Topic: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

I used to contribute to this forum a lot in the past, when I had several Zeiss, Olympus, Sigma manual focus lenses and a Canon EOS 30D. Then Leica bug bit me and I sold all my gear to fund the purchase of a Leica M2 and three Leica prime lenses about 4 years ago. It was good investment since Leica gear doubled in price. I use solely film now, but I sometimes miss the convenience of a digital body with manual lenses. I got myself a 400D with kit lens, but it didn't cut. 

So I have long been contemplating digital mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras as a digital solution next to my Leica M2 and Leica M lenses. I still shoot film and love it, but it wouldn't hurt to have a digital body to utilise those beautiful lenses that I have.

Sony NEX series cameras have always attracted my attention due to their tiny dimensions, 1.5x crop factor large sensor, high capacity battery and very good image characteristics. However, I've never gotten one since they were not ticking all the boxes for me. For example the earlier kit zoom lens of NEX was both very large and not stellar in image quality, so I wanted a better and smaller one. I also wanted a good video recording capability with a power zoom option, which I use very often. I needed peaking support for manual lens use. And as a final point, since this camera will replace my compact digicam and will be shared with my family, a simple built in flash and a zoom rocker control next to the shutter release was an important need from usability perspective.

http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z361/korayesque/Sony%20NEX-3N%20with%20Leica%20M%20lenses/Capture_zps879a51cb.jpg

NEX-3N delivers all these points with style, and for only $500, such a good deal! It comes with a wonderfully tiny power zoom lens which has a very useful 16-50mm (24-75mm eqv) range. It is a no-frills camera. Many Sony fanboys complain about the cost cutting features, such as reduced LCD resolution, or omitted flash hot-shoe. But for me, these are not deal breakers.

I have purchased the cheapest Leica-M to NEX adapter from ebay (~£8) and tested my Leica lenses right away. Wonderful results. I have also bought a slave flash trigger with red-eye setting, so omission of flash hot-shoe will not stop me from using studio lighting with my Leica M lenses, which I look forward to! I did a quick (and dirty) test of each of my Leica M lens with NEX-3N, browse the folder by clicking the photo below, you can download full size copies from Photobucket:

http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z361/korayesque/Sony%20NEX-3N%20with%20Leica%20M%20lenses/DSC00285_zps265fad5b.jpg
Leica M2 with Summicron 50, Elmarit-M 90 and Sony SELP16-50 (left), shot with Sony NEX-3N + Leica Summicron 35

I have sold all my other compacts and my Canon 400D and EF lenses. Now this tiny Sony NEX-3N replaces all of them. I just wanted to share this experience with you. Of course, I would love to own a Leica M8 or M9, but with my current budget this seems to be the best choice.

Koray

Leica M2 + Summicron 35 v4, Summicron 50 v4, Elmarit-M 90
CZJ Werramatic + Flektogon 35, Tessar 50, Cardinar 100
Sony NEX-6 + Konica Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

I've been thinking of getting  a used  NEX  of some sort,  but I think  Sony is shooting themselves in the foot with  the silly  model  modifiers,  3N, 3R,  whatever.   I have one  heck of a time  getting everything straight.   There was one I looked up  that  Sony had deleted  some  access port,  etc. 

VERY  disappointed in what I've read  of  Canon's  late night  try in this market.  (EOS-M)    With their late showing  it SHOULD  have been  a real performer,  but instead  it reeks  of  "out of date,"  and  "you are the beta tester"

As  a Canon  user,  and  especially  where the EOS-M   can be adapted to about anything, including  EF mount  lenses,  this is  especially  bitter

Last edited by 440roadrunner (2013-05-01 22:24:17)

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

My New Year for me but old model NEX-3 agrees with all of this! After a month of getting used to it I'm impressed by more than just its size and manual focus assist features. It also has a fantastic sensor that makes very good raw files up to ISO1600 and even 3200 at a push, and auto white balance is far less easily fooled than my Canon. It consistently makes great colour shots that need far less tweaking in PS than I ever did before. The real time display also makes it easier to judge the look of a shot before taking so more keepers and less junk. Other than getting to the selftimer, I've been able to customise all my favourite shooting adjustments to hot keys as well, so it's pretty fluid and intuitive in use.

Only downsides are:

a) The LCD's not much use in daylight, difficult to see let alone use for focussing; got a folding hood coming to sort that, and also a 2.8x hood loupe for anything that really requires eye level work.

b) The peaking's good, and sensitive, but not really accurate enough to nail focus with really fast lenses, so still requires a look at 7x magnified view to be 100% sure. I need to experiment with different peaking settings to see if less sensitivity gives greater accuracy.

c) I don't get whole-month battery life any more! Using a non live-view DSLR, manual lenses and doing very little chimping kind of spoilt me there!

Other than that, no complaints. I think it's a very well thought-out tool that achieves its design goals perfectly (of course SOny designed it to be a back for manual focus lenses, right? :-) )

Last edited by SteveFE (2014-02-05 09:28:58)

Canon EOS30D, Sony NEX-3
Favourite M/F lenses: Nikkor 50/1.4 pre-AI, Zuiko 50/1.4, Flek 35/2.4, SP 35-80/2.8-3.8, Macro-Tak 50/4 preset *NEW* Jupiter-8 and more rangefinder lenses to come!
Favourite (and only) AF lens: Sigma 12-24

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

I also have a lot of old manual Zeiss lenses with Contax/Yashica mount and was looking for a while to find a perfect body for them. It ended up with a Fuji X-E2. The main reason to go with Fuji was the X-E2's viewfinder, which allows me to focus accurate and fast.
After shooting more than 20 years with my analog Contax RTS I must agree I never lerned to focus precisesly. The most of the slides I have from that time are more or less out of focus.

With the Fuji's viewfinder in combination with focus-peaking and magnification I am now able to make pictures with focus placed on the point I want to have it. For the first time in my entire life.
I also checked the NEX-3 because I really think the Fujis are a bit overpriced in comparison with other mirrorless. But the lack of the viewfinder prevented me to choice the Sony. Indeed I think the Sonys offer a great quality for the money.

Sorry for that long contribution.

Hanoi

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

I've been looking somewhat enviously at Fuji XT1 reviews because I just can't afford or justify affording one. That looks like the mirrorless cam to beat right now (long as you don't have a big need for pro video) - awesome sensor, awesome viewfinder with separate magnified focus view-in-view for manual focus and looks just like a true digital Olympus OM camera (even more so than Olympus's own offerings).

Canon EOS30D, Sony NEX-3
Favourite M/F lenses: Nikkor 50/1.4 pre-AI, Zuiko 50/1.4, Flek 35/2.4, SP 35-80/2.8-3.8, Macro-Tak 50/4 preset *NEW* Jupiter-8 and more rangefinder lenses to come!
Favourite (and only) AF lens: Sigma 12-24

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

Steve,
I am completely with your thoughts about the Fuji XT1. But I do comfort myself with the pretty "Rangefinder-Style" from my X-E2, because so I can see it  as addition to my DSLR. The XT-1 would be more a competitor to my Canon EOS, and this would lead to new questions and thougths.

Hanoi

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

I think increasingly, the niche left for DSLRs is going to be in outright operational speed, sports and wildlife photography for instance, while mirrorless will leave them for dead at everything else.

Example, video. While everybody was raving about the 5D mkII when it first came out (and for sure there's still not much else that competes in fullframe), most of the buzz I see on the occasions I look at video forums is around Lumix M4/3 cameras for the cheaper end, and Blackmagic for the more pro-oriented.

And the A7 and A7R seem to be the perfect fullframe platform for eclectic old lens users, while NEX and Fuji are eating up the APS-C segment. Nikon and Canon have dropped the ball badly and got left behind in innovation and risk-taking with mirrorless and are starting to hurt from it, I suspect. From the performance of my little NEX-3, I'd take a Sony A7R in a heartbeat if I could afford fullframe, I wouldn't even be considering a D600/800 or 5/6D seriously any more.

The 18mm flange distance and usability with any lens is something they got profoundly right, even if by accident! (I'm not remotely interested in buying into NEX as a system and all those overpriced, oversized Sony-Zeiss lenses; to me it's just a tiny, high-quality camera back for MY lenses). I still find it amazing that I have an APS-C camera with a fantastic sensor that'll take a tiny rangefinder lens, fits in my pocket and weighs nothing, gives me full manual photographic control with excellent white balance and foolproof metering (the NEX meters perfectly with every lens I've put in front of it, at every aperture), and gives results the equal of a DSLR. Getting most of a full DSLR featureset into a compact p'n's size form factor is a hell of an achievement for Sony.

Canon EOS30D, Sony NEX-3
Favourite M/F lenses: Nikkor 50/1.4 pre-AI, Zuiko 50/1.4, Flek 35/2.4, SP 35-80/2.8-3.8, Macro-Tak 50/4 preset *NEW* Jupiter-8 and more rangefinder lenses to come!
Favourite (and only) AF lens: Sigma 12-24

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

Your NEX-3 together with an Industar lense (I belive I saw a picture of this combo) is a dream of a compact combination what makes me somewhat enviously.
I have some lense adapters for my GF1 as well for the EX-2, but the only combination I think it is sexy is the EX-2 with the 50mm Planar. All other manual lenses I have are to bulky. So I use the GF1 with a 14mm pancake as everyday camera, wonderful small and light, and the Panasonics are great constructed and manufactured.
To the time I bought the Canon 6D I already knew I was crazy. But I thought I am now nearly 60, it is time to buy the last SLR in my live, and the 6D was from the cost side the least crazy. And now my budget is exhausted for the next years.
Not to mention that I shot less than 100 pics with the 6D for the last 3 month, to the same time I shot more than 500 pictures with the GF1.

I think the half-time break Arsenal Munich is over ....

Hanoi

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

This is the Nex with Industar-69! It is tiny. The Industar is a little toy lens-like; it vignettes like hell, isn't all that sharp, it does colourshift at the corners, but it's such a hoot to use that I can forgive it all that. It's just good enough to take serious photos.

https://ycpi-farm6.staticflickr.com/5505/12517489965_d409d8a43e.jpg
Industar-69 on NEX-3 by SteveFE, on Flickr

Canon EOS30D, Sony NEX-3
Favourite M/F lenses: Nikkor 50/1.4 pre-AI, Zuiko 50/1.4, Flek 35/2.4, SP 35-80/2.8-3.8, Macro-Tak 50/4 preset *NEW* Jupiter-8 and more rangefinder lenses to come!
Favourite (and only) AF lens: Sigma 12-24

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

I agree fully  about the Nex-3 , Steve . It is a superb camera with many old rangefinder lenses . But the lack of an EVF is a serious drawback , I need the same  camera with a decent EVF that allows a precise focusing in any light , not like the EVF  of the A-3000 .

I am a Pentacon and kiev( MF and35 mm) user,and also :contaxII,III,IIa  ,contaflex , contarex bullseye ,voigtlander ....

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

I'm currently looking for an used NEX-6 to overcome the same problem, Pierre smile

But you also might take a look at the new Fujifilm X-T1 - its extra-large EVF does provide a "split screen" - a magnified view of the manual focused bit in a second picture right next to the full view. A really neat idea, I've tried it today in a shop, it works great.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW8Cz_v3w1E (around 3:44min)

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

For working at eye level in difficult light, I got a viewing hood with 2.8x loupe. While it's not perfect (the loupe lens is cheap and pinchushion distorts a bit) it does give an absolutely huge view of the rear screen, much larger than any conventional EVF, and the very large soft eyecup is ideal for use wearing glasses. They cost peanuts on eBay, a very useful accessory.

Canon EOS30D, Sony NEX-3
Favourite M/F lenses: Nikkor 50/1.4 pre-AI, Zuiko 50/1.4, Flek 35/2.4, SP 35-80/2.8-3.8, Macro-Tak 50/4 preset *NEW* Jupiter-8 and more rangefinder lenses to come!
Favourite (and only) AF lens: Sigma 12-24

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

The viewing hood works great for people wearing never or ever glasses.
Some people like me, I wear glasses only for reading, need to use the glasses whenever you want to composite or focus on the rear screen. What is  sometimes a pain. For this reason I like the EVF with  dioptrine adjustements.

Hanoi

Last edited by Hanoi (2014-04-05 20:18:36)

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

Hanoi wrote:

The viewing hood works great for people wearing never or ever glasses.
Some people like me, I wear glasses only for reading, need to use the glasses whenever you want to composite or focus on the rear screen. What is  sometimes a pain. For this reason I like the EVF with  dioptrine adjustements.

Hanoi


Good tip Koray. smile

I put that adapter in a safe place, never to be seen again.

Re: Sony NEX-3N: an affordable digital body for manual focus lenses

For my AF needs, I use an Olympus M4/3 compact body - currently PM2 - and Panasonic and Olympus's superb primes - 14, 20, 45, 75. The fast lenses, which are excellent wide open, overcome the sensor size, and the AF is fast and accurate. Beyond that, the system is right-sized fir me; when I had a Canon dslr with L lenses, they stayed at home because of bulk and weight...my Olympus goes almost everywhere...this afternoon, off to take my 9-year old soccer player to meet the Canadian women's Olympic soccer team!

But M4/3 has so far introduced focus peaking only on the larger or more expensive bodies like the EM1 or GM1....so I picked up a Sony A5000 (NEX name got nixed by Sony and is now Alpha) to support my MF lens collection. Tiny and lightweight, it's a great piece of electronics, and like all electronics, the investment will lose value in very rapid order, so I'd rather put my money into lenses.

.                                                too many MF lenses, too little time___________
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