Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SONY E-Series NEX: The Next Cool & Sleek Ultra-compact "DSLR"

mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras

SONY ramped up game in their ALPHA DSLR line-up with a new series of ultra-compact "DSLR", this is probably in light of the recently popular Panasonic GF1 and Olympus PEN E-P2 and E-P1.
The SONY "NEX" are actually not considered Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras, but ultra-portable mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras. The two models NEX-3 and NEX-5 are identical looking cameras with a new 14.6 MegaPixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and utilizes a new mirror-less E-mount. The NEXs' sensor is 60% larger than those found in the micro-4/3 (GF1, PENs), which is a major advantage over the existing technology. A larger sensor improves image quality, reduces image noise and allows creative defocus background, much like an actual DSLR. The NEXs' light sensitivity goes up to ISO 12,000, which means shooting in low light and test images at highest ISO showed super clean images. Both cameras sport a 3" 921K dot hi-res LCD display as an electronic viewfinder. The LCD can tilt up or down for comfortable viewing in any shooting position and angle. The LCD screen has an auto-brightness control for good outdoor visibility. It's TruBlack screen technology enables vivid, high-contrast view of images and camera settings.

Both models allows capturing of HD video recording (1080i for NEX-5/720p for NEX-3) with built-in microphones for stereo-recording. An interesting feature of the NEX is the Sweeping Panorama that allows you to capture large group shots with an easy press-and-sweep action (covers 226-degree along the horizontal; 151-degree along the vertical) and saves it in a MULTI-PICTURE FORMAT (.mpf) which playback the 3D image on 3D HDTV (firmware available only in Q3 2010). SONY has also decided to do away with any manual controls and incorporate all the controls in the LCD touchscreen. The NEX cameras utilizes the more friendly SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards apart from the proprietary Memory Stick PRO Duo. A Smart Accessory port sits on top of the camera and allows the use of future accessories. The port is also used for a screw-on external flash HVL-F7S (which is supplied!). The best part of it is the flash tilts, which means no more flash-killed images and Willkommen to creative lighting!.

Differences between the NEX-3 and NEX-5
  1. NEX-5 shoots Full HD movie (1080i AVCHD and 720p MP4) with Full HD 60i recording. The NEX-3 shoots only at 720p HD video as the compressed MP4 files.
  2. NEX-5 is constructed from magnesium alloy (in sleek Black colour) while the NEX-3 with a polycarbonate casing (available in multiple-colours).

The NEX series will launch with 3 brand new E-mount lenses:
(Note that the E-mount has a 1.5x crop factor)

  1. 16mm F2.8 wide angle prime 'pancake' lens (model number SEL16F28)* (24mm equivalent)
  2. 18mm-55mm F3.5-5.6 standard 3x zoom lens(model number SEL1855) with Optical SteadyShot image stabilization (27-82.5mm equivalent)
  3. 18mm-200mm F3.5-6.3 (model number SEL18200) 11x high magnification zoom lens with Optical SteadyShot image stabilization (27-300mm equivalent)
*The 16mm prime lens can be optionally used with the screw-on VCL-ECU1 Ultra Wide Converter to 12mm angle or VCL-ECF1 Fisheye Converter.

The NEX-5 and NEX-3 are available in kit form with either the 16mm prime or the 18mm-55mm lens.

The good news for existing ALPHA DSLR users, you can use your existing ALPHA A-mount lenses with an optional adaptor, LA-EA1. This means the older Minolta lenses are compatible too! But you will probably have to handle the setup by the lens, since the body is so small and the mount probably cannot withstand the pull from the weight of the lens.

The future of the new E-mount lens is bright, especially when SONY releases its first of a kind, handheld camcorder which allow interchangeable lenses utilizing the E-mount.

So will SONY face serious competition from Olympus & Panasonic's m4/3 or Samsung's NX10?
Not quite. This is obviously a case of newer technology is better! Furthermore, with SONY's aggressive marketing strategy to promote their ALPHA, which also gained a decent market share against top dogs (Canon and Nikon), the compatibility option to utilize ALHPA lenses is already a great success! At 7fps compared to existing m4/3's 3fps, who won't be swayed!
Don't you wanna snap our favorite, lovely SONY booth ladies with the new NEX-5?


The SONY NEX-3 and NEX-5 are definitely the next coolest, sleekest photography gadget.

You will soon find around the necks or in the hands of the coolest trend-setters!
The NEX will definitely appeal to not only cool people, but professional photographers wanting quality in compact with style, photography-otakus (like myself) and photography hobbyists.
Any consumer who wants DSLR quality photos and minus the bulk and weight, someone has answered your prayers!
This is something to drool over!

Official SONY NEX Promotional Video

(Sources: SONY E-Series)

I would definitely look forward to getting my hands on the cool NEX-5 and slap on the
18mm-200mm F3.5-6.3 (11x zoom) walkabout lens, which might end up being my daily companion! Can it replace my Legendary LUMIX-LX3? Hard to tell, since my LX3 is still f/2.0 at 24mm, a stop faster than its 16mm (24mm equiv.) prime at f/2.8. However, the ISO 12,000 sample does boast it to be phenomenal!

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