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Or should I move to mirrorless ?

A few months ago I wrote a post about moving to Nikon from my current Pentax system. I have been contemplating that move because I was looking for some Pentax K mount extension tubes and found that it almost impossible to find any. This sounds like a fairly minor reason to move camera manufacturers and abandon years worth of lens acquisition etc, but that was really a trigger to make me think about the whole system I am buying into and where am I going with it.

Fast forward a couple of months and I’ve moved on and started thinking about a complete change to a mirror-less system.

What happened was I have a bit of money that my parents gave me for Christmas and I started thinking about buying a second hand Olympus E-PL1. I used to own one of these cameras but I traded it in when I bought my Pentax K5 and I’ve regretted it almost from the moment I walked out of the shop. Looking at the E-PL1 cameras on the uk eBay site I got a bit carried away with GAS and found there were also E-P3 systems available which are like the E-PL1 but with better controls. However, the olympus micro 4/3 pen series cameras don’t have a viewfinder, so I would need to factor in purchasing the viewfinder add on at sometime which all adds to the cost.

In the end I found myself looking seriously at what I would really like to buy if I moved over to mirror-less rather than using my Pentax and this got me doing some serious research. During this I discovered the Sony NEX system and that photographers as note worthy as Trey Ratcliff have switched from using full frame Nikon DSLR’s to this tiny APS-C sensor camera. To me this looks an attractive mirror-less  option because it includes a viewfinder (evf) and has quite a good reputation for quality.

So – why do I need a camera ? What do I use it for ?

I like taking macro, landscape and family pictures. For all of these use cases the NEX system should be a good fit and also be considerably easier and lighter to carry round. The accessory range and lenses available, although not huge, is growing with third party lens manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron already producing lenses for the Sony E mount. I discovered there are already fully coupled extension tubes available and they are quite reasonably priced.

Which brings me to cost and I’m pretty impressed with the price of the lenses and bodies for the current crop of NEX cameras. A NEX 6 is about £550 with the standard 16 – 50mm lens and the 55 – 210mm is about £220. This would make a pretty good walk about kit and would weigh about as much as my Sigma 18 – 125mm K Mount lens! There are some nice wide angle prime lenses available and also mount convertors for other formats so I could use the Jupiter 8 50mm f/2.0 fitted to my Zorki 4k on a NEX camera!

Of course none of this makes sense it the camera is no good. So I did some searches for images taken with a NEX 6 and, along with the pictures on Trey Ratcliff’s G+ page, this is what I found. Pretty impressive.

So I think it’s time to think and to save.


I’m a software developer by profession but I’ve been taking pictures since I was about 8 years old. In that time I’ve owned cameras of all types and sizes from 120 roll film thro’ 35mm to my current Pentax K-5, Ricoh GXR + P10/S10/A12 28mm/A12 50mm, Canon S95 and recently acquired Sony NEX 6.

  1. Check out the new SONY full-frame/mirrorless camera’s Alpha A7/A7r. A friend of mine has an A7r; great camera!

    1. Yes – I’ve just seen a couple of videos on you tube. Very impressive

  2. phrenzel says:

    I had the Nex-6 but just never really clicked with it. I cant bash the camera, it was nice, great IQ etc. But as I primarily shoot street photos it was a bit sluggish and occasionally the focus would totally be off the mark. But again it was just not the right fit for me.

    1. Ok – thanks for the comments, all appreciated. I don’t often shoot street photos but it’s something I’d like to get into and so I was thinking that the tilt-able lcd might help there – perhaps not.

  3. Just yesterday I bought the 55-210 mm lens for my nex-6. So far I like it a lot. I’m very happy with the camera. I moved from a point and shoot to the nex-6 so the difference for me is like day and night. I don’t know how is it moving from a DSLR to a mirrorless. The pics I posted today and yesterday were taken with the 55-210 mm lens and most of the pics from the last two months with the kit lens 16-50 mm. I’m just an amateur. I’m sure that someone that is more a pro can get awesome pics.

    1. Thanks for the comment – I shall have a look at the pictures you posted. I too am just an amateur so your experiences are very relevant to me

    2. Just had a quick look at your recent posts and you have some nice shots there. Well done!

  4. I think just about everybody will move to the mirrorless cameras in the near future. A much lighter weight will be the reason for me, lighter camera and lenses, means you can use a lighter tripod, all the gear weighing less means the whole bag weighs less. They are using the same censors as the big cameras, so you just need the good glass. Sony has done a great job with their line of mirrorless and I think that other companies are good also.

    1. I think that is exactly it. It’s taken me a while to work out but the thought of being able to take the same pictures with a camera and kit which weighs 1/3 what I currently carry around and for 1/2 the price is very attractive.

  5. dinkerson says:

    I know it’s probably not for you with its fixed prime lens, but I’ve really enjoyed my x100. I know a lot of folks forget to count it as a mirrorless camera, but in fact it is. Have you ever had much experience with the x100 or x100s?
    One of my favorite aspects of the camera is its excellent low-light performance. I’ve heard that the new Sony A7 has poor low-light performance, and this is a huge drawback for me; however, it may not weigh in much depending on your style.
    I’m glad that more and more serious photographers are having a closer look at Sony’s mirrorless line up. No longer just Sony fan boys buying and using them these days.
    I’m sure you’ve had a look, also, at the Olympus Om-d Em-5. I really considered that camera closely before deciding to go with the x100. For me, at the time, it was between the Om-d, the NEX 7, and the x100. I was leaning toward the Nex 7 for a very specific reason, and I’ve forgotten what it was. But after holding the x100 in my hands, and feeling the quality, my mind was made up.
    I can’t wait to hear what you decide to buy.

    1. As always thanks for the comments.

      For me I would only consider a camera with a replaceable lens which counts the x100 out but doesn’t exclude the other fuji cameras which are available. I certainly hear good things about them and will look in more detail at them. I hadn’t heard about the low noise performance of the A7 – being full frame you would expect it to be better performance so that is a bit worrying. To be honest I think that being full frame is probably a reason I would’t look at the A7 because that will mean bigger lenses and more bulk. I’m really attracted to keeping an APS-C sensor but in a tiny body. The Om-d series are certainly worth looking at (although they are m-4/3 I know). Really I feel like a whole new set of cameras are opening up which I’d just not considered before and it’s exciting times.

      By the way I would almost certainly keep the K5 anyway since resale values are so low.

  6. These are great times with a lot of great options and I appreciate them all. In the end I was won over by the many options and relative affordability (mortgage, 3 kids and all) of bodies and (factory and 3rd party) lenses for the M4/3 system. My plan was to get in with the best bang for buck body (Oly E-PL5 in my case), collect an EVF (VF-4), and some good bang for buck lenses. Once I checked off the major lens boxes I would add a top of the range body (planning on adding a OMD EM1 later this year). So far the plan has worked and after some tryouts and trades I have settled on these lenses: Oly 17mm f1.8, Oly 45mm f1.8, Bower 7.5mm fisheye, and my trusty old cheapo Oly 40-150mm zoom. All in everything cost less than or about as much as some body-only choices I was considering and with tablet it all fits in my swiss gear messenger bag. They are great fun ( Again just one of many great choices out now. Looking forward to hearing what you choose and seeing the results.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Eric. I started my look at mirrorless with a micro 4/3 in mind (E-PL1) and I may end up there. The lenses available look good and of course there are two manufacturers of micro 4/3 bodies. At the moment I like the NEX 6 because it has the in-built EVF but the modular approach you are taking also sounds appealing. As you say, exciting times

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