I became interested in photography when I purchased a Nikon Coolpix 990 sometime around 2001. I enjoyed that little Nikon for a year or two before buying a 12 Megapixel Fuji S2 to feed the wide format printer I purchased. The image quality was a huge step up from the little Nikon, but it didn’t take long for me to decide that I really wanted a full frame camera with better image quality and lower noise.
So I found a used Canon 1Ds and the image quality was better, but I actually took a drop in megapixels and it was a much heavier camera. The image quality was great but the body and lens weighed in at 3.5 pounds and after five or six hours of shooting at the beach my wrist was sore. So I tried the Rebel series for a few years because the body was lighter and so were the reduced frame lenses, but I was still toting close to 3 pounds.
Then the mirrorless micro 4/3 cameras came along and their image quality looked good. I decided to give the Panasonic GH2 a try. With its 16 to 50mm lens it only weighed around 1.2 pounds. The images were very nice but noise intruded more often than one would like, and after I convinced myself that I needed an 18-200mm lens the combined weight was 2 pounds.
I had been looking at the reviews for the NEX 5n and I liked what I saw in the image comparisons. Unfortunately, that camera didn’t have a view finder and that was a deal breaker. Then along came the NEX 6 with even better noise characteristics and a better viewfinder than the GH2.
So I decided to try the NEX 6 which weighs 1 pound with its 16 to 50 mm lens. And that’s how I went from a 12 megapixel, 3 pound behemoth to a petite 16 megapixel, 1 pound camera with less noise. Along the way I spent quite a bit of money. I clearly have a monkey on my back and it’s not heroin.
Am I satisfied now? Well yes and no. I’m pleased with the image quality and the weight, but the viewfinder still sucks in comparison to a good prism or even a fair prism. I know I can’t have everything, so for now I’ll stick with this little beauty and eschew the siren calls of higher pixel counts and prism viewfinders, because that would take me right back to 3 pounds.
You can read an excellent review of the NEX 6 at http://www.imaging-resource.com/. You can download raw test images at various ISOs and develop them in Lightroom as I did. The NEX 6 did very well as far as I can tell from my examination of the images. But now that I have the camera, I want to see what I think after shooting normal images from my surroundings. These are areas that I’ve been to with many different cameras on many different occasions.
I’ve shot these images in raw and iAuto. After downloading them with Lightroom 4, I adjusted most of them as follows: Clarity +30, Sharpness 60 with radius .6, Luminance NR 30, auto chromatic aberration on. I was particularly keen to see how the lens would perform. Would the lens be sharp enough and how bad would the barrel distortion be? And of course I wanted to see for myself how the image quality held up. I confess to being a big time pixel peeper.
I live close to a beautiful coastal area call Montana de Oro near Morro Bay California. For the past three days I have spent a few hours shooting in both places. So here are some of the images with 100% crops in interesting places. All these were shot at or near ISO 100 so don’t expect any high ISO noise tests yet. The image below was taken at 50 mm and f9 at 1/500s.
Here is another image, shot at 17 mm and f9.