About 5 years ago someone very kindly gave me a swanky DSLR as a present for best man duties at his wedding. It takes lovely pictures and has a wealth of options but I don’t often take it out and about unless I’m going out and about specifically to take pictures. It’s just too darn big and cumbersome to tell the truth.
In the intervening 5 years the gap in image quality and functionality for the average photographer (like me) between DSLRs and compact cameras has shrunk quite dramatically. While you’re always going to need a camera with a sizeable lens (or to be more correct, a large aperture) to let the light in to get a decent shot, the actual camera bodies on some of the compact cameras, like Sony’s NEX-5R compact system cameras for example, have got so small, they’re no bigger than your average point and click camera.
Compact camera systems basically differ from point and click cameras in that they have interchangeable lenses like DSLRs, but they lack the SLR part (it stands for single lens reflex, a system that uses a mirror and prism, to give you a view of exactly what you’re photographing. When you press the button to take the picture, the mirror lifts up and the picture is taken. That’s why DSLRs are so bulky- there’s quite a lot of mechanical stuff going on in there), which means compact cameras are a lot smaller. In theory they also have less to go wrong with them as there are less moving parts. So cameras like the Sony – NEX-5R offer the best of both worlds: they’ve got the picture quality of a DSLR, along with the compact size of a compact camera.
If you’ve already got one of the well-received Sony DSLR cameras, you can even get an optional adaptor to use your SLR lenses, which is nice, although you’re already spoilt for choice as there are ten lenses available in the range.
Personally, the thing that really appeals to me is the ability to shoot video in full HD (1080p) at 50 frames per second. A lot of people use DSLRs for this, like the Canon 5D Mark II for this, but at well over £1,000 for the body, something like the Sony – NEX-5R is a lot more palatable at under half the price. And with the entry deadline for the St Albans film festival short film category ticking down, I am sorely tempted :) I’ve got a large DSLR at the moment and a small but great camcorder but when I start having to take a tripod with me, the amount of gear I have to hump around gets more and more. It would be great to distil that down to one device that doesn’t compromise in either still photography or video and to my mind the NEX-5R pretty much fills that niche. Argh, I want one.
If you’d like to find out more, you can check out the Sony NEX-5R compact camera on its own website