Chopped it all in for a mirror-less!


Well-Known Member
May 15, 2006
Loughborough UK
'03 Skoda Superb (farewell :(), '06 Honda Civic ES
Hi All

Long time since I posted here!

Anyway, at the end of last year I looked at my 7D and its various lenses and paraphernalia and I just thought " I just haven't done this thing justice. It just hasn't been used as much as it should have ". I sat for a while thinking what I was going to do about it. Was I going to sell up and drop out of photography altogether? Was I going to try something else instead? Settle on a decent compact (like the Canon G-series) and be done?

Well, I knew I didn't want to give it up completely. I also knew, after using a brand new Olympus compact on holiday in November, that I didn't want a compact. This is one of Olympus' latest machines and quite frankly the IQ is horrible. So too is the IQ on my parents brand new Panasonic compact (its the top end one as well). But I didn't want to keep the 7D. Its a great camera, it does everything you could possibly want (although really with 18 MP I think it needed feeding with better lenses than I possessed. On balance I think my old 400D with its 10 MP sensor took better looking photos). Wireless flash triggering, 8 fps burst, 1080p video, twin DIGIC processors, In camera RAW editing, big bright 100% penta-prism VF. The list is endless. Its a great camera. Period.

But why didn't I use it? Well I came to the conclusion that the kit I owned never really lent itself to seat of your pants, on a whim photography. It's not something you decide to pick up on the way out the house. A back pack full of camera and gear is cumbersome. I found if I did have it out with me, it only came out the bag if I really wanted to get a shot. It wouldn't come out for a maybe shot. Too much faffing for that. So I thought, I want SLR quality but I don't want to feel like I am carrying a sack of house bricks around. So my plan was eBay the lot. Spend the winnings on a mirror-less camera.

But which one? The main points I worried about here were the lack of view finders or at the most, the use of EVFs. I wasn't sure how I would like them. Also not having quick, physical access to functions. I hate drilling through menus!

Well I felt sure that the king of mirrorless was the Olympus OM-D. It was expensive, but I figured worth it. It was weather sealed, it had horrendously fast AF and a great lens catalogue. Nothing else grabbed my attention really, Sony's NEX-7 looked cool with plenty of physical dials but I worried about its 24 MP sensor being too much and so it turned out to be. A number of reviews mentioned they though the lenses were not good enough to get the best from the sensor. Then in came the NEX-6. This seemed to tick a lot of boxes... cheaper than the 7 and the OM-D but possessing possibly the best of the their features. It kept sony's class leading 2.4 Million dot EVF (which after trying in a shop I was happy with and is supposedly better than the 1.4m ones in the OM-D), IMO it improved on the Tri-Navi controls of the 7 by giving you a proper mode dial in combination with two more rotational selectors. Standard hot shoe!!! (NEX-7 has a proprietary one). Pixels set aside on the sensor to use the much better phase detection AF system (uses a combo of phase and contrast detection... phase helps it decide, from being way out of focus, which way to move the lens. Contrast is then used to fine tune) so the AF really isn't far behind that of a proper D-SLR. The 6 was also newer than both the others and possessed a more realistic 16 MPs on its CMOS sensor.

A cursory contemplation of the Fuji X-E1 was done but I decided against it based on price and the fact that it really had a few compromises too far when compared to the others for the price. However I will say, if IQ is all you are bothered about you can't beat that sensor in the Fuji's. It doesn't need an AA filter, the images are brilliant.

So on balance after lots of reviews.... I plumped for the Sony NEX-6. It seemed to be the most rounded for the money. The only thing the 7 had over it was its bigger sensor IMO and I wasn't bothered about that. It is also smaller and less conspicuous than the OM-D. Plus in some areas I thought it bested the OM-D... 10 fps shooting with AF vs 9 without on the OM-D is just one example. Higher res EVF and screen being another. Better button layout as well.

Ordered the NEX-6 + 16-50 f3.5-5.6 Power Zoom, 55-210 mm f4-6.3 telephoto and 35 mm f1.8 from DigitalRev for just more than the OM-D kit.

Very happy with it. with the two smaller lenses its basically pocketable. IQ is just about there (not quite as clean as my old canons) with out of camera JPGs, they can look a little smudgy at hi ISO. However this is easily remedied by shooting in RAW. I don't know what Sony do with their imaging processing but by and large the RAW files look better than the JPGs. Its a very responsive camera as well (though with the power zoom, the barrel has to extend and that takes a second.) and you don't feel like a pap or a pervert when using it. People aren't scared of you because it doesn't look as serious as a big SLR. The built in flash springs up very high on its cherry-picker like arm. This stops red eye, but also means you can bend it back over and get some bounce flash action as well! Overall controls are good. It is not as quick as my 7D for changing settings, but that thing had dedicated buttons for AF/WB/Exp/Metering/ISO/RAW+Jpeg etc. This has a Fn button that you can customise with 6 different settings. ISO and Exposure are sorted with the scroll wheel on the back, the scroll wheel on the top beneath the mode dial picks your Tv or Av setting. So once it is set up, its fast enough to change major settings to my liking.

As it is pocketable, I carry it every day! Taken a fair few photos so far. They are on my flickr ( although be warned they are rather mundane! I am just getting used to the camera!

Any other questions please dont hesitate to ask. If you are thinking of doing the same, I would recommend doing so! it is a liberating experience.