New Camera – The Nikon J5


Posting a bit more about my new camera that I alluded to here.

For ages, I have moaned about getting one, boring all my friends asking them silly newbie questions about a camera to buy.

It’s not like I didn’t have photography options, I did. My iPhone 6 worked pretty decently as a camera, my old Nikon point and shoot wasn’t bad either, but I badly wanted an upgrade (primarily for blogging purposes, where I was often caught off guard at social media events in piss-poor lighting). I needed something a little stronger than either of my existing options.

These were my purchase criteria:

  • Be able to take professional grade photos
  • Fits into my handbag
  • Is as cheap as humanly possible

My photographer bro exasperatedly told me that I was being highly unreasonable. But two minutes carrying his bulky DSLR with his different lens options convinced me I couldn’t do it. No way in hell could I ever lug all that bulky equipment around, and really it is just overkill for my casual photography.

Plus my heart would break into a million pieces if I (or the kids) clumsily damaged it in any way. In addition, I really wanted a camera that I could just whip out and take quick shots before I lost the moment. Just not doable with a DSLR.

So, I was pretty much in a fix and resigned myself to my point and shoot, but it’s around 6 years old now and though it worked fine, I found it getting slower and slower. Slow to switch on, slow to capture the moment. I knew it would be a pain to use when we go for our year-end holidays in Malaysia and Singapore.

Enter mirrorless cameras, the Thanksgiving sale, and a wonderful friend who offered to bring it for us.

So what are mirrorless cameras?

These are somewhere mid-way on the camera scale between the basic point and shoot, and DSLR. Mirrorless cameras are easy to use, light, and fantastic for photography on the go where you don’t want to be burdened by heavy and costly apparatus.

Most important, they don’t have as steep a learning curve as the DSLR cameras, and can be used optimally by casual photographers too.

The one major plus in my book is that you can choose to buy lenses separately to fit them on to your camera (unlike a point and shoot). So yeah, you can go as basic as you want with your photography apparatus, or go as high-end as you please.

I did tons of research online educating myself about the mirrorless technology and thought these were useful articles that helped me decide to go mirrorless:

I also spent a lot of time waffling between various models – the Nikon J5, the Sony alpha, the Olympus Pen and the OM-D ranges getting thoroughly confused.

I originally fell hard for this Olympus one.

The OM-D E-M10 Mark II

The OM-D E-M10 Mark II

I really loved the looks of it, the small size, but more important I loved the 5-axis image stabilization feature. Also, all the glowing reviews online convinced me this was the camera for me.

Unfortunately the price was just a bit too steep. Even with the Thanksgiving sale, it was just not going below 500 USD, and I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money when I was getting the Nikon J5 which also had decent specs at almost half the cost and with an extra lens to boot.

So eventually the Nikon J5 it is, and I couldn’t be happier.

In love with my new camera

In love with my new camera

I am still playing around with it trying to get the best out of my camera.

Talking Points Around the Nikon J5

Here are some things I realized (with photo examples to illustrate my point):

  • The 20 mega pixels in this camera is a huge upgrade from my old camera, and the difference in mega-pixels shows clearly in the photos. Crisp is the best word to describe it.
  • The size of the camera including the 10-30 mm lens is surprisingly lightweight, and not too different from my point and shoot. I love how unobtrusive the camera looks. It’s only if you take a closer look that you realize that it is not your everyday basic camera. Love the subtlety.
  • I love that I can buy add-on lenses on top of the camera’s lens. Once I am fairly proficient with the camera, I definitely plan to try extra lenses to fit on it and experiment a bit more.
  • It’s fairly easy to use. Yes, it has a lot of modes, but even with the basic auto-focus, some fairly good shots are possible. That said, it would be a shame not to try the more advanced features as I get more comfortable.
  • Love how effortlessly I can transfer photos to my phone. It’s so easy-peasy and quick. And I am talking about 20 odd photos (both RAW and JPEG) downloading in seconds. It’s great for composing blog posts on the go – something I need to do when I want to post within the day of attending an event.
  • The tilt lens makes it a great option for taking selfies, and I have tried out different angles and stuff at home. Don’t be too surprised if you see a rash of selfies showing up on my Instagram πŸ˜‰ .

  • That said, the camera is not perfect. Or maybe I am not using it correctly. But it delivers uneven results indoors. Sometimes the photos come out too dark, or if I turn on the lights, they come out all washed out. I know I need to be more careful about lighting but it’s not always possible when taking casual photos to have lighting hit that plate of food at just the right angle.
  • The video is not too impressive either. And maybe that is because of the poor lighting issue too, since I have only attempted videos at home. That said, I can’t write off this feature completely without doing some more testing, maybe try a couple of vlogs or something to see how it compares to my iPhone videos.

Overall, I am really pleased with this camera. Buying it was a bit of a gamble as I was shopping blind without trying out any of the cameras in a physical store (something I’ve never done before), but I knew this sale was my one opportunity to grab a really good camera without breaking the bank. K also agreed and eventually nudged me towards the sale.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the camera in time for our December holiday, but better late than never, right? I was so thrilled when it came bright and shiny in the new year.

Of course, you may think my raving about this camera is quite biased since I am coming off from struggling with an old and slow 5-year old model. And you may be right, I don’t know.

So, I want to know what cameras do you use, and which ones do you like? DSLR or mirrorless or point and shoot? Which ones have worked for you? What do you look for in a camera?

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