Slow Weekend…more fun shots with the Sony NEX-5 and 16mm pancake lens!

More fun shots with the Sony NEX-5

It was a slow weekend for the site huh? No posts Saturday or Sunday which is unusual for me but hey, it’s allowed sometimes.

Yep, I took a 36 hour “leave” from the site as I was driving west with camera in hand. I was in Los Angeles attending a birthday party of a close friend and for the trip I decided to only bring one camera with me and it was not even a Leica! Yea, call me crazy and insane, but I am in a mood lately where I just want to have fun with my photography so I brought along a small camera to serve as a serious point and shoot 🙂 Not that I do not have fun with Leica cameras, quite the opposite, but for this trip I wanted small, light, and no muss or fuss. Besides, I would just be shooting for fun and it would give me a great chance to try out the Sony for some street shooting again.

I wanted to bring along a camera that would be light, quick, take good video AND give me decent image quality. I was browsing old articles on the site on Friday and many of the Sony NEX-5 posts made me pick up this little camera once again and take it out for some fun in the California sun. There is just something about this little NEX system and it also seems to be gaining in popularity. I keep coming back to it just like I do the Olympus E-P2.

“A Break For The King”

I blew the dust off and decided that the little NEX and somewhat mediocre 16mm lens would be my only companion for the overnight trip. Last weekend I shot the Olympus E-P2 and 14mm at the Renaissance Fair and enjoyed it for its sharp contrasty images with nice color that popped. This weekend I decided to give the NEX-5 some love so around my neck it went, and stayed.

I shot maybe 20 images all weekend as I was too busy enjoying myself, shopping, meeting up with friends and all kinds of other fun stuff. Still, the little NEX-5 proved itself again and again. Sure, the 16mm lens is soft wide open, has soft corners and distorts worse than Joan Rivers face…BUT the easy going style of which you can shoot the NEX-5 is very nice when walking the street. I actually saw 3-4 people with NEX cameras (mostly NEX-3 cameras) taking street shots and I was only on the street for about an hour! NEX mania seems to be hitting hobbyists everywhere it seems. Even J-Tec, a site sponsor makes cool products for the NEX cameras (with more cool stuff on the way I am told).

BTW, ALL images you see in this post were shot with the NEX-5 and 16.

I did review the NEX-5 HERE a while ago, as well as talked about the 16mm lens HERE as I shot it at ISO6400 on the NEX-5 and came away with some cool results. As I walked down Hollywood Boulevard yesterday I just fired away some quick snaps which is easy to do with the 16 as it is so wide! With the APS-C sensor in the NEX-5, the 16mm becomes a 24mm Equivalent 2.8 lens, so it is pretty wide allowing those who use it to get more of the good stuff in the shot.

“Spielberg admiring the NEX?” Lol..

I was finding that even my snapshots were looking pretty fun and I started to realize that I am becoming more and more used  to shooting wide angle. I’m liking it because I am enjoying shooting and getting more of the environment of which I am shooting into the photo. I also have the 18-55 zoom with the NEX but I have to say that the little Sony and the 16mm make for a great take anywhere and shoot system.

This next image was shot “from the hip”. It’s not a perfect image but I love the boys facial expression and his “lucky shirt”. Fun 🙂 I also enjoyed converting these into black & white. Once again I used Alien Skin Exposure 3 which is my fave B&W conversion software these days.

Love the look on this kids face PLUS he is wearing his Lucky Shirt!

I’ve had some questions over the past 3 months or so from many of you asking advice for a “first” serious camera under $1000. Some of you ask if Micro 4/3 is the way to go. Others ask about the NEX or Alpha DSLRs. All I can say is that choosing a camera is all about personal preference and choice. The NEX-5 has crazy high ISO ability for its size and will always beat Micro 4/3 for ISO noise and Dynamic Range, but as of this writing the NEX lenses kind of SUCK for serious photography. Probably why I use it for fun snapshots like  you see here.

I do know that new lenses will be coming out and there will be Zeiss lenses coming in the near future. Once this happens I think the NEX-5 will go up to a whole new level IQ wise as I have seen some great stuff from it with Leica glass. Imagine the Zeiss 3D pop and warm colors in an Auto focus NEX mount lens. Wow.

Until then, my NEX will be fitted with the 16mm for those days where I want a light, swivel LCD –  fast camera to take along. Besides, it is great as is for those gritty B&W street shots many of  us like so much.

“From The Hip”

All of these small body/big sensor cameras are starting to get pretty popular, and for good reason! They offer almost everything a mid range DSLR offers but in a TINY package. The NEX-5, Ricoh GXR and Leica X1 are all small and all offer superb image quality with the X1 besting them all in overall IQ, but the NEX-5 and GXR are right behind the mighty $2000 X1 as they all share the same sensor size. Micro 4/3 has more limitations in the Dynamic Range and high ISO dept. because their image sensors are quite a bit smaller than an APS-C size sensors but honestly, after shooting ALL of these cameras, any of them..and I mean any of them can create wonderful photos for you.

Do I have a favorite? Not really as I truly do enjoy them all. The X1 is beautiful with flat out image quality that beats ALL compacts big and small but damn, the thing is so slow that for street shooting it is VERY hard to use. I’m really hoping that Leica has indeed sped up the AF with the X1. The new firmware is supposed to drop in March so we shall see soon enough. If Leica can get the AF speed up to NEX-5 or Olympus E-P2 levels I would easily say the X1 is king. Due to its sluggish AF I find it more enjoyable to shoot with the other cameras these days but if shooting stationary object, the X1 would be my choice in a smaller body camera. Other than that I always seem to reach for Micro 4/3 or the Sony NEX for my small camera needs.

“The King Has Risen”

or has he?…

The pictures here are just snapshots really but I had great fun just snapping away with the NEX as my experience was different than the E-P2 and EVF from last week and also different from shooting a Leica or a small sensor Ricoh GRDIII. It’s funny because I find myself shooting in a different style when I shoot the NEX-5 due to it’s swivel LCD. It’s a bit more versatile and so easy to hold with my thumb at the shutter button while I hold out the camera in front of me, usually holding it lower rather than higher up.

Anyway, I just wanted to share some photos from it that I shot this weekend as well as let everyone know that I still thoroughly enjoy this little Sony camera. I find it was one of the most unique and important camera releases of last year due to its design, style, quality, features and future potential. I can hardly wait to see what Sony does in 2011 and 2012 for it’s NEX line. A pro body would be cool as well as those sweet promised Zeiss lenses. More for us photo nuts to wait for and drool over 🙂 BTW, I bought my NEX-5 from B&H Photo.

I will have some cool posts this week and yes I am still waiting for a Fuji X100 to be sent my way. Someone emailed me and said I should do a showdown between the X100 and Leica X1 in Tombstone AZ so that is what I plan to do as soon as I get the X100. I can’t wait!

In any case, I am back home from the trip and it’s 1:17am. I have to get some sleep. I will leave you with a few more shots, even a couple in Color.

P.S. – I may be planning my next Meet Up for Los Angeles, and soon. Stay tuned!

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  1. STEVE, you really need to pick up an adapter and try Leica glass on this Nex to really be able to understand the potential of this camera and its sensor. The swivel design and the specs really come to the fore with decent glass. I am really enjoying it with a Summicron 50, some of the results are spectacular, whilst using the original lens was not.

    • I have two adapters and have shot it with Leica glass ranging from a 35 cron to 90 summarit. Just not a fan of shooting it with Leica glass for some reason. I get much better results shooting that glass on an M9. Thanks!

  2. Really, when you consider that the 16/2.8 for the Nex is the ONLY small, wide angle made for mirrorless or dslr systems, it’s more than just mediocre. The 14/2.5 from Panasonic is wide, but 24mm gets you into the really wide range.

    Even in more expensive glass there are few truly wide angles that are sharp in the corners wide open.

    In my opinion, the 16/2.8 is a steal.

  3. Know what you mean Sharif. Been looking at similar things myself the past few months and come full circle. If I can’t afford a Leica X1 and the Fuji X100 isn’t up to par, then considering E-P2 and Panasonic 20mm also. I reckon this is the best combination from what I’ve read here and elsewhere. The EPL1 is supposed to be a bit sharper, but I don’t like the camera body (or the push buttons). So ignoring that, the E-P2 is still a good camera with good picture quality. The 20mm panasonic is supposed to be a lot better than the Olympus 17mm. Olympus colours are supposed to be head and shoulders above Panasonic GF1.

    E-P2 with kit lens is same price as body only. Sell the kit lens and get the Panasonic 20mm. Or – do like me and wait for something better than X100 and X1!

    Steve – thanks for these – wondered how Nex performed with that lens. Have you (or anyone) had any problems with dust? I read somewhere that sensor very exposed when removing lenses and dust could be a real problem – or getting rid of it rather, without damaging sensor.

  4. Trying to decide if I should buy a GF-1 with the 20mm 1.7 (not GF2) vs. EP-2 with the kit lens? Or should I go for EP-2 body only and panasonic 20mm pancake? The problem is that I can’t seem to find EP-2 body only cheap. Is EP-2 much better than GF-1? Any suggestion?

    • I just realized I put this comment on wrong camera section, but any advice/suggestion will be appreciated. thanks.

  5. Thanks for the photos, Steve. It looks like a wonderful weekend in a rainy LA! I’m thrilled with my NEX-5, and am having tons of fun with the SLR MAgic lens you recommended. As the disease spreads, I just ordered the Voigtlander 40mm with M-mount to try. Thanks for stoking the coals!

    • Why is everyone going for a M mount glass for NEX? There are so many great lenses out there that do wonders in NEX for a lot LESS money. Jupiters are great example, old canon fd’s etc, old nikkors they all offer great image quality for fraction of the price.

  6. Hey steve, some great photos there. Just a quick question, how did you find shooting from the hip using the flip LCD screen? does the screen hold out well under the sun?

    • Thanks Zheng! I find the NEX-5 easy to shoot from the hip. In sunlight it is not the best but can still be seen..sort of a rough way to do it but it seems to work OK. The nEX-5 is one of the easiest “shoot from the hip” cameras I have used.

    • I switched to Exposure 3 a few months back after trying out the demo. I liked their color and their B&W film stock conversions a bit better but SFX is also fantastic.

  7. Nice to see that you like the NEX, Steve! Some really nice pictures here! Love it!

    Again, I just wish to see more lenses for the E-mount ecosystem. I recently got the Jupiter 8 50mm F2 Leica mount for my NEX. Superb set up, despite the lens is quite soft when wide open. But still, some great pictures with it!

  8. I love my NEX, personally, I enjoy using the CV 21/4 and my Leica 35/2 ASPH for more serious stuff, for fun, It is usually my 18-55. BTW the 18-200 is a GREAT lens, but it is just a little big for such a small camera

    • I have yet to try the 18-200, mostly because it is just so huge on the little NEX! I have heard that it is a better lens than the kit zoom and 16 though. I may give one a try soon.

  9. Nice shots Steve, and welcome to my neck of the woods! I lived right around the corner from those spots for years.

    While I personally use rangefinder lenses most of the time on NEX, my copy of the 16mm isn’t bad at all. Even wide open, the center is very sharp (needs f5.6 or so for the corners.) I often crop just a bit, making it more of a 27mm equivalent, and that alleviates any corner issues. I know first hand of quite a few folks who have replace their copy of the 16mm for a new one, and their replacement performed much better. I wonder if you got a dud?

    p.s. the 16mm actually has little distortion, considering its angle of view and size (I fix it in LR3.) The Panasonic 14mm f2.5 has MASSIVE amounts of barrel distortion, but the in camera software corrects it…in fact, the lens is actually closer to 13mm, but the camera software crops it a bit because the distortion is so heavy, thus leaving Panasonic to call it a 14mm lens!

  10. Nice pictures Steven looks so real standing next to A, and Michael Jackson looks real until he turns to the side.

  11. The Nex5 was very high on my wish list last year. But, I got a Canon S95 instead. And love it to bits! Fantastic camera. Still want to try the Nex5 eventually. Or the Panasonic GH2.

    Steve, whats your opinion of the S95?

    • I’m on of the few who never got into the S90 or S95. I disliked the cheap feeling body and thought the overall IQ was average. I much prefer the D-Lux 5/LX-5 over the S95.

  12. Fun camera indeed! But I think you can take this little camera more seriously too! The lenses are preventing that from happening, but as a package it pumps some serious punch. I’m really excited to try Canon FD 50mm f1.4 S.S.C when my FD to E-Bayonnet adapter arrives.

  13. Fantastic caps, Steve. Looks like you had a great time. That really looks like Spielberg!!! Just wondering, NEX-5 over the GRD? I seemed to remember that you had preferred the latter…

    • Hey Ashwin! I like the GRD and D-Lux 5 for small sensor cams and for larger sesnro small cams I really enjoy them all. The GXR, NEX and E-P2 but the GXR and NEX beat out M4/3 for DR and overall IQ.

      • SO do you think, since the lenses are better on the gxr and there’s an evf available you’d prefer that one?

        I’m not in the market for either of them now (owning an x1, and x100 on order) Just curious!

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