There’s a couple really exciting things happening in the photography world. The first is that the art is getting much more affordable and approachable. Cameras themselves are getting less expensive, but more importantly, does anyone remember that it used to cost $10-15 for 36 pictures on decent 35mm film? The second thing is that the technology is progressing at an alarming rate – suddenly everyone with a smartphone has a camera that can out-shoot virtually any first or second generation DSLR. Whoa.
Still though, there are certain limitations to super-tiny cameras. By and large, tiny pixels aren’t as good in low-light and imperfections in small lenses are more problematic than for larger lenses. And speaking of lenses – you’re stuck with the one it came with. Boo. For the longest time, there was nothing to bridge the DSLR and the point-and-shoot – then all of a sudden – wham. Mirrorless cameras. Drop the prism and drop the focusing screen, but keep the sensor large and allow for lens swapping so as to hold onto the versatility of a DSLR. Software can take care of the focusing using contrast-detection and a few models are employing phase-detection voodoo between pixels on the sensor (this is a good thing). Suddenly, you have a barebones DSLR in a package a third of the size and weight. As it turns out, we were in the market to find just such a camera because we wanted one that we could easily take out with us, but also something with a little more horsepower than a typical point-and-shoot.
After doing our research, we landed on the Sony NEX-6. There are a lot of cameras out there, and so many good choices. We liked the idea of having a nice, big, DX-size sensor (mirrorless full-frame, though amazing, is more than we were interested in paying) and the NEX has a lot of cool features for quick focusing and so on. We skipped the kit zoom lens and opted for a pair of primes – a 30mm 2.8 and 50mm 1.8.
What’s the verdict? We love it! There have actually been a number of times I assumed a picture was from our DSLR only to find out that it was from the mirrorless. It’s been hard to get used to the tiny viewfinder or looking at the rear display when taking pictures, but otherwise it’s quite a capable little beast. Crazy time we live in.