We recently spent most of the money we received for the past Hanukwanzmastide on a new camera. We had a Panasonic digital camera that we’d quite enjoyed, but it was starting to show its age a bit. Buttons weren’t as responsive as they’d once been, and the pictures it was taking were starting to look not so hot.
We’re not admittedly the most patient of purchasers. The Wife is a that-one-will-work-let’s-just-get-it sort of shopper, a characteristic she blames on her end-of-the-alphabet last name growing up (thanks to this study). Though blessed with a middle-of-the-alphabet name, I’m not much better: I’m typically pulled in too many directions to want to spend much time on the kind of in-depth research one ought to put into a camera purchase. Besides, I’m a medievalist; it’s all just magic to me.
That said, we did take a few weeks to check out our options and do a fair amount of fact-checking and brother-bothering (by some quirk, both of our siblings are incredible photographers). In the end we decided we wanted the lens-swapping awesomeness of a DSLR, but we didn’t want the enormity of one.
Enter the Sony NEX-5.
As you can see, it’s bitty compared to the big boys. And it’s tremendously light. You won’t get neck strain with this silver beauty hanging around.
Don’t let looks deceive you, though. It has a lot of full-size features. APS-C image sensor? Check. Great video? Check. Fast speeds? Check. Swappable lenses? Check.
Indeed, the picture above has it with the “pancake” 16 mm lens, but Sony is already offering a 18-55 mm lens and a 18-200 mm lens. We got a bundle package on an incredible deal that included the 16mm and 18-55 mm lenses (but we really want the 18-200 mm lens, Sony!). Here’s a picture of it with the bigger lens and the detachable flash mounted (also included):
I’m not a photographer in any professional sense. Hell, I’m still not quite sure what the f-stop is. But I can tell you that I’m really growing fond of this little camera.
For one thing, it’s been tremendously easy to use for a photography novice like me. Unlike most traditional DSLRs, in which digital sensors have been shoe-horned into old film-based SLR constructions, the NEX-5 is a designed-from-scratch digital camera. Everything on the thing is built to take advantage of digital flexibilities, which translates into a lot of processor-assisted help in taking pictures if you want it (if you don’t want it, you can do seemingly everything manually, too, but that ain’t for me!). It has some great digital tricks, like the ability to combine multiple low-light shots to form one beautiful one, or to take a panorama with this clever sweeping process that works better than any competitor I’ve seen, or, well, this isn’t a Sony advertisement, so you can go check out the details on their website.
The other thing I like — and by far the most important — is that it’s been taking great pictures.
We went to the aquarium today, for instance, and in the slideshow below are a few of the shots I took. An aquarium is hell on a camera, you know. Dark lighting with reflective surfaces all around, and any pictures you take of fish are at moving objects in a matrix seen through panes of glass. ‘Tis a cruel thing to do to a new camera.
But the Sony NEX-5 did well: