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Thread: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

  1. #1
    Member LizaWitz's Avatar
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    NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    I've been using my NEX-5 almost exclusively with the SEL18200 lens. I purchased this setup because I wanted something small and compact, highly portable, yet a single-lens solution for all kinds of shooting situations. I also wanted a good solution for video, as this is about %50 of what I shoot.

    The summary of my experience is: This lens has exceeded my expectations, as does the NEX-5 in most respects.

    The concern with a lens like this is shooting in low light situations. However, for photography, I've found that using the "night shot" mode works well whenever shutter speed dips lower than I feel comfortable. However, I've been forced to update what "comfortable" means. Previously I tried to keep shutter speed above 1/30th of a second, but I'm finding now that accidental shots at 1/15th, 1/10th of a second and even 1/8th and 1/5th of a second are coming out fine.

    Why? The lens has super steady shot. The "super" in the name is not just a marketing term. It is pretty spectacular. When engaged, it is like the camera is on a floating platform, and all high frequency movement is eliminated (except where such movement extends past the range that can be controlled....but that range is larger than you need.)

    This also means the footage is much better than expected. AND I don't have to carry a tripod! I worried and shopped and shopped to try and find some sort of a tripod solution that would work with our "living out of a single backpack" lifestyle. Eventually just left without even a monopod, and havent' regretted it.

    Yesterday I was crossing a bridge and saw some kids in a park in the direction that I'd came from building a snowman. I just zoomed all the way in--200mm/300mm is usually way too much zoom for shooting video. But I was able to get great steady shots because of this lens.

    Super Steady Shot alone is worth the price of the lens.

    I bought the camera body separately, as there was no package that included the lens, so I also have a 16mm lens. This I've now given to my partner. The 16mm is nice in a few situations, but only where I want to hide the camera and not have people realize I'm shooting. Because it lacks super steady shot, it is less useful of a lens for me (even with the slightly wider angle.)

    Speaking of stealth shooting.... when the NEX was announced there was a chorus of Those People on DPR saying that this lens was useless and ridiculous and huge, etc. Well, it is big. When it is on the camera, you treat it as a lens with camera attached, not as a camera with lens attached. I hold the lens to shot, I hold the lens near the base where it is thinner, and then adjust the zoom or focus and control the camera with the other hand.

    However, the whole thing is small enough that it lives in my coat pocket. No need for a separate camera bag. It is obvious I have something bulky in my pocket, but nobody looks twice, even when in a more seedy area. Of course when I pull it out of the pocket, the aluminum machining screams "steal me!" .... but this is a totally great stealth setup.

    I find switching WB and shooting modes a little slow, but I haven't yet made use of the new custom buttons with the new firmware so hopefully that will fix it.

    The camera is very nice, but this lens is really fantastic. It is everything that I wanted it to be.

    This validates my purchase in the NEX system. I tend to keep cameras for awhile, but when I replace the body I won't feel too bad... but lets hope this lens doesn't get stolen because I want to keep it for a decade.

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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    Quote Originally Posted by LizaWitz View Post

    Speaking of stealth shooting.... when the NEX was announced there was a chorus of Those People on DPR saying that this lens was useless and ridiculous and huge, etc. Well, it is big. When it is on the camera, you treat it as a lens with camera attached, not as a camera with lens attached. I hold the lens to shot, I hold the lens near the base where it is thinner, and then adjust the zoom or focus and control the camera with the other hand.
    Exactly the same way that I use the camera with the 18-200 attached. So, it isn't the most normal or elegant looking beast but it has gotten the job done. I do have the 18-55 kit lens and I do like it as well and after using the 18-200 the kit lens seems tiny. I am waiting to see if Sony announces something in the near future because I really can't imagine that Sony doesn't have a larger camera (not camera back - a la the NEX5) to attach the lens to.

    I've sold off my m4/3 gear and do like the Sony gear but I do know what sort of form factor camera I want and so far Fuji is the one delivering on some aspects. My dream camera....

    Form factor of the Fuji X100
    Add articulating screen like GH2 or NEX - I like them both but in some respects NEX better.

    Sounds like you had a good trip....I try not to pack too much stuff when I travel but (I always end up with a lot of gear) your trip does sound like you really did some minimal packing. Where did you go?

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    Interesting to read that!

    I was actually not buying the 18-200 because of size, but I have the NEX5 with 16 and 18-55. I like it very much but could not decide so far for the 18-200.

    Instead I tried several other things - K5 with kit lens and DA70 (finally sent it back because AF just did not work properly) and started to reuse my EP2 with lenses, although I must say I find high ISO performance of the NEX much better.

    Currently I am thinking to maybe also buy the GH2 as this should have a great sensor and I could use all my M43 lenses.

    But I want to decide for just 1 mini-always with me system. SO I will give the 18-200 another look.

    Any idea when Sony will bring a NEX with EVF?

  4. #4
    Member LizaWitz's Avatar
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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    I mentioned that there wasn't a need for a camera bag, but I did buy one. I got the Tamrac "Digital Zoom Pack" 5683 which is large enough for the camera with the 18-200 lens on it, 4 or 5 batteries, and the flash. All fit in the bag, but the bag mainly serves the purpose of dividing up and protecting the camera while in the backpack. Haven't tried walking around with it.

    Speaking of the flash, it was on the camera once, and I haven't used it again since. There have been a couple moments when I think a flash would have been nice, but only really as a fill, and that's passed my level of skill, and not really worth the hassle for me.

    I do like that the screen can articulate. I guess an EVF would be advantageous, because sometimes, since I shoot AF all the time, the camera can't focus (lack of light I am guessing) or focuses on the wrong thing and I don't realize it. But I wouldn't want a more bulky camera with an EVF.

    I do wish the screen articulated more flexibly, like the GH2 screen does, and of course touch to focus would be a really nice feature! But I'm able to get by with the screen as is. Most of the time I hold the camera at waist level with the screen up, looking down like shooting an old medium format. Sometimes I hold the camera over my head... almost never do I hold the camera up to my eye or in front of my face.

    Anyway, I'm probably mostly not saying things that those with a NEX don't already know... just wanted to share a review as thanks for the help the board gave me when I thought I had a bum lens, and in case there's anyone out there who is worried about the size of the 18-200. I cant' say that you'll like it, but it works great for me!

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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    Quote Originally Posted by LizaWitz View Post

    Anyway, I'm probably mostly not saying things that those with a NEX don't already know... just wanted to share a review as thanks for the help the board gave me when I thought I had a bum lens, and in case there's anyone out there who is worried about the size of the 18-200. I cant' say that you'll like it, but it works great for me!

    There aren't that many people using the 18-200 so it is always nice to hear how others are using it.

  6. #6
    Beto
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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    Just came back from Senegal where I visited my daughter who is in the Peace Corps. I took the Sony NEX-5 with the 18-200 mm lens as my primary camera and a Panasonic LX-3 as my back-up camera. Ended up using the NEX 98% of the time. Took hundreds of pictures. Capsule review:

    LIKES:
    Small size, even with big zoom lens (compared to my other APS-C camera, the Nikon D300)
    High picture quality thanks to its large sensor
    Articulating screen allows overhead shots and waistlevel shots for stealth shooting
    Very effective in-camera HDR for still subjects (but produces ghost images in moving subjects)
    Effective in-camera low-light multi-shot composites for still subjects
    A solid 2-stop image-stabilized lens
    The amazing 11X range of the zoom lens!

    DISLIKES
    Very slow auto focus, specially at maximum telephoto even in bright sunlight
    Poor implementation of manual focus
    Not very effective sensor cleaning (a large dust spot appeared on my sensor even though I never removed the lens, having left the 16 mm at home; yes Senegal is a dusty place and I will have to do a lot of Photoshop!)
    Poor user interface even with new firmware and customizable buttons (the LX-3 is SO much better!)
    Low battery capacity I would usually exhaust 3 batteries in a single day

    Bottom line: I love this camera for travel in spite of its weaknesses. For me, image quality trumps everything else, and I am very happy with the quality of photos produced by the NEX-5 and its big zoom.

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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    Thanks Liza and Beto for the reviews. The 18-200 length sounds interesting. Have you folks also used the 18-55? If so, how would you compare the build quality of the 18-200, and is there mild distortion at the wide and tele ends as with the smaller kit zoom?
    My Photography Blog here

  8. #8
    Beto
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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    Quote Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
    Thanks Liza and Beto for the reviews. The 18-200 length sounds interesting. Have you folks also used the 18-55? If so, how would you compare the build quality of the 18-200, and is there mild distortion at the wide and tele ends as with the smaller kit zoom?
    I have not used the 18-55. The only other lens I have is the 16mm f2.8 which is good but not spectacular in terms of sharpness. I wish Sony had come out with a 16mm f2 that was tack sharp!

    By itself, the build quality of 18-200 seems sturdy and solid. It locks unto the body firmly, zoom action is smooth, and finish is silky. There is slight barrel distortion at the wide end but no pincushion distortion at the telephoto end that I could detect. (But then I conduct no tests; I just shoot pictures!) To be fair, you would be hard put to find a 11X zoom with no optical compromises. It is acceptable to me, and many of those distortions can be corrected in postprocessing.

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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    Thanks Beto, great info. The 18-55 when extended (towards 55mm fl) has a rubber tube that extends from the metal barrel. Does the 18-200 do this as well?

    I have the 16, and agree, it's just OK, but the AF is snappy for casual snaps.

    Thanks for the info.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beto View Post
    I have not used the 18-55. The only other lens I have is the 16mm f2.8 which is good but not spectacular in terms of sharpness. I wish Sony had come out with a 16mm f2 that was tack sharp!

    By itself, the build quality of 18-200 seems sturdy and solid. It locks unto the body firmly, zoom action is smooth, and finish is silky. There is slight barrel distortion at the wide end but no pincushion distortion at the telephoto end that I could detect. (But then I conduct no tests; I just shoot pictures!) To be fair, you would be hard put to find a 11X zoom with no optical compromises. It is acceptable to me, and many of those distortions can be corrected in postprocessing.
    My Photography Blog here

  10. #10
    Beto
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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    Quote Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
    The 18-55 when extended (towards 55mm fl) has a rubber tube that extends from the metal barrel. Does the 18-200 do this as well?
    Yes. The 18-200 telescopes out from the metal barrel in two sections. I think they are plastic, not rubber.

  11. #11
    Member LizaWitz's Avatar
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    Re: NEX-5 with 18-200 2 months review

    We have all three lenses, and my companion shoots with the 18-55 all the time. I'd say the build quality of both lenses is good, but it is clear the 18-200 is a more expensive lens. Build quality seems proportional to the price.

    I found Beto's dislikes interesting. I don't find the autofocus to be slow. Sometimes in challenging light situations the camera will focus on the wrong thing. Sometimes the camera is unable to find something to focus on, which I haven't quite figured out, though I associate this with shooting in the dark and figure there simply isn't enough light for the AF to figure out what's going on.

    I do wish the manual focus modes worked better. I'd really like to quickly manual focus, though turning the ring seems like a long journey to try and get somewhere close to the place I want the focus to be.

    I've found the batteries last a lot longer than I expected. We were also shooting in freezing temperatures. I'm not sure what senegal is this time of the year but it may be hot there... it may also be that Beto was really shooting like a photographer and I've just been shooting like an tourist.

    We have had a bit of frustration with third party batteries, primarily them not being precisely the right size and not charging in the charger (or not being recognized by my partners camera, though mine seems to use them fine.)

    Also, walking around with the 18-200 around your neck, and the lens unlocked will cause it to slowly extend itself. The process of bringing the camera into shooting mode and shutting it down has become quite a habit- unlock the lens, turn the camera on, adjust the display, zoom to the location I want, take the shot, zoom back wide, lock the lens, turn the camera off, put display back, put back in pocket. Not really any hassle but slowish, but then I often will go many minutes between shots.

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