Using a-mount lenses on a Sony NEX-5n with an LA-EA2 adapter - Some thoughts on the Panasonic GX1

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 30mm f/2.8 macro a-mount lens
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 30mm f/2.8 macro a-mount lens 1/60th. sec. f.2.8 ISO 500

Yesterday I took out the 30mm f/2.8 macro and 85mm f/2.8 SAM lenses with my NEX-5n using them with the LA-EA2 adapter. A few tests are all very well, but trying something out for real shows up any problems, if there are any.

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 1/60th. sec, f/8 ISO 500

The adapter worked very well. I got the impression that AF was very marginally slower than with native NEX lenses, or using the lenses on my a77, but I really had no complaints, and I could have been imagining it anyway. There does also seem to be a slight double click when I press the shutter thats very similar to m4/3 cameras, but overall the whole operation is very smooth and its certainly way better than the grindingly slow AF of the LA-EA1 or something like the 4/3 > m4/3 adapters. It is of course a good deal more sophisticated with the included mirror and focusing motor. The only other review I've read of this adapter is at Luminous Landscape - http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/lenses/ae2_16_50.shtml and certainly that seems to come to the same conclusions, i.e. that if you have a-mount lenses and a NEX camera, its a very useful piece of kit.

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 30mm f/2.8 macro a-mount lens 1/60th. f/2.8 ISO 200

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 1/60th. f/2.8 ISO 500

One thing I should mention, is that even though there is neither body or lens stabilisation in these combinations, I was still able to use relatively low shutter speeds. 1/60th. sec, with an 85mm lens on an APS-C sensor is not something I would normally use, but I got sharp, shake free images. There is no moving mirror, as in a DSLR, and the curtain mechanism on the NEX-5n is designed to only move once, thus reducing vibration. 

Also this was a pretty dark wood, and the weather was dull. I was using the lenses wide open at f/2.8 but still had to increase the ISO higher than I would normally. I was using auto ISO and I saw readings coming in at 500, 640 and even a few in the darker areas at 1600 and even 3200. The images are pretty "clean" however showing the excellent high ISO / low noise characteristics of the sensor. I did have the exposure set to +0.7 throughout and this helped to keep the shadow areas relatively noise free. 

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 1/60th. sec. f/2.8 ISO 1600

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 1/60th. sec. f/2.8 ISO 500

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 1/160th. sec. f/2.8 ISO 1000

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens  
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 85mm f/2.8 a-mount lens 1/160th. f/2.8 ISO 640

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 30mm f/2.8 macro a-mount lens 
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 30mm f/2.8 macro a-mount lens 1/60th. f/8 ISO 500

Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 30mm f/2.8 macro a-mount lens 
Sony NEX-5n LA-EA2 adapter 30mm f/2.8 macro a-mount lens 1/60th. f/8 ISO 250

In terms of the lenses themselves, they performed very well. These are two of the relatively cheap and lightweight primes that are part of the Sony a-mount range. As I've written before, there are obviously some savings on the build quality but optically they are excellent lenses. Indeed both performed very well wide open, which is always a good sign. I'm pleased with them.

I wrote briefly about the LA-EA2 adapter and the potential it gives for creating a modular system between my a77 and NEX camera. It should also eliminate lens duplication. Since I have managed to get myself two different 30mm macro lenses, this is something for the future and not the present! It does turn NEX cameras into genuine backup cameras for photographers who use Sony DSLR's (and DSLT's). Despite the sweeping and innacurate statement from my "favourite internet pundit" that "Pros don't use Sony" they do, so this adapter is very useful. It also allows the use of lenses that are missing from the current NEX lineup. There is currently nothing wider than 16mm. and this does really need to be dealt with if anyone from Sony happens to be reading this! In the meantime the only alternative is a  "legacy" lens, the somewhat underwhelming Sony 11-16mm or the Sigma and Tamron 3rd. party alternatives. I'm currently thinking about either the 8-16mm or 10-20mm f/3.5 lenses from Sigma. 

As I said yesterday the adapter isn't cheap and its probably not worth it unless you have a mount lenses or are desperate to get a super wide angle with AF on a NEX camera. Finally it works with the 5n, but there is going to have to be a firmware update for it to work with other NEX models. As far as I'm aware that update isn't available yet.


I got a bit "over excited" when I saw the video of the upcoming Panasonic GX1 camera. It is a very aesthetic camera, and just what us "retro fanboys" like to see. Hopefully Panasonic will keep the build quality of the original GF1 and not shave too many millimetres off it, in an attempt to make it smaller. It does I think show however, that contrary to what I've been suggesting, Panasonic are picking up this interest in cameras that have this "old school aesthetic" And certainly I'm very glad to be proved wrong on that, as it looks a very nice little camera. Also the "buzz" about it is very positive. 

Some interesting comments included quite a few people that expressed the idea, that while it doesn't particularly offer anything new apart from a few performance tweaks and an add-on viewfinder that might actually work, because it looks so nice, they would probably buy it. This is Panasonics X100 or NEX-7, and, as far as I'm concerned, its easily Panasonics most stylish camera.

I did of cause look at the sexy video and want it. But this morning a bit of common sense kicked in. Is it going to perform any better than the G3 I already have and hardly use? Well the answer to that is, apart from some marginal improvements, no its not. Thinking back to my experiences in the afternoon with the NEX-5, I got to thinking, when was the last time I happily used a m4/3 camera at ISO 500, 640, 1000 etc. and knew that the results would be perfectly acceptable for the picture libraries who sell my work? When did I last expose m4/3 shots at +0.7, safe in the knowledge that I wouldn't get highlight burn out? The answer to both questions is never.

None of this means of course that I won't buy a GX1, I'm not THAT sensible! As I write this I can feel the conflict. Part of me is saying I want it, its gorgeous, and another part is saying, so that will be one more pretty camera sitting on the shelf unused then! And that indeed is the essence of my current problem with m4/3. From what I've been writing recently, it will have become obvious that a camera like the NEX-5n works much better for me. Now there's a viewfinder I can take advantage of the better high ISO performance, better dynamic range and all the little handling things I like so much, plus the excellent focus peaking etc. But there is no getting round the fact that to me, the NEX is ugly. I like the metallic industrial look of the lenses, but the cameras I find very unattractive. Maybe thats why I like the 18-200mm on the camera as the lens's sleek look and size dwarfs and "hides" the camera!

So sexy looks and reasonable performance or sensible, yet plain functionality and great results. I wonder which will win?