Why I bought the NEX-6 plus 16-50 kit lens

Why? Well, actually I wasn't completely clear on "why" until I wrote this post.  Since I already own an Olympus EM-5 with an assortment of lenses plus a Panasonic LX5 to fit in my pocket, I know the NEX-6 will not make me a better photographer.  But I am nevertheless drawn to it.

First to come to my mind is that I have liked small range-finder style cameras ever since using my dad's old German-built Kodak Retina IIIC 35mm film camera. Also, I prefer using an eye-level viewfinder, and the Sony is currently one of the two cameras in this class that have one.  Fuji is the other.

1955 Kodak Retina IIIC and 2012 Sony NEX-6

The first NEX was not of interest to me because, though it had a high quality LCD, it lacked an eye-level EVF. The other problem I saw was not-so-high-quality lenses (at least compared with what was available with the m43 system). The lenses were also pretty large and therefore seemed out-of-balance on the very small NEX bodies.

Well, the new NEX 6 has a state-of-the-art EVF and a new kit lens. I received mine last week, just two days after it became available at BHPhotovideo. The new kit lens is a "pancake" zoom lens, and measures only 1" long when retracted (1.25" with lens cap!) It weighs only 4.1 ounces.  I love the new lens' 12-50mm range (24mm to 75mm equivalent), especially the 24mm wide angle. If Sony were only offering the more traditional kit zoom range of 18-55 I would have passed on the entire kit.

With the NEX 6 body I only paid an additional $150 for the lens, which when purchased separately retails for $300. Alternatively, I could have paid $400 for the Panasonic pancake zoom with its effective field of view of 28mm to 90mm. The Panasonic lens is fully compatible with my Olympus EM-5. It's a small lens but lacks the 24mm wide angle I find so useful.

Another choice is the perhaps more useful zoom range of the new Olympus 12-50mm zoom with its effective field of view of 24mm to 100mm.  But this lens measures 3.25" and weighs 7.1 ounces. Even on the smallish EM-5 this is not a small package.

So, the NEX-6 and kit 16-50mm (1) is a small package considering the APS-C sensor, (2) has a superb EVF, and (3) balances nicely with the new pancake zoom that starts with an equivalent 24mm wide angle.

All that being said, I want to be sure the lens has adequate sharpness. I worry about this with any kit lens. It doesn't have to be super sharp, but it does need to be "sharp enough".

I will be testing it first against my beloved Panasonic LX5, an advanced-featured compact camera. I have been very happy with the images I get from the LX5 with its Leica 24-90mm lens. I am very curious as to how these cameras will compare with regard to sharpness.

But beyond sharpness, I have no question that the Sony with its vastly larger sensor will provide greater dynamic range and color depth.  Too, the Sony should provide more detail in low contrast areas, such as grass. I expect from what I have read on the DxO Web site that the Sony will have 3 stops better low light performance (i.e. less noise), though the LX5 will gain back 1.5 stops of low light performance due to it's 1.5 stops faster lens (example: LX5 has a F2 lens at 24mm while the Sony has F3.5).

I look forward to posting some of my findings in hopes that this will help others.

Panasonic LX5 and Sony NEX-6

Assuming the lens passes my quality tests, my plan for this camera is to use it as a jacket-pocketable camera for landscape and travel pictures. I am also becoming increasingly interested in street photography. Because I feel a bit anxious while photographing people on the street, I am hoping the small size of the NEX 6 and pancake zoom will make my actions less obvious.

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