Saturday, November 29, 2014

Upgrading my camera

It had been in the plans for a while now, for me to get a new camera and give my Nikon AW110 Point and Shoot to Martha for her use.

I thought I had narrowed it down to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS35 with a 20X Optical Zoom and the standard features I'd found good to have for pictures destined for this blog.  So Martha went and picked one up for me at Costco but when she got it home we found issues.

Someone had pilfered the charger unit and cable, the picture count on the camera was in the 500s and the pictures I took as test pictures came out slightly blurry!  Very disappointing but at least Costco took it back with no arguments.

My thoughts then turned to researching perhaps a more "capable" camera and settled on a Sony A5000 camera.  It had great reviews, had all the features I wanted and some nice to have stuff as well.  Here's the online reviews that basically sold me on this particular system camera:  LINK1 and LINK2.

Sony A5000

Note: the second link actually recommended the A5000's predecessor, the Sony NEX-5T but it proved impossible to find locally and the differences involved features that were not important to me; differences such as more pictures per second in continuous mode: 10 to 4, a digital viewfinder, touchscreen controls.

Finally BestBuy had the A5000 bundled with a 16GB SD Memory Card, a travel case and a 55-210mm Telephoto lens!  The price for all of this was the same as just the camera and a 16-50mm lens for the NEX-5T!

I dithered all of Black Friday, being the tightwad that I am, debating whether to splurge on the camera bundle or just buy the camera....a difference of $150 you see.  Finally, Martha just said to go whole hog and go get it.  Probably got tired of my mumbling and such all day.

Here's the first few pictures I took once I got the camera home Black Friday evening:

 My oldest son Patrick and I, I took the photo using my iPhone with 
the remote shutter control app installed.  You connect to the camera via it's WiFi 
access point and can now be part of the picture.

 My loving wife, Martha...aka SWMBO

The camera's LCD monitor flips up 180 degrees to facilitate
the shooting of "selfies".  That's my son Miles making a face and 
my father-in-law Richard G joining in on the fun.

This feature will allow me to shot low angle shots of my motorcycles
without having to lay down on the ground! :)

Today, Saturday, I rode out early to meet up with two other Uralisti for a short ride in the foothills to the west of Metro Denver to give the new camera a workout.

We wandered towards Idaho Springs using back roads, enjoying the clear skies and blazing sunlight.  The lighting was so bright it caused most things to look "flat" but I must say, the camera did well in the intelligent auto mode I set it at and proved easy to use.

 We only found limited amounts of snow in the foothills, where there was snow
it was compacted and icy, making for interesting riding conditions.

 We ended up near the town of Central City, parking our rigs at
a small overlooking hill and chatting for a while.

Everyone had stuff to do in the afternoon so we split up shortly after we finished talking about farkling our rigs and catching up on each other's activities.  Tim L and Dan K, my fellow Uralisti, rode off through Central City and I lingered a bit for pictures.

 A train display in Central City

I rode on through Central City, Black Hawk, both of them Casino Towns and took CO 119 towards the town of Golden.  Once there, I took a brief detour up 19th Street and rode part of the way up Lookout Mountain.

 The view from the first overlook point on Lookout Mountain Road

 As a compare and contrast, the above picture of the Denver skyline was taken at max zoom
using the Sony 55-210 mm lens.  Then, cropped and tweaked using my normal tools.

The above shot was with my old Panasonic Lumix ZS8 camera, at 16X zoom,
cropped and tweaked with similar settings as the first skyline shot.

I must say, the two skyline shots highlight how the larger APS-C sensor in the Sony A5000 camera does better in capturing detail over the smaller and older sensor in the Panasonic.

Another note, I barely had to do any post-shoot tweaking of the jpg photos created by the A5000, whereas previous experience with my Panasonic and Nikon point and shoot cameras usually involved more tweaking!  

I shot in the RAW + JPG file format but didn't use the RAW files at all, the JPG files created by the Sony were just fine.

So, initial impressions of the Sony A5000 are very favorable!  Not to say the Nikon AW110 is not a good camera, I like it a lot and it's much tougher and durable than the Sony!   We'll see how the Sony does in colder and more inclement weather in the coming Winter season.

The A5000 also has "apps" you can download from Sony, a couple of which might intrigue me enough later on to get me to pay and download them.  More on that later but you can see the apps here:  LINK.


RichardM said...

The A5000 looks like a decent camera. Every time I try one of the new mirror-less cameras or a point and shoot, I find myself missing the viewfinder. I just can't get used to framing the shot with the lcd on the back of the camera. I guess I'm too set in my ways.

redlegsrides said...

I've been using the lcd to frame shots for so long now....its second nature to me. Either ways, I have to flip my glasses out of the way to do the for me.

Bluekat said...

That's the most photos of you I've ever seen in one post!
Congrats on the camera. I think you're going to like the bigger sensor. Looking forward to all the beautiful pics soon to be posted. :)

Richard, you can get some mirrorless cameras with an electronic viewfinder. Not quite the same as TTL, but not too bad either. I've been doing a little camera shopping myself.

SonjaM said...

Now you're all set for more calendar pics and... we get to see more selfies.

I hope the camera will work in colder temps, my Sony gets a little kinky when it's cold and humid.

Canajun said...

I'm always interested in camera gear but if I were to bring another one into the house the spousal unit would NOT be pleased. :( Nevertheless a good review of what looks like a decent camera and some nice photos to back it up.

One small nit to pick - in your 4th para I think you meant Sony A5000 and not Panasonic A5000.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, the Sony A6000 has a viewfinder I believe, quite a bit pricier though.

Bluekat, I find this interest in more selfies interesting....I've a face only a mother could love you see...

SonjaM, I hope this camera does OK in the old Panasonic was also spec'ed with a minimum temperature of 32F so I am hopeful...I think it's the battery performance that suffers in cold weather so I think I'll carry a spare.

Canajun, thanks for the editing tip, I've corrected it. As to additional cameras, if the Nikon AW110 becomes available next year for a lesser cost, might pick one up as the "extreme weather" camera.

Trobairitz said...

Congrats on the new camera. It is always surprising what technology can do nowadays. I had no idea you could use your phone as a remote.

Looks like the picture quality is really nice too. Bobskoot would be proud.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Trobairitz, we'll see how it does in the long run. The ability to shoot in RAW format is a plus, and yes, I think Bobskoot would have approved.

RichardM said...

Are the scenery pics right out of the camera or was there some post-processing done.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, I could have posted what came out of the camera, in jpg format, pretty much without any processing.

I resized and added a tad of "clarity" but really, could have skipped the clarity bit.

VStar Lady said...

Congrats on the new camera ... it's hard to switch(I've got a Panasonic, used to have a Nikon) but great to hear a real review from somebody who actually is using it.