The genesis of this post was an earlier post by Marc Beebe ( https://marcbeebe.wordpress.com/2023/02/19/ill-need-a-lime-and-a-coconut/ ) where he mused about camera G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome) and if he should and how he would afford it, or even why. That got me thinking about all the gear I’ve got scattered around my home, and how I’ve collected it over the decades going back to the 1970s. I won’t go back that far. I’ll limit my personal musings to digital only, specifically with my lone Sony camera, the NEX-5N. It was released in late 2011, a good 12 years ago.
I’ve written about this camera before, back to when I purchased it and used it a bit before it wound up sitting on a shelf in my cabinet. I purchased it as a closeout sale from Amazon, with the 18-55mm all plastic Sony kit zoom. I later picked up a pair of Sigma primes, a 19mm/2.8 and a 30mm/2.8. They are all plastic with metal mounts, and they were on sale for $99/each. They’re not the fastest focusing, and at a maximum of f/2.8, not the fastest for gathering light. But they’re still quite good for what they offer, which is a lot. And for $400 total for the camera and three lenses, it didn’t produce a budgetary hit the way other camera bodies and lenses do. The only other cameras that good and that inexpensive were the few Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras from that same period, the E-PL1 to E-PL3. For me, that period in time from 2012 to 2015 was a golden age of digital photography when you could buy quite good cameras for very little money. It reminded me of the film days from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.
So I pulled out the 5N and checked the batteries. Yep, the batteries were all discharged. I have three, one being an original Sony NP-FW50, the other two being Wasabi BTR-FW50-JWP. Let me say right now that the Wasabi batteries are absolute junk. They might be less than half the cost, but you get what you pay for; they’re less than half the Sony batteries. I was able to fully charge the Sony battery, but neither of the Wasabi batteries would charge to 100%, and I could watch the Wasabi batteries discharge right before my eyes by just turning on the camera and looking at the rear LCD. While the original Sony battery is still good, I’m going to pick up a second from a local store and recycle the two Wasabi batteries. These are the last Wasabi batteries I still have. I had the same bad experience with Wasabi batteries for my Olympus cameras.
So let’s get into a bit of photography. These are all black and white, out of the camera, not post processing, and JPEG. I’m tired of RAW processing, and in spite of all the “expert” opinions from the “influencers” across YouTube, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the quality of those black and white JPEGs. Sony was really beginning to hit its stride with regards to image processing, and they’ve never ever gone down in quality since, only up.
If you’re wondering why the odd aspect ratio it’s because I like 16:9. That’s a kinda-sorta cinematic aspect ratio, and it’s something I’ve just gotten used to over the decades. I like to compose in that aspect ratio. As is typical of my photos these days they’re various snaps of the little characters around the house. Ruby was taken with the 30 mm, all other photos were 19 mm. All of them were wide open at f/2.8. I have center auto focus enabled because I learned early on that Sony’s adaptive autofocus made decisions I was never happy with. Exposure and sharpness are Good Enough all around.
As you can see the camera with lens, compared to my hand, is quite compact. The fact it’s an interchangeable lens camera is amazing, even now in 2023. It’s not blazingly fast with regards to autofocus, and from 2011 it’s not the most accurate, but I can put it in manual mode if I have to and stop it down and use zone focusing to take the photo. That’s what I would do outside in an urban or field settings. And to be blunt, a maximum aperture of f/1.8 to f/2 is about all I really want. I’ve paid for my fast lenses and while they’re good, I’ve come to the decision they weren’t worth the speed price premium for me. The two Sigmas are remarkably sharp wide open at the center third. In dark situations I’m more than happy to trade shutter speed or higher ISO to make the exposure.
This entire setup is my Mary Poppins camera, practically perfect in every way. Not in absolute terms, but in practical affordable terms. I’m quite satisfied with that.
3 thoughts on “use what you have — the sony nex-5n”
Now keep using it! (Yeah, that’s the hard part.)
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It is the hard part. And it’s hard in my case because I keep drifting away from the desire to make photographs. It’s in part due to having to remember how to properly operate the device, and even more, going through the post processing to make the image “right” or “better,” whatever “right” or “better” may mean. Instead I’ve been re-learning the subtle nuances of the camera, and basically setting it up so that all I have to do is point and shoot. Composition and paying attention to lighting is still important, but there’s no reason why I have to do much on the camera besides setting it on aperture priority and may give the EV a nudge plus or minus. As for post processing I don’t capture anything in RAW anymore, preferring to live with the JPEG output. I also do a lot of in-camera curation. The tools for “chimping” or viewing in the camera are ample enough that I can toss the really bad ones. I then wait a bit longer to determine the real keepers.
What I also found in the cabinet behind where the Sony sat was a Fotodiox Sony to Olympus OM Zuiko lens adapter. I’ve used that in the past as well with my OM Zuiko 50mm/1.4, and I’ll use it again. It gives me a manual focus 75mm short portrait lens equivalent.
[…] William Beebe, recently wrote in a series of articles titled “Use what you have” (part 1 and 2) about some cameras and phones, and that he’s tired of RAW processing and mostly uses […]
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