Dec 3, 2010 at 11:03 am #1266196
In which Thom compares models from Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and Olympus.
If I'd been paying closer attention I'd have realized earlier that Sony didn't provide in-body IS, as they do in their DSLRs. Now I know.
I also wonder why the Thom lumps the Oly optional EVF with Panny's, calling them both "small, coarse, slightly lagging…" Oly's is certainly not, especially at 1.44M dots resolution versus Panny's 202k.
But I quibble, it's a good read and Hogan has a backpacker's perspective.
RickDec 3, 2010 at 11:36 am #1670494
Interesting feature. I handled all these cameras and chose the Sony NEX 5 because of the good grip, good dynamic range, positionable LCD, tiny body size and weight and APS-C DSLR image quality. I've got used to the menu system and programmed the soft keys so I can change the ISO and metering without going into the menus. I use manual exposure and with the control dial it's easy to change the aperture and shutter speed. I now find this camera easier to use than my 450D!Dec 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm #1670701
Thanks for the link! I enjoy Hogan's perspective.
Everytime I think about purchasing in this class of cameras, I wonder if I would use it on my backpacking trips. The great conveninece of compacts makes it rather easy to pull out and take a quick shot. I don't know if I would feel the same way about these models – I certainly gave up carrying my 20D for that reason. It stayed in the pack way too much.
Which I suppose speaks to my style of backpacking more than anything, since there are many very fine photographers out there who bring cameras into the mountains and take the time to compose and consider their shots. They will position themselves to take advantage of the terrific morning light.
Rick and Chris, do you bring cameras larger than compacts on your trips regularly? And if so, how do you carry them?
DirkDec 4, 2010 at 6:46 pm #1670902
@ken_bennettLocale: southeastern usa
I carry a Panny GF-1 hiking, with the 20mm lens. The image quality is immensely superior to any compact camera that I have tried (and man, have I tried a lot of p+s cameras.) The lens is terrific, and the f/1.7 speed gives me great control over the look and feel of the image, as well as being able to shoot at lower ISO values. I happen to be one of those old school photogs who likes the field of view of the 40mm equivalent, so I don't miss a zoom lens.
The GF-1 is much smaller than a 20D — more like a G-series, and mine fits in a small waist pack.Dec 5, 2010 at 12:43 am #1670980
Hey, thanks! The Panasonic and the Olympus both hold great interest – I am curious if Nikon finally does something in this field. Honestly, I am not skilled enough to exploit the full potential of today's equipment.
The Panasonic is intriguing; the quality people are getting from these cameras is impressive. I would love to buy one, but alas, with a home in need of some repair, the money most go there for now. But if you have photos posted anywhere, please pass on a link…
I must admit to using the zoom quite a bit on my hikes – that's one of the few things I do like about compacts, you can get zooms that weigh a fraction of what a 200 with a lense extender might be able to capture. The obvious tradeoff being with a full DSLR (or a 4/3rds lense), the weight of such glass (especially faster glass) is substantial (not to mention the cost), but the shots are so much better.
I must resist this camera lust….Thanks again for answering my questions!
DirkDec 5, 2010 at 8:09 am #1671016
"I must resist this camera lust…."
Are there 12-Step groups for this?Dec 5, 2010 at 8:13 am #1671019
Dirk, I've always carried SLRs – film and then digital. I carry one SLR with a mid-range zoom in a padded case slung across my body so it rests above my hip. I've carried a camera like this on every walk for decades and find it very comfortable. On some walks – PCT, CDT – I carried two film SLRs, on others I took a compact as a backup. On the PNT last summer I took the Canon 450D as my main camera with a Sigma DP1 as a back-up. I would now take the NEX 5 as my main camera.Dec 5, 2010 at 10:42 am #1671065
What lenses do you use with the NEX 5?Dec 5, 2010 at 10:55 am #1671068
Ed, so far there are only three lenses for the NEX 5 – 16mm, 18-55mm and 18-200mm. I have the 18-55, as that's the zoom range I used most on the Canon 450D. On the PNT last summer I only carried the 18-55. I think it's a good general purpose lens. However I would like to see a wide angle zoom, 12-20 say, and a telephoto zoom like 80-200. The 18-200 is just too big for such a little camera in my opinion.Dec 5, 2010 at 3:37 pm #1671144
Thanks! The Nex 5 with the 18-55 is on my want list.Dec 7, 2010 at 10:39 pm #1672091
There should be 12-step programs for this. I love photography although I have little skill. But I enjoy the experience of photography, of the relationship between light, aperture, shutter speed and perspective. Unfortunately, the finished product rarely hints at this interest! But I admire good photography and those who can achieve such results.Dec 7, 2010 at 10:41 pm #1672093
Wow, you are dedicated to the experience. I am glad to hear that your latest addition is to your liking – I can certainly understand the appeal of carrying a slightly smaller camera. How do you find that the lenses balance vs. the body? Did that take a lot of getting used to?
DirkDec 8, 2010 at 2:25 am #1672114
Hi Chris, I've been wavering over going with the Panasonic GF1, the new Panasonic GF2 (which many GF1 users have trouble with because of the lack of mode dial), the new Panasonic GH2 (because it has a proper viewfinder, though it is the heaviest of the lot), and the Sony Nex 5 (and possibly the upcoming Olympus E-P3). The Nex 5 is most attractive for its full sensor resolution, which is something I miss about my Nikon D70s), but one big concern I have is battery life. I could go for a month on one battery with my D70s, whereas my Ricoh GX200 and GXR (yes, I bought into the system and it is truly beautiful… I love the way Ricoh makes cameras… the photos are exquisite, and I can't wait for their interchangeable lens mount unit coming next year) can barely go a day without having to change the battery. Isn't battery life of the Nex 5 a concern when you away from civilization? I'm tired of lugging a huge camera and lenses around everywhere, but also don't want to lose the advantages of a DSLR. I mainly use the 18-200 VR lens on the D70s (with a particular affinity for 35mm equivalent of a 24mm wide angle lens), so I don't really need a lot of lenses, but I do tend to do a lot of low light and macro work. I can't remember offhand, does the Nex 5 have image stabilization? Sorry for all the questions… I'm finding it particularly difficult deciding on a new camera system. For years it was SLR's, then a period of compacts, and now I want the speed and quality of DSLR's, but in a much lighter package.Dec 8, 2010 at 5:27 am #1672136
Dirk, I didn't have any problems adjusting to the lens/body size of the NEX 5. From the pictures I'd seen the lens appeared to overwhelm the body. However when I actually handled a real camera I found this wasn't so.
Miguel, it took me 10 months to make a decision on a new camera! (With a 3 month interlude for the PNT). The NEX 5 hadn't even been launched when I decided I wanted a lighter, smaller camera that produced DSLR quality images. The GF1 was my first choice (and I'd still choose it over the GF2, which seems to be a dumbed down version). I made my final decision after reading many reviews and handling all the cameras. I rejected the GH2/G1/G2 and the Samsung NX10 because they aren't that much smaller than my Canon 450D. I rejected the Olympus E-Ps and the GF1 because the sensor is smaller than on the NEXs and the dynamic range not as good. The lack of a viewfinder did concern me with the NEX 5 but now I've used it a fair bit I like the screen, especially as I can tilt it, hold the camera to my chest and look down at the image. That solves the problem of camera shake from holding the camera out in front of you. I also like having 100% of the image in view so odd twigs etc don't appear on the edge of the final image because I couldn't see them in the viewfinder and all the extra info on the screen, especially the histogram, which I use for exposure. With the 450D I take the picture then check the histogram and adjust the exposure and retake the picture if necessary. I don't have to do that with the NEX 5. I hope Sony produce an electronic viewfinder though as it is hard to see the screen clearly in bright sunshine.
Battery life isn't as good as the Canon's but far better than the Sigma DP1. I'm getting 200-300 images per charge. I don't usually shoot more than that in a week so a battery should last that long. I'd carry at least one spare battery anyway. I'm also finding that now that they've been used a few times the three batteries I have are lasting longer.
I agree with you on Ricoh cameras. The GR-D is my favourite camera for its ergonomics. Unfortunately the tiny sensor means the images aren't adequate for much of my professional work. The GXR idea looks great but I'd want a zoom lens with an APS-C sensor before I'd consider it. I don't have the money to experiment with different systems!
The NEX 5 zoom lenses have image stabilisation, the 16mm lens doesn't. The NEX 5 also produces amzingly good results at high ISOs – far better than the Canon 450D.
I dithered over the NEX 5 before buying it as it was such a radical departure from a DSLR. Part of me said be cautious, get a G2 or NX10, they look and handle like a DSLR. Another voice said take a risk and go for the smallest, lightest camera, the point of making a change is to do that. I followed the last voice and am pleased I did.Dec 8, 2010 at 8:48 am #1672196
Chris, thanks for elaborating. Very useful information, and since I've been keeping up with your work for many years (I still have your first edition "The Backpacker's Handbook" and "The Advanced Backpacker" both of which hugely influenced my walking) and find that we share a lot of similar interests and ways of seeing both walking and photography, the advice is particularly compelling. (I also really like Ryan Jordan's take on photography and his photographic style).
I, too, don't have the money to experiment! That is why it is taking me so long to decide… I don't want to make a mistake! I've been looking for a DSLR replacement since August 2009 when I hiked in Canada using my Ricoh GX200, which was adequate, but as you bring up, the sensor was just too small… so many low light photos came out way too noisy at relatively low ISO (anything above 400 was unusable). I thought the GRX might be the answer and I really like the system, but startup and focusing are slow (I didn't buy the 50mm fixed lens because its focusing is awful, especially in low light. though it has a full-sized sensor) and, as you mentioned, it doesn't have a full-sized sensor zoom unit yet. I'm hoping that Ricoh will soon begin to take advantage of the GXR's unique system and to bring the prices down. At this rate the system is just not selling very well because it is so strange, the units are too expensive, and there are too few options for serious photographers. Each unit is like buying a whole new camera. I simply can't afford that.
When I get on the trail one of the problems I have is that once I get my camera out and take a few shots I get lost in the photography and forget about the time. I'll spend hours in a patch by the side of the trail, taking images of minute scenes, often ending up on my stomach or back trying to fit the camera into odd angles and viewpoints. I can easily take up to 200 images in a day (and end up having to give up the walk because I lost too much time taking photos!) even if every one of them is carefully composed and considered. Photography is part of how I express my love affair with the natural world, and so I need a camera that works very naturally with my hands and eye, but that I can also control according to my needs. My favorite camera before I went digital was the all-manual Nikon FM2, and I very much miss its simplicity and and the complete dependance on my knowledge of light, shutter speed, and aperture to get the images I wanted. I wouldn't go back to film because of the great expense of developing film and the inability to see what I just photographed, but part of me dislikes the loss of complete control in electronic cameras. I feel like I don't really understand cameras anymore and that there is so much inside the modern digitals that I'll never really master their use. I spend too much time fiddling with menu's and controls, rather than focusing on the world around me and trying to capture what I see.
I'm going to stop by after work tomorrow and once again take a serious look at the Nex 5. I was at the camera store today holding it and trying it out. I need to do that a few more times to see if it is what I'm looking for. There's a very good chance that it very well might be.Dec 8, 2010 at 9:01 am #1672203
By the way, Chris, the Nex 5 does now have a viewfinder. ( http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/NEX5/NEX5VIEWFINDER.HTM ) Are you aware, too, that the firmware has been updated and the whole menu system improved? The camera is supposed to be faster now, too. But that might already be old news…Dec 8, 2010 at 10:15 am #1672221
Since getting the LX-3 and more recently a DP1s, I mostly leave the DSLR home on overnight trips. The compacts don't replace a DSLR but they've improved enough to make them a viable option. Used properly–a skill set I'm still struggling to build–the DP1s can in some settings can actually surpass my DLSR.
On day hikes I usually relent and take a DSLR so I can use my favorite lenses. In decent weather (neither too hot nor rainy) I sling it over my shoulder. In lousy weather I stow it in my pack, which definitely slow down my shooting.
I expect a µ4/3 kit will make its way into my gear vault after the next round of bodies is unveiled. Then, the size and weight gap with my compacts will close significantly. (The rumor mill has Oly developing a pro-style body with integrated EVF, which sounds ideal if it's not fashioned as a mini-DSLR.)
I'm unlikely to jump to one of the competing mirrorless formats because my 4/3 lenses will work on µ4/3 bodies (as well as with certain legacy lenses). Given a clean start I'd give the Sonys a closer look, perhaps Samsung as well, although the slender lens selection will handicap them both for awhile. We'll also see Canon and Nikon mirrorless systems soon enough, which will really stir things up.
BTW, Hogan posted quickie reviews of several µ4/3 lenses a few days ago.
RickDec 8, 2010 at 10:30 am #1672228
Hi Miguel, that viewfinder was launched with the NEX 5. However it's an optical viewfinder that works with the 16mm lens only. I'd like an electronic viewfinder that will work with the 18-55 zoom.
I have the latest firmware and it does make a difference. I've not found the menu system a problem anyway. After the Sigma DP1 the NEX 5 is a delight to use!
I had and liked an FM2 as well. However I feel I have more control with digital than film. I love histograms! I nearly always use manual exposure and base this on the histogram. No more bracketing shots. I also like processing raw files rather than sending off films and waiting for the results. Digital really revitalised my photography.Dec 8, 2010 at 11:30 am #1672247
Yep, an OVF is basically an aiming device, better than nothing when you can't make out the display but a hundred-fifty bucks better? The Sonys further confound things by deleting a hotshoe, meaning one cannot substitute someone else's auxiliary finder, much less an aftermarket flash.
Sony has lots of video camera experience so I'd expect an EVF option–probably a very good one–for the next generation of the NEX cameras. Some Zeiss primes would be welcome, too :-)
RickDec 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm #1672346
Digital really revitalised my photography.
That's my experience, too. There was a while where I stopped taking photographs because it was getting too expensive with processing and camera equipment was getting too heavy (four lenses, two camera bodies, a bunch of peripherals). I came back from a 7 month bicycle trip around Europe with 50 rolls of film that took me two years to process. Scanning the slides for the computer was a nightmare, especially with the slow scanners of that time, and with my limited knowledge of digitizing images the results weren't very good. Yes, digital photography and cameras freed me to take hundreds of photos and not worry about the cost of film or of making mistakes. Plus I could work simultaneously in both color and black and white, and recently even with HDR to get exactly what I am looking for, and to experiment. Digital compacts, with their great depth of field and fantastic close focusing ability allowed me to take macro with sharp backgrounds like never before, from angles that were impossible before. I'd like to try digiscoping sometime, when I can afford a good spotting scope, and take super long shots of shy birds and mammals. Though it's not camera reliant I'd like to try image stacking to get images fully in focus, without shallow depth of field and more stitched panoramas to get a better sense of a landscape. All this I could not have done with a film camera.
Of course, I am getting way off topic! Sorry everyone! I just love talking about photography with people who understand and feel the same way about it…
Just did some editing above… writing on an iPhone is pretty cumbersome. Sorry for typos…Dec 8, 2010 at 4:23 pm #1672350
Miguel, more reasons to like digital! You mention different angles. One thing I like about the NEX 5 is the tiltable screen, which makes using different angles much easier than with a fixed screen or a viewfinder. I wouldn't go back to a fixed screen now.
I continued shooting film as I needed photos for my work. I've never scanned any of my slides though. For a few years I carried digital and film DSLRs as I was uncertain just how usable the digital images would be. Every editor asked for digital though so I dropped film.Dec 8, 2010 at 9:43 pm #1672467
Thanks for sharing your experience. As someone who used to use some classic Olympus cameras, the thought of using a camera with a similar low profile has strong appeal. I have had several compacts, and while they do fairly well (and in fact, are pretty nice for backpacking becuase of the weight), I often find myself wanting for the control and abilities of a better camera. The LX-3 is a very nice compact – I haven't had a chance to use the DP1 but I understand that the sensor can produce some very good results.
I am glad to hear that your experience is positive – I am also interested in what Nikon/Canon comes up with in this market place. My heart is with Olympus, but maybe I always root for the small guy. Fortunately (or unfortunately) right now all my spare cash is going toward home projects – so a new camera isn't in the cards right now.
But I would love to see everyone's photos taken with these cameras. For in a few moths, my financial situation is likely to change for the better.
Thanks for sharing, it is greatly appreciated!
DirkDec 9, 2010 at 1:18 am #1672496
I am literally shaking with anger. Just left the big camera store here in Tokyo where I took another look at the Nex 5. It goes for $630.00 with a two lens bundle. As I flipped through the controls and tried out the interface I noticed that the menu was in Japanese, so I went through the set up menu for the language change controls, but found none. I thought this was weird, since every other digital camera I've owned had at least English as a second interface language. I called the salesman and asked him about it. He told me that this model was only for Japanese citizens. He took me to the tiny corner where the "world model" was located… well away from the Japanese models… and pointed to the Nex 5. "World model". Price, body alone? $990.00 I asked him what the difference was between the models, whether the Japanese model had functions that the world model didn't. Only the lack of English, he said. It was Sony's strategy, the salesman said. What? A $360.00 increase in price, WITHOUT the two lenses? "Do you think I would actually pay such an absurd difference in price, for less???" I know the salesman was not at fault, but that I can't buy a Japanese product in Japan because Sony is trying to stop the flood of Chinese shoppers? And that to get a reasonably priced Nex 5 with an English menu I'd have to order from abroad? I was so angry already and didn't want to further trouble the salesman, so I leftcbefore confirming whether it just might be that non-Japanese are required to show their passports before they can purchase the local version of the camera. Needless to say, I'm hugely disappointed. I don't think I will ever buy a Sony product again.Dec 9, 2010 at 1:24 am #1672497
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> It was Sony's strategy, the salesman said.
And you believed him?
You don't think it could have been store policy instead?
CheesDec 9, 2010 at 1:52 am #1672502
You don't think it could have been store policy instead?
Well, I probably would have considered that, except the store is not the one that installed the limiting software in the camera. That comes from Sony. But just in case I'm going to go to another store to find out.
You also have to realize that the well-publicized, huge problems with racism and unfair management with all those Japanese companies abroad is something that is commonplace in Japan. They outright and openly bar non-Japanese from entering stores, getting loans, renting apartments in their own names, getting many jobs, owning land, even getting proper treatment in the hospital. If you have an INternational Citibank account you can use it in every country except Japan. Japan set up a separate branch of Citibank that can only be used in Japan. With the Japanese Citibank account you can take money out of non-Japanese Citibank accounts, but not vice versa. Though the foreign community is only 1.5% of the entire population, the police routinely profile foreigners for the vast majority of theft and violent crime in Japan. So it is very possible that Sony has that policy domestically. It is also possible that the store does, too.
It would be really nice to find out I am wrong about Sony, though. I liked their products in the past (not so much anymore) and really like the camera so far.
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