My September-end affair with the Sony NEX 5T

Sony’s latest toy, the Sony NEX 5T was launched to the Malaysian market just 2 weeks back. I picked up one from Sony on 23rd September.

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And thus my one week Sony NEX 5T affair begin.

Monday, 23rd September 2013.
The camera had a bit of battery power, and since I didn’t have time to head home to charge, I took it along to my KL Restaurant Week review that night.
If you don’t already know, my life is about blogging. I run a blog advertising agency and I’m a full time blogger that covers lifestyle events, food reviews and travel adventures.
My needs for a camera are simple – idiotproof, small, light and it must look good. No a chunky, black, heavy block please.

This is me; minimum 3 inches heels, tight dress, toting a bag with a camera and a laptop; everywhere, all the time.
Image info: Total darkness in room, light source from outside.
Shutter Priority because of how dark it was. Also used a tripod so image turned out sharp.

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**Image above taken with the Sony 5T & original will be submitted for the competition.

My job is to eat and let people know if it’s “good or not“. I take my job seriously. :DD

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* Collage above are random shots over 2013. Not taken with Sony NEX 5T.

The Sony NEX range has fitted the bill perfectly so far. My Monday evening begin with a cake at Nutmeg Cafe Bangsar.
Based on my previous experience using NEX cameras, I set it to:
Aperture mode.
Adjust white balance to AWB = Auto. Increase EV – Exposure comp.
No Flash. I never use flash for my pictures.
Did not change ISO. It was on Auto I believe.

OutcomeIt looked ok on camera screen, but I find it too “yellow/warm” once I transferred the images to laptop.
Solution for next time: To use either Incandescent (all can be selected from Auto White Balance options available on the NEX) & increase EV – Exposure Compensation. For close ups you can see that it captured details very well.

papaya cake - nutmeg KL Bangsar (6)

papaya cake - nutmeg KL Bangsar (8)

Dinner was a food review at an Italian restaurant. Dim, warm lights to create a sense of cosiness are a photographer’s nightmare. Or at least it was for a food photographer.
Image info: This was exactly how it was like inside the venue. No edit.

Restaurant on Jalan Bangkung Bangsar - Midi 57 - Italian, Pasta, Pizza, Pork Platter

I set the Sony NEX 5T to:
Aperture mode.
Adjust white balance to Incandescent or Auto. Increase EV – Exposure comp.
Didn’t touch the ISO. No flash.
** That’s basically what I do ALL THE TIME. Anything else lacking is corrected by my ever reliable Picasa software.

The below were the pictures when viewed on the laptop. Uh huh. We are in trouble. And no edits allowed? Oh hot damn. BIG TROUBLE.
This is what happens when you are used to a camera that take good shots even if the user has ZERO photography knowledge.
Take some good shots. Do a bit of editing. Voila. Perfect pictures for a blog.

Outcome: What I didn’t like about the pictures: Too yellow/warm. Too dark still. Same issue with the Papaya cake earlier. But I loved the defocus (bokeh) effect!
Solution for next round: Boost EV more even if pictures looks bright enough on camera screen.

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DAY 2: Tuesday, 24th September 2013. 

After viewing my pictures yesterday, I realized that I’m starting to understand the Sony NEX 5T slightly. And without the option of editing I should start looking into using the other features on the camera rather than just Aperture, EV, white balance.

Problem: How to get perfect shots without the need to edit? How to learn as much as possible within a week?
Solution: Find a willing friend who can teach you, preferably a Sony user since he/she would have been familiar with the features and limitations.

So I got Albert to come along with me to QBA Latin Bar & Grill at The Westin. The lighting here is bad and I know it. It will be a challenge and both of us are ready.

Problem: Not an owner of any NFC phone.
Solution: Beg, steal or borrow one. :DD
In my case, my dinner that evening was with 2 other Samsung phones users. Andy, whom I had just met that evening was sweet & didn’t mind at all, while Alex, an old friend whom I haven’t seen in a while, was game to let us try out the NFC feature on her phone.
I had thought of asking Sony for a Sony Xperia but in the end I didn’t as I had wanted to keep the contest fair. Everyone was given the same camera with the same lens, so I’ll be using the exact same gear given.

Image Info:
Taken using the Sony NEX 5T via remote Sony Play Memories app on a Samsung phone. We had the screen tilted 180 degrees so you can see that myself and Andy was looking at the screen while Albert and Alex was looking at the lens!
I always forget that I should look at the lens instead of the screen whenever I do a selfie. 🙂

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For food shots, we set the camera to:
Superior Auto.
Then I press down on the dial you see on the bottom right that has that +/- sign. Then you will see the screen below.
From left to right – Bkground Defocus (Defocus to Crisp), Brightness (Dark to Bright), Color (Cool to Warm), Vividness (softer to Vivid) and Picture Effect ( Toy camera, Partial Green/Blue/Yellow, Retro, Pop Color etc).
Basically this allows you to control the outcome of your images with the relevant features all in one screen.
And these were essentially the controls I used for the shots taken here at QBA. I ignored the Picture Effect (not suitable for food shots!) and I controlled mostly the Brightness and Color.
Any defocus effect was done by the camera and I didn’t have to worry about that much.

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Here are some shots I got that evening. No edit and these images will be submitted for the competition.

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I particularly love this shot.

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Composition was bad here. I was too focused on the red meat and didn’t think of the rule of thirds.

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Underexposed this one just for testing. Seems that I really have to ensure that it is “slightly too bright” on camera, then it will turn out just fine on computer.

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For pouring shots like this, I would encourage you to use the Continous Shooting feature on the camera. I liked how the defocus effect here was just in the background and the image showed clearly the soup from the sprout and the contents within the bowl.
It would have been better if minus the shadow but that was the best I could manage under the circumstances.

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MIGF - Qba westin kuala lumpur - steaks, lamb, grill-013

Outcome:
I love the shots. I think these were superb considering that I didn’t have to edit them using Picasa. My regret? Composition!
The pink boards I put at the back was to hide the powerplugs and I had thought it wouldn’t matter. I focused so much on getting the perfect shot of the FOOD.
In the end it did as the eye was drawn to the pink background, the snaking white wire (Andy was using one the points to charge his phone!) and the contrast of the pink to the beige wall. URGHHH!
Usual reaction when I see my shots:
Ah well, this and that not nice.  Aiya, scared what, PHOTOSHOP!
Reaction now:
OH NOOOOOOOOOO! Cannot use photoshop/picasa/paint!
SHOULD HAVE …
1. Made sure background was ok. 2. Ensure proper composition – some of the dishes came in trios – fish, appetizers, meat and I didn’t follow the “photography rule of thirds”.
3. Ensured proper focus on subject since I CAN’T crop my pictures (no edit allowed for the competition).

Obviously I can’t ask QBA to host me for another dinner. So the next food review I paid more attention to composition and I have improved. Or so I think I did. :DD

Here we go.
Camera settings:
Aperture Priority.
White Balance – Auto. Lighting was taken care of here by the camera though it was low light. The APS-C kicked in automatically for defocus when I zoomed. All I had to do was pay more attention to composition.

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I’m very fond of top down shots like this for food lately. Everyone seems to be doing this on Instagram! 🙂

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Nice yes? I’m so proud of myself! It’s an achievement when you see nice shots and you know it wasn’t edited! 🙂

Next, lifestyle events coverage.
It’s part of who I am. Invited for events and blogging about it.
I’m a Celebrity Fitness Ambassador and part of the agreement was to attend/blog about Celebrity Fitness related news monthly. This month was the Pink Bosu Party at Sunway Pyramid. 
The venue is right in front of the Sunway Lagoon entrance. Obviously lighting wasn’t an issue here. The energetic dance routine was!

Situation: Fast Moving Subjects
Solution: Select Sports Action under “Scene Selection” mode. While taking the shots, I held on to the shutter button and multiple images were taken at one go. Lighting, etc were taken care of the camera.

So what do you think? Not bad right? No blurry images though they were hopping around like bunnies!
Thanks to the Sony Fast Hybrid AF – phase detection AF for its quick & precious autofocus feature.

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I captured about 50 images but selected the ones that showed them mid-air for this post.

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Arms, bodies, legs are moving but no blurry parts in these images. Awesome.

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They held the pose for about 3 seconds. Thankfully the quick auto focus captured this shot.

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On Sunday evenings, owners of furkids bring them out for Sunday fun.
I only had the 5T for one week, one Sunday. Thankfully it didn’t rain.
I went at 5 pm armed with the Sony 5T to test out the Fast Hybrid AF again. As you know, dogs are harder to shoot then humans. Even dancing humans. They won’t stay still!

Situation: Many hyperactive furkids and too many people.  Not just owners but people like myself who are there to take pictures of dogs. And these people are not going to move away so you can get your shots.
All dogs are on leash so the leash will be in the picture, that can’t be avoided.
All in all, you can kiss “Composition” goodbye.
Solution: Started with Sports Action mode, realized that it was too dark under the tents, but at open areas are fine. At some stage I changed to Aperture.

Here are my shots. Obviously luck and camera work hand in hand here. The dogs don’t/can’t pose. Some owners tried to help but no, the dogs aint’ listening.

A silky terrier. She reminded me of my own doggie, many many years ago.

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I wanted to capture the intensity of the eyes here. Do you think I managed it?

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This is sad. Dogs’ fur are not meant to be dyed!
But well, as long as they are not harmed..he looks well taken care of.

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And is a happy, energetic dog!

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Same owner with 2 more dogs. Also multi-coloured.

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Owner teaching his dog some tricks.

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This black Pekingese is too cute!

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Super active and jumped at me! Literally licked my lens. Thank god for fast shutter speed to capture this before I tumbled over on my butt!

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Love German Shepherds. Regal, protective, obedient.

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Wonderful Sundays with the sun in my face, says this angelic white poodle.

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Giving him the ‘eye’.
This was under the tents. A bit dark but under Sports Action so can’t change EV. Still, captured it before they both jumped at each other!

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Love the defocus on this one.

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We are familyyy…my brother, sisters and me! 😀

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I’m meditating.

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Whatcha looking at??

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Not too near darling.

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I’m fluffy and I know it! 😀

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In situations such as these, one would crop the images before final use or use another lens. For this competition, no form of edit is allowed and we were only provided with the 16-50 lens. I’ll have to make do then!
The dogs were challenging, but fun. I think I’ll be back next week to see them again! 🙂

Moving on, I tried architecture shots next.
As a popular travel blogger, I’m invited for media trips or hotel reviews both overseas and locally at least twice a month. For reviews like these, I normally video and take pictures of the hotel/resorts.

This is ALOFT Hotel at KL Sentral.
My unit is a duplex and the NEX 5T handled the differences in lighting quite well (bathroom, living room, bedroom, closet had different degrees of brightness). I was talking and walking and zoomed in and out at some parts. The video turned out VERY STABLE. Impressive!
Auto-focus was quick and sharp. All of this was done in one take. And I only took ONE video and this is it. No re-takes.
The capture of voice (audio) was marvelous as well. Very clear and strong. All in all, I didn’t enhance anything other than adding in titles in front and credits at the end.
Video info: 
Aperture.
Auto for everything else.
EV – boost up slightly.

I believe architectural shots are more composition than anything else. “Lines” of the area or building are important for that shot that catches the eye and “drew” the eye to the image.
It’s good that Aloft is a vibrant, colourful and edgy hotel as I’m not too good with ‘lines’/angles but the colours of the venue makes up for it. The NEX range of cameras captures details and colour wonderfully.
Ok attempt for an amateur I hope? 😀

Image info: 
Aperture mode.
Auto White Balance. Auto ISO. No changes or use of additional features such as Vivid mode, etc.

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At the restaurant I find the “space pods” fascinating.

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This one below is using Aperture, HDR Auto for some ‘effect’, deeper, vibrant colours without the need to edit using a photo software. You see the difference between the one just before this and this one right?

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One last shot on the architectural theme – trying to get the “long” effect from this table to the end of the room. You get what I meant right?

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Lastly – PORTRAITS.

For portraits I decided to make sure of my duplex. And also because we can control the lighting by switching on and off lights or keep it in darkness. These shots took hours, a tripod and many different modes and features were used til we got what we wanted.
So let me recap. See the window half closed with blinds and the stairs? Those were the areas where I was sitting.

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Image info: Total darkness in room, light source from outside.
Shutter Priority because of how dark it was. Tip: Always use a tripod. It’s just too dark and the last thing you need is unsteady hands. We used TIMER as well.

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First attempt at the stairs. Back light from the bathroom (because there is a mirror at the back of me and the light from the bathroom comes through) and a torch light from my friend’s phone in front.
Room in complete darkness other than that.

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I like the play of shadows and light but the image turned out slightly blurry at places. We tried Auto HDR next.
All on Shutter Priority and on a tripod plus 10 secs timer. This was pushing the low light capability of the NEX 5T to the max, not to mention that all I had was a 16-50 lens.

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Lastly, a black and white.

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I’m interested to do more portraits over the next few months. I was told to get a prime lens for it. Perhaps I will once I own a Sony body. 😀

I’m going to round this post off with ‘How to use the NFC/Wireless & PlayMemories Camera App‘ on the Sony NEX 5T. This was during the QBA at Westin Hotel KL review.

Steps:
1. Menu, Playback, Send to Smartphone
2.  Then ‘Select on this Device’, ‘This Image’
3. WIFI standby – then ‘Awaiting connection to a smartphone’
4. Now, get your NFC capable phone ready. Connect to the WIFI (Sony NEX 5T is a hotspot now)
5.  Download PlayMemories App
6. Transfer image.

Pictures of how it was done:

I want to send this pic via NFC:

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Steps: 

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The NFC chip:

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Camera ready. Now the phone.

Make sure your phone has NFC.

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Touch or keep both gadget close. If your phone don’t have the PlayMemories Camera App, it will trigger the phone to download it.

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Once downloaded it can connect to the camera’s WIFI. This means the Sony NEX 5T is the hotspot.

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Connect and once connected it will send the image.

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There you go!

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Done. You can copy ONE OR A FEW images. Just select. It will be very long winded if I cover that as well so I’m keeping it to ONE example for this post.

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NEXT: Using your phone as a remote.

1. Go to Applications on Menu
2. Select Smart remote enabled.
3. On your phone, using your normal network settings, choose to connect to the camera (Sony NEX 5T) wifi.
4. Then launch the Playmemories app

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What you see on the camera screen is what you see on your phone screen as well!

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So for our group shot – we took it using our phone as a remote via Play Memories app! 

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Showing our guests and Chef Pearl of QBA how’s it’s done.

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They were certainly impressed with the Sony NEX 5T!

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One more with the whole kitchen crew. Everyone was impressed! 😀

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The final outcome/image from the NEX 5T:

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Not bad eh? 🙂

And of course, I had someone (one of the floor staff) using another camera to capture the pictures of us capturing this image of our group! So now you know how it works right? Cool huh? :DD

That’s it! A week with the Sony NEX 5T and 8 hours to write this review plus organising the pictures to use for this post. Whew!

This blogspot serves to review the NEX-5T covering the 5 points highlighted below.

· APS-C 16.1 megapixels (low light & defocus – bokeh)

· Compact & Usability – 180 degree tiltable screen

· Fast Hybrid AF – phase detection AF for quick & precious autofocus

· PlayMemories Camera Apps

· Wifi & NFC

Thanks for reading!
Write as well as one may, there’s no denying that part of blogging is about the images you capture. A blogger and his/her camera are ONE. Or at least, it is for me.

I would like to thank Sony Malaysia for this opportunity and for the strict contest rules. Win or otherwise, I know my photography knowledge and skills had certainly improved as the contest left me with no choice but to take good images without the reliance on picture editing software.
The best part is, instead of having the attitude of “Don’t worry, not nice can edit“, now it’s “Hey, it can be perfect the first time round, straight from camera. And much more satisfaction too from getting the best shot. Why need to edit?” 😀

I’m proud of these few shots. And it feels damn good to have a shot that I can proudly say “No edit“. Hell yes.

Category : Fun, Technology
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