A New Camera - 2016 Edition
Let's face it, you've thought about a new camera much more than you want to admit to. You've also spent more time "researching" what to get more than you want to admit. And now you've spent more than you want to admit. If you're like me and mail order is your best, or only option, that moment of pulling a camera body out of a box the first time, a camera you've not seen or touched before, a camera/lens that the grumpy old men on the DPReview forums have maligned to no end, is either pure magic or utter disappointment. It was time to downsize, I'd sold my big full frame professional camera and big full-frame f2.8 lenses. I'd enjoyed mirrorless before and mirrorless it would be again.
What did I buy? This is the part that I get really hesitant about because I bought the right camera for me. I bought a Sony a6500 with the Sony 18-105mm f4 lens. Really? Seriously? You didn't wait for the new GH5? First, let me say the GH5 looks freaking amazing but there were three downsides for me. First, it's not scheduled to ship for another 45 days. Second, I decided to stick to my budget and it's $700 more than the a6500 and with a comparable lens was going to put me almost $1000 over the cost of the a6500+lens. Third, I already have a NEX-6, adapters for Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Hassleblad lenses, and a few e-mount lenses too. Plus, I do very little video and the a6500 covers all the bases for learning video (except a headphone jack).
Let me say upfront that taking the camera body out of the box washed away so many fears of it being too small or too light. The extra depth in the grip is a really nice improvement. The 18-105 lens is a bit larger than I probably would have ideally wanted but I'm loving the photos I'm getting with it. At 105mm f4, the bokeh is beautiful. And it's sharp enough to fit my photo style perfectly.
The photos below are some of the first I took with it. They are raw files that have been post processed in the new Capture One v10. [FYI: There's a Sony version of Capture One for only $50 that has all the full features of the Pro version but only works on files taken with a Sony camera.] I did find the raw files considerably more neutral than the Nikon ones and I had a hard time in Lightroom getting my normal "over processed" look. [Disclaimer: this was probably due to my own impatience and not something wrong with Lightroom.] Capture One easily brought out the contrast and detail that I like. Plus, I'm not sure if it's the smaller 24mpix files from the Sony over the 36mpix files from the Nikon but Capture One v10 seems considerably faster than what I remember from a couple years ago.
I think the photos say a lot about the camera and lens. The water valve and the cedar berries were the first photos I took. Let's just say I gasped when I saw them. The detail and bokeh stood out immediately. I've also got this weird habit that I photograph some dead leaves on my tree in the first few photos. The ice this weekend mean there were a few variants of that. I've uploaded a few more photos and the full-size jpegs to a SmugMug gallery: a6500 Day One. The photos below are resized and compressed with jpegmini.