Mirrorless cameras, my Sony NEX-3N, and legacy lenses

EdZenEdZen Member, Administrator Posts: 76
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.

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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.

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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:
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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!
Ed Caggiani
Check out my photos at www.CaggianiPhoto.com

Comments

  • alejandroceppiphotographyalejandroceppiphotography Buenos Aires, ArgentinaMember Posts: 38
    edited August 2013
    I am a Sony fan too. I have two DSLR Sony Alpha cameras (A230 & A580) and the new compact Sony Rx100.
    I have several Sony and Minolta lenses (and a Tamron and a Tokina) and was lucky enough as to be able to buy the Minolta 50mm f/1.7 for just 50 U$S (I have two of this 50 mm lenses).

    Regarding the NEX cameras, I know that they are excellent (they use the same sensors as the Alpha DSLR and DSLT APS-C cameras), but I prefer cameras that do have a viewfinder rather than the ones that just have an LCD screen if not being really compact (the NEX is more kind of an hybrid semi-compact camera but not really a compact camera). I wouldn`t mind though, if I would be able to buy a NEX 7 or NEX 6, to have one (I`d love to).
    Post edited by alejandroceppiphotography on
  • alejandroceppiphotographyalejandroceppiphotography Buenos Aires, ArgentinaMember Posts: 38
    Ed, I missed to say in my previous post that you wrote a very enjoyable and interesting article.

    I have a question about the Minolta MD lenses you bought as the MD mount is different from the A mount that Minolta began to use from 1985 onwards for their AF lenses. Are you using or will you be using a different or an additional adapter or does the Sony LA-EA2 adapter have a system or some kind of interchangeable adapter ring that allows mounting an MD lens?

    I have two Tamron Adaptal-2 lenses that I used (long ago) with a Minolta reflex camera from the seventies. The Tamron Adaptal-2 lenses had interchangeable mount rings for different cameras (the same lens could be used in any camera just changing the adapter ring for the corresponding one). I managed a few years ago to find and buy one of the original (not used and in the box) adapters for the A mount system that Tamron manufactured for their Adaptal-2 lenses in the eighties.
  • EdZenEdZen Member, Administrator Posts: 76

    Ed, I missed to say in my previous post that you wrote a very enjoyable and interesting article.

    I have a question about the Minolta MD lenses you bought as the MD mount is different from the A mount that Minolta began to use from 1985 onwards for their AF lenses. Are you using or will you be using a different or an additional adapter or does the Sony LA-EA2 adapter have a system or some kind of interchangeable adapter ring that allows mounting an MD lens?

    Thanks for your comments, Alejandro!

    So the MD lenses require a totally different adapter. Luckily, they can be found for just $10 on ebay. This is the one I got and it works quite well:
    image
    Since the MD lenses are full manual, they don't communicate anything to the camera, so the adapter is very simple. It's literally just an MD mount on one side, and an E-mount on the other, with the correct length.

    This is where you notice some of the disadvantages of legacy manual lenses. If I don't make a note of my settings for a shot, there is no lens EXIF data written to the file. So when I import into Lightroom, I don't see aperture or focal length data.

    This is not true of the LA-EA2 adapter, of course, because the A-mount lenses do communicate with the camera.
    Ed Caggiani
    Check out my photos at www.CaggianiPhoto.com
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