Mirrorless Cameras

by - Monday, October 17, 2011

I've been toying with upgrading my little point-and-shoot for awhile now. DSLRs seemed like the next logical step because point-and-shoots just aren't equipped to take those cool blurry background type of pictures. So what was holding me back from taking the plunge? The daunting task of learning all the manual controls and photography lingo while lugging around a heavy camera.

Enter mirrorless cameras. If a point-and-shoot and DSLR ever made a baby, this neat little gadget would be it, with a combination of traits from both parents. The selling points for me were:
- Size: The body is bigger than a point-and shoot, but still much smaller than a DSLR, which allows me to continue carrying a camera with me everywhere I go.
- Picture quality: The ability to use interchangeable lenses allows for DSLR-type pictures, but I suppose this depends on the lens quality.
- Ease of use: There are automatic settings like point-and-shoots but also manual ones like DSLRs (for when I stop being a scaredy-cat).

After I've determined that mirrorless cameras have what I'm looking for, the next step is to find the exact one that best suits my needs. There are currently five brands on the market, but I found this article to be the most comprehensive at the time of publication (excludes the new Nikon). If you only have a few minutes, this article gave a nice summary.

In the end, I decided to go with the Sony Alpha NEX-3. The picture and lens quality is supposedly among the best in its class. The user interface is better suited for people upgrading from a point-and-shoot (like myself), as opposed to downgrading from DSLRs. The tradeoff I did make was the camera size. Sony has the smallest body but with the stock lens attached (biggest of all the brands), it's hard to pass for a compact camera.

I've been having so much fun playing with my new toy the last few days. Learning the camera setup hasn't been too difficult. The automatic setting "dumbs" things down for me nicely ("bkground defocus"?!), cool features like the sweep panoramic mode, but most of all, the picture quality is crisper than my point-and-shoot (with my skills, it's hard to tell unless I put photos side-by-side, lol).

Two goals for me in the near future are:
1) Figure out how to use the self-timer properly to focus. It's all fun and games when I'm behind the camera, but frustrating when the self-timer is set. If I had known how troublesome it is to take self-portraits, I would've paid more for the NEX-5, which at least could be used with a remote.
2) Slowly learn the manual controls and push the limits of what this camera is capable of. For now, outfit pictures using the automatic setting on a self-timer with wayward focus:

scarf: Collection 18 chain via Nordstrom Rack (should still be in stores; similar; similar)
tee: H&M basic jersey (similar)
scarf ring as ring: Talbots - gift from Elle (similar)
belt: J.Crew piped glitter (similar; similar)
bag: Longchamp medium LM metal (other colors sold here)
flats: Mossimo Desta ballet (similar)

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  1. I am still learning the settings on my DLSR - its definitely trial and error but hands down it's the best decision I ever made for my blog!

    Can't wait to see future pics!

  2. Good luck with your new camera!

    Lovely outfit! Love the crispness of it!

  3. Very pretty..enjoy your new camera...hopefully you will figure yours out more quickly than its taking me to figure out mine :)

  4. im struggling with my self-pics, too. for a while, i had to put something on the ground where i'd stand and focus on it (manual), then put on the self-timer and stand where it was. nice, huh? now i have that sweet cord to help me out, lol

  5. The Lumix GF2 and the Olympus E-PL2 are also compact and have GREAT reviews. If you hadn't chosen this one, I would've suggested those : ) I've used the Olympus before and the lens I used produced great blurry backgrounds.

  6. congrats on buying an new camera! they're a great investment for blogging and enjoy learning all about it. :)

    and you are the queen of scarf accessorizing!

    cute & little

  7. Simple yet chic, I love it!

    xo Ashleigh


  8. Thanks for the camera update, I've been eagerly waiting for this post! I can't wait to see what you do with it!

  9. @easy petite looks - YES, using a prop has been what I've been doing too. A tree, lamp post, basically anything that's tall enough for me to zoom + focus. Man, I'm going to miss standing next to nothing.

    @The Little Dust Princess - You know, I was actually introduced to these type of cameras by two different people over the same weekend. And one owned the Panasonic and the other the Olympus, haha. I had a chance to play with each for a little bit and liked both. I really did consider both of those, but felt Sony fits my needs better. It also helped that I found the Sony on sale :)

    @Elle - Umm... don't get your hopes up. For someone who works in the technology field, I'm such a lazy dinosaur when it comes to learning new gadgets. *Ahem* toddler cell phone as the perfect example, lol.

  10. I'd love to hear more about your camera - I've been considering upgrading too but I dont want to spend the money (and dont have the technical know-how for a DSLR). What kind of lens have you got with your Sony?

  11. With your "techy" skills, you'll have your camera settings down in no time! I like the new backdrop! Will we get head photos soon with this new camera? : ) : )

  12. Yay! I love when people get new gadgets! Excited to see your photos as you get better acclimated with your new camera. :)

  13. Congrats on your new camera! I've had my DSLR for over a year and I still don't know what to do with it - my indoor photos need some major help so let me know if you learn any good settings!

    Love the simple, elegant outfit today! And thanks for the words of encouragement on the layering :)

  14. ooohhh wow congrats on your new camera Cee. I know you been wanting to upgrade for awhile too! I cant wait to see your photos when you learn all the lil details of your cam! Trust me, it took me a whole year to finally went to manual mode..and that's bc I had baby K

  15. Congrats on your new camera!! Can't wait to see more future photos. :)

    I use to have a Canon Rebel but sold it and got a Panasonic GF-2. It is much easier to carry and suits my needs more than the Canon did.

  16. A new camera is something to celebrate! I shoot with an Olympus EPL1, which like your camera does not allow for remote use. :\ So I've also been having fun with the self timer.
    I have had some success using "reverse focusing." Stand at your spot, focus on the tripod, then attach the camera to your tripod, hit the self-timer, and return to your spot. I still get some blurry photos, but I attribute those to operator error (me being in a rush), not camera deficiencies. I hope that as you get the hang of your new camera, you share some tips! :)

  17. @Lisa - respect the shoes - I'm actually not sure how much DSLRs cost, but these mirrorless cameras are around $400-600, depending on the brand/model/lens. I bought mine for a decent deal ($440) which included the body and the 18-55mm kit lens. There's also a 16mm lens available, but one lens is enough for a newbie like me (for now anyway). If you want more lens options, then I don't recommend Sonys. Olympus/Panasonic have the widest array of lens selection right now. I think it would be helpful if you could stop by a local Best Buy to try out these cameras. I've read reviews where some people just can't stand certain user interfaces. I haven't been exposed to much, so there isn't any "unlearning" to do haha. Do let me know if you have any more questions though!

    @PetiteAsianGirl - I'm thinking even less full body shots than before, hahaha. Facial features are coming out too sharp :) Now if only there's a camera out there to blur the face but keep the outfit sharp, then I'd be good to go!

    @Alterations Needed - Ahh man, I can already forsee a longgg road ahead with tons of trial and errors :)

    @SewPetiteGal - You're still steps way ahead of me... I'm still having trouble with natural lighting!

    @simplyvonne - Sometimes a push is all you need to try new things. I have a feeling I'm going to go at a snail's pace until something comes along to force me to learn faster :D

    @JenlovesBal - Your lifestyle sounds just like mine. I've heard lots of great things about the Panasonic too, but when I was looking, Sony had the better price. I may have to come ask you tips and questions in the future ;)

    @Carrie - THANK YOU for the reverse focusing tip! I've been googling and reading every tip out there on self-portraits and that is one I had never come across. Now I can't wait to try it out! So far I've been choosing location spots with an item nearby... a tree branch, a pole, etc and I'd focus on that first, then shift the tripod slightly and then run over to a spot parallel to the previously focused spot. I think it's working okay. Will definitely let you know how my experiments turn out!

  18. I have a Sony a55 and i love it. But, the NEX-3 doesn't allow for remote? Where did you buy it from? Many camera places allow for return or exchange within 30 days. If you are willing to put in the extra $$ for the ability to use a remote then I would just return it. From experience, the remote saves A LOT of time and frustration.

  19. Congrats on the new camera! We've had a DSLR since B was born, and I STILL don't know how to use it to its full potential. My BiL is getting all involved in photography though, so I'm totally planning on making him teach me how to use it at some point :)

    Also, I'm pretty sure you need to devote an entire post to your scarf collection at some point. Love them all!

  20. @Cher - Nope, not returnable any more (bought it off eBay). It's okay though because I was going from a no-remoate-allowed-p&s to this, so there's not much change. If I was downgrading from a DSLR that allows for remotes, I'd be pulling my hair out lol.

    @Tara - So after your BIL gives you lessons, you'll teach me? ;)


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