The reality of mirrorless photography.
I bought my Sony Nex 6 mirrorless camera about a year ago now and it’s given me some great service in that time having been my main camera on trips out and holidays, as well as providing a great platform for testing vintage manual focus lenses. Because it is so adaptable I’ve been able to throw just about any lens on it and get some great results.
However, in that time I’ve also discovered a few flaws which I didn’t expect.
The first one is dust. I’ve used a digital SLR for several years and in that time I have never experienced dust on the sensor, but in the year I’ve used the Sony Nex I’ve had several dust spots which wouldn’t shift with a blower and I’ve had to resort to wet cleaning to remove them. The most annoying aspect of this is that they invariably happen when I’m away from home and not able to easily deal with them. As an example the picture to the right was taken on a recent trip to York. The sensor was wet cleaned a day before we set out and yet there are 4 definite spots on this picture, including one at the top of the picture which is very pronounced. I put this down to two factors:
- I’m changing lenses more frequently
- The lack of a mirror means the sensor is more exposed to dust when the lens is removed
Now I know that the reason I’m changing lenses more frequently is because I am using predominantly vintage prime lenses with adapters rather than the more modern fashion of using zoom lenses to cover a variety of focal lengths. I could change that by buying some good quality zoom lenses in Sony E mount which would also give me the ‘advantage’ of auto focus, focus tracking, better recorded metadata on my images etc, but the other issue of exposed sensor would still be true and I think that is the main problem. Every time I change a lens whilst I’m out with the camera I hold the body downwards and try to minimize the time that the lens is off the camera, but because there isn’t the barrier of the mirror protecting the sensor, the dust is still managing to get in. I know I’ve also been guilty of removing the lens whilst the camera is still switched on and in those circumstances I believe the dust is being attracted to the sensor surface.
The other thing which has surprised me a bit is that I’ve ended up carrying more ‘stuff’ around than I used to when my Pentax K5 was my main camera of choice! I think this is again down to the fact that I’m using primes rather than zoom lenses. I know in a lot of circumstances you can stick with one lens and change your position to get the field of view you want, that isn’t always possible so I’m finding I carry a kit consisting of:
- 28mm f/3.5 M42 Takumar (normally on camdiox)
- 55mm f/1.8 M42 Takumar
- 28mm f/2.8 Soligor K mount
- 135mm f/3.5 M42 Takumar
- Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5 K Mount wide angle
- Sony Nex 16-50mm std zoom
- Camdiox focal reducer
With this kit I’m constantly moving adapters between lenses and attaching the lens from the camera whilst I’m trying to juggle different adapters and lenses about. With my Pentax K5, I would probably have carried the 10-24mm and a Sigma 18-125 HSM zoom which are both native K-Mount lenses.
Of course there have been some advantages with the Nex 6 as well. The electronic viewfinder is brilliant at assessing focus using the peaking function and also when to apply exposure compensation. It’s the one feature of the nex that I which I could transport to my Pentax K5.
So all this has left me a bit perplexed as to the way forward. My intention was to upgrade at some point to a Sony A7 Full Frame camera, but now I’m not sure. I briefly thought about the Sony SLT range which has a mirror and an electronic viewfinder, but after a bit of thought I realised that dust on the mirror of an SLT would be worse than on the NEX sensor, since it would affect the picture and be much harder to clean off. Another possibility is to use the prime lenses I like on the K5, but this then means a heavier and bigger kit without the advantage of focus peaking.
It may be that I simply go back to taking my Pentax K5 with the Tamron wide angle and Sigma 18-125 and use the nex 6 for occasions when I know there is going to be low light and want to use the Takumar f/1.8 with the Camdiox focal reducer. At some point I’d like to upgrade to a full frame camera, which may mean a move to Canon or Nikon – or perhaps the news of Pentax producing a Full Frame camera means I just stick with my K5 for the moment.