Hands on with the Sony NEX-5

Well today I finally got my hands on the Sony NEX-5.  This is not going to be a review, I am sure you have read many already, just a few first impressions.

The big advantage of the Sony is the size of its sensor, as its APS-C, its the largest sensor yet fitted to an EVIL camera.  Yet its the smallest interchangeable large sensor compact yet released.

I have to admit, it does look odd with the oversized 18-55mm lens it comes with, but it does feel surprisingly good in the hand.  The ergonomics are surprisingly good, and I was certainly expecting worse.  While not as pocketable as a ‘normal’ small sensor compact, it would certainly fit in a large jacket pocket.

With the size of the sensor, I would hope a few nice wide angles soon appear.  This is an area where Sony potentially have an advantage over micro four thirds, but currently the lens selection is limited compared to the micro four thirds system.

The controls were reasonable and certainly much better then I expected from reading other reviews.

Sony NX-5
©Andrew Jordan

The biggest issue I find is the lack of a true viewfinder.  I want a camera with a proper viewfinder, so once again the camera that still leads the pack for me is the Panasonic GF-1, as at least it has an optional EVF.

Chris Bennett has recently purchased the two lens NEX-5 kit, and I am sure a a true review will be appearing soon on his photography blog.

As you can see the quality is easily as good as any of the current DSLR’s.

How to Test a WordPress Theme

If you new to WordPress and blogging then your possibly having fun playing with different themes, customising you blog to get the look and feel you want.

Playing with your live site and affecting your visitors is probably not the best idea.  You need to be able test without impacting on your visitors.

A quick google round the internet soon found the answer, a plug-in that enables the admin user to test a different theme, then what the other users are seeing.


Check it out you might find it useful.

Large Format Course

Saturday was my introduction to large format photography.

The one day Intensive Large Format Landscape Workshops are a great way to get a taste of what Large Format Photography is all about.  Dav and Tim are great tutors.

Taken with my iPhone.

The course gives you the chance to get your hands on a large format camera and have a go for real.  Tim and Dav do their best to explain the somewhat complex ideas around Tilts & Shifts, but its the demonstrations and being able to try it for yourself that brings the theory to life.

The downsides of large format photography are generally the sheer size of the camera’s and the amount of time and effort it takes to set up a shot.  This slow and deliberate nature of photography is something that I like, and have got used to when using my medium format Hasselblad camera. Others may also consider the fact that most large format photography is still done with film a major downside, but the cost of digital large format is out of the question for the majority of people, and large format film is hard to beat.

The big advantage of large format photography is the range of movements available.  If you are from a small format (35mm) background this is possibly a big mystery unless you have used a tilt and shift lens.

I certainly know, that for my landscape photography, large format is tempting.  For the price of a modern Nikor Tilt and Shift lens I can buy a complete large format outfit.

A full explanation of camera movements would fill a book, and some university photography courses take an entire term (semester) to explain them.

Basically the advantages of movements are as follows:

  • Apparently infinite depth of field without resorting to closing down the aperture.
  • Correct perspective when photographing buildings, ie no converging verticals.
  • Removing the camera from the image when photographing a mirror.

Tilt is one of the key effects that landscape photographers utilise to produce apparently huge amounts of depth of field.  The effect is known as the Scheimflug Effect.  It was discovered in 19th Century by Theodor Scheimflug.

While it can be hard to explain, once you have seen it demonstrated and have tried it for yourself  you start to understand it.

Tim and Dav first explained the basic workings of the camera, and then with the aid of sketches, how movements work.  It was then a practical demonstration, so you could see the effect yourself.  Then it was time to have a go.  At first just focusing the camera was a challenge, and the temptation was to use too much tilt, but after a while I got the hang of it, and it all began to come together.

With the basics understood, we then had a walk round Robin Hoods Bay taking a few shots, trying to use the movements available to our advantage.

The other part I found a struggle at first, was using the spot meter.  Taking readings round the scene to determine the dynamic range, from that selecting an appropriate film to try and match the dynamic range or using filters to control the scene and bring it back to the dynamic range of the film.

All in all, a very worthwhile day and I look forward to putting some of my new skills into practice with my small format and medium format photography.

Thanks Tim, Thanks Dav, a great day and i’ll try to put some of the things I have learnt into practice.

a Trip to North Yorkshire

Friday found us instead of commuting to work, heading to North Yorkshire, one of our favourite holiday destinations, to have the weekend enjoying some landscape photography.

Lunch time was spent in a lovely pub called ‘The Hare & Hounds’ at Staxton.

Caroline had her customary steak and ale pie while I had the Whitby Scampi.

We arrived late afternoon, in Robin Hoods Bay a rather delightful old seaside fishing village.

We were pleased to note that the snowploughs had been before us. Only a few days earlier the village had been completely cut off for a week.

After a few beers and a meal in the hotel, we retired for the night as I had my large format photography course starting next morning.

Model shoot Inspiration – Autumn, and missed ideas

For my model shoots, planning is a major problem I find.  Its my timing.

For the summer I had some idea’s for a shoot.  The fields full of golden wheat, a young model posing in a sun hat with the wheat all round her.  Before I managed to get it planned and scheduled the fields had been harvested.

This Autumn it was a long coated fashion shoot with a model walking/kicking her way through leaves in the low golden sunshine. As always I have left it too long and now the leaves have left the trees.

The problem is I need to have the idea first then arrange for everything to come together at the right time.

So these summer and autumn idea’s will get filed for next year, and i’ll start thinking back to last winter and see what ideas I had and see if I can put something together for this winter.

and I still have not planned my winter shoot and the snow is here already. I really must plan better!

Cold and Frozen – the water pipes that is

Another freezing cold day, we got up this morning only to find we had no water.  A quick check round found no damage (yet) so we suspected frozen pipes.  The main kitchen tap was also none functioning so it was most likely the main feed into the house.

We tried to turn off the stopcock only to find it frozen.  At this point we decided we better not go to work just yet, just in case we were looking at a flood should a frozen pipe burst, so we sent a quick email work to let them know.

The radiator in the kitchen had stopped working the previous day, and the kitchen had been very cold, that together with record low temperatures for the time of year, the most likely place for the frozen up pipe was where it comes into the house, in the cupboard next to the cold kitchen.

The kitchen radiator was an easy fix, take off the plastic valve cover and then a gentle tap with the hammer and we had heat again in the kitchen.

We then took turns gently heating the stopcock with a hair drier.  This did not produce any effect, so it was a trip outside to where the water meter was located.  Once again we directed a gentle heat onto the water meter using a hair driver.

After about 10 minutes we had running cold water again and we were able to turn off and back on the water stopcock.

With the central heating turned up, we kept an eye on the pipes for a further hour before finally grabbing a much needed shower, something to eat, and then we headed into work as the fog started to roll in.

We then heard that Alan my father in law had the same problem. After work we headed up there and once again directed some gentle heat onto the water meter. Once again we soon had the water flowing.

Finally we got back home, only to find our neighbour waiting for us. She had no cold water either. We gave her some instructions and she said she would try them out in the morning, and if she had any problems she would let us know.

a new Digital Range Finder?

Over the last two to three years, rumours keep arising about a new Digital Epson Range Finder. Many photographers are interested in a Digital Ranger Finder, but the costs of a modern digital Leica M9 is in the same price range of a top of the range Nikon D3x. Its just not an option for most of us.

Rob Clark the executive director of Epson Europe Marketing was asked recently about the possibility of a successor to the digital rangefinder, the R-D1, he answered:

‘Whether we come out with another version of the R-D1 is a possibility.

So not a yes, but many blogs and commentators are taking that possibility as meaning yes.  Lets hope its true.



A Lazy Sunday Morning

A very lazy Sunday morning was in store for us today.  We had no intention of going out, so first job was to ground some fresh Italian style roasted coffee beans.  I always keep a few whole beans in the freezer, in a plastic airtight container.

We are very lucky here, as Lincoln is blessed, not only with the usual array of Starbucks and Costa Coffee houses, but some very good top rated independent coffee shops, and two top coffee bean retailers, one of which roasts the beans themselves twice a week.

With the beans ground and the expresso on its way, I turned my attention to a very indulgent porridge.  Organic  rolled oats from Lincoln market and milk; with fresh cream and unrefined brown sugar to top it all off.  Yum Yum.

So the morning had us settling down in front of the TV to enjoy Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, one of Caroline’s favourite musicals.

And if you have some beans left you can even practice your photography on them or if your feeling daring, go out into the garden and make Snow Angels.

Snow Teddy – More Snow and More Pictures

Today saw us making a major shopping trip for the more elderly relatives. The shops were hell, very busy, but the main roads were all clear and safe. Some of the back roads and villages were more challenging, but conditions are definitely improving.  I hope we will be back on the motorcycle by Tuesday or Wednesday, if things continue to improve like today.

As the snowy weather continues, and thus so do the snow themed pictures. As you can see some people are getting quite artistic with their creation!  I decided not to publish the snow family I saw, lets just say that father snowman and mother snow-woman were anatomically correct. Interesting use of a banana there!  There were built by the IT department of a company who have offices in the centre of Lincoln.  One of the female project managers was heard to exclaim, ‘you can tell the snow woman was made by IT geeks, they have no idea how a real woman looks’.  LOL.

Our favourite was the lovely snow teddy bear, which we spotted as we drove through some northern Lincolnshire villages.

Big sensor – Small Camera: the Panasonic GF-2

Well in my continued search for a small camera that gives SLR results, I was eagerly looking forward to the Panasonic GF-2, the upgraded version of the GF-1.  Well it was announced last month, and I have been reading the reviews and following the forums closely.  Like many photographers its proven to be a bit of a disapointment to me, not a GF-1 update at all but a camera aimed at people moving up from a compact.  Thats not to say its a bad camera its not, in fact its a very good camera and in some areas better then a GF-1 but its not for me.

You can read more here at Chris Bennett’s Photo Blog and at The Luminous Landscape.

Next week I hope to get my hands on a Sony Nex-5 and give that a test.  Currently of all the cameras I have managed to get my hands on the Panasonic GF-1 is currently winning the race to lay claim to a space in my motorcycle tank bag, and make my bank account lighter.