Shooting with the Sony NEX-6

It seems like it’s only been a couple of years that Digital cameras have really begun to match the quality of their film counterparts.

I’ve had a number of digital cameras, and was lucky enough to have access to a Kodak DCS which was the first “portable” digital camera.  It was basically a Nikon F3 with a enormous hard drive bolted to it.  The battery had it’s own shoulder bag.  I’ll save the details for another post.

I found modern digital Nikons to be quite similar.  Their full frame cameras were heavy and bulky.  The viewfinders were dark and really not conducive to using older manual focus lenses.  The autofocus lenses were enormous and pricey.

Looking for a solution, I put together a Micro 4/3rds kit that included a Panasonic G6.  It feels a bit like a small SLR. and handles alright.  But nothing has really matched the feel, both physically and aesthetically, to my film cameras.  None of them made me want to pick it up and shoot for the sheer pleasure of making an image.

On a lark, I came across a Sony Nex 6 on ebay that was cheap and I picked it up.  I love Sony video equipment, but for some reason their still cameras have never really grabbed me.  But assembling the NEX 6 for the first time and looking through it, I felt like I’d come home.

The finder is bright and clear, the controls well laid out and the metal frame has the right heft and feel.  Putting an Fotodiox adaptor on it allowed me to use my Nikon AI manual focus lenses on it.  I prefer shooting wide angle, and the APS-C sensor has a 1.5x crop factor so my favorite 24mm becomes a 35mm equivalent on the Sony.  Thats workable when compared to the micro 4/3rds with a 2x crop.  The doubling on m4/3 makes my wide 24mm a boring 48mm, but on the other hand, my 55 micro becomes a 110mm for portraits.  There is also the Metabones SpeedBooster which is a help on both formats.

So I like the Sony NEX-6, but I’m not loving it.  I like that taking the raw files through Lightroom has yielded the most film-like images I’ve ever made with a digital camera.   Now if I could only get a digital back for my Diana.

So what isn’t so great?  Sony has a limited set of native lenses, so if you want to shoot with an AF lens, there aren’t a lot to choose from.  The lenses are big and pricey.  On the camera body, I keep finding that I bump some of the rear controls while I’m shooting.  I’ve lost a couple of shots as a result.

Also,  unlike my micro four thirds camera, the sony will only shoot 16:9 and 3:2 aspect ratios.  That’s not great when you like to shoot square.

Finally, the wifi implementation is not usable, with tremendous lag and artifact on iOS and Android.

It’s a good companion to my Sony video cameras and can share lenses with the VG-30.  I record audio externally, so I’m not too bothered by the lack of either a mic jack or a headphone connection.

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