Top positive review
179 people found this helpful
Professional photographers review.
on 22 August 2011
Hi folks- if you can't be bothered reading the whole review here's the synopsis...
It's one of the best cameras I've owned. I love it. I was a travel photographer for a few years would have killed to have had this instead of my bulky Nikons!! PLEASE read through to the end, because there is a facet to this camera I haven't heard anyone mention yet and it's the reason I gave it full marks and took the time to review it. Thanks!
Now for the review!
This depends on so many factors, chip size and performance, lens quality, settings etc. We will start with the chip. It's a full size DSLR chip at the end of the day so that speaks volumes in terms of performance. I've shot all kinds of stuff, from hideously bright and contrasty scenes to real pushin' my luck dark shots and it's taken everything in it's stride. The sensor works brilliantly. Images have masses of detail, low noise at high ISO, great colour. THE LENSES are pretty good. I got the kit lens and the 16mm pancake. both very good. I am using both of them professionally so that's gotta tell you something I hope. Very little barrel distortion with either lens. (Just a pointer- you know when you look at lens reviews on websites and they have photo's of straight lines etc to demonstrate lens performance? Just take a look at some of their PROPER photographs. they're generally abysmal. These guys are just camera geeks in my experience....You can worry too much about "distortion" and the like but don't be fretting about NEX-5 image quality. It's great.) The 16mm lens has a liiiiiiitle bit of fringing at the extremities and loses some of it's sharpness at the edge but all the images are fine to A4. If you want perfectly sharp all the way across you ain't gonna get it for £500. sorry. But you WILL get very good pics. And I'm fussy, believe it or not. The kit lens comes with optical image stabilisation which works really well.
INTERFACE AND USER CONTROLS ETC
I personally found the camera interface very simple. You can customise the buttons a little which is good because there aren't that many. The NEX-5 isn't set up like a DSLR, it's very minimalist but I like that. Once you play with it you will find it very easy indeed. Haven't missed a shot yet because of it! It has a great idiot mode, a pretty smooth panoramic mode, and my personal fave- EXCELLENT black and white. I mean, it's REALLY good. I boost the contrast on my black and white images in camera and they just look beautiful. Remember how B&W hand prints used to look?
Battery life isn't great, I had to buy a spare. Can't have it dying in the middle of a shoot! The screen is partly to blame, it's highly detailed and really sharp but I think it's a battery hog. I also shoot in RAW which may possibly drain it quicker. Use RAW by the way. JPEGS are dire if you want to take really good pictures, and you can mess a shot up and rescue it in RAW later. Software for doing this comes with the camera too.
Autofocus is quick, but the manual focus works beautifully. Why bother with manual focus though? ahhh.... this brings me to...
Oh boy. it's SUPERB. No rolling shutter artefacts, smooth, hi-res, just magnificent. and you can manual focus during filming which is a must have for me. This is MORE than capable of replacing your video camera. With manual focus you can play around so much with your footage. So absolutely no problem with the video mode, it's the best camera video I have seen, and honestly better than most camcorder footage I've seen too!!
FLASH AND LOW LIGHT
The camera flash is quite weak. Not like my HUGE Nikon speedlights by any margin! But guess what? I haven't had to use it yet. I love ambient light. It's ALWAYS better than flash. The NEX-5 is excellent when using available light, and I've taken some truly beautiful shots with little more than streetlights. I took a shot of a power station at night- hand held believe it or not- and it's one of the best photo's I've ever taken... which brings me to...
WHY I LOVE THIS CAMERA
So it takes great photo's, superb quality video, it's got all the right features in my opinion, the lenses are workmanlike and as I've said fine for pro use so if you just want a good solid performer you will do fine.
What I've written is half the story. There is something about this camera that just makes me want to go out and shoot things. Like I used to do when I started photography years ago. It's just FUN! It's fun to be able to smoothly manual focus between foreground and background when filming.... it's great to shoot in truly low light areas and yet get excellent results.... it's fun NOT to have a big DSLR that everyone notices during street and travel photography, and yet get the same kind of results....It's lovely to get a black and white mode that REALLY works well. I've started making movies on this thing too, I enjoy it so much, and the results are spot on. I guess this camera has struck a chord with me. It's helped me find more creativity and given me more satisfaction than any other camera I've owned. Just love it.
One last thing. If you researched this camera as much as I have you will have inevitably read this particularly vacuous comment- "It's a great camera.... but... it will never replace my precious DSLR". When manufacturers release new gear, especially if it's quite innovative, they will get real top notch pro's to go play with it. Just to show off their new baby. Go and look at what some of the big name pro's have been doing with this little machine. If you're considering this either as a back up for your DSLR or a replacement, you won't be disappointed. I bought it as a back up but it's totally replaced my big kit. The image quality for 90% OF THE TIME is indistinguishable from my big camera. But my DSLR lenses are only slightly superior optically cos they cost £900. And you can always get some of the Carl Zeiss or alpha G lenses for it in the long run if you want more flexibility in your shooting. But truthfully I don't feel the need to do this. I actually LIKE the kit lens.
I hope this has helped. Honestly though.... if you go for the Panasonic Lumix, or the Pen, or even a Nikon D90....They are all great cameras and I defy anyone to tell from a photo which camera took it- see what I'm saying? Remember a camera is only useful if it helps you create the vision that's in your head. My NEX has done that for me. It's a real helper. Thanks for reading to the end!!