Sony E-mount system – my journey so far

I thought I would put into this post the chronology and the 7 phases of my experience with the Sony E-mount cameras over the last few years, as well as a summary of what Sony have achieved with the E-mount system and what they still need to do. I have also included my own  thoughts about each camera.

I have to say that in between the Sony NEX-6 and the A7R, I did buy into the Olympus micro 4/3rds system as there were many great features about this system which addressed what was lacking in the Sony E-mount system. But with the arrival of the Sony A7R and A6000, Sony has definitely brought my attention back into this system.

Sony NEX-3 on 8" telescope
Sony NEX-3 on 8″ telescope ( no one can shoot this setup handheld)

1) Interest:

Sony came out with the NEX-3 camera in 2010. I became very interested in this camera as it was shown to be useful for UV-imaging by Alex Holovachov who had modified it to full-spectrum. This was one of the first few live view cameras which allowed for adjusting of focus in UV light while being able to view the actual image on the LCD screen, which would bypass the often quoted problem of focus shift.

The Sony NEX-3 modding process was pretty straight forward, and I found it a very useful camera. Due to the short flange focus distance of the E-mount system means that nearly all existing lenses can be adapted for use with it. But as with camera systems which are in the early stages of its development, there were a few issues with it.

What was good about the NEX-3?

1) Very small, compact and light – perfect companion for my larger DSLR (Canon 7D) kit back then.

2) It was reasonably easy to modify for full-spectrum, with no need for desoldering or resoldering.

3) Good sensor (14 megapixels), which is sensitive to infrared and ultraviolet.

4) It was very cheap even back then.

5) Accessories have come out which helped to address some of its issues (e.g. no hotshoe, lack of timer remote for astrophotography)

GentLED infrared remote control for Sony NEX system for astrophotography
GentLED infrared remote control for Sony NEX system for astrophotography

6) Focus peaking was introduced in the firmware, which does help when doing manual focusing.

UV-induced visible fluorescence of Geranium taken with NEX-3
UV-induced visible fluorescence of Geranium taken with NEX-3 (one of my favourite images)

What needed to be improved?

1) It needed a built-in hotshoe

2) It needed a better custom white balance system, as it did not correct fully for infrared or UV photos.

3) It was only useable up to ISO 1600.

4) Autofocus needed to be faster, and the user interface was ‘clunky’ and not as refined as the Olympus system.

5) No wired remote for using with timers for astrophotography.

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