#70. The Sony NEX-5N and exotic lenses (Leica-M, Leica-R, Zeiss ZM, Zeiss C/Y, Panasonic)

By pascaljappy | News

Nov 25

UPDATE: Some of these lenses have now been tested on the Sony NEX-7 camera. A summary of all this website’s reviews of the Sony NEX-5n and NEX-7 is now available.

When I started reviewing the Sony NEX-5N, my intention was to use it exclusively with manual lenses to return to a more deliberate mode of image making that had been lost in my previous years with Canon, Nikon and other full-auto plastic cameras.

It is compared below with the Sony NEX-7. On with the testing!

Please be warned that Chrome, as wonderful a browser as it is, does absolutely abysmal colour management. Google and art obviously don’t go along well. So if you’re using Chrome to view this post, you will see awful colours compared to what they should be. Firefox and IE are much better in that respect.

A B&W picture of a yellow tree on a gree background, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25/2.8

Yellow on green, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25/2.8

As promised, here is a summary of my findings with these lenses:

  • Being unsure how well the sensor (and my wallet) would cope with Leica-M glass, I played it safe and bought cheaper and easier Leica-R lenses: the exquisite Elmarit-R 19mm/2.8 II and the very precise Summicron-R 50/2.
  • On top of these, I took my chances with two M-mount lenses: the tricky symmetric design Zeiss ZM Biogon 25/2.8 and the tiny cuty Voigtlander Colour-Skopar 35/2.5 PII.
  • In the Contax/Yashica stable, the Zeiss Planar T* 50/1.7 and the unloved Sonnar T* 135/2.8.
  • Finally, co-author Caroline was kind enough to lend me the legendary Summicron-M 28/2 and the maligned Summarit-M 75/2.5.
  • Oh, and, just for fun, a 14/2.8 Panasonic micro 4/3 lens and an venerable Tamron 500/8 mirror lens.

Those are all the lenses tried so far on the Sony NEX-5N. My eyes are set on a few more but finances are stopping me, so if you want to send me a christmas present, please do 😉 My initial intention was not to review these lenses but to see whether the NEX-5N is a camera better suited to them than the Sony NEX-7 I originally wante to acquire and how these lenses render on the NEX-5N. Read on.

Leica Elmarit-R 19mm/2.8 II

A panorama of a little river in provence, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Elmarit-R 19/2.8

River in provence, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Elmarit-R 19/2.8

Safety warning! Do not click that picture, it is too sharp for human eyes 😉

I love that lens. I would love to find fault with it to be able to get rid of it and buy something cheaper and smaller, but I can’t. It’s fabulous in the hand,like a premium cinema lens and the pictures it produces are simply the most refined of any lens ever to come my way. It’s a huge beasty, at least as big as my Nikon 18-200 and twice as heavy and the lens shade makes it even bigger looking. But it falls perfectly in the hand and its ergonomics are flawless.

Optically, it’s very good, too. It’s not sharp, it’s detailed. It draws in a creamy, soft and refined way, holding the highlights very well and covering a very wide angle with no nasties anywhere in the frame. And in that smooth velvety picture are plenty of little details or the scenery in front of you. All this supported by realistic and subtle colours and nice micro contrast that holds well even in very tough lighting conditions. If it vignettes, it does so very quietly and I’ve more often spent time adding vignetting than removing any.

So what’s not to like with that Elmarit-R 19/2.8 ? It flares. Quite badly in fact. With the sun in the frame (as in the artificially enhanced image below), flare is quite concentrated and pretty easy to clone out. But with the sun just outside the frame, nasty fan lines appear and are picked up very strongly by the NEX. I use the lens-shade’s flat cap as a portable sunblock and that works perfectly for this, but it all requires a bit of effort and three hands would be a major bonus 😉

Some colourful flare in this picture of the sun by the Sony  NEX-5N and Leica Elmarit-R 19/2.8

Sunstar and flare, Sony NEX-5N and Leica Elmarit-R 19/2.8

On the NEX-5N, it feels like you are carrying a lens with a unusually large rear lens cap and pictures require your best effort in focusing to appear perfectly sharp, even at f/8 !!! But when you get it right, you are in for a real treat. Even if you don’t, the image will be superb, only not sharp enough to print very large. This morning, I took 10 minutes off after driving my daughter to school, set the lens at infinity and f/6.3 , set the camera to +0.3 and just clicked away at the river (see above) without ever checking focus or histogram. No SLR in the world could have shot this quickly. All pictures are very nice, some not being 100% as sharp as if I’d taken my time to focus every time at 10x magnification. The picture of the river above is a hand-held panorama with only very minor LightRoom adjustments. Gorgeous highlights and shadows, perfect colours, just wonderful and impressive considering the 2 second effort involved and the harsh lighting).

This is a glorious lens for landscapes. It holds contrast well but without ever being mushy or soft. The picture below is an example of a situation where 95% of lenses would have rendered a flat and milky picture. It’s perfect here. I would love to try the Zeiss ZM Distagon 18/4 and Leica’s Super-Elmar-M 18mm f/3.8 ASPH, but these are one stop slower and probably not much better.

A photo of two poplars against the rising sun, by the Sony NEX-5N and Leica Elmarit-R 19/2.8

Mother and daughter, Sony NEX-5N and Leica Elmarit-R 19/2.8

Love rating on the NEX-5N: Only a smaller better lens could make me sell this.

Zeiss ZM Biogon 25/2.8

A forest in slight mist, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm/2.8

Misty forest, , Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm/2.8

Now here’s the real good news. I never doubted the lens itself since Steve Huff and Sean Reid gave it glowing reviews. But after seeing pictures taken by the NEX-7 with that lens (see link to flickr stream, for full size images, in first comment. Corners are hideous.), I forgot all about the NEX-7 and regretted that I couldn’t cancel the BiogonI had ordered. But it works tremendously well on the Sony NEX-5N. The first picture in this post (Yellow on Green) was taken with this lens and it is incredibly detailed and rich. That picture was heavily processed and didn’t show any signs of breaking up a tribute to how well lens and sensor go along. Vigneting was added manually, by the way.

The picture above (Misty Forest) was taken at f/2.8. It is tack sharp for the front trees and gets progressively out of focus at the rear, giving the wonderful foggy atmosphere (it was avery clear day with no humidity). This lens draws sooo well! If I had to keep only one, that woudl be the one.

On the NEX-5N it looks at home. The size is perfect. Ergonomics are perfect, build quality is fantastic (although some have been said to loosen in time). It’s small but quite heavy and ever so handsome 🙂 It is tested below against the legendary Leica Summicron-M 28/2. For now, let me just get rid of pixel peepers. The lens is not perfect. The rightmost pixels are soft at f/2.8 and there is a distinct colour shift between f/2.8 and f/8. See below (f/2.8 on the left, f/8 on the right).

deck chairs on a terrasse at f/2.8 with the Zeiss ZM Biogon 25/2.8 on the Sony NEX-5N

Deck chairs at f/2.8, Zeiss ZM Biogon 25 & Sony NEX-5N

deck chairs on a terrasse at f/8 with the Zeiss ZM Biogon 25/2.8 on the Sony NEX-5N

Deck chairs at f/8, Zeiss ZM Biogon 25 & Sony NEX-5N

And now for those outrageously soft pixels (seen only in the right corners):

The structure of a deck chair in the bottom right corners appears slightly soft with the Zeiss ZM Biogon 25 on the Sony NEX-5N

Softish corner at f/2.8, Zeiss ZM Biogon 25 & Sony NEX-5N

In real life situations, I have never seen an unsharp picture from this lens (contrarily to he two Leica-R lenses). In fact it is staggeringly sharp and high-contrast, though with lovely moodiy drawing.I find it slightly less saturated than Leica lenses and would use Vivid instead of Neutral if shooting jpegs. For B&W it can be more difficult to use than the Voigtlander Colour Skopar or the Leicas because the contrast seems stronger. It excels in making low-contrast scenes lively, but in other situations it would be easier to blow highlights than with some of the other lenses tested. See below, put to good use 🙂

A village fountain shot in B&W

Village fountain, Zeiss ZM Biogon 25 & Sony NEX-5N

A little house under a tree, Sony NEX-5N and Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

Sheltered, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

A sign post full of bullet hoes,  Sony Nex-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

No way! Sony Nex-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

Clothes drying in full sun, Sony Nex-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

Hanging dry, Sony Nex-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

In full sun, fantastic contrast and almost no flare.

A girl in front of an ancient church, Sony Nex-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

Not interested, Sony Nex-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

Love rating on the NEX-5N: I wanna be buried with it, unless Caroline gives me her Summicron for Christmas 😉

Leica Summicron-M 28mm/2

Graffiti on a wall at night in black and white, , Sony Nex-5N & Leica Summicron-M 28/2

Graffiti Night, Sony Nex-5N & Leica Summicron-M 28/2

This lens is perfection. It combines the refinement and naturalness of my Elmarit-R 19 with the sharpness of the Biogon 25. Everything seems life like and so elegant. I would love to own it but I don’t. So thank you Caroline for lending it to me.

A wall covered in books used as a resolution test for the Zeiss Biogon 25 and Leica Summicron-M 28

Resolution test scene

Below are comparison shots with the Biogon 25, both at f/4(ISO1600 unfortunately). The point of view was changed slightly so that angles of view would match.In terms of resolution, I see absolutely no difference (meaning they both outresolve the sensor), except in the last few pixels at top right where the Zeiss Biogon goes slightly soft. Colour appears identical as well, but there is just a micro-hint more naturalness in the Summicron (maybe it’s just in my mind). Biogon on the left, Summicron on the right. Top rowis a center frame and the bottom row shows a crop closer to the edge. The complete scene is above. Not as pixel-peeping as a brick wall, but almost 😉

Zeiss ZM Biogon 25, center

Leica Summicron-M 28, center

Zeiss ZM Biogon 25, edge

Leica Summicron-M 28, edge

Distortion ? What distortion ? (Note that the camera did pretty well here as well. The only lighting is from street lamps and noise is kept at bay at ISO1600)

Graffiti on a garage wall, Sony NEX-5N and Leica Summicron-M 28

Garage Graffiti, Sony NEX-5N and Leica Summicron-M 28

In my brief period of testing I saw no colour shift, no cyan in the corners, no blurry corners. Only perfection. Well, actually, just a hint of flare, here:

An old house at night, Sony NEX-5N and Leica Summicron-M 28

Nighthawks, Sony NEX-5N and Leica Summicron-M 28

Love rating on the NEX-5N: That could be my only lens. Ever.

Voigtlander Colour-Skopar 35mm/2.5 PII

Last red leaves on an apple tree, Sony Nex-5N & Voigtlander COlour-Skopar 35/2.5 PII

FInal Red Leaves, Sony Nex-5N & Voigtlander COlour-Skopar 35/2.5 PII

A pleasant surprise, to be sure! I sought this little gem for its tiny lens, carried by the general plea for “more pancakes, more pancakes” by Sony fans. 135Street had given it a good review and Richard Frances at La Petite Boutique Photo assured me it was such a simple lens, the chances of getting a lemon (a real threat with any complex lens maker today!) were negligeable. And what a lens it turns out to be.

If you’ve ever been into HiFi, you’ll know what a single ended mono triode sounds like. It’s the purest, warmest – though not technically most accurate – soud around. Voices playedd through a well designed amp and well tuned horn speakers are simply unforgettable moments. Clarity and tone are like nothing else can match at any price. Character and emotion dominates measurement. Well this lens is the same, end of review.

Ergonomically, it’s simply too small. Wearing gloves, it would be quite a feat to focus properly, as the focus ring is tiny and very firm. The aperture ring clicks positively and little ears help you grab it like flappy paddles gear changes on sports cars. It’s also a lot better made than what others have described on the web and certainly a lot better than the aperture ring on my Summicron-R 50, Leica brand or not.

A provence paper tree in B&W, Sony NEX-5N & Voigtlander Colour-Skopar 32/2.5 PII

Paper Tree, Sony NEX-5N & Voigtlander Colour-Skopar 32/2.5 PII

In daylight, it’s a street shooter’s dream come true. Tiny, unobstrusive and unassuming. Just set it to f/8 and zone focus for silent ultra fast shooting. In the dark, you’ll have to stick to f/2.8 even on the highly efficient NEX-5N but the brooding results will be well worth the effort.

While the Biogon etches out a bit of your eyes with every ultra sharp shot, this cuddles you with a warm moody rendition. It’s extremely crisp though and, of ALL the lenses tested thus far, this is the one that requires least sharpening, if any at all! It will go vaguely soft in the corners at full aperture (it was probably designed that way) but in any other condition, it’s as sharp as the best of them. Off all the lenses testes thus far, it’s also the most ptone to flare. Which is it’s main (only?) drawback.

The Voigtlander Colour-Skopar 35/2.5 PII flares in direct sunlight on the Sony NEX-5N

Flared archeway, Sony NEX-5N & Voigtlander Colour-Skopar 35/2.5 PII

You can find many more pictures all made with this little marvel on my previous post: Sony NEX-5N in black and white.

Love rating on the NEX-5N: Get one for a taste of freedom and character, you will never look back. If you don’t like it, you can wear it as a ring.

Leica Summicron-R 50mm/2

Strawberry leaves, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summicron-R 50

Strawberry leaves forever, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summicron-R 50

Dare I say this is my least loved lens so far? The all mighty Summicron-R 50 (bought at the remarkable Schouten Select), declared by Erwin Putts in person to be the equal of its legendary M-mount brother, just doesn’t do it for me. It’s sharp a plenty, has good colour and reasonably nice bokeh, but nothing in the pictures produced moves me. Integration with the NEX-5N is flawless, not colour shits, no hazy corners, pure quality.

Build is to Leica standards, except for the aperture ring that feels a bit plastic and cheap. Used with the adapter, it’s about the size of the 18-55 kit zoom, another reason for the lack of inspiration. The M-mount equivalent on its adapter would use half the volume.

Kids having a fight, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summicron-R 50

Brother & Sister, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summicron-R 50

This is a very cheap lens though. So by all means get one if you need something in that focal length. It will never disappoint technically, it just lacks personality. Also, it’s difficult to explain, but at pixel peeping levels, all photographs seem to have been made through (high quality) glass whereas those made using previously mentioned lenses have that (very thin) veil removed.

A red metal archway in a garden, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summicron-R 50

Red Door, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summicron-R 50

This should display a rich palet of greens and bright red. If you are using Chrome it will look like vomit. Sorry.

All being considered, I will keep this a bit longer, if only as a portrait lens, but any opportunity to upgrade to a Voigtlander or Zeiss ZM (ooh the insult) will be seized.

Love rating on the NEX-5N: Cannot wait to try (and afford) the Zeiss ZM C-Sonnar T* 1.5/50.

Zeiss Contax Planar T* 50/1.7

A morning mist rises over the hills in Provence, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss Contax Planar T* 50/1.7

Misty Morning, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss Contax Planar T* 50/1.7

This and the Sonnar 135/2.8 were tested without an appropriate adaptor. Hardly scientific, I know 😉 I simply pressed them against the Leica-R adaptor for close shots and with no adaptor at all for infinity shots. Let’s not mention the keeper rate 😉 Oh, the things I do for you 😉

Here are two comparison shots with the Summicron-R 502, all at f/8. The Planar is at least as good, probably a tad better. I’m just too lazy to repeat the test at full aperture, but pictures look excellent. Summicron is at left. Left edge of frame on top and center crop at bottom (different picture).

Summicron-R 50

Planar 50


Planar 50

The Planar is also smaller and far cheaper. It is a real bargain on eBay, going for 120€ !! Grab one now. It’s not as well built as the best part of the summicron and better build than the worst part of the summicron, if you get what I mean 😉 It works perfectly on the NEX-5N. No edge problems or colour shifts.

Love rating on the NEX-5N: Pretty convincing (read excellent) and so cheap. I might sell the Summicron and get an adapter for this. Time will tell.

Leica Summarit-M 75mm/2.5

A close up on Christmas light showing nice bokeh, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summarit-M 75mm/2.5

Christmas Illuminations, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summarit-M 75mm/2.5

Hey, so here’s another little stunner. Even anti Summarit Ken Rockwell has great things to say about it. Another fine lens lent by Caroline. Summarits have a bad reputation because of their cheaper build and inferior engravings. So they may not last a lifetime as other Leica lenses do. But since every author mentioning this argument tends to collect the latest, sharpest lens available, I think the argument is mute. Anyway, if this sample is anything to judge by, Leicaphiles have nothing to worry about. Image quality is just as high as the rest and build, well, just feels more modern.

I really liked that lens! My only criticism would be the polygonal bokeh. More expensive lenses would probably have more blades in their diaphragm to produce rounder out-of-focus highlights. Apart from that, it is had to fault. Max aperture is perfect so you select aperture purely based on the focus depth you want.

Cafe de France in Paris, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summarit-M 75/2.5

Cafe de France, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Summarit-M 75/2.5

Love rating on the NEX-5N: I only used it at night for one hour, but it made me want a longer lens. A 90mm Elmarit-M or this would be mighty fine.

Zeiss Contax T* Sonnar 135/2.8

Red berries against a blurred background, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss Contax Sonnar 135/2.8

Red Berries, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss Contax Sonnar 135/2.8

Reviews in forums have said that this lens is not sharp. Maybe sample variation can account for that, but my experience simply doesn’t validate this. On the NEX-5N, it is simply killer sharp. And the bokeh is fabulous. Better than anything else in my stable. It was just too difficult to try an shot at infinity without an adaptor, so all you will get for today are close-ups (10-20 feet). Look at the one below. This is a tiny fraction of the image and is so sharp it becomes unflattering.

High resolution shot of eye and eyebrows, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss Contax Sonnar 135/2.8

High Brow, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss Contax Sonnar 135/2.8

The only real trouble with this lens is that it weighs a ton! Laaarge and heaaavy. There is no way this can be carried out in the wild for long periods. I am sorely tempted by an Elmarit-M 90 available at Schouten Select (an excellent source for high quality used lenses), but it would cost so much more and probably not produce better results. Life is tough 😉

Panasonic 14mm

Strongly vignetted landscape, Sony NEX-5N and Panasonic 14mm

Vignette, Sony NEX-5N and Panasonic 14mm

And now for something totally ridiculous 🙂 A micro 4/3 lens on a NEX camera 😉

But but but, it’s actually a pretty neat macro lens!

Clover leafes really close up, Sony NEX-5N and Panasonic 14mm

Closer to Clover, Sony NEX-5N and Panasonic 14mm

Right! Enough testing. What’s the best NEX camera ?

So! NEX-7 or NEX-5N?

That is the question, Willy!

First bear in mind that I have never come close to a NEX-7 let alone made photographs with one. My observations are based on the pictures found in numerous reviews with pre-production and with final firmwares. Several come to mind: an astonishingly clear picture of a carved elephant on the dpreview sample gallery taken with the mighty Zeiss 24/1.8. Others, ranging from so-so to downright terrible, made with various manual lenses on ThePictureDesk (to which I have linked before). It was expected that wide angle M-mount lenses could perform badly on the NEX-7, but in those photographs, even shots taken with easy and long lenses were pretty abysmal.

A lone woman in a country alley, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

Streetwalking, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

I contrast this with my own experience with the NEX-5N and 7 non Sony lenses in which the very worst misbehaviour noted was a colour cast using the Zeiss ZM Biogon 25 wide open. Given how well the custom white balance works on this camera, this is hardly a serious issue. The general overdone warmth in most Sony jpegs is much more bothering to me.

I am tempted to compare the NEX-7 to a very tightly tuned sports car. Given the best conditions of lighting, shooting technique and lens compatibility, it is able to perform to a level unseen outside the medium format world (maybe the Nikon D3x and Sony A900 ?). But in every day conditions of mushy light, it suffers very rapidly. On the other hand, the NEX-5N is more of a Sports Range Rover. It will handle anything you throw at it with nonchalant ease and consistently put out outstanding results. If buying a NEX-7, I would definitely stick to Sony lenses. The NEX-5N lets you taste more exotic flavours and build a collection of full frame lenses that will outlast the camera. For that alone, it is a much better camera to my eyes.

I agree with commentors who suggest that the NEX-5N sensor in the NEX-7 body would be a magical combination indeed.

Yellow green trees in autumn, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

Yellow Green, Sony NEX-5N & Zeiss ZM Biogon 25

FujiFilm seem to be working on very promising sensor development and it will be very interesting indeed to test these. Until then, my next post will compare the Sony NEX-5N to the venerable Leica M8.2. Stay tuned 🙂

  • […] The NEX-5N tested with 6 non Sony lenses (Lecia-R, Leica-M, Zeiss ZM, Voigtlander & Zeiss […]

  • […] until today unknown website dearsusans.wordpress.com (Click here) tested plenty of exotic lenses on the Sony NEX-5n. It’s a review full of details and image […]

  • Philippe says:

    Thanks for this very interesting set of reviews. FYI, I have a few interesting lenses I use on my NEX 5N, Leica R Makro 60mm f:2.8, Contax G 28mm, 45mm, 90mm, which I would be delighted to let you use if you come to the Paris area and we meet.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Philippe, thanks so much !! I would LOVE to try some of these lenses out. I’m very often in Paris (see my next post 😉 and it would be great to meet you. I’ll bring along my own lenses and we can test together, if you want. How about January ?

      • Philippe says:

        Sorry to say, but Contax G 28 on NEX5 generates colour shift and corner softness, and I found this combo unfixable and unacceptable. It is just fine on 5n, on the other hand. And it is a very worthy upgrade, much more so than one might think.

        @Pascal: avec grand plaisir. En particulier, si vous n’avez pas encore utilisé de Contax G 45 ou 90, vous allez avoir un choc. Votre impression que le C/Y 135 f:2.8 est ultra-net sera mise à l’épreuve….

        • pascaljappy says:

          En fait les G m’ont beaucoup tenté, surtout le 45 (je ne suis pas un grand Fan de mon Summicron 50). L’idée d’un adaptateur de plus me refroidit, mais c’est vrai que j’adorerais essayer ces objectifs légendaires 🙂 Je serai de nouveau à Paris en Janvier. Peut-être qu’on peut se rencontrer ? J’amènerai mes objectifs pour un prêt mutuel 🙂

    • Elio Di Claudio says:

      The corner on the ZM25 at f/2.8 could not be in focus: I see a too small distance to the area. Please do not overestimate the depth of field of wideangles: I focused a Samyang 14 UMC at f/4 at 2 m and detail at 1.5 m were clearly not in perfect focus (and viceversa). The Zeiss lens is almost perfect and you can see a small colour fringe because the longer wavelenght of red (and the smaller number of R photosites) diminishes resolution and, gived the high resolution, the blur area appears under the luminance edge. I agree that the NEX7 is crap from an engineering point of view.

      • pascaljappy says:

        Hi Elio,

        you’re right, my subject wasn’t flat and depth of field could play a role here. Please note I never implied the NEX-7 was crap 😉 It’s probably a very nice camera that doesn’t mary well with symetrical lens designs.


  • […] NEX-7 #70. The Sony NEX-5N and exotic lenses (Leica-M, Leica-R, Zeiss ZM, Zeiss C/Y, Panasonic) | Dear Sus… __________________ Members don't see ads in threads. Register your free account today […]

  • Vlad says:

    Chrome doesn’t do color management. It defaults to sRGB. And your images are tagged with ProPhoto RGB. The best solution would be to convert them to sRGB before uploading them.

  • Vlad says:

    Tiens, question. Avez-vous la possibilité de tester le 5N avec le Voigtlander 12mm?

    • pascaljappy says:

      Malheureusement pas pour l’instant, mais c’est un des objectifs que j’aimerais vraiment essayer. Peut-être que je pourrai convaincre un revendeur de m’en prêter un. J’essaie ça en janvier. A bientôt.

  • Hey thanks very much for this review….. I have an original Nex-5 and am awaiting delivery of a trifecta of lenses: Contax G 28mm, 45mm and 90mm. Will try them out on this body and maybe decided later in 2012 about an upgrade to 5N v 7 (but I have to agree a hybrid would be my ideal). cheers and thanks again for your hard work…. look forward to your Nex(t) installment!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks a lot. Nex(t) installment coming soon. From Paris with Love. Meanwhile, co Author CaptCav has just returned from Argentina and is gradually publishing his impressions and pics. As for NEV-5N vs NEX-7, I still can’t judge but Michael Reichmann has just published an interesting post about the 7. Seems pretty much OK. Symetrical lenses do suffer a bit and he has to resort to Cornerfix a bit, but results lookgreat in the end. If waiting for 2012, I’d hang around until full frame mirrorless comes along 🙂

      Cheers. And, by the way, GREAT pictures on CountMyPixels !

    • Philippe says:

      Sorry to say, but Contax G 28 on NEX5 generates colour shift and corner softness, and I found this combo unfixable and unacceptable. It is just fine on 5n, on the other hand. And it is a very worthy upgrade, much more so than one might think.

  • […] a recent post, I tested the NEX-5N with a slew of manual lenses from Leica and Zeiss. In one of the comments, fellow photographer Philippe kindly offered me to test some of his […]

  • Barry Timm says:

    Hi Susan
    I loved your review of the NEX-5N as I am so impressed with the same camera (purchased as a present to my wife) that I can see myself possibly buying one for myself, to use with 1 or 2 MF M-mount lenses.

    One critical question for me….does the 5N’s manual focus auto-zoom and focus-peaking work with these (presumably) electronically decoupled MF lenses, such as the Zeiss ZM Biogon 25/2.8 and the Voigtlander Colour-Skopar 35/2.5 PII?

    In other words, does manual focusing with these lenses work exactly the same on the NEX-5N as does the Sony E-mount lenses that come as part of the kit?

    I find the auto-zoom during movement of the focus ring and the focus peaking so very, very useful and would hate to expect that with the Zeiss/Voightlander lenses and then be disappointed if they don’t provide the same interaction with the camera.



    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Barry,

      apologies for the late reply. Thanks for the kind comments. With M-mount lenses (or any other non autofocus lens), the NEX-5N lets you use focus confirmation but you have to press the zoom button. It’s just at bottom right of the screen and the process soon becomes very automatic. With long lenses, focusing is always perfect. With shorter, fast lenses (that have a very big depth of field) I have occasionnaly found it a bit more difficult to hit perfect focus and have a slight tendency to back focus. It’s not visible unless you enlarge a lot, but it does happe?

      You will love this camera with Voigtlander lenses. My Colour Skopar 32/2.5PII is simply not leaving the camera these days. The biogon is fantastic, crary sharp and contrasty. A different look. Both are a joy to use (the Voigltander is tiny, though, so gloves are out of question 😉

      Hope this helps,

      • Barry Timm says:

        Hi Pascal
        Thank you for your thoughtful and clear answer and information! I must admit, I’d almost given up on these MF lens options on the NEX-5N, after seeing such “average” test results over at photozone.de, but this blog with these wonderful images and such clear feedback has set my mind at ease. Thank You!

  • Barry Timm says:

    Last question, if I may….
    I’ve never shot with lens adapters, such as that needed for the Leica M mount to Sony E mount. Does the adapter generally stay attached to the camera body, or the lens itself?
    i.e. is it preferable to buy an adapter for each lens, or is it easy enough to swap lenses with a single adapter that stays on the camera body mount?

    • pascaljappy says:

      Barry, once the adapter is on the camera, changing the lens is exactly the same as with no adapter at all. It’s way easier (and cheaper ;)) to have only one adapter.

      The only exception is if you have lenses from multiple rangers such as Leica-M and Leica-R and require multiple separate adapters. I have found that to be a bit of a pein, though.

      Right now, my M-mount adapter is fixed on the camera and I only use M-mount lenses. The rest stay at home.

      Hope this helps 🙂 Have fun,

  • Philippe says:

    Generally speaking, even expensive adapters do not come with lens caps. So, if you want to leave the adapter on the lens permanently, you need to take care of that aspect and buy Sony e-mount lens caps as well. I bought one adapter of each type (M to E, R to E, C/Y to E, G to E), and keep each lens adpater-free with its own lens cap.

  • […] Multiple legacy lenses from Leica, Zeiss and Voigtlander on the Sony NEX-5n […]

  • Gautam says:

    Really liked your post. I am planning to buy the Nex-5N. I thought that was going to be it as far as getting wonderful images was concerned. Seems like I am wrong. Looks like after reading articles like yours, owning a good LENS is a worth while investment and does wonders to photos.

    So, I am a beginner at photography. And have a baby coming soon and with summer here, this is the best opportunity for me to get a nice setup or equipment. Keeping the above in mind, my total budget is around $1500.
    1) Does it make sense to buy the Nex-5N with kit lens(18mm–55mm) (costing $700) and also buy exotic lenses(costing extra $700-1200)?

    2) Is there any better economical solution to get better photos (potrait and landscape). Like buy a cheaper camera (which one?) and buy the exotic lenses?

    3) For a person in my shoes, which would be the best lenses to go for with the 5N? Voigtlander or Zeiss ZM Biogon or anyother?

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Gautam,

      if you want my honest opinion, you will get great resulsts with the 18-55mm lens. The exotic glass will buy you a bit more latitude (you can shoot wide open with more confidence, for instance) and a certain look which you may or may not like. But I would just get the camera and the standard lens and have fun. It is always much better to outgrow a lens and buy a new one based on specific needs rather than just buy one on the basis of better technical specs in the hope for picture making. When you find usage limitations to the lens you are currently using, you will know exactly what new lens you want to get and why 🙂

      Hope this helps. Have fun.

  • henryzwartz says:

    May I just say, I just found this review of the Zeiss 25/f2.8 and found it very useful indeed. Do you find the Zeiss ‘cooler’ in terms of colour, when compared to the Leica lenses? I’m planning on getting a Zeiss for my 5-n =)

    I’m a photojournalist based in Sydney and a fellow wordpress blogger: http://henryzwartz.com/


    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Henry,

      thanks a lot for the kind comment. In my experience, the Biogon 25 is not cooler than the Leicas. In fact it seems very slightly warmer to me. I think it would be a lovely match for your 5n. It’s awful on the NEX-7 though so be sure what camera you get before taking the plunge 😉


  • […] #70. The Sony NEX-5N and exotic lenses (Leica-M, Leica-R, Zeiss ZM, Zeiss C/Y, Panasonic) | Dear Sus… Minolta Maxxum 9000/Sony Alpha SLT-A55/Ricoh Diacord/Voigtlander Bessa 46 The best photographs make it look like the "photography" is secondary. … sometimes our responses may incite riots, but it's your decision to join the mob. My Website MIR Reply With Quote […]

  • cpc says:

    Came here interested in how the Zeiss Biogon 25mm does on the Nex cameras. A nice write-up, thanks. But your example of right side softness is not good, the right corner is clearly out of focus as the focus is actually further along the depth axis.
    Do you by any chance have any shots at f2.8 and the focus at infinity? That’s where any problems with the corners manifest themselves most clearly.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi CPC, I’m afraid the NEX-5n and Biogon are no longer with me but I can confirm that sharpness was a little weak wide open, even on flat subjects and better already at f/2.8. In real life, I don’t recal a shot that suffered from it. A wonderful lens. The only thing you can say against this lens is : Summicron-M 28/2. That’s even better and one of the few lenses for which I would be happy to pay Leica price. It is more organic in its rendition, faster and sharper wide open (though not after f/4). Truly the best my money could buy.

      • cpc says:

        Well, I ended with a Voigtlander Color Skopar 25/4 due to its tiny size. Hopefully it will do the job. The Summicron I’m sure is great, but it gives a bit tighter frame and I was looking for a 24/25mm lens.
        Anyways, thx for your reply. 🙂

        • pascaljappy says:

          Great ! Please let me know what you think of the CS. I loved my 35 when it was still here. Small and with a lovely rendering. Have fun with it.

      • cpc says:

        Turns out the 25mm Color Skopar is a pretty good performer, not to mention the size. I can put a 35mm screw-on hood on it and it stays smaller and lighter than the ZM. As with most RF wide lenses on the Nex it needs to be stopped down to, say, f8 for decent corner sharpness. Other than that, it is contrasty and resolves very well. Also, no flare (but maybe the hood helps some with that).
        And I’ve finally uploaded some samples from a recent trip for your viewing pleasure 🙂 http://www.flickr.com/photos/corleypc/tags/voigtlandercolorskopar25mmf4/

        • pascaljappy says:

          Great ! I’m glad you like it. Your sample pictures are wonderful. I love the hip-shooting technique in the picture of that beatiful girl under the arched window.

  • Yudhityo Pratomo says:

    Hello… I use the same, 5N and Cron-R 50, but in some way, it is not sharp. Is it necessary to turn off lens correction feature in nex 5N body ? because with the flektogon 35, I think it is just fine.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hello Yudhito, I always letf lens corrections off, yes. Is the Cron-R 50 unsharp even at f/8 ? I found it very good at that aperture.

      • Yudhityo Pratomo says:

        Hi Pascaljappy, no, my Cron-R 50 (e55) is very very sharp and detail in canon 60D body, even at f2.8. But when using 5N body, I found the sharpness is inconsistent… maybe because I left lens corrections in auto… don’t know for sure.

  • Maybelle says:

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