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Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Sony unedited gallery is up and my review of the Sony NEX-5R micro four thirds digital camera

The premise of Sony's Unedited challenge was to show people how the camera is capable of taking images that don't need to be edited. While I may have more photography experience than the average consumer, I faced a large hurdle in that I was completely unfamiliar with the NEX-5R but had to go out and take great pictures with it immediately. As it turned out Sony knew what they were doing because the camera made it easy to get some really beautiful shots while I was figuring out how it worked.

My "the unedited 408" gallery on display at Valley Fair Mall.

If you go to see the exhibit at the Valley Fair Sony Style Store look for the NEX-5R camera on display. Behind it you'll spot a small tablet showing my gallery and my co-408 photographer, Rachel King's photos. If it's not playing you'll need to hit the arrow in the center of the screen to start the slideshow.

I'll admit I'm disappointed that the 408 galleries aren't featured as prominently on a large  screen the way some of the other slide shows are in other stores I saw on Twitter like the Unedited 310 and Unedited 206. But, my disappointment with how the pictures are being displayed doesn't detract from how much I enjoyed using the camera itself.

My "the unedited 408" photo gallery is playing in-store through April 10, 2013. It contains 50 unedited images taken with the SONY NEX-5R camera over the span of seven days.


While I had the option to photograph Bay Area wide, I chose to focus on the 408 area code because I wanted to give the South Bay a chance to shine. The challenge parameters were no iconic images, branding, logos, and preferably no people. I decided to try to photograph a combination of places that I personally love and some that were new to me suggested by friends specifically for this challenge. I enjoyed discovering some of them so much I had to include them. Other locations like the Campbell Heritage Theater and Don Burnett Bridge look so different close up people who have driven past or under them couldn't recognize them which I thought was neat. That we can re-discover things we think we know by seeing them from a different perspective or time of day opens up many possibilities especially when it comes to photography.

Only the image of 23 Skidoo is from my official gallery.

Here are the cities and individual locations I photographed with links to their websites in case you'd like to visit them too and discover more of the 408's coolest places and spaces:

23 Skidoo (Vintage Boutique)
Frost Cupcake
Heritage Theater
Light Rail Station
Los Gatos Creek Trail (Swan)
Michi Sushi
Psycho Donuts
Simply Smashing Boutique

Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge (Suspension bridge over HWY 280)

Gilroy Gardens
Pacheco Pass (Orchard)
Saint Mary’s Cathedral

AndalĂ© Mexican Restaurant (Horchata)
Campo di Bocce
Fleur de Cocoa
Summit Bicycles
Vasona Park (Kitai, my dog)

Alum Rock Park (Fern)
Emma Prusch Farm Park (Turkeys)
Fallon House & Peralta Adobe
 - Daruma street art (Southeast corner of 4th St x Jackson St)
 - Internment Barrack at Japanese American Museum
San Jose Municipal Rose Garden
Santana Row
 - Consuelo Mexican Bistro (Pozole)
 - Mosaic Lizard Fountain
 - Giant Chess Set

Cooper Garrod Vineyard & Stables
Hakone Gardens
 - Koi
 - Turtles
 - Bamboo
Heritage Orchard
Montalvo Arts Center
 - Love Temple Gate
 - Adam and Eve Sculpture
Mountain Winery Amphitheater
Night view of Silicon Valley (From the Mountain Winery)

Los Palmas Dog Park
Weird Stuff

At the Mountain WInery waiting for the sun to set.


The NEX-5R is a great camera for someone who wants a higher performing camera than a pocket camera but doesn't want the bulk and complicated features of a DSLR. The beauty of the NEX-5R is that you can start out purchasing the smaller micro four thirds' SLR lenses or purchase an adapter and use standard lenses from Sony's Alpha DSLR line on the micro four thirds body. Later, if you become an avid photographer and want to pursue taking your pictures up to a more professional level, you can upgrade your body to a DSLR and continue using the Alpha DSLR lenses you've already purchased.

Another benefit is when you purchase the camera a Sony Sales Representative will give you a complimentary, introductory tutorial to help familiarize you with your new camera.

And because Sony doesn't want you using your nifty new camera only in auto-mode, more in-depth, in-store training can be purchased in the form of Sony's Photo and Video Essentials class for $34.99. You'll receive a one-on-one training session with your new camera (weekday mornings and afternoons are best), an 8 GB HDSC memory card, a microfiber lens cleaning cloth, and 5GB of cloud storage on PlayMemories Online to easily view, store and share your photos and videos from home or when you're out and about with your smartphone, tablet, PC or HDTV.

How did I like the camera after using it for a week and a half?

  • Lightweight.:This camera would be very easy to keep in a purse on a day to day basis.
  • Easy to use: The camera is so intuitive I barely needed to use the manual to find the controls and function commands.
  • Excellent picture quality. It's a 16.1 megapixel camera so the clarity is very sharp. 
  • Great design: LOVE that the user can remove the memory card and change the battery without having to remove the tripod plate attachment.
  • I felt the camera/lenses offered an exceptional clarity in the photos especially when combined with a monopod or tripod. Freehand, I think because of how light the camera is it was harder to achieve the stability I have with my Lumix system which meant some images early on weren't as sharp as I would have liked them to be. This improved as I became more familiar with the camera.
  • The camera comes with a detachable flash.
  • Though I haven't used it yet, wifi access to upload images to The Cloud are undeniably great! (My Lumix does not have wifi capabilities)
  • Being able to purchase an optional remote (My Lumix is not remote capable)
  • Loved the LCD that flips to compose self portraits.
  • The sweeping panorama function can create some spectacular results.
Overall I was very pleased with the range of photos I was able to take. The Picture Effect Modes were very handy particularly the Toy and Pop options. The Toy mode creates a shadowed vignette around the picture while the Pop function saturates the image as you're taking it.

  • The LCD screen suffered a small (1/2" long) scratch the third day I was using the camera. Not sure how it happened since I was keeping it in a soft camera bag but it surprised me as I've used one Canon and two Panasonic cameras for the past 7 years without ever damaging the screens in this manner.
  • When I purchase a camera the first thing I purchase for it is a back up battery so I was surprised that an external battery charger was not included with the camera (but are available to purchase separately). Instead you receive a charging cord that allows you to charge the battery while it's in the camera. This is fine for when you're home but can be limiting if you need to charge your backup battery while you're camera is in use. You won't be able to do both.
  • Though I love the feature, I was disappointed I couldn't make manual adjustments while using the Sweeping Panorama mode. 
  • I wish there was a touch screen or single button option to adjust the white balance instead of having to access the menu and scroll.
  • Having a control button or touch screen access to change the focal point would be more convenient than having to click into and scroll through the menu.
For a consumer to use as a point and shoot the NEX-5R is so easy and intuitive I have no qualms about recommending for people who don't currently know how to shoot in manual mode. I'd also suggest it for people who don't ever want to have to learn the science behind how to use manual controls to set their ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Accessing and changing these settings on the NEX-5R are comperable to websites that use a click-and-build approach instead of HTML. You don't have to be a pro to be able to make adjustments since you can clearly see them on the display screen as you turn the dials.

If you have any questions about the camera or want to see it in person, the staff at Valley Fair is fantastic! Everyone I met was very friendly and someone knowledgable will be able to help you. This is the official Sony link to a Facebook invite to stop by the store to view the images on the tablet: https://www.facebook.com/events/475792799154863/

Disclosure: While I'm not receiving payment for participating, I am receiving compensation in the form of the camera and lens to use for the project and to keep after. This does not mean I am obligated to give a positive review of the camera or lens. My opinions are my own and accurate regarding my experience with the NEX-5R.  #Sony408 #SonyStore

Related posts are:

Final Results from the Sony NEX-5R Unedited408 (4/28/13)

My #Sony408 Unedited photo exhibit is just a day away (3/28/13)

A beginner's "How to Photograph Sunsets" tutorial (3/26/13)

My Sony Show is just one week away! (3/21/13)

It's in the 408: Where am I? (3/19/13)

I'd love your feedback: Am I capturing the 408? (3/12/13)

Capturing the 408 with Sony's NEX-5R (3/9/13)

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