When deciding to get back into photography recently (I had a darkroom when I was a teenager but quit for over 20 years) I started looking at the new world of digital cameras. My wife shoots with a Sony DSLR and has a small collection of lenses. I wanted something a little more portable, but with the image quality and flexibility of an interchangeable lens system.
It's a good thing I work at Zenfolio since I am surrounded by photographers that are more than willing to offer advice! So when I asked what direction I should go in, I quickly realized that mirrorless was probably perfect for me. They are much smaller than DSLRs, can use any lens out there with the proper adapters, and maintain a high quality output due to using the same APS-C sensors as some DSLRs.
Since my wife has A-mount lenses for her Sony, I looked at the Sony NEX cameras. Though they use E-mount lenses, Sony put out an A-to-E adapter that not only allows the use of A-mount lenses on any NEX, it also essentially turns the mirrorless camera to a DSLR by implementing Sony's Translucent Mirror technology right into the adapter. This gives the camera super fast phase detect focusing when using A-mount lenses.
I was sold. The NEX cameras are relatively inexpensive compared to their larger DSLR brothers, but I still wanted to save some cash and ended up buying the entry level Sony NEX-3N. Now, when I say "entry level", that does not mean it takes worse pictures or uses a smaller sensor. All it means is that Sony removed some of the bells and whistles from the camera body, such as touch screen, Wi-Fi, GPS, EVF, etc. The sensor is the same 16.1MP Exmor APS-C used in many other cameras, and the image quality is superb.
The 3N came with the SELP1650 16-50mm f/3.5 kit lens, which is actually not bad for a kit lens. However, I didn't want to be stuck with just that lens, so I bought the Sony LA-EA2 adapter to be able to use my wife's A-mount lenses. Of course, I wanted some lenses of my own and quickly discovered the wonderful world of legacy, manual lenses.
Now, before you roll your eyes, keep in mind that when I was a young photographer developing film in my own darkroom, all I ever used were manual lenses on my old Pentax. When I recently bought my very first manual lens for my NEX (a Minolta MD 50mm f/2) it felt very natural to me. Of course, Sony's focus peaking technology certainly helps by outlining on your screen exactly what is in focus.
Here are a few shots taken with my 50mm:
Today, I just received another manual piece of glass, a Minolta MD 28mm f/2.8. You know what the best part is? I only paid $40 for it. And $25 for my 50mm. The quality I am seeing from these lenses is fabulous. Sure, I wouldn't do too well if I were a sports photographer, for example, but that's not me anyway :-)
All in all, I have to say that I am in love with my little mirrorless NEX-3N, and cannot wait to really put it to the test when I go to Peru next month!