to! I mean, I have in my possession the A600 and Zeiss Touuit 32 1,8 which gives us a 50mm full frame equivalent. The Zeiss Touit lens and A600 come in at under $1400 TOTAL, FOR BOTH! I also have the Leica M 240 and Leica 50 Summicron APO. This kit comes in at OVER $14,000! 10X the cost of the Sony combo. YES, you read that right. $14,000! So how do they do against each other in pure IMAGE QUALITY results only? Judge for yourself. But before I show you I want to state that shooting these cameras is 100% different as is the build and camera construction quality. As you would expect the Leica is in another stratosphere when it comes to build, feel and quality of the camera itself. It is also a rangefinder. The ONLY digital rangefinder available today. It is a unique experience and it is a Leica. With that said, when looking at Image Quality ONLY, the little Sony A6000 is quite good. ;) Take a look. IMO, IQ alone does not warrant 10X the cost here. Not even close, and I love and adore my Leica system. Yes the Leica is better but $13k better? Nope.

THIS IS AN OOC JPEG COMPARISON! What it shows is that the JPEG out of the Sony is fantastic. It is average out of the Leica. 

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Things I did not like about the A6000?

There are only a couple of things I did not like about the A6000, and they were not major dealbrakers in any way. For the under $800 cost (with lens) of the A6000, I really have ZERO complaints. It is a mature system camera and when you attach a great lens it will reward you with good color, great IQ and detail and uber fast operation. I would have liked it to be a little more solid in feel..maybe even a pro version with waterproofing and a more robust feel. I would have loved to have a better EVF like the one Sony offers externally for the RX1 camera. The problem is that my wishes would have propelled the cost of the camera to $1300 and up. The beauty of the A6000 is the fact that it allows us to get into a mature system camera that has it all. Speed, nice build and design, great lenses, built-in flash and EVF, swivel LCD, good battery life, innovative features such as Eye Af and great face recognition AF. It has the best tracking of any mirrorless to date as well. All for under $800 with a nice (normally $350) kit zoom. I mean, for those looking for a new camera under $1000 the Sony A6000 MUST be looked at! Small size is the key for me.

So at the end of the day I really can not fault the A6000 because for the cost of admission it offers way more than it should.

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Pros and Cons of the Sony A6000

Pros

  1. The price! Under $800 for camera and lens – MASSIVE Bang for the Buck.
  2. The sensor is fantastic with awesome color and detail.
  3. JPEGS are very good. Better than most camera.
  4. Fast AF and Response. Fastest in the mirror less world right now.
  5. Nice design and look to the camera.
  6. Built in EVF is always nice to have, and the A600 has one
  7. Tilt LCD
  8. Great high ISO performance
  9. Kit Lens is quite nice
  10. Small size and light weight
  11. Built in flash for those who like that sort of thing
  12. All new Alpha menu!
  13. Retains the gimmicky modes
  14. Nice control and customization
  15. Can use many lenses via adapters
  16. Good at AF tracking
  17. High ISO Noise Reduction can be turned off 100%! (which is good)

Cons

  1. No weather sealing
  2. No in body Image Stabilization
  3. EVF could be better

So there thou go. For me, 16 pros and 3 cons. This is after 3 weeks of use, which was not daily use but 3-4 times per week.

The OOC color can be gorgeous! Rich, beautiful color and tones. Zeiss 32 1.8 Touit. 

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and B&W is also nice! Once again, the awesome Touit 32 1.8

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My Bottom Line conclusion of the A6000 

To be honest I was not incredibly excited to review this camera. Why? Well, when I review a camera I do not just go through the motions nor do I have any kind of template that I use. Some reviews I do are more detailed, some are more exciting and some are short and sweet. ALL are based in real world use with the camera and never do I get technical or talk nerd talk. I simply use the camera and if it excited me you will know by the way I write (see an example of that here) and if I do not like it, you will know (an example here). Sometimes though I am surprised by what I think will be average or mediocre when it turns out to be much better than I expected. The Sony A6000 is an example of just that. I thought it would just be an average NEX-6 update with new Alpha menus. But as is the case on many occasions, I was once again wrong!

While I am not raving about how it is the best thing since sliced bread, I am very happy with the camera and feel it is indeed the best APS-C NEX type of camera to date and one of the best if not the best APS-C cameras available. I prefer it to most Fuji’s (besides the X-T1, slightly) and prefer it to any other APS-C Sony and almost every other APS-C camera. I have to keep reminding myself that this camera is only $798 with a lens as when you use it seems to perform and feel like a $1200 and up camera.

Sony did good with the A6000. Those who never shot a Sony and those who own something like  NEX-5, NEX-6 or even NEX-7 would be thrilled with the A6000. If I spent even more time with it I may have even fallen harder for it and ordered one. It truly does give outstanding performance and speed all in one small nice looking package. I review and use so many cameras each and every year it is easy to get a little burn out with cameras and new products but the A6000 is one of those cameras that makes os much sense on many levels and is fun to shoot, so it made me want to head out with it every time I took it out.

This is an important price point and Sony knows it, so it will appeal to a much wider audience than the over $1000 enthusiast cameras. I think if the A6000 was shown to a group of 50 people who were in the market for an under $1000 camera system, and they were able to use it for an hour, I feel that 40 would buy it on the spot (if they were in the market and ready to buy).

The only faults are with the smaller EVF, no touchscreen, no in body IS and no weather sealing. But add those and it will add to the price so in reality, when judging the A6000 at the current price point it has no flaws at all.

The Sony A6000 is one small step for camera fan and one giant leap for the masses who really do not follow the camera world or care about sensors and tech. By that I mean that ANYONE who takes pictures would be thrilled with this mid range offering from Sony. It does what it does extremely well and all you have to worry about is what lens you want to attach.

Speaking of lenses, I really enjoyed the Zeiss Touit for its rich color and nice overall rendering. At under $800 it is a fabulous lens that will give you the 50mm focal length equivalent and some nice shallow depth of field effects. If I owned the A6000 I would also own the Zeiss. The Mitakon 50 0.95 is also unique and built like a classic Leica lens in feel and the solidness of it. The Mitakon is manual focus only though so beware of that. At $799 it offers a more artistic approach in use and results. You can read about the Mitakon HERE.  Sony now has many lenses available for the E-Mount. From zooms to primes to expensive to cheap. Take your pic.

Bottom Line? If I offered an “Editor’s Choice” the A6000 would  take that title easily. Highly Recommended for those looking for a quality camera with DSLR quality and speed without the size. Also good to note is that during the review period I never had a mis focused shot or any issues at all with the camera. When I snapped I knew what would come out of the camera would be fantastic.

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Where to Buy?

You can buy the Sony A6000 at my recommended and preferred dealers below. Just click the link to go direct to the A6000 page to check stock status, price and to order if you so desire!

Amazon - Sony A6000 in BLACK or SILVER with Kit Zoom.

Amazon - Sony A600 in BLACK or SIlVER without Kit Zoom.

B&H Photo – All variations of the A6000 are HERE!

Zeiss Touit 32 1.8 Lens for Sony E-Mount at Amazon or B&H Photo

SMILE!

eric

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A few more images from the A6000! Enjoy and THANK YOU for reading!

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May 162014
 

Munich River Surfers

By Ha-Wi Herrmann

Dear Steve,

as a daily reader of your blog since the early days I would like to contribute and share some fotos. Maybe some of your readers are not aware of, but the city of Munich/Germany is not only well-known for its world-famous „Oktoberfest“, its historical buildings and modern architectural highlights (like the BMW car company headquarter and museum, the 1972 olympic stadium or the allianz arena).
Munich is also known for its river surfing scene, located at a small artificial river called the „Eisbach“ (at the edge of a huge public park named „Englischer Garten“).

Last summer, while on vacation in Munich with my family, my 14 years old daughter and I went to the „Eisbach“ to take some pictures of the surfers with our Sony NEX 5N, NEX 6 and Leica M 240 cameras.
Now, some weeks ago, we returned to that place to get some more action shots.
Once again with our Sony NEX 6, but this time accompanied by a Sony A 7R (lent by a friend) and a Leica M Monochrom instead of the M 240.

It was interesting to see, that, after a few disappointing tries with the Zeiss FE 55 /1.8 on the A7R in autofocus mode my daughter and I, independently from each other, gave up and decided to concentrate again on our manual focus techniques, which had enabled us to take some exceptional pictures in the past.

So all fotos here were taken with manual lenses: On the Sony NEX 6 we used Contax G lenses (28/2.8, 45/2.0 90/2.0), on the Leicas a Summicron 35/2.0 Asph, a Summicron 50/2.0 Asph, a Noctilux 0.95 and a vintage „Big Berta“ Summicron 90/2.0.

Having in mind, how difficult it can be to catch fast-moving objects with manuaI focus cameras I am really impressed by the output that my young daughter realized with her vintage Contax prime lenses.

All in all, our results from 3 different cameras gave us the opportunity to compare the output of 3 really different, but each on its own fascinating camera concepts. I love my Leica M Monochrom, but I am also very happy with the NEX 6. Buy a 600$ camera and some 40 – 50 years old 25 bucks vintage lenses and you will have all the fun you can get from taking pictures !

More fotos can be found here:

Sony NEX 6 (done by my daughter, a real passionate photographer and my whole pride)
http://321klick.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/surfer/#jp-carousel-302

LEICA M240 and Sony NEX 6
http://wurzelspitze.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/eisbach-surfer/#jp-carousel-22620

LEICA M Monochrom
http://wurzelspitze.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/eisbachsurfer-2/#jp-carousel-24991

Kind regards and keep on posting

Ha-Wi

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Mar 042014
 

Grand Canyon Focal Reducers

By Riaz Missaghi

I love checking your blog everyday for updates on gear and the inspiration posts. Last year I sold my Canon 5d mkII and Zeiss lenses and bought a Fuji X-E1, a cheap Pentax to Fuji mount focal reducer called LensTurbo and almost every Pentax prime lens in PK mount. They were awesome lenses, great image quality, outstanding build quality, and smaller than a Leica lens. The setup was sweet, I loved the pictures it was making but I missed my sharpness of Zeiss glass and the flare control of modern coatings, I also heard that Sony was coming out with a FF mirrorless so I got ready for Sony by selling the Fuji and all the Pentax lenses on Ebay and picked up a Sony Nex-6, another Lens Turbo and just 2 lenses the Zeiss 21mm 2.8 and the 100mm f2 macro, both in nikon mount so that they had an aperture ring, I now wish that I got the canon mount so that the metabones speedbooster could have controlled the aperture.

When the A7r arrived I really liked the pictures since they made full use of the Zeiss glass but I missed that extra stop of light from the Lens Turbo and the performance of the Nex-6 compared to the slow and loud A7r. I now shoot with the Nex-7, the Metabones Speedbooster , the Zeiss 21 and 100, I’ve also picked up the Sigma ART 1.4, it’s sharp but the rendering is not as lovely as the Zeiss, so I’m on the fence about the Sigma. Here are some pictures with the nex-6 and the Zeiss 21mm 2.8 from a recent trip to the Grand Canyon and the Phoenix Botanical Garden. You can see a comparison of the focal reducers on my blog riazmissaghi.com

All shot on the Sony NEX-6 with the Lensturbo.

Thanks Steve!

Best,

Riaz

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May 272013
 

Hi Steve,

My name is Jason Wang and I live in Shanghai, China.

I write this mail to you because I am a fan of Mirror less Camera and I am a fan of you too! There is an optical factory in China they made their own Lens Convertor for Sony NEX system recently and this convertor is called ‘Lens Turbo’, almost the same like ‘Metabones Speed Boster’ which you might heard about it before.

The ‘lens turbo’ mounted between NEX and a SLR lens, it increases maximum aperture by 1 stop, increases MTF and makes lens wider by a factor of 0.71x. So if you mount a Nikon full frame lens on the NEX, it will make the NEX have the same angle of view and the same field of depth like a full frame Nikon camera. No 1.5X any more.

It is also at a very low-cost level, only about 130 USD here in China market. And after I tested this product today, I am very pleased for the image quality it brings to me!

Here is the image of my own NEX-6 + Lens Turbo + Nikkor 35mm F2D

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Check this images below of my test for this converter using Nikkor 35mm F2D & Nikkor 50mm F1.4D.

Two old enough Film Camera Lens. All of the pictures are OOC JPEG and did a little bit adjustment for the exposure only.

Two of my colleagues, 35mm F2, wide open @F2, finally I could enjoy this 3D feel on such a wide-angle lens. To be honest, even with Sony Zeiss 24mm F1.8, I could not have this 3D feel @F1.8.

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BELOW: 35mm @F2 wide open in the restaurant, one of my colleague. I will show you the 100% crop next.

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and the 100% crop – very sharp

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BELOW: And mounted on the 50mm F1.4D, @1.4 it is soft, but could make the background blur enough

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This lens converter really could make those SLR lens to be fully used on current mirrorless camera.

From my test, I found it only suffer a bit for the corner image solutions wide open. For normal use, it is really great and I really enjoyed to use it together with Sony’s peak focusing functions.

Have a nice day!

THX

Jason Wang

 

Dec 112012
 

The Sony NEX-6 and 5R Review – The best NEX cameras yet.

This has been a Sony year no question. With their all out assault in the last part of 2012 they have created the buzz and news to propel their camera models and name out to the Photography world in full force. Not only have they been able to do this successfully  this but they have also DELIVERED products shortly after the announcements which is a big deal because most (well, some) companies take months and months just to get their new cameras out to the buying public. For example, take a look at the Leica M. It was announced mid September 2012 and I really do not expect to see a shipping model until March-May 2013.  That is a 6-7 month wait AFTER people have pre-ordered. This not only shafts the Leica dealers but also the buyers who have been waiting months and months for the camera so I am happy Sony delivered on their NEX-5R and NEX-6 weeks after they announced them and the flagship CyberShot RX1 about 2 months after they announced it. If I did not know better it seems like someone lit a fire under Sony’s ass these past two years, and this is good!

Sony also seems to be listening to the photography community and delivering more and more of what us enthusiasts want and I respect and applaud them for that.

Video showing the NEX-6 and NEX-5R side by side with my thoughts on the cameras

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have reviewed just about EVERY Sony NEX camera from the very 1st 3 and 5 to last years NEX-7 and NEX-C3, to the newer F3 and 5n. I enjoyed the 5n and 7 so much that I bought them both and eventually sold the 5 and kept my 7. It has served me well with loads of personal video projects (even though I had the heat issue) and family memories. It wore in great and after a full solid year and few months of use I realized the main weakness of the NEX-7 was the slow and sometimes inaccurate AF and higher than average ISO noise (hopefully both fixed with these new releases). Also, when the NEX-7 was released I felt and wished Sony had put in the 16MP sensor instead of the 24 MP sensor. I felt the images would have been cleaner this way just due to having less MP squeezed on to the sensor so when I found out the NEX-6 would have 16MP I smiled with joy for this very reason. The NEX-5R also has the same 16.1 Megapixel sensor and both cameras are scarily similar in output. In fact, both are basically the same camera but the NEX-6 has the EVF and NEX-7 body (minus tri-navi) for $200 more. To me this is worth the extra cost. Having the EVF built in is a huge plus and for $200 extra, why not?

Both of these cameras also now have WiFi capability as well as “Apps” that you can download to the cameras. So basically these NEX cameras are gaining faster AF ability with some lenses, slightly improved high ISO and now even WiFi capability for those who want to beam their images to their phones or tablets without wires. At the time of this writing the only lenses compatible with the new AF system are the speedy 16-50 Kit Zoom, the Zeiss 24 1.8, the 55-200 and 18-55.

The NEX-5R and 18-55 Kit Zoom

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Another from the NEX-5R and 18-55 Lens

The NEX-5R and NEX-6 Basic Specs

16.1 MP APS-C Size HD Sensor – The latest APS-C from Sony!

Uses Sony E-mount Lenses

Full 1080 HD 60p/60i/24p Movie Capture

3.0″ 180º Tilt-able Touchscreen LCD

Fast Hybrid Autofocus – Phase Detect and Contrast Detect!

PlayMemories Camera and Mobile Apps

Wi-Fi Sharing – New but will you use it?

Intuitive Interface with Control Dial

Low Light Performance up to ISO 25600

Includes 16-50mm Retractable Zoom Lens

The NEX-6 adds the built in EVF over the 5R as well as the mode dial for $200 more. Worth it? I think so. 

Overall the NEX-5R and NEX-6 are refresh updates to the 5 and yes even the NEX-7. While we lose the cool tri-navi control of the NEX-7, the NEX-6 seems like an update as it adds the new faster focus ability and better high ISO performance in the same body style as the 7. This review will go over the new features of the cameras but if you own a NEX-5n or NEX-7 then you will be fine with what you have unless you want WiFi and the new Phase Detect AF feature. The NEX-7 and 5n are fantastic cameras and the new ones will not really gain you any better image quality, just some new features that may or may not be to your liking. Even with that said, these two new NEX cameras are the best NEX’s yet because they offer just about everything you can ask for in a small mirrorless camera system.

The Sony NEX-6 with 35 1.8 – love the OOC JPEG color here 

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A new kind of Auto Focus for Sony – HYBRID AF (Phase Detect & Contrast Detect)

What is really uber cool is that for the 1st time Sony has upgraded the NEX series Auto Focus to be fast. Like Nikon V1 fast. When the Nikon V1 was released it was the first mirrorless to have Contrast Detect and Phase Detect Auto Focus which in everyday terms means the AF was fast and worked in most situations. The issue here is that not all lenses will work with Phase Detect just yet. During my review period I could not get the new 10-18 or the 35 1.8 to work with Phase Detect AF because they are not compatible with it (which defeats the whole purpose – cool new lenses that do not work with the new AF system?). The 16-50 Zoom did work with this new “Hybrid AF” though and it was pretty fast. Here is what Sony says about the new focus feature.

“The NEX-5R/6 is Sony’s first E-mount camera with Fast Hybrid AF, utilizing two focusing technologies to provide extremely fast and accurate auto-focusing. Phase detection AF splits incoming images into two and compares them for light intensity in order to focus, and it is a fast system- able to focus in 0.3 seconds, and especially useful when tracking moving subjects. Contrast AF uses the image sensor to measure the contrast differences amongst the pixels, pixels that are “in focus” having higher contrast. It is considered a very accurate focusing system and combined with Phase detection AF, provides the ‘Hybrid’ system that gives the NEX-5R such a noteworthy DSLR-like auto-focusing capability.

The Hybrid auto-focusing is also utilized when shooting Full HD Video with the NEX-5R and provides continuous auto-focus when shooting video, something very few cameras do. Continuous AF gives your home movies that extra watchable touch that will command attention when you screen them on your HDTV via the provided HDMI output. Able to shoot at 60 frames per second or the more cinematic 24 frames per second, the NEX-5R also shoots with higher quality AVCHD codec and upload-friendly MP4 codec.”

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NOTE: For me, shooting with the new 35 1.8 was a mixed bag. When shooting with the 35 I had some front focus issues at times but mostly in dark lighting. A few shots would be just a little bit off when shooting wide open at night. For comparison the Sony RX1 was faster for me in AF in every situation over the NEX-6 and 35 1.8 lens. The 10-18 focused nice and fast (but wide angles usually do) and the 16-50 was very fast with Phase Detect enabled. Also seemed more accurate. The 35 1.8 gave me a few misses as the camera does not focus well when it has no contrast to grab on to. But it does focus! Just at times it can be frustrating when it keeps missing (reminded me a little of the Fuji 35 1.4 on the X-Pro 1 but a little faster). The NEX series has a way of guessing where focus should be when it can not find it during low light. When this happens you will see a big green square on the LCD. That is when you know your shot may not be in focus. The NEX-7 did this as well as does most of the Sony digital camera line.

NEX-6: Used the 35 1.8 here at night and while I tried to focus on the woman’s face it focused in front of her onto the “Photos” sign.

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NEX 6: Focused OK here in a low light aquarium, wide open – ISO 320 – JPEG

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NEX 6: The 10-18 at f/4 and ISO 1600

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WiFi Capability – Shoot your images directly to your smartphone or tablet

With the new 5R and 6 you can activate the WiFi feature if you want to do anything new and techie. For example, you can send images to your phone or you can frame a shot on your phone if the NEX is far from you. Me, I did not spend much time with this feature as I am not a fan of my cameras being turned into computers or internet hot spots. I will leave that to the phones but I’m sure there are a few of you out there who will want to mess around with WiFi so it is there for you to play with of you like. It does seem that this is the gimmik of the moment so let us see if this turns in to the “3D TV” moment of the camera world.

The new “Play Memories” app store is also new and allows you to download and use apps on the cameras much like you would on a smartphone. Some will cost money, some will be freebies.

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HIGH ISO showdown – How do they stack up?

After using the Sony RX1 full frame camera for weeks and then going to the NEX series I was a teeny bit let down. Getting used to superb full frame ISO performance can spoil you but  have to keep it all in perspective as the NEX uses APS-C sensors and they are NOT as good as full frame when it comes to high ISO. Still, the NEX-6 beats the panties off of the NEX-7 when it comes to high ISO. When I shoot any digital camera I turn off Noise Reduction because I can not stand blobby lumpy noise reduction that most cameras apply. It makes your images look awful in most cases.

I was always a little bit disappointed in the NEX-7 high ISO performance and if I did not have a fast lens with me I never took it out at night. The NEX-5R and 6 improve on this thanks to the new 16MP sensor. High ISO and color seem nice as you can see by taking a look at the image below of my early Christmas present to myself :) ISO 3200 with the 16-50 Kit Zoom.

ISO 3200 – from RAW – Zero Noise reduction – 16-50 Kit Zoom indoor low light. X-mas comes early sometimes at the Huff Household.

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I also did a few ISO tests to see just how good the high ISO performance of the NEX-6 and 5R really is. I added in the RX1 and OM-D in the mix as well. Sorry but I did not have a Fuji on hand for this one. Take a look below at the ISO 1600 and 6400 crops from the RX1, NEX-5R, NEX-6, NEX-7 and Olympus OM-D. These are from RAW with ZERO Noise Reduction and no sharpening at all:

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and now ISO 6400

The high ISO capability of the new NEX cameras surely beat last years NEX-7, which was the weakest in the NEX line for high ISO shooting. The one that surprises here is the OM-D with the 4/3 sensor. The color is off but the noise control is excellent for being a micro 4/3 camera. As for color, the RX1 came the closest and for noise, the 5R and 5 did pretty good. ISO 1600 on these cameras is very usable. Take a look at the ISO 1250 shot below, from JPEG with the NEX-6 and 16-50 kit zoom when there is some nice light coming in. Gorgeous.

NEX-6 – ISO 1250 with some nice light

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So are the new NEX’s worth an upgrade from the 5n or 7? 

Yes and No. I am a bit mixed with the new NEX line. On one hand, I am happy to see the NEX-6 which looks identical to last years powerhouse NEX-7 in body style as well as build and feel. Also, with a sensor that will not give you any issues with wide angle third party lenses. FYI, The NEX-7 was full of issues when using wide angle Leica glass like a 15mm, 21mm or 28mm. The NEX-6 is good with Leica glass. I do not own anything wider than 35 so I did not test it but my research has shown me it is fine and dandy and a buddy has told me he had no issues using his 24 Lux on the NEX-6. If you are a fan of shooting 3rd party glass on your NEX and own the 7, an upgrade to the 6 could be warranted. You will have the same feel, same body, and while you lose the Tri-Navi control you gain a mode dial and still have all of the control you need. The NEX-6 does not feel like an inferior product at all (to the NEX-7)  and the sensor seems to perform better than the 24MP sensor in the NEX-7. So basically, the NEX-6 is the best NEX yet IMO and feels very “mature”.

Image Quality is still superb with these NEX cameras and while it has improved from the very 1st NEX-5 it is not a huge night and day difference and when compared to last years 5n, the new 5r seems about the same in regards to all out picture quality. The body has been improved with more function.

So is it worth an upgrade? Only YOU can answer that by asking yourself what you need in a camera. If you are attracted to the new features such as Phase Detect AF and WiFi/Apps then it is a no brainer. If these things do not tick the boxes for you then stick with what you have. All are capable of delivering images of quality.

The NEX system is growing into quite the system and it has many fans who love it for its no nonsense approach to small size and great quality.

NEX vs The Other Cameras

If you are new to all of this mirrorless camera business then you may be considering cameras like the Fuji X-E1, Sony NEX or Olympus OM-D. Which one is best? Well, they are all good in their own way as they each have their own strengths. For example, the Fuji has the best high ISO performance and its own “Fuji Color Signature” that many love and some hate. Fuji has a great 35 1.4 lens for the X system as well and Leica lenses can be used on ALL of these mirrorless cameras. So the question is, which one is best for you? Well, which model speaks to you? You can see reviews for all of these cameras over in my “Mirrorless Central” section if you want to see them.

 

Fuji Strengths – Color, IQ and high ISO 

Fuji Weakness – Slow AF, Quirky operation, Video not so hot, limited lenses

 

OM-D Strengths – Loads of stellar lenses, fast AF, very good high ISO

OM-D Weakness – Smaller sensor, less shallow DOF effects

 

Sony NEX 5R/6 Strengths – Mature product, speed, Smallest size, Video

Sony NEX 5R/6 Weakness – Can have AF issues in low light, “Sony Colors”, Not the best lenses

 

What I am about to tell you is top secret. I am only telling you this so you do not obsess over which camera to spend your hard earned cash on. The fact is…that…ANY of these cameras can provide you with superb results. Which one you choose will not hamper your ability to take beautiful images but rather any of these cameras will help you grow. They are all capable of delivering astounding results. Go with whatever you feel is for you. Body style, control, etc. The images that come out of the camera are really what is coming out of YOU so with that in mind, go with your gut and then take whatever you choose and learn it..and shoot it. Every day. :)

 

A trio using the 16-50 Kit Zoom. I like this lens better than the 18-55 as it is much smaller and all black and the results are great :)

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The NEX-5R vs the NEX-6 vs the NEX-7 – One test image with crops

I shot one image with each camera to see how the IQ and color would be out of the camera. Same lens, same settings, same everything. Shot RAW and converted with the Sony software with no added anything. Honestly, there is not much difference here.

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and the 100% crops from each – f/5.6 – ISO 100 – 1/400s – No sharpening added.

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The new 35 1.8 OSS Lens

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The new 35 1.8 OSS lens is not giving me the luscious and creamy results as the Zeiss 35 f/2 on the RX1 but I did not expect it to. At the price of $450 or so it is a great buy if you want a fast 50 equivilant for your NEX camera. Yes, this is a 35mm lens but on an APS-C NEX camera it is going to act like a 50mm when it comes to field of view (what you see in the EVF and on the LCD). At $45o it is about $100 less expensive than the Fuji 35 1.4 for their own X system but is it a better lens? Well, for starters it is slower with a 1.8 aperture vs 1.4. Build wise, the Sony feels a TAD more solid than the Fuji but both feel like light lenses and nothing like a Leica or Zeiss lens.

As for sharpness, I feel the Fuji 35 1.4 is a sharper lens but it could also be due to their sensor in the X cameras. Overall though, the 35 1.8 OSS is a lens I have been waiting for on the NEX. It has Optical Steady Shot built in and will in fact give you great results, especially if you stop it down to f/2-2.8. At 1.8 wide open I found some softness but nothing horrible. Just not as crisp as I am used to seeing from modern lenses.

My lovely girlfriend Debby. Shot with the NEX-6 and the 35 1.8 OSS at f/2.8 – click for larger!

Bokeh Quality of the 35 1.8 OSS

The Bokeh is decent but not buttery smooth. Wide open it can be a little blotchy but not offensive. See the example below in my Bokeh test image.

Overall the new 35 1.8 is a great addition to the NEX line. We have been begging for faster glass and now we have a few lenses to choose from. The 35 1.8, 50 1.8 and Zeiss 24 1.8 are all here and available for NEX users. For those wishing for a full frame NEX camera, keep in mind that if this happens none of these lenses will work with the camera as they are not full frame lenses. They would only work in a crop mode which would defeat the whole purpose of having a full frame sensor.

The image below is from RAW with no enhancements. It was shot up close with the 35 1.8 at 1.8. It is the full size file so click on the image to see it in full size.

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The new 10-18 Wide Angle 

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The new 10-18 is a very cool lens, but a bit on the costly side. Wide angles, especially versatile ones such as this usually cost because they are tricky to make. Sometimes wide angles are very soft on the edges or have distortion issues. So how does the Sony 10-18 stack up? Well, just make sure you are using in camera distortion correction and you will be golden.

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I found the 10-18 to be an excellent lens for the NEX system. I have not had the time to sit down and do any scientific testing but I never do that anyway!  In real world images the lens performs great. For pixel peepers, well, I cant tell you how it performs because I did not pixel peep while using it :) As I have already stated, The 10-18 is a bit on the pricey side at $849.  The overall build is very good and it feels much better made than some of the older Sony lenses like  the 18-55 and 16mm. This is a lens for those who wanted a quality wide angle solution and here it is.

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Full Size Files

Below is an image you can click on to see the full size out of camera file. It was taken with the NEX-6 and Sigma 30 2.8 lens at 5.6 which is a sharp lens on the cheap.

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PROS & CONS of the NEX-5R and NEX-6

Pros

  • Same small size as always
  • Great image quality in the 16MP sensor
  • Decent low light performance
  • Phase Detect AF is fast if using a compatible lens
  • NEX-6 has it all and takes the place for my fave NEX to date
  • WiFi feature will appeal to some
  • Nice tiltable LCD screens as always
  • Priced Right and 16-50 is an improvement over 18-55 IMO
  • No problems with Leica wide angle lenses
  • Sony finally releasing more nice lenses like the 35 1.8 and 10-18
  • Tilt Screen on 5R allows for self portraits like the F3
  • 5R has touchscreen and new control wheel that is a great addition

CONS

  • Sony took out the Mic input from the NEX-7
  • HIGH ISO is not best in class (Fuji wins)
  • Sometimes cameras can mis-focus in low light
  • Phase Detect does not work with all lenses
  • Video noise with 16-50 can be heard when zooming
  • Using the Apps can slow the camera down to a crawl. Not ready for prime time.
  • NEX-6 does not have the touchscreen of the 5R
  • HD video quality a downgrade from the 5n?

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The Sony NEX-5R and 6 Conclusion

Sony is having a huge 2012 and as we approach 2013 I have a feeling they will be very successful with their latest and greatest camera releases. The RX1 made “Camera of the Year” for me and I stand behind that one 100%. As for the NEX cameras, well, they are NEX’s! You know what to expect if you have ever shot with one and these are basically the same as the ones that came before with some refinements, enhancements and new lenses. They are more mature but at the same time they throw in even more features which make them feel like mini computers that also take photos. The menu system is the same as the previous NEX cameras but these days they are as customizable as ever with so many buttons to customize to your liking you will not have any problems or issues finding your favorite settings and controls. If you want a small mirrorless that is responsive and can deliver the image quality you want from an APS-C then your choices come down to either Sony or Fuji. Sony wins on speed and size. Fuji wins on sharpness and color.

In fact, the Sony NEX cameras do indeed have their own “look” much like Fuji has theirs. Which one you like is up to you. But these days, any of the mirrorless choices can deliver the goods. Just go with what feels right for you. The NEX 5R and 6 are once again superb cameras but in all honesty I do feel that Sony will need to create something like this that has a full frame sensor for the next go round. How they will go about it (if at all) is the mystery. Oh and as for the other things I did not go over this time, the App store and WiFi (for me at least) are a miss right now. The App feature slows the camera down to a crawl at times so I just avoided using them. The HD video is good but as I shot some personal family stuff I kept thinking that the NEX-5n gave me better quality video. I will have to do more video to really see what is happening there. It is not horrible, but I remember being wowed by the NEX-5n and 7 video, no so much on the 6.

So if you are a NEX user and fan the 5R and 6 are improvements once again when it comes to photos, but only you can decide if they are worth the upgrade.

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Where to Buy?

You can buy the Sony NEX-5R and NEX-6 at the links below:

Buy the NEX-5R at B&H Photo HERE

Buy the NEX-6 at B&H Photo HERE

Buy the NEX-5R at Amazon HERE

Buy the NEX-6 at Amazon HERE

 

 

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Nov 162012
 

New Camera Friday! Sony RX1 arrives!

The Sony RX1 has arrived to me today, and I am excited about this one. It has been a few weeks since I shot with it at the Sony event and when I opened the box today I was reminded why I fell for it in the 1st place. SIZE and BUILD and QUALITY! I plan on a huge review for this camera but it just arrived so I will need some time with it before I can do that. For now I made a new video below showing some size comparisons with the RX1 alongside the OM-D, D-Lux 6, NEX-6 and the Leica Monochrom. You can hopefully get an idea of how small it is. I also gave a quick example of the AF in my living room. It is quick as in faster than the Fuji X cameras. About on par with the NEX-6, etc.

Watch the video below…just press play :)

I also took it outside to test the crop feature with a quick and dirty test shot because that is one of the most asked questions I have been getting about the RX1. 

The crop mode is basically a crop mode. You do lose resolution and size but quality stays. Also, this is only available to use in JPEG mode. I have an example below of a quick test shot showing what to expect with the crop modes. Basically the camera has a built in 35 f2 Zeiss lens. With a press of a button you can switch to a 50mm crop mode. One more press and you are in a 75mm crop mode. This can come in handy if you are shooting JPEG and you want more reach.

But you do lose resolution as it is like cropping the photo yourself though Sony does some kind of processing in camera to keep the IQ up there which I can say it does very well.

 

1st shot is the native 35mm shot, then the 50mm crop, then th e75mm crop – straight from camera JPEG.

 

So look for a full review of the RX1 soon along with reviews of the Sony NEX-6, Olympus 60 Macro and a quick review of the NEX-5R with it’s new features. You can pre-order the RX1 at Amazon HERE if you like.

Just a few of the RX1 images I may or may not have posted previously…

ISO 2000, JPEG

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ISO 8000 at night with 100% crop (click image)

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Speaking of the new Olympus 60mm Macro..WOW!!!

This lens is the best Macro I have ever shot with, hands down. Now, I have not shot with them all, nor am I some Macro guru, not even close. BUT I do know quality when I see it and this Olympus 60 2.8 is razors sharp even wide open, getting surgical when you stop down. One sample before my review…click it for latger. BTW, this was handheld at f/2.8. The 5-Axis IS works well with this lens. You can order this one at B&H Photo or Amazon.

So stay tuned everyone for much more on these cameras and lenses! Have a GREAT weekend, I will be out shooting!

One more from the Leica Monochrom and Zeiss 50 Sonnar, which is gorgeous on the MM!

My soon to be Stepdaughter. She had a clay mask on and still let me snap a pic :) 50 Sonnar wide open at 1.5

Oct 112012
 

The Sony NEX-6 1st Quick Look Review (more in depth coming soon)

You can pre-order the new Sony NEX-6 with the new Kit Zoom for $999 at B&H Photo HERE.

Amazon has the NEX-6 in stock HERE!

Hey hey hey! I know MANY of you have been waiting for samples from the brand spanking new Sony NEX-6. I can not do a full review on this one until I get one at home for 2 or 3 weeks as I just did not have the time this week to shoot ALL of the new Sony cameras thoroughly as I spent most of this week on the RX1 (HERE and HERE) but I did indeed get some cool shots with the NEX-6 and at the same time I have discovered that I like it more  than my beloved NEX-7 that I have had for well over a year now.

SO THIS IS NOT A FULL IN DEPTH REVIEW, just a quick 1st look review! I will have a full in-depth as soon as I can get a hold of one of these guys long-term. That is when I will have crops, details, noise tests, etc.

The NEX-6 and new 16-50 Kit Zoom is a powerful combo

Another NEX? 

The NEX-6 is the latest and greatest in the NEX line and while it comes in UNDER the NEX-7 with the number 6 name in many ways it is a much better camera. At least I think so.

The big improvement here is that Sony has added an all new AF system for fast and snappy performance. The NEX-6 has Phase detect and Contrast Detect focus, it has the same EVF as the NEX-7 and the same body design and shape. The build is pro and it has a matte finish instead of the 7’s glossy look. The LCD is still as awesome as ever though it is not a touch screen. Sony also added WiFi support and you can even trigger this camera and preview real-time on your smart phone via an App on the camera.

Today we took a drive through Carmel, CA and I snapped this shot with the NEX-6 and new kit zoom 16-50, which I like so much better than the old 18-55. The new 16-50 is small and of great quality. The image below is from RAW and I added a color filter in Lightroom to show what can be done with a shot from this camera in about 15 seconds of clicks in Lightroom (cold color filter). I also did some dodging to bring out the rocks. The result is that it has some noise that would not normally be there but I like it anyway :) Click image for larger view.

In real world use I find the NEX-6 to be much quicker to AF than the 7 and it just seems very snappy and responsive which is good! The 7 at times seemed a bit slow when compared to the new breed of mirrorless like the Olympus OM-D. Sony did not take a break and just say “deal with it”..nope! Instead they ramped things up by combining Contrast Detect AND Phase Detect focus ala Nikon V1 for a much improved AF experience. This means that in good light the AF is near instant. IN low light it is faster than it was before in past NEX cameras. This is a pretty big deal and I am happy that Sony made this move. The NEX-6 feels like a 100% fully polished product..finally.

Always love scenes like this and the kit zoom did great once again. Click for larger.

The NEX-6 also has a 16MP sensor which I feel is about what an APS-C should top out at for best quality, sharpness, dynamic range and image quality. The 24 MP of the NEX-7 pushed the sensor a little to far I think and the result was less than stellar ISO performance and in some cases muddy results. The 6 hits the sweet spot for sure.

So be sure to check back here for a full in-depth look and review of this new NEX. Again, this is just a quick 1st look to show those who have been waiting some quick samples. 

The NEX-6 with 35 1.8 at 1.8 and ISO 640- click image for larger!

This week I was able to shoot the NEX-6, the new 35 1.8 lens and the new 10-18 ultra wide zoom and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with all of them. Once again I am writing this at 1 AM and I have to be up at 6AM so I need sleep but I wanted to let everyone see some new samples from the NEX-6 as I know many have been waiting..even if it is just a few samples so I have posted some quick samples on this page for you to peruse.

Before we drove some very cool cars we got instruction on how to do so on the track. The other guys here shot the usual 400mm action shots but I stayed with the 10-18 and kit zoom. Being different that everyone else is good :)

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We had access to just about any Sony lens made for the A99 and the NEX system – pretty damn cool! – Shot with the 10-18 at 10mm (15mm equivalent on the NEX system)

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A quick landscape shot using the 16-50 Kit lens. JPEG

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Again, the 16-50. It is a great kit lens. I like it. 

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This one was shot with the new 35 1.8 in a very dark aquarium. Click image for larger and EXIF is embedded.

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In the helicopter some of had a chance to shoot with the A99, NEX-6 and RX1 – OOC JPEG

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Sweep Panormama is still here! – OOC JPEG

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Jellyfish with the 35 1.8

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A nice JPEG sunset with the 35 1.8 at f/7.1

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The 16-50 at f/8

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New Kit Zoom!

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Again, the kit zoom at 16mm and f/7.1

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Trying out the mini effect from the helicopter

For those wondering if the NEX-6 is an improvement over the NEX-7 I would say DEFINITELY. It is quicker, snappier, more responsive, does not seem to overheat (in my limited use so far),has sharp IQ, comes with a great new kit zoom and even feels better with its matte finish. You lose the highly touted “Tri Navi” control system but to be honest I almost prefer the new set up as you still have your control dials. You lose nothing but convenience of having both dials at the top. Instead you now have one dial with the mode dial stacked on top and the mode dial on the back.

The NEX-6 is the best NEX yet.

 

You can pre-order the new Sony NEX-6 with the new Kit Zoom for $999 at B&H Photo HERE.

You can buy the NEX-6 and new Kit Zoom at Amazon HERE

Sep 112012
 

The new Sony RX1 – Full frame compact with gorgeous 35 f/2 Zeiss lens – 1st look report!

UPDATE! PRE-ORDER THE RX1 NOW AT AMAZON!

PRE-ORDER THE RX1 at B&H PHOTO

I am aware that this camera has leaked over the past few days but I was not allowed to write about it until just now at 9PM, Sept. 11th because this is the official date and time of announcement. Last week I was visited by Sony and they brought along most of their new products. I held the RX1  in my hand but only snapped a few shots in my living room to test AF speed on a pre-production unit (and it was quick). I did not get a review unit yet, just a “hands on” for about 40 minutes but I should be shooting with one in about 2 weeks. Below are my first “hands on” thoughts on this new RX1 from Sony. Enjoy!

Can I get a huge HALLELUJAH? Finally….finally! A camera company has listened to the wants, the needs and the ever so lusted after desires of photographers, enthusiasts and even advanced hobbyists. Yes indeed there is a camera that has just been OFFICIALLY announced by Sony called the “RX1″ that is indeed a GAME CHANGER in our little world of camera seeking. I handled it..I shot with it (but only in my living room) and I fondled it for about 40 minutes while Sony was at my house last week giving me demos and the low down on all of their new products. I was not able to take any images to share here but can tell you that the focus was pretty quick, the feel and build was superb, and I am not excited about any other camera release at Photokina this year more than I am this one (ones that I have heard about so far that is). Mark my words…This camera may just be “the” camera of the year. Shipping in November, just two short months away.

Why am I so excited? THE SENSOR and THE LENS. BTW, This is NOT the D800 sensor..it is even better (according to Sony). This RX1 is the bad ass father of the RX100, and we all know how awesome that little powerhouse is :)

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First things first…what is the Sony RX1 and why is it so special?

As I already stated, I am aware that the RX1 leaked out on to the rumor sites over the past few days but I could not write my thoughts until Sony officially announced this camera. Some may be disappointed that this is not a full frame NEX, but not me! I am happy about this one as a FF NEX, much like the new A900 camcorder using a full frame sensor and E mount would require a thick adapter to use full frame lenses. E mount lenses would be cropped meaning…no full frame qualities. So I would rather have a camera like the RX1 which is built from the ground up for IQ and performance than a half baked FF NEX that required an adapter to use a full frame lens and all of the sensor. No contest. Remember, E-Mount lenses are NOT full frame lenses so they can not be used on a full frame sensor without being cropped much like Nikons DX lenses do on a D800.

THE RX1 is a FULL FRAME 14 bit 24 Megapixel camera with an all new designed from the ground up sensor (this sensor is NOT in any other camera besides the new full frame Alpha A99 and it is NOT the sensor in the D800, in fact, according to Sony it is even better..hmm..wonder if it is M10 worthy?) that literally goes toe to toe with cameras like the Nikon D800 and Canon 5DII and not only meets them… but from what I have heard and seen…it may just pass them in overall IQ, Dynamic Range and high ISO noise levels. The sensor in this camera is amazingly special and is the latest and greatest in tech and quality that is available anywhere. The key is..IT IS FULL FRAME 35mm so we get the depth of field, the dynamic range, the amazing high ISO capability and the deep color and quality that comes from a quality sensor. The sensor is the HEART of any camera and from what I have seen and heard…this one is pretty special and may just be the best full frame sensor created to date.

The RX1 has native ISO up to 25,600 and can go all the way up to 102,400 ISO using multi frame. The high ISO performance is astounding on the RX100..at least that is the promise Sony is giving and I believe it. They are using the A99 sensor here folks and this is good because this sensor is EXCLUSIVE to these new full frame Sony cameras. I could tell the Sony guys were truly excited about this camera and they knew I was :)

The RX1 has a FIXED 35mm f/2 Carl Zeiss lens. Yes this is a FIXED lens camera not the full frame NEX that has been reported about in recent weeks (there is NOT going to be a FF NEX camera anytime soon due to the reasons I mentioned) and the lens is very beautiful and even has the capability to focus down to .3 meters. Aperture is controlled ON THE LENS!!! Yes, like I said…many thought this would be a full frame NEX system camera. Sony could have done this but they would have had to add a large adapter to the body to take full frame lenses as current E mount lenses are not large enough to cover full frame. So the RX1 was built from the ground up to have the perfect sensor and the high quality fast prime lens to match. Much like a Leica X2 or Fuji X100 but so much better. This is a real Zeiss 35 f/2 lens and when paired with this body and sensor we will not have to worry about different lenses not working well with the body. The RX1 is built to perform as it is and it can fit in a jacket pocket.

35 f/2 Zeiss

The Sony RX1 has a magnesium allow body and it felt like it. It has a professional build so it is made to last. Good stuff.

The Sony RX1 is not much larger than the pocket rocket RX100! This is pretty incredible… The RX1 is small but it oozes quality. I only saw a prototype/pre-production unit but am told the final version (which is going to start shipping this NOVEMBER) will be of even better build, feel, finish and quality. THIS is the most significant camera release for Sony…EVER. What company has even come close to delivering something like this in this price bracket? NONE. You can see the image below with the RX1 next to the RX100. Not too much larger but I can tell you that it feels GREAT in the hand. Very solid and pro build here. It will also have a brand new all black EVF available as well as a “thumbs up” type of grip. With these two accessories the RX1 will be one hell of a street shooter. Imagine ISO 6400 or higher, black and white, full frame, 35mm f/2 with a slick EVF shooting at night. Not a problem for the RX1.

 The new Full Frame Sony RX1 on the left and the small pocket RX100 on the right – shot with the new 10-18 E Mount ultra wide lens (which is a beauty)

The Sony RX1 offers what the Leica X2, Fuji X100 and other fixed lens cameras never did. The RX1 is not only coming in at about the same size as a Leica X2 (maybe a tad larger) and X100 (tad smaller) but it gives us the full frame sensor, it gives us the amazing high ISO capability (up to 102,000), it gives us the ZEISS 35mm f/2 lens that is a real 35mm f/2 (think of a Leica 35 summicron lens..it cost over $3000 just for the lens), it gives us amazing HD video quality using AVCHD 2.0 and the ability to shoot with shallow DOF, it gives us fast AF and speed (though it only uses contrast detect focus) and it seems almost as speedy as the RX100 though not quite as fast. It gives us the ability to attach the all new Sony OLED EVF that is now all black and has a new connection to the camera through the shoe so it will look stealth and have the best EVF on the market to go with it. It gives us total silence when shooting because it uses a leaf shutter and finally it gives us everything else we love. A high res 3″ LCD, great all new designed menu similar to the RX100 menu and above all the SIMPLICITY of one lens and one camera with a better than Leica M9 sensor. WOW. No other camera company is offering anything like this. Say what you while about “I wish this was an interchangeable lens system”…the fact is that is Sony made it with interchangeable lenses then there would have been maybe one great lens to start with anyway. My guess is that if this is successful by next Photokina Sony will release an IC (interchangeable lens) version.

I have written many articles about the one camera/one lens experience and I always said a Leica M9 and 35 Summicron or Summilux is the perfect combo and all one really would ever need. Well..at about $7300 cheaper you can have this combo of a full frame sensor and fast 35mm f/2 glass that will fit in your coat pocket. It also gives nothing up in the build quality to any other camera manufacturer. So $2700, while expensive is priced about right IMO. I would have preferred $2499 but think about it..you can not get a digital camera like  this ANYWHERE else when it comes to size, features, quality of sensor and lens, build and lust factor. :)

If you get the sense I am excited you are correct as no other camera release this year..none..has excited me more than this one. Sony did this to push the envelope..to give us what WE want and to show the other camera companies that yes..it is possible to make a full frame sensor high quality fixed lens compact. They did it because it was the right thing to do and so many have been asking for this for the past few years, myself included. Think about it..when the Leica X1 came out what did we hear? “Why didn’t Leica make it full frame with an f/2 lens..I would have paid $3500 for that”. The “experts” said it couldn’t be done because the lens would be huge at f/2..they said a FF sensor would not fit. Well, Sony has done it and they did it very well for their 1st attempt.

The attached Zeiss 35 f/2 Sonnar is a beauty. You can even set the distance and get as close as 0.2 meters – the image below is of a pre-production model RX1.

As I watched the presentation from Sony in my living room about this new camera and all of the others they are announcing like the A99 (which looks amazing BTW) I got the sense that Sony has gotten “it”. They know what we want and they are not afraid to take the chance to give it to us.

The RX1, while not perfect is pretty close to what I would have done. What would I have changed in this camera?

I would have preferred a built in OLED EVF and a $2499 price point but really, that is about it. The fact that it is a full frame with a 35 f/2 attached cinches the deal for me. It is also not cheap coming it at $700 more than a Leica X2 but let us look at the facts. The X2 is an APS-C camera with a fixed f/2.8 lens. It is still slower in operation than the competition and has an old low res LCD. The EVF is an extra $500+ and the camera, while gorgeous, is not even in the same ballpark as the RX1 when it comes to high ISO capability, DOF capability, DR capability, etc. We have yet to see the IQ of the RX1 but from what I was shown by Sony I have no doubt it is the real deal.

It’s on: Sony vs Leica vs Nikon vs Canon vs EVERYONE

With the slow selling Leica X2 sitting on shelves Leica has to come out with something groundbreaking this year at Photokina. While I have heard rumblings of the M10 as well as the LEICA “ME” I have no idea what they really have in store for us but here is Sony that just released a kick ass product that has a full frame sensor, Zeiss 35 f/2 lens, amazingly crazy high ISO capability and the best Dynamic Range of any full frame sensor to date. All in a small jacket pocket pro built camera body at $2799. If Leica releases the “ME” which many say is a dumbed down M9 (whatever that means) it will surely be around the $4500-5000 mark without a lens. If they release a new mirrorless it will most likely NOT be full frame and will probably come in at $3500 without a lens. I think Sony has a winner here and while it may not do massively huge in sales just due to the cost I think it will gain a reputation for being a damn good camera. Again, I have not taken it out to shoot with it yet but from what I have seen and from what I have been told it is supposed to be pretty special.

As for Nikon and Canon..for $2700 you can not buy a D800 or 5DII and the RX1 will offer the same quality but with less versatility due to the single lens. But this is not a DSLR, it is a take anywhere camera of extremely high quality and capabilities. For those who do not fear the 35mm focal length, and do not want to shell out $10,000 for a Leica M9 and 35 Cron or even $8000 for an M9 and Zeiss 35 Biogon, the $2799 RX1 may be just what you have been looking for.

As of today, there is nothing like the Sony RX1 and I think it will be one lusted after and highly back ordered camera. Even at $2700 it is pretty expensive but those who have been waiting for Leica or Nikon or Canon to release something like this will flock to this. Sony is really pushing the envelope and I am now an even bigger Sony fan than I already was. They are on the right track..the NEX5n, the NEX-7 and now the NEX-5R, NEX-6 (which is also delicious), A99 and new camcorders tell me that Sony is the only company today really pushing things and showing no fear when it comes to putting out cameras for enthusiasts and photographers. Hell, I almost want to say they are like the new Leica..doing things Leica used to do by making real tools for real photographers. Wow. Did I just say that? Yea, I did.

Kudos again to Sony. Last year they grew some balls with the 5n and this year they grew an even larger set to overtake the big guns at Photokina. I have no clue what Canon or Nikon has in store for us but I imagine the RX1 to be the big hit at this Photokina. My pre-order is in.

PRE-ORDER THE RX1 NOW AT AMAZON!

PRE-ORDER THE RX1 at B&H PHOTO

How about the new NEX-6 and Alpha A-99? New E Mount lenses?

The NEX-6

The NEX-6 on the right and the 7 on the left. The 7 has the 16mm pancake and the 6 has the new 16-50 OSS power zoom attached (as well as the new hot shoe)

After handling and looking over the NEX-6 I found it a no brainer for those seeking a new NEX camera to go for this OVER a NEX-7. To me it felt the same in the hand, was a bit more attractive with a nicer matte finish and has what is in my opinion a better sensor. Better high ISO, faster contrast and phase detect focus, better video, WiFi capability and apps (which I admit look super cool), and much cheaper. Coming it at $999 with a kit 18-55 this camera is a no brainer if you want the best NEX camera to date (Megapixels are NOT everything). You get the same OLED EVF that we get in the NEX-7 and while you lose the Tri-Navi controls the camera still has dials to use so it is just as easier to shoot with. To me it feels amazing in the hand and at $999 this will sell like hotcakes. What you see below is the NEX-6 with the new 16-50 OSS lens attached. This lens is about the same size as the 16mm pancake but of better quality with a powered zoom. It looks larger than it really is in the photo below because I was shooting with a NEX-7 and new 10-18 ultra wide E-Mount which exaggerated the lens size :) I would trade my 7 for the new 6, end of story.

Pre-Order the NEX-6 and 16-50 Kit Zoom from Amazon!

The NEX-6 with 16-50 Power Zoom

The A99

The new Alpha A99 DSLR looked insane! The presentation Sony gave me on it made me want it right then and there and I am not a DSLR kind of guy! I am telling you that the Sensor in the new A99 and RX1 seems to be pretty damn special. From IQ to Video this is one serious as hell DSLR and I plan on shooting it in a couple weeks along with all of the new Sony stuff at the Sony media event in San Francisco. There I will get to try the RX1, the NEX-6, the A99 and all of the new lenses including the 35 1.8 which I shot a few frames with already (and again, a must own lens for NEX users). So look to this blog over the next few weeks for a slew of things about the new Sony cameras and lenses as well as anything else worth reporting about from the Photokina show. I will not be there as I could not attend due to the Photo Cruise I have going on next week but I will be updating from the ship with the news and articles! Am hoping to get a hold of a review RX1 camera to put it through its paces! I also want to thank Sony for coming to my house with all of this new gear. I loved handling it all and seeing the new goodies! More images below!

The new E mount 10-18 Ultra wide Zoom – This guy is SHARP!

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The new 16-50 Power Zoom E Mount lens

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The new fast 35 1.8 prime for E mount!

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Stock pics of the RX1

PRESS RELEASE ON THE RX1:

Sony Introduces the World’s First Full-Frame Compact Digital Camera

New Compact Cyber-shot® RX1 Camera features 35mm full-frame image sensor and wide aperture f/2 lens

SAN DIEGO, Sept 12, 2012 – For the first time, all the benefits of full-frame digital photography are available in a palm-sized compact camera.

The extraordinary new Sony Cyber-shot® DSC-RX1 digital camera packs an advanced 35mm full-frame 24.3 MP Exmor® CMOS sensor and exceptionally Carl Zeiss T*t 35mm f/2.0 fixed lens into a highly portable, lightweight camera body. Measuring approximately 4.5 inches wide by 3 inches tall and weighing just over a pound, it’s significantly smaller and lighter than any full-frame DSLR yet sacrifices nothing in terms of image quality, HD video quality or manual control.

“The new Cyber-shot RX1 is truly ‘one of a kind’, offering a unique combination of size and performance that’s never before been realized in the world of digital cameras,” said Yosuke Tomoda, director of the Cyber-shot camera business at Sony Electronics. “With its highly advanced sensor and fast 35mm f/2.0 lens packed into a small, portable camera body, professionals, enthusiasts and advanced hobbyists can experience the world of full-frame imaging in new and different ways than they ever thought possible.”

The new camera’s unified lens and body design allows performance that few interchangeable lenses can match. The Carl Zeiss lens not only delivers spectacular image quality all the way to the edges of each frame, it incorporates a near-silent in-lens shutter and is far more compact than comparable lenses of interchangeable design. The camera also features full manual control options and an intuitive user interface, making it easy for photographers to adjust all settings quickly and easily.

The 35mm full-frame sensor inside the RX1 camera more than doubles the area of APS-C sensors commonly found in much bulkier DSLR cameras, allowing it to take in significantly more light while capturing content. With an effective resolution of 24.3 megapixels, it’s capable of resolving the finest image details and most subtle textures for rich color reproduction and an impressively broad dynamic range.

The large sensor size also boosts the camera’s sensitivity range to a generous ISO 100 – 25600, with the option to shoot as low as ISO 50 in expanded sensitivity mode. Similarly, ISO settings as high as 102400 can be achieved using Multi Frame Noise Reduction. This allows the camera to capture natural, low noise handheld images in near-dark conditions without needing flash.

The fast, bright Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm lens is a versatile choice for portraits, street photography and everyday shooting. This premium lens features newly designed optics including an Advanced Aspherical (AA) glass element, which contributes to the camera’s extremely compact dimensions without sacrificing optical performance.

The lens’ wide F2 maximum, 9-bladed circular aperture enable beautiful background defocus (‘bokeh’) effects to rival or exceed professional-class DSLR camera lenses. Additionally, it features a macro switching ring on the lens barrel which instantly shortens the minimum focusing distance to approximately 20cm (from image plane), allowing the camera to capture small, close-up subjects with exquisite detail.

The Cyber-shot RX1 camera also features an enhanced BIONZ® processing engine that rapidly handles data from the Exmor® CMOS sensor and also powers full-resolution burst shooting at up to five frames per second. The powerful processor can output image data in 14-bit RAW format, giving advanced users total freedom to express their creative vision throughout the shooting and post-production processes.

Despite the camera’s extraordinarily compact dimensions, the new Cyber-shot RX1 model offers a full range of manual control modes on par with typical high-end full-frame DSLR cameras. Dedicated lens rings allow for fingertip control of focus and aperture, while a DSLR-style Focus mode dial on the front of the camera enables easy switching between focus modes. Top-mounted exposure compensation and mode dials are strategically placed for simple access and operation, while custom function and AEL buttons on the back panel are also easily accessible.

The new camera features a Quick Navi mode that allows fast, intuitive adjustment of camera settings. This is especially useful when using the camera with an optional viewfinder (sold separately). A memory recall (MR) mode is accessible via the mode dial so photographers can store and instantly recall up to three sets of camera settings.

Other refinements include a MF Assist function that magnifies a portion of the image while framing to simplify fine focus adjustments, as well as a Peaking function that highlights sharply-focused areas of the image on screen.

Additionally, the RX1 camera features By Pixel Super Resolution digital zoom technology, which allows for magnification of image size without sacrificing pixel count. This results in far higher quality results than are achievable with conventional digital zoom.

A Smart Teleconverter function crops a central portion of the image sensor, boosting effective magnification by 1.4x or 2x realizing an effective 49mm or 70mm focal length. With the extremely high pixel count of the full-frame image sensor, even zoomed and cropped images maintain generous amounts of fine detail when blown up for large print sizes.

In addition to beautiful still images, the Cyber-shot RX1 compact camera can capture high-quality, low-noise Full HD movie footage in all lighting conditions at a choice of 60p or 24p (progressive) frame rates. There’s a full complement of P/A/S/M exposure modes during video shooting for creative flexibility.

The new camera also features 13 different Creative Styles for fine-tuning images, plus a wide range of Picture Effect treatments. Further, it has Auto HDR and D-Range Optimizer, bracket shooting (Exposure, DRO or White Balance) and Auto HDR shooting modes, and there’s a Digital Level Gauge that indicates camera pitch and camera roll on the LCD screen for straight, even landscape and architectural shots.

New Accessories for Cyber-shot RX1

Shooting possibilities for stills and video are broadened by the camera’s Multi Interface Shoe that accepts a growing range of accessories. Options include a high-quality OLED XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ EVF (model FDA-EV1MK) which allows for even greater manual focusing precision as well as an external optical viewfinder featuring Carl Zeiss optics (model FDA-V1K).

Also available are a thumb grip (model TGA-1) for sure, comfortable handling as well as a lens hood (model LHP-1) and jacket case (model LCJ-RXB).

Sony PlayMemories Services

The Cyber-shot RX1 comes preinstalled with PlayMemories Home™ (Lite Edition) software, allowing easy image transfers to a PC for managing, editing and printing. Available for free download, a full version of PlayMemories Home software adds movie editing and disc burning.

Also available for download, PlayMemories Studio™ allows game-like editing of photos and videos on PlayStation®3 systems. Images can be shared easily via PlayMemories Online™ service, the cloud-based sharing service from Sony that simplifies ‘any time, any place’ viewing on a wide range of connected devices.

Pricing and Availability

The Cyber-shot RX1 compact, fixed lens camera will be available this November for about $2800.

The FDA-EV1K electric viewfinder and FDA-V1K optical viewfinder will each be available at launch for about $600 and $450, respectively.

The thumb grip, lens hood and jacket case will also be available at launch for about $250, $180 and $250, respectively.

The new camera and all compatible accessories will be sold at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.

Please visit blog.sony.com/rx1 for a full video preview of the new Cyber-shot RX1 compact camera and follow #SonyCamera on twitter for the latest camera news.

Aug 222012
 

Sony NEX-6 and NEX-5R coming…

So as you may have all seen by now there is a rumored (but 99% solid) leak of the new upcoming Sony NEX-6 and to me, it appears that it may be a little better than the Sony NEX-7. Why? Well for starters, it has the same body style just minus the “Tri-Navi” control system. The sensor will be 16MP, which is what I wished for from the get go with the NEX-7. I feel 16-18MP is the sweet spot for digital and supposedly this new NEX-6 will feature a new 16MP sensor. The cool thing is that these are rumored to have Phase Detect and Contrast Detect AF much like the super speed Nikon V1.

If true, it will not only be a faster camera to AF and use than the NEX-7 but it will also give better IQ with wide-angle Leica lenses (like the 5n does now). So how much will the NEX-7 come in at? Well no one knows anything just yet as this is a RUMOR but usually these rumors are controlled leaks so I am sure that the NEX-6 and 5R is for real.

These cameras are also going to be wireless (or so the rumors say) and this opens up the cameras to WiFi sharing, app’s and more. Imagine Instagram on your NEX-6. Yep, this is the way things are going my friends so it will not be long until our cameras are turned into computers like our phones. Could be amazing though!

My guess is under $999 for the 6 as that would place it below the flagship NEX-7 and give Sony a chance to release a NEX-8 with much better specs. The NEX-6 sounds like a winner already to me, if Sony can just create some kick ass glass for this system there really would be nothing to complain about at all.

There are also rumors of a full frame NEX but I will believe it when I see it. You can read more about Sony Rumors at SonyAlphaRumors.com

C’Mon Sony, give us a couple high quality “Pro” NEX lenses and take this system to the next level!

Sigma DP2 Merrill in hand and review soon…

Ahhhh. Sigma has done it again. Sigma was actually one of the very 1st to release a large sensor in a compact body with their DP1 series of camera. The only problem with that camera was the cheap build, slow as molasses operation and AF and  the fact that it was actually sort of low resolution. I hated the DP1 though I did enjoy the rich image quality and color of the Foveon sensor.

To honor the man who created the Foveon Sensor technology, Dick Merrill, Sigma has created a line of cameras that feature exceptional quality to showcase this sensor design. One of them was the failed (in comparison to almost every other DSLR, sales wise) and ridiculously crazy overpriced at launch SD1 (which has now PLUMMETED in cost) and the others are the DP1 and DP2 Merrill. I had my doubts due to the sluggishness and slow rep of the DP1 cameras but “what the hell” I said! Why not try out their latest and greatest compact large sensor camera?

Yesterday I received the DP2 Merrill, the 46MP Foveon sensor compact. Yep, the same sensor as the big gun “SD1″..all in a $1000 compact-ish body. While not so compact and VERY brick and box like it is a step above the old DP1 I reviewed years ago in build (though still FEELS  a little light and plasticky even though it is a metal body). This camera is BASIC. No gimmicks. Just a gorgeous sensor and fantastic lens attached to a plastic box and let me  tell you, this lens is AMAZING as is the sensor.

My 1st impression was “the slow AF is still here but much better than the 1st gen DP1″…then my 2nd impression was “Damn the write times are awful”…third impression was “Hmmm. I sort of like this simpleness” and my 4th impression was “WOW, even the JPEGS are amazingly gorgeous”!!

So far so good. I am not posting any images here besides a couple quick backyard test shots in JPEG mode. Straight from camera BTW but while the IQ appears to be gorgeous, I am worried the slowness of the camera may kill my enthusiasm for it in real use. I will be taking it out to San Diego this weekend with the Nokia 808 so will be giving it a spin there and will post my review in a couple of weeks. I noticed Sigma shipped 2 batteries with the DP2 Merrill which tells me the battery life must be pretty bad.

So stay tuned for the review and check back daily!

BTW, the lens on the DP2 Merrill has a 45mm equivalent with an aperture of 2.8 – so basically like shooting a 50. The sensor is an APS-C sized Foveon chip which is known for their beautiful colors and crazy detail. The JPEGS look good so far and the color is gorgeous.

Click this out of camera JPEG to see the image larger and full 100% crop embedded – Wide open at 2.8…

…and a full size shot, JPEG wide open at 2.8 – sharp for an OOC JPEG!

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another showing the color and detail…

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and another – all of these are JPEGS right from camera!

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