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03-17-2013, 02:04 PM   #1
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Sony NEX body/adaptor selection

Hey all, I've not posted here in a loong time, as work has been keeping me busy. I haven't bought new gear in forever, and have paid so little attention to the latest developments that I'm basically a n00b again. I've had vague knowledge that the micro 4/3 format exists, but have not even briefly ogled any of these little guys, and I need some advice.

I frequently bemoan the fact that my best Contax/Zeiss lenses cannot be used on any of my digital cameras, and I think it's time to do something about it. A quick look around gives me the impression that the most cost-effective way to mount C/Y lenses to a digital body would be to pick up a Sony NEX. But I wanted to get some opinions before I pulled the trigger on one.

The NEX 3 is very attractive, because it's dirt cheap. So that's one possibility.

The NEX 5-N looks better. A little more money, but supposedly it's a real improvement in image quality. More importantly, it has focus-peaking, which the NEX 3 does not. I'm fairly adept at manual focus with telephoto lenses and a real finder, but I'm guessing that with a 45mm lens (what I would use most often on this prospective new body), the focus-peaking might be important for my accuracy.

I know there are even newer models, but I'm thinking $500 or so will be the spending cap right now. Am I right in thinking NEX, or are there other body possibilities I should consider?

Another consideration, and further questions, regarding adaptors: What's most important to me is a basic C/Y to NEX (or whatever) adaptor that doesn't affect infinity focus or image quality. I see some that are $10, and some that are a lot more than that. I assume there will be practical differences between the cheap ones and the expensive ones, but I don't know what those will be. Which one would you recommend? There is apparently a tilt adaptor, which seems like it might be a lot of fun…if I got that, it could act as my standard adaptor, too, correct? I've also got some Contax G lenses. I'm not going to be able to afford that adaptor initially, but I know I'll want it in the future.

Any advice or experience you'd care to post will be most helpful. Thanks!

03-17-2013, 03:49 PM   #2
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The 5N is a real performer, and is currently a bargain. Much better for MF than the 3 because of the peaking. The 5N adds a touch screen and the ability to use a EVF.

Re: adapters. They are just a hollow tube, similar to an extension tube, except they just space the lens out to the proper registration distance.

I use adapters from Rainbow Imaging with good results. You can spend much more and not get better results. You can buy a lot of $20 adapters looking for a good one if you need to and still spend less than you would buying an expensive one. The one thing you have to watch is some adapters will focus past infinity, so you can't just crank the focus ring all the way and get good focus. You can shim the adapter if you want to though. The only adapter I have with that issue is a Leica M adapter and it really hasn't bothered me.

I have a tilt adapter in m42 mount that works fine. You have to be aware that the tilt control is twisted all the way to zero tilt or you can get some strange results, or rather some unexpected results I should say.
03-17-2013, 04:01 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bimjo Quote
The 5N is a real performer, and is currently a bargain. Much better for MF than the 3 because of the peaking. The 5N adds a touch screen and the ability to use a EVF.

Re: adapters. They are just a hollow tube, similar to an extension tube, except they just space the lens out to the proper registration distance.

I use adapters from Rainbow Imaging with good results. You can spend much more and not get better results. You can buy a lot of $20 adapters looking for a good one if you need to and still spend less than you would buying an expensive one. The one thing you have to watch is some adapters will focus past infinity, so you can't just crank the focus ring all the way and get good focus. You can shim the adapter if you want to though. The only adapter I have with that issue is a Leica M adapter and it really hasn't bothered me.

I have a tilt adapter in m42 mount that works fine. You have to be aware that the tilt control is twisted all the way to zero tilt or you can get some strange results, or rather some unexpected results I should say.
Thanks so much for that info, that helps a lot. I'm not overly excited about a touch screen, but the EVF will be important, when I can afford to add it. So I think I need at least a 5-N. Now I'm also looking at the 5-R. I'm not seeing any differences that would be deal=breakers for the 5N, but the better controls and the wireless would be pretty sweet.
03-17-2013, 06:28 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Todd Adamson Quote
Thanks so much for that info, that helps a lot. I'm not overly excited about a touch screen, but the EVF will be important, when I can afford to add it. So I think I need at least a 5-N. Now I'm also looking at the 5-R. I'm not seeing any differences that would be deal=breakers for the 5N, but the better controls and the wireless would be pretty sweet.
The touch screen is actually pretty handy as you can use it to zoom in to a magnified area to help you focus. Between peaking and magnification I can easily do what I had great trouble doing with a dslr- focus a MF lens. It is less useful if you are using the EVF, but I work a lot off a tripod and it's nice to touch the screen and then use the EVF to confirm critical focus.

Wifi holds little appeal to me, but the apps might, if Sony ever opens the system to outside development. The contols are probably an improvement over the 5N, but with the ability to program buttons it's not enough to make me upgrade. Just getting into the system might be different.

I've found that the articulating EVF of the 5 series is very useful and would be difficult to give up. Tilted all the way up and held to your face like a normal viewfinder the camera is pointing straight up. Imagine! Shoot a church ceiling without bending over backwards. Very cool.

03-21-2013, 07:50 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by bimjo Quote
The touch screen is actually pretty handy as you can use it to zoom in to a magnified area to help you focus. Between peaking and magnification I can easily do what I had great trouble doing with a dslr- focus a MF lens. It is less useful if you are using the EVF, but I work a lot off a tripod and it's nice to touch the screen and then use the EVF to confirm critical focus.

Wifi holds little appeal to me, but the apps might, if Sony ever opens the system to outside development. The contols are probably an improvement over the 5N, but with the ability to program buttons it's not enough to make me upgrade. Just getting into the system might be different.

I've found that the articulating EVF of the 5 series is very useful and would be difficult to give up. Tilted all the way up and held to your face like a normal viewfinder the camera is pointing straight up. Imagine! Shoot a church ceiling without bending over backwards. Very cool.
After further research, I've decided to go with the 5-N. Wi-fi and apps are cool, but not critical, and it sounds like the wi-fi implementation on the 5R is pretty crappy anyway.

Since you mention tripod use, I'm wondering if you might have any suggestions for me. I use an RRS ballhead, and I have an old plate which I think will directly mount the 5-N. This will be fine for the tiny pancake lens I will use frequently. But I have a C/Y Vario-Sonnar 28-85 which would definitely be too heavy for that setup. Looking at the lens, I'm thinking there's no way a tripod collar of any sort can be used, so I will be looking for a way to mount my adapter to the tripod plate.

I ordered the RainbowImaging basic C/Y adapter. They don't seem to make one with a tripod mount. Fotodiox does, but it gets poor reviews, specifically for the tripod mount. Novoflex has what appears to be the sweet setup: I can buy their C/Y to NEX adapter, and then also buy their tripod collar specifically designed to fit that adapter. The downside to that awesome combo is the price: combined, about $250. That seems a little ridiculous, but I guess as someone who has paid for RRS gear I can't protest too vigorously. I'll probably eventually cough up the cash for that...unless someone has a less expensive but still viable alternative?
03-21-2013, 09:59 AM   #6
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I use a JTec L-bracket on my 5N. The issue with using the 5 series bodies on a tripod is the bump where the tripod socket is. The JTec is machined to fit the bump and it isn't much wider than the body (front-to-back). The initially weird part is that the bevels on the mount are on the sides instead of the front/back like most Arca plates.

The advantages are a much slimmer profile for the plate and because it's rotated 90° from normal the camera is always centered sideways when mounted. There's no "is the lenses centered over the ballhead pivot point" worry, it just is. JTec also makes a regular plate if you don't want/need the L. The disadvantage is there's less area to support a lot of weight because the plate is so narrow front-to-back.

I also have a Vario Sonnar 28-85 on a Rainbow Imaging adapter and have had no issues using it on a tripod, though to be honest I haven't used it much because it weighs a ton and the whole point of getting/using the 5N was to lose the weight I was carrying before.

Some enterprising soul with a 3D printer needs to print collars for adapters and we'd all be ahead.
03-21-2013, 10:55 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by bimjo Quote
I also have a Vario Sonnar 28-85 on a Rainbow Imaging adapter
Wow. I never expected to find someone using the same gear...that lens isn't exactly common!

Sounds like Rainbow makes the adapter I need, then. I didn't see it on Amazon, so I guess I'll go directly to the vendor's website (gasp!) and look. You don't use the VS much with the 5-N, then...but would you feel comfortable mounting it to the Rainbow adapter on a tripod, with the adapter supporting the weight of the lens?

For me, the smaller size of the 5-N doesn't factor in at all, and I'd be happy if it were five times bigger. :P I only want a way to use C/Y lenses without slogging through the film workflow every time. Still, the small size of the 5-N plus the C/Y 45/2.8 will be pretty convenient for bringing along to casual outings.
03-21-2013, 02:06 PM   #8
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Yeah, I have no issues using the VS with the camera on the tripod. Should be absolutely no issues using it with the adapter mounted on the tripod.

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