First attempt at using the Sony

West on the corner of West South Street and Orange Avenue
Looking west at the corner of West South Street and Orange Avenue
Very early this morning (even earlier than necessary because it's a weekend) I dropped my wife off at the local hospital to have her shoulder operated on. After checking her in I drove back a short distance into the center of town and where the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is being built. This was dawn, with the sun just coming up over the horizon.
Dr. Phillips Art Center 13 Oct 2012
Dr. Phillips Art Center 13 Oct 2012
Dr. Phillips Art Center 13 Oct 2012
Not much to write about, but these are my impressions out shooting:

  • After taking 95 photos the battery had dropped to 85%. As a rough order of measure it looks like I will probably get at least 500 photos/battery charge based on how I was photographing this morning. I'm really going to need extra batteries, and probably the higher capacity Wasabi.
  • When I got out I wanted to set the ISO. That's when I found out my soft buttons had been reset back to their defaults. So I spent five minutes or so fumbling through the menu system to set them back. Then I went to ISO 100.
  • After the first dozen or so photos I put the camera in manual mode and "pre-chimped" the image on the back to eyeball for proper exposure. The auto exposure system wanted to underexpose too much, especially with lots of sky in the image. I preferred to set the aperture and shutter speed and then use that no matter which way the camera pointed. I find "pre-chimping" with the 5N to be far more accurate than with any of the Pens.
  • I thought having an active touch screen on the back of the camera would be awesome. Turns out it's not so awesome in practice. I kept having to kill the annoyingly automatic tracking I unintentionally started with my fingers. Looks like that's another feature that needs to be disabled.
  • Walking with the 5N, the grip rested comfortably and reassuringly on my three middle fingertips. It was eerily reminiscent of my stolen E-3. I used to love walking with that camera down by my right side, grip resting comfortably on my fingers, ready to come up to my eyes in an instant.
And these are my impressions in post with Lightroom 4:

  • I finally have a lens that Lightroom has a profile correction for, the E 18-55mm OSS. I used it, and was surprised at how much correction took place between not enabled and enabled. There are no profiles for any Olympus lenses, which has always aggravated me. In spite of what Adobe provides I believe I'm going to need to purchase a more sophisticated tool such as DxO Optics Pro for better control over correction as well as a much wider selection of lenses (Sony and Olympus, as well as the rest of the photographic world). Adobe's collection is sparse at best.
  • I am not happy with the Sony zoom lens so far. The outer third of the image is really unsharp at all focal lengths. I don't give a damn so much about noise, but I do give a damn about sharpness. While I castigate the Olympus kit zoom for using plastics everywhere including the bayonet, the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm produces a much better image across the image than the Sony 18-55mm, at least out in the field.
  • At ISO 100 the files are buttery smooth. There's considerable detail that can be recovered from both shadow and highlight. I love being able to shoot at ISO 100 again. The performance of these files in post makes me wonder how good the files produced with the latest 16MP Olympus/Sony sensors perform. Temptations, temptations...
To be fair with regards to the kit zoom optical performance, the 5N has built-in correction that is applied to the JPEG image. I shot Raw, which is what I always do. I need to go back and shoot with both JPEG and Raw, then compare the results. It may be that the edges are much better if corrected in camera. And it may be that to get the most from the 5N that I should switch back to just shooting JPEG for that camera. After all, that's the way I started with Olympus.

I should also look at purchasing either an OM adapter (and trying out focus peaking) or another lens, preferably a prime such as the Sigma 19mm. And it may be that the newer Sony zoom, the E-mount 16-50mm, should be considered as well. Yeah, I know. Here I go planning on sinking money into yet another camera system...


  1. Our best to Judy and hope she has a speedy recovery.

    I use DxO Optics from time to time for my D800 files that show promise, but the workflow stops me from using it as my primary program. Lightroom does the bulk of the work, and is good enough for almost everything.

    'Optics' only reads original raw formats. When I decide I need to use it I back out of Lightroom and start over with the fresh file. I can then export it as a DNG into Lightroom, and from there move it to Photoshop if needed. The results are better even for lenses that are already pretty good, and a more substantial improvement for others. But it's a lot of extra work, and not something that I'm willing to do for photos that just end up online.

  2. Our best to Judy and hope she has a speedy recovery.

    I'll tell her that. She came out just fine into recovery later this morning and is now resting comfortably in a room. She comes home Monday.

    [I]t's a lot of extra work, and not something that I'm willing to do for photos that just end up online.



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