Compact DSLR – Sony NEX-5

One of the realities of motorcycling is that we are limited in what we can take with us. Whether it be on a touring holiday for a couple of weeks or a track day, space is always at a premium.  Some bikes of course are better than others, with the big tourers, complete with top boxes and panniers, offering seemingly unlimited space in comparison to a sports bike.  Either way, no motorcycle I know comes close to the capacity of even a small car.

With luggage space and carrying capacity a scarce resource, no matter what motorcycle you have, size matters.  So when packing light your tech needs to be carefully selected.

There are many styles of cameras to choose from if you want to keep a pictorial record of your ride; from a Smartphone (eg iPhone), compact digitals (ie point and click), superzoom bridge cameras (eg Canon Powershot SX30 IS), through to a fully programmable (and rather large) Digital SLR (eg Canon 600D with a 18Mp sensor) with all the bells and whistles.  Even a GoPro Hero can take still photos of 5Mp, with the resolution of the Hero 2 now 11Mp.  I feel the GoPro is more suited to video footage but it is always an option if you don’t have the space or want to carry a digital camera.

I recently ventured into the DSLR world and am now completely sold on the functionality they offer.

My weapon of choice is the Sony Nex-5D which has a DSLR sized sensor (14.2Mp) in a slim body.  Also worth looking at are the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 or Samsung Nx11.

But back to the Sony Nex-5.  It is light and easy to hold in one hand.  Lenses are interchangable (E mount) with adaptors available from Sony to take A mount lenses also.  My Nex-5 came bundled with a 16mm F2.8 lens, 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 lens and an external flash – there is no built in flash unfortunately.

Towards the end of my first trip with the NEX-5, I splashed out on a 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens.  I now use this lens almost exclusively although I still carry the other lenses.  It’s a big investment though.  Other than photos of the camera itself, all the photos on this website have been taken with the NEX-5 and probably 95% of them with the telephoto zoom lens.

E mount wide angle (24mm F1.8 ZA), macro (30mm F3.5) and portrait lenses (50mm F1.8) are also available but if I could only carry one lens to carry when on the bike it would be the telephoto zoom lens even though it is the biggest and mostly mandates two handed camera operation.

The Sony NEX-5 is fully programmable with settings accessable via the on-screen menu.  Users familiar with DSLR’s may find the lack of buttons makes programming a little slower and there is no viewfinder, so photos must be framed using the adjustable LCD screen (it can be angled up or down – very useful when the camera is being held other than at head height) on the rear of the camera body.

The body of the camera is about the same height and width as my HTC Desire, but about three times the thickness excluding the lens and comfortable hand grip.  Using the pancake lense it is probably something that would fit in the pocket of a touring style motorcycle jacket (but not racing leathers).  I tend to travel with all my lenses and accessories so have a camera bag that fits neathly inside my topbox with still enough room for my helmet alongside.  A tankbag would also do the job, permiting the use of a larger lens and ensuring it was readily accessible for any photo opportunity encountered during a ride.

So if you are thinking of upgrading from your phone or point and click camera then take a closer look at the Sony NEX-5.  Check out the Sony website in your region (www.sony.com, www.sony.co.uk etc) for more details and full technical specifications.

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