I got a new camera last week. It’s the very popular, and shinny, Sony NEX 5n. This is a mirrorless camera, which allows it to be super small, but still pack the same APS-C sensor found in most DSLRs.
I wanted to get a smaller camera for a while. My Canon T1i/500D is a medium-sized DSLR, but it feels rather hefty after a while when taking pictures with it. On top of that, since I take pictures of smallish things (figures / dolls), I often have to position myself in less than comfortable ways, which can add to the pain of using a larger camera. Also, I sometimes need to hold the camera with one hand and a reflector with the other, this is hard to do with a DSLR.
Enter the mirrorless cameras. A new breed of camera that has been gaining popularity for a while now. They don’t have a mirror like DSLR cameras and use an LCD and/or electronic viewfinder instead. This removes a lot of bulk from the camera so they can be a lot smaller. And the NEX 5n IS small. I was almost surprised by how small it is. It contains a 16mp CMOS sensor, just as my Canon, but it also has some features my Canon does not. However, due to the its small size, it lacks a lot of buttons to quickly access functions and its LCD screen is small and made smaller by a permanent menu on the right side. Don’t let that fool you, though. It is a fully functional camera. It has all the same options found in my Canon and most DSLRs, and a couple more. There are customizable buttons that ease some of the lack of buttons and the LCD is a touchscreen and tiltable, something my Canon lacked.
I haven’t had time to do many tests, but so far I can tell that the Sony performs pretty well. It’s great in low light, something the Canon always struggled with. It has much better white balance than the Canon, but the Sony suffers from a kit lens that is sharp in the center but soft and almost blurry on the edges. The Canon kit lens is a bit more consistent from center to edge, though a little soft overall. However, resized for the internet, you’d be hard-pressed to see a difference in sharpness.
Here is a quick comparison shot with the same settings (Aperture Priority, ISO 100, f5.0, AWB)
I also got a Sony 50mm f1.8 prime lens for this camera. This will give me more options for bokeh effects and appears to be more balanced in sharpness than the kit lens, which is to be expected. These Sony lenses are unique in that they have fulltime active focus and optical image stabilization. Another lens on my wishlist is a Sigma 30mm f2.8, which I hear great things about. Another great thing about this Sony is that there are a lot of adapters for it to accept a wide range of lenses. For example, I’ve also been looking at a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm Leica lens. Maybe a little exotic, but it has a great “film look” that would be fun to use. To round it out I’d like to get a nice wide angle lens to create some neat “fish eye” effects. Of course, lenses are expensive, but I never looked at other lenses for my Canon and even though the Sony lacks a lot of DSLR buttons, its size makes me more interested in playing with these kind of options. Maybe that’s because I spent a lot of time fighting with my Canon to get good shots.
You can find a ton of reviews for the Sony NEX 5n online. Check them out! What kind of camera do you use? Do you have a mirrorless, DSLR or P&S? In the meantime, I’m going to see what this little beast can do.