Tagged: Sony NEX-6

Lofty Plans


This picture was taken with my new Fujifilm X-E1 with no alterations other than cropping and re-sizing for the web.  I’m very pleased with the colors of the Fuji camera and lenses.  The colors are soft and pleasing without the need for any adjustments.  With my other cameras I tended to always add contrast and clarity as well as make other changes.  While doing that, I tended to often get carried away and over-do it, but I didn’t like the raw images without it.

My plans are to primarily just use one camera .. my X-E1.  At the moment I’m using the 18 – 55mm zoom lens and I love it.  It will be my primary lens, especially when I need either the wide 18mm or the slightly telephoto 55mm end.  I have ordered the 27mm pancake lens to use when walking-about, especially around people.  I probably will order the 55 – 200mm lens later.

I have sold all of my Sony NEX-6 gear and will probably sell my Pentax K-5 gear in stages.  I’m basically trading two cameras and nine lenses for one camera and three lenses.  I’ll next sell my prime lenses and then the K-5 and the zoom lenses.  Sometime along the way I’ll also probably sell my Lumic LX7.  The unresolved part of the plan yet is whether to get another camera for backup … maybe something smaller for the pocket … maybe not.  It all depends on how my photography changes and how soon the economy changes.  Basically, I’m trying to get ready for the end of my buying cameras and get ready for the long haul … for the downhill slide in the economy, etc.  I’m getting ready to hunker-down and retreat back towards the basics.

I also hope to make some changes in my blog.  It started out as a travel photography blog and has evolved as I traveled less and moved to Hanover, PA.  I had another blog before I moved here in which I wrote about subjects related to change.  You will have noticed from my recent articles that I’m going to be slipping a few of those types of articles among my pictures.  I’ll put them under the category “My Musings”.  You have also been seeing fewer articles about camera gear.  I hope to continue that trend.  I hope to have articles about photography, but less about the gear.  Since I’m “going with the flow”, it is hard to forecast how it will evolve.  I would like to express more about how I feel or think about things and less about how I made the picture, but for an ex-engineer that is a hard transition.

Dark Places


I have to be careful with my dark pictures.  They can sometimes be like quicksand in that the deeper I go the greater the pull.  I like dark pictures but I don’t want them to be depressing … just a little mysterious.

I took the above picture from the train the other day.  It was pretty dark down there below the tracks, even thought it was a pretty bright, but cloudy day … but not as dark as I’m showing it.

One of the reasons for my switching from the NEX-6 to the X-E1 is for a difference in image quality at low light levels.  Another is the improved ease in quickly adjusting the settings to capture images like the above.

Hopefully I won’t get too carried away with my dark styles … some already think that it is awfully dark down deep in my soul. 🙂

Glen Rocks … Moving on to X-E1


For those who are interested in where this picture was taken, it was along the rail trail and train tracks south of Glen Rock, PA.  I took the picture from the train as we rode along the track on the “Steam into History” train ride.  The train was moving and I had to use a shutter speed of 1/1250 sec, at f/4, and ISO of 2500 since there wasn’t much light.

I was still in the middle of my challenge to just use prime lenses when I took the above picture.  This picture was taken with my NEX-6 and 20mm lens.  I used that single lens for the entire train ride.  My challenge to use only prime lenses for a while has gone quite well.  I have enjoyed moving about with a small camera and just one prime lens, and I have learned what I wanted to learn.

I wanted to see how I could do with some different subjects using a smaller, lighter camera than my Pentax K-5 DSLR and at the same time learn what focal lengths worked best for my new normal photography.  My test went so well that I have decided to replace my Sony NEX-6 camera and the lenses I have for it.  I have decided that the majority of my photography can be done with focal lengths between 20 and 50mm on a 1.5 crop camera.  The key is having a camera and lenses of sufficient quality to enable me to crop-zoom along with a slight shift in subjects; therefore, I am moving forward with my desire to simplify my cameras and lenses.

I am going to replace the NEX-6 and my assortment of lenses with a Fujifilm X-E1 and initially just one lens, the XF 18 – 55mm zoom lens.  While that lens is heavier and larger than I would really like, it is a better lens than anything that Sony has in a zoom.  Having the Fujifilm 18 – 55mm zoom lens will give me more flexibility and eliminate the need to have, change, and carry multiple prime lenses, with nearly the same quality as the Sony primes but in a smaller combined volume.  The X-E1 should feel more like a “real camera” than the NEX-6 which feels more like photographing with a computer.

I have liked the Sony NEX-6, especially the size and weight and the X-E1 is very similar in size and weight.  What I haven’t liked as much with the NEX-6 are the menu, exposure settings, white balance, dynamic range, and limited number of good lenses.  The X-E1 should give me higher quality in these areas with expanded potential.

I’m starting with the zoom lens since it is faster and better than most zoom lenses of that focal range and the “price was right” if I purchased it with the camera.  In addition it gives me a wide range of focal lengths with one lens.  My intent is to get a prime lens or two, or another smaller single focal length camera, if/when I feel like I need a lighter system to carry and use with one hand.  My other motive in getting the X-E1 at this time is to continue trying to photograph without a longer lens.  I still have my Pentax system to use if necessary, but I will also have the ability to get the Fujifilm 55 – 200mm lens and replace the Pentax DSLR system if I can manage dropping back from 300mm to 200mm.  If I find it necessary, I will be in a position to have and use a single camera with a minimum number of lenses and sell my DSLR Pentax system.

I’ll let you know more about my expectations and changes after I get the X-E1 and have had a chance to use it for a while.

Guthrie Memorial Library in Hanover, PA

The following are some pictures of the library in Hanover.  I’m showing them in two galleries.  The first is in color.  It is followed by the same pictures but in B&W.  I suppose that I should just show pictures like these in color, but I’m still experimenting to see what I can do with my B&W processing.  In addition some prefer one over the other.  This way you get to choose which you prefer.

All of the pictures are of the library or the adjoining property, on the other side of the railroad tracks since the library sits between two spurs.

I used a 35mm prime lens for these pictures.  It was not an ideal focal length for all the scenes but I was trying to see what I would get and to also see how the NEX-6 handled the exposures and white balance.

I suppose that if I were touring this facility while visiting from another town that I would prefer the color version; but, from a production process and the joy of working with them, I prefer the B&W version.

Crop-Zoom Effects


One of the schemes that I have in mind, if necessary, is to do a lot more crop-zooming when using just prime lenses.  I took the above picture with the Sony NEX-6 camera and the Sony 35mm f/1.8 lens.  This picture was taken at close to optimum conditions for a hand-held picture … ISO = 100, f/9, and 1/400 sec.

I then used this picture for a one-time, single-condition test.  The original picture above was 4912 x 3264 pixels.  For this demonstration, I then down-sized it to 2000 x 1329 at 96 pixels per inch with LR5 software.  That is a standard downsizing that I almost always use for displaying pictures in this blog.  You can click on the picture to get it into a stand-alone image and then click on 2000 x 1329 above the image, and then click on it again if necessary with your monitor, to see it at the 2000 x 1329 size.  So far, you are looking at an image like I always show.

For the next step I made a virtual copy of the picture and then crop-zoomed it down to a tad above 100%.  That image ended up being 1214 x 807 pixels which is smaller than I normally go.  That is equivalent to reducing a 16 MP image to about 1 MP.  In the past when I crop-zoomed, I normally never went down any smaller than 2000 x whatever.  I limit the longest edge of my pictures to no smaller than 2000 pixels for display in my blog.

For today’s test I then up-sized the close-to 100% crop using LR5 to increase it to a dimension of 2000 x  1329 pixels.  You are looking at the result below.  As mentioned above, you can click on it and then select to show it on your screen in that 2000 x 1329 size.  What do you think?  It’s not as good but is surprisingly good considering what I did to the image.


I hope not to do this often in the future but I wanted to see what would happen if I had to do it to get the picture I wanted to show.

My desire is to finally end up with a good camera with more megapixels so I don’t have to torture them as much.  I will also investigate some better software for re-sizing if it is necessary.  Being able to re-size in this fashion is dependent upon having a good lens and that is always an unknown until you try to use it in this manner.  I think that both the Sony 35mm f/1.8 and the Sony 50mm f/1.8 lenses, in an E-mount for NEX cameras, are probably good enough for web use.

Prime Challenge


I have decided to try to only use 20, 35, and 50mm prime lenses on 1.5 crop frame cameras for my photography for a period of unknown length.  I’m doing this to determine if I can manage without long zoom lenses.  I’m going to hold off on making any additions or changes in my cameras and lenses until I have given myself sufficient time to try this experiment.

This will change what I photograph and probably slow me down; but I’m approaching it as a challenge.  It will have a major impact on my photography and the answer will have a significant bearing on reducing camera weight, size, cost, and complexity.

I have an additional incentive in that there have been several times in my life when I could not walk without the aid of a cane.  If/when that happens again I wish to be able to handle my camera with one hand.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to learn about the power of constraints.  As David duChemin says:  “We need constraints. They force our hands creatively, and while many advocate embracing constraints, I suggest we go one better and create them.”

I will try hard to be successful with this effort since it has such potential to be enlightening and to simplify my photography.  It would both reduce the weight of my gear and reduce the time spent fiddling with the composition.  It also will help to teach me to see in just a few focal lengths.  I’m going to try to make 35mm (effective 52mm) my primary focal length but I will use a wider or narrower focal length when necessary to get the picture.

Real or a Dream?


Water’s Edge

I took the above picture early on a cool, breezy, cloudy morning while walking down along the water’s edge with my Leica camera.  Well, I am allowed to dream and that is what the picture brought to mind.

Do you have any idea of what it is actually a picture of?  It is a picture of a portion of the sky that I took and converted to B&W.  It really was a relatively cool, cloudy morning and I was taking Misty on her morning walk and happened to have my Pentax K-5 with the 55 – 300mm lens on it.  I haven’t taken that setup for a walk for a long time.  The combined weight is over 2.6 pounds, and it is large to have hanging from a strap.

Lately I have done a lot of soul-searching about what camera(s) would be best for me.  I have chosen a camera and lens that I think I would like to have, but they probably aren’t realistic. [No, it’s not a Leica.]  So far it’s just a dream and I’m still seeing what I can do with what I have and then trying to think through an evolutionary process of moving towards my dreams.

In my assessment I have balanced cost with image quality, size & weight, and focal length reach.  All of these are fairly easy to determine except for focal length; and it turns out that the primary factor affecting the weight and cost is the length of my focal length.  How long a zoom lens do I really need?  If I can get by with a shorter more normal fixed focal length lens, I can afford, and carry, a larger sensor camera.  In addition, good full frame long focal length lenses are quite expensive as well as heavy.  The size and weight of a lens really drops with sensor size; i.e. the micro 4/3 lenses which I tried in the past.  The problem with this assessment is that it is a subjective measurement and depends on what I wish to photograph … how close can I get to it?

In the past I had an effective 600mm lens.  I then dropped back to an effective 450mm lens.  Can I go lower?  I’m now thinking that I won’t be able to answer that question until I try again; therefore, I’m considering getting the Sony 18 – 200mm lens for my NEX-6 which will give me a maximum effective reach of 300mm for a more practical walk-about system.  It will also give me a smaller system with a weight of about 1.8 pounds.  If you remember, I tried this before and rejected it; but I now have a stronger reason to succeed if it would enable me to sell my Pentax gear and get one of the newer full frame cameras with more pixels for crop-zooming.

But, there is another approach.  Come at it from the other direction.  I could possibly get a full frame camera with a single prime lens or two and then see which system I use the most and whether I could manage without longer length lenses, but it would require a substantial cash layout upfront until I could decide what to sell.  No matter which route I choose to take, it comes down to what I’m going to be photographing and that doesn’t seem likely to change.  Maybe I’m just dreaming about anything different.

Low Light Issues


I got a new lens … the Sony 50mm f/1.8 lens for my NEX-6.  The above is one of the first pictures I have taken with it.  This one at f/4.  I focused on the center of the flower … note the depth of focus, even at this aperture when used at its minimum focus distance.

I have found that for making pictures inside the buildings here that I have had the best results when using my Pentax K-5 and the Pentax 50mm f/1.8 lens.  My problem has been making pictures without flash or added lighting under conditions of poor lighting with mixed color temperatures from various sources.  Generally I have used the Pentax lens at f/2.5 which is wider than optimum for best sharpness but OK.  I ordered the Sony lens to see if I can squeeze a little more light out of it by using it at an aperture wider than 2.5.  If that works I will be able to use even a lower ISO setting with the NEX-6 camera and thus have less digital noise to remove.

There are three issues with getting good pictures in existing low light.  First, it helps to have a good prime lens with a wide aperture, but having a wide aperture lens isn’t good enough.  It has to be sharp at the wide open apertures.  With many lenses you have to stop them down before they become sharp enough.  Since I do a lot of crop-zooming it is imperative that the lens is sharp at a wide aperture.  That is why I really don’t use my Pentax at a wider aperture than 2.5 … it isn’t as sharp on up to 1.8.  I’m hoping that the Sony lens will be sharper at a wider aperture, but it will take a while to test it and compare it with the Pentax 50mm lens.

If the lens is sharp at wide enough apertures, the next issue is the depth of field (DoF).  Depending upon the distance of the subject, the DoF is quite shallow at the wide apertures.  I often run up against this limitation depending upon the conditions and having the wider apertures of the Sony lens will not be of much value for some uses.

The third issue is the ability of the camera at high ISO levels.  The more you boost the ISO the greater the noise in the image.  To some extent it can be removed with the software, in my case LR5.  The problem is that the greater the noise removal, the less detail in the image.  A major factor in the camera’s high ISO capability is the age of the sensor/camera design.  The more recent designs tend to have better electronics and software resulting in less noise.  The other factor is the size of the sensor … the larger the sensor the less sensor noise.

The combined noise — focal length issue is my biggest problem in making most of my pictures inside of buildings as well as in making pictures of nature details early and late on cloudy days.  Since I usually need the extra reach, I have resorted to my longest fast prime lens and crop-zooming; but it often isn’t long or fast enough.  This issue is weighing heavily upon my decisions relative to my next camera.  I think that I may have to go to a full-frame sensor camera if I really think the cost is worth it.  Another problem, other than cost, is the size and weight of full-frame lenses.  I would have to not only replace my cameras but also the lenses.  If I wish to continue to make pictures of wildlife, and other subjects requiring longer focal lengths, it gets quite expensive and heavy.  What I am trying to do is balance my needs for better low-light capability against the likelihood of what pictures I will be making in the future.

My options seem to be:

1) Go with two new camera systems (includes new lenses) … one with a smaller sensor for use with longer zoom lenses in better light, and one with a larger sensor and shorter focal lengths for poorer light.  This is the most expensive option.

2) Replace my current cameras with one new larger sensor camera and shorter focal lengths and give up making pictures with longer focal length lenses; i.e. limited by ability to crop-zoom.

3) Some mix of new and current systems.

4) Use the cameras and lenses I have and work within their limitations.  This is the no future cost option and why I got the Sony 50mm lens.  I’m going to see how I do with it and use the time to wait and see what happens in the camera industry.

ADDENDUM:  I checked out the Sony 50mm f/1.8 at the wide aperture.  It is fine.  I saw no objectionable change in resolution/sharpness at ISO = 1000 vs. aperture of 5.6 with ISO – 3200.  I’ll now be using the NEX-6 with it rather than the K-5 with its 50mm f1.8 lens when making pictures indoors.

Feeding the Ducks … Trying Sony NEX 20mm f/2.8 Lens


I was out the other evening when I came upon Nancy feeding the ducks.  She hesitantly asked if I could take a picture since she didn’t see the usual camera in my hand or over my shoulder.  But, I just so happened to have my NEX-6 with the 20mm lens on it in a large cargo pocket.  Most wouldn’t consider the NEX-6 to be a pocket camera but I’m experimenting with it.

The 16 – 50mm kit lens for the NEX system is compact but I don’t like waiting for the lens to extend, and then taking time to zoom out.  It is almost always necessary to zoom it out since it comes on at the 16mm focal length and that is a bit wide with lots of distortion.  To overcome this time delay, I have carried the NEX-6 with either the Sony 20mm or the 35mm lens.  This gives me an effective focal length of either 30 or 52mm … both good general purpose focal lengths.

The camera is still a little too large for normal pockets even with one of the above lenses, but I have some over-size pockets.  Even then it is hard to put in or take out of a pocket or even a small bag.  The camera comes with a nice rubber eye-shield over the eye piece and I really like it in bright sun light, but it sticks out from the camera and tends to catch on things.  Fortunately, it is removable so I’m now carrying the camera without it to see if I can manage.

I’ll also try carrying the camera on a shoulder strap with and without the eye-shield and see how that works.  I have found that the eye-shield also tends to catch on my clothing when using a strap so I’m hoping that I can manage without the eye-shield.

My thinking from the previous article is still in play but I haven’t decided on the focal lengths, etc. that I want in my next system.  I’m hoping that if I carry just the NEX-6 with one of the above lenses that I can learn whether I would be satisfied with the kinds of pictures it enables; i.e. giving up the long zooms, etc.  I might also find that the cameras that I have are enough for me at this time … at least until something better comes out.

By the way, the Sony 20mm lens comes with a nice hood which cuts flare, is pocket friendly (barely sticks out), and keeps the lens clean without using the lens cap (has a small rectangular opening).