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The Best Hiking Camers, Sony NEX?

Today at my local Sony Style store I got to try out the new NEX 5 camera that will be sold at the end of the month. This camera has some fun features that have been made easy for beginners like panorama stitching and HDR without the use of a tripod. But it’s biggest feature is that it is small. Real small.

Just take a look at it beside my average size DSLR.

Pentax K10d and Sony NEX 5 side by side

The new standard in small interchangable lenses.

And from the top.

Pentax K10d and Sony NEX 5 side by side top view

Another comparison of the K10d and NEX 5 size difference

This might be getting close to the perfect hiking camera. Small and lightweight with good image quality from a large sensor. 3 pancake primes would almost sell me on a camera like this. There is already the 16mm pancake prime lens but a 35mm and a 70 mm macro lens would make a fantastic lightweight camera kit. Add weather sealing and the days of heavy lenses and cameras while going up a mountain would be gone. One can dream.

The HDR feature worked surprisingly well. Here is a regular image with everything taken on auto and HDR off. Take note of the TV’s image.

Sony NEX 5 program mode image

An image taken with the Sony NEX 5

And here is with the HDR feature on auto.

Sony NEX 5 HDR image

An HDR image taken with the Sony NEX 5

A very natural looking image with much better dynamic range. Not as good as when done on a tripod, but for the average user it is simple and better than what most cameras have available to them.

At this stage I wouldn’t personally buy a Sony NEX or any of these new mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras until enough lens selection is available that matches my needs. With an adapter for Leica lenses that day may come soon. Until that day I can dream of a lightweight easy to carry and quick to setup system for hiking will be available and affordable soon.

For more information on the Sony NEX, see Sony’s news release