Adapting the Sony NEX

I’ve been an avid Canon DSLR user for 8 years. After lugging around my 60D and a selection of 3 EF lenses (Fisheye, Zoom and tilt-shift) through Europe last year, I decided to invest in a lighter, high quality camera for my wife and I to use for more everyday use like park visits, birthday parties and family events.

We’ve been impressed with the NEX-5 since purchasing it in November. It’s become our primary camera, especially when traveling. I still use my 60D for photo excursions, especially when aiming to take high quality Macro shots. As I began to look into expanding our NEX lenses, beyond the kit 18-55 and 16mm wide angle, I was not impressed with what Sony was offering. By most standards, the popular ‘2nd lens’ 16mm is a sub par piece of glass.

So, to expand the type of photos we took with our NEX, I began to look beyond Sony’s offerings and even beyond the other E-mount lenses all together. Thanks to an incredible array of quality adapters made by 3rd parties, you can put almost any lens on an NEX. I did some research (inspired in part by a post on @SonyAlphaRumors) and discovered that the best quality, smallest (pancake-like) and most cost effective glass was found in older Konica Hexanon lenses. I’m also a big fan of shooting with available light, preferring human and warm tones over the harsh effects of the NEX’s flash — so the impressive low f-stops on some of the seasoned Konica lenses looked like great options.

After purchasing 2 exceptional quality used lenses on eBay, both for under $200, I ordered the RainbowImagining Konica-NEX adapter from Amazon for under $25.

Here’s how the lenses measure up on the camera. First is the kit 18-55, then the 40mm 1.8 with adapter followed by the 57mm 1.4 with adapter:
nex with kit 18-55mm nex with konica 40mm 1.8 nex with konica 57mm 1.4
You’ll notice they all match up pretty well. However, while the 40mm with adapter is MUCH lighter, the 57mm with adapter is much heaver. Quite simply, the 57mm is a piece of solid glass – a very well constructed quality lens and a stark difference to the more plastic NEX kit and 16mm lenses.

Now that we have the size comparison out of the way, let’s get on to quality. The big factor to realize is that with this adapter, you lose auto-focus. If you’re not going to be comfortable manually focusing on your subject, using an adapter may not be a great option for you. It’s not easy to learn, but if you’ve done it in the past (especially during the pre-digital camera era), you’ll pick right up where you left off.

Here are example photos taken with each lens on the camera:
First is the 40mm at 1.8. You’ll notice less contrast, but a great amount bokeh.

Next is the 57mm at 1.4. You can see the maximum amount of bokeh with a very sharp and narrow depth of field.

Next is the 18-55 at 55mm f5.6. The photo is much darker, very little bokeh.

Finally, the 18-55 at 41mm f4.5. Even though it’s a little more open, it’s no comparison to the adapted 40mm.

Of course you may not be taking photos of your kid’s trainset. However, I will tell you that for portraits, capturing natural light on your child’s face is amazing. The combination of quality glass, aperture and the impressive ability of the NEX chip is a great combination.

I hope this post helps you explore the artistic capability of your NEX camera. Feel free to comment with questions or post links to photos you’ve taken with your adapted Sony NEX.