The perfect long-lens, portrait compact: Sigma DP3, or . . .

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by studio460, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. I recently bought a fixed-lens APS-C compact, a Nikon Coolpix A, and I love it! Its stellar picture quality and spot-on matrix metering was just what I needed for fast, no-time-to-think grab shots. With its 28mm-equivalent, fixed lens, it's great for 90% of what I like to shoot. Now, I'd like to replace what I've been using as my long-lens "compact" camera (a Nikon D7000 plus a Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8), with something truly compact.
    The Sigma DP3, with its 75mm-equivalent fixed lens fits the bill, however its universally reported ultra-slow performance is giving me pause. This "long-lens compact" purchase won't be for slow, studied photography, it'll be for quick grab shots, when I have only a moment to shoot. Ideally, I'd like this second compact to be paired with a prime lens in the 85mm-150mm range (full-frame equivalent), with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 or better. Here are the candidates:
    Sigma DP3 w/50mm f/2.8 fixed-lens ($899); APS-C; 75mm-equivalent.
    Fuji XE-2 ($999) + 56mm f/1.2 ($999); APS-C; 85mm-equivalent.
    Sony Alpha 5000 ($498) + 50mm f/1.8 ($298); APS-C; 75mm-equivalent.
    Sony A7 ($1,698) + 55mm f/1.8 ($998); full-frame; 55mm.
    Olympus E-P5 ($799) + 75mm f/1.8 ($999); micro-4/3rds; 150mm-equivalent.
    [Note: Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 ($299) may be paired with most other APS-C ILCs.]
     
  2. Here's what I think about doing for something more compact: trade a D7000 for a D3300. But in your case, I think the 50-135 lacks a focusing motor.
    The answer depends on how long you want the lens to be and how important low light performance and a shallow DOF are for you.
     
  3. Would also consider the Olympus 45/1.8 on a suitable Olympus micro 4/3 body.
     
  4. Pick up a NEX-5n, which is cheap, an adapter and a Minolta 58mm f/1.4, which is $50 in perfect condition. Probably you
    can get the whole thing done for under $350 and you don't have to spend $900 on a Sigma with the slowest 50mm on the
    market.
     
  5. Thanks for the suggestions, guys! Of course I would kill for the Fuji XE-2/56mm f/1.2 combo, but that's a little steep. The Sony NEX is still a strong contender since the bodies are reasonably priced. A while back, I was considering the budget-priced Sony NEX C3, which has a surprisingly respectable DxO ISO score of 1083 (which bests even its successor, the NEX 3N, which has a DxO low-light score of 1067). The NEX C3 is no longer available, but it appears the NEX 3N is still being sold for as little as $349 (with lens) by major chain retailers.
     
  6. Sony NEX/Alpha candidates:
    Sony NEX 3N ($349) + 50mm f/1.8 ($298); APS-C; 75mm-equivalent = $647
    Sony Alpha 5000 ($498) + 50mm f/1.8 ($298); APS-C; 75mm-equivalent = $796
     
  7. Andrew said:
    Would also consider the Olympus 45/1.8 on a suitable Olympus micro 4/3 body.
    Thanks! I completely missed that one! At a 90mm-equivalent, that's closer to what I'm looking for, compared with only a 75mm-equivalent with the Sony lens. The budget-priced Olympus E-PM2 body rates a respectable ISO score of 932 on DxO's low-light test. Here's another short-tele ILC combo option:

    Olympus E-PM2 ($369) + 45mm f/1.8 ($399); micro-4/3rds; 90mm-equivalent = $768
     
  8. Andy said:
    Pick up a NEX-5n, which is cheap, an adapter and a Minolta 58mm f/1.4, which is $50 in perfect condition . . .
    That's an interesting option, but losing AF would be a big compromise. But since I already own a ton of Nikon glass, I could also just mount my AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, or my old AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8, or even my Ais Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 onto an Alpha 5000 or NEX 3N with an F-mount to E-mount adapter. Not nearly as compact as a Merrill DP, but certainly smaller than my D7000.
     
  9. No Sigma DPM camera is fast--excellent quality, but incredibly slow.
    BTW, they can be had on Amazon for $563 now if you don't mind them directly from Japan (and I assume without a U.S. warranty):
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00B5P5XUG/ref=sr_1_1_olp?ie=UTF8&qid=1391208781&sr=8-1&keywords=sigma+dp3m&condition=new
    But if you don't need AF then the NEX solution works very well. The old Tamron 90mm f2.5 in Adaptall 2 mount makes an excellent tight portrait lens on my NEX 7 coupled with a Pentax 50 f1.4 M42 for half body shots.
     
  10. Mike said:
    BTW, they can be had on Amazon for $563 now if you don't mind them directly from Japan (and I assume without a U.S. warranty):
    I saw that last night! I was tempted! But wouldn't all the menus be in Japanese?
     
  11. Scroll down to the bottom of the linked page and view some of the model sample images at 100% which were lensed with the 75mm-equivalent, Sigma DP3. The mascara on the model's eyelashes, and the image in general is really impressive, with a very high degree of acutance. Reading the Luminous Landscape review of the Merrill DP3 is making me thing twice about this camera:
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/sigma_dp3_review.shtml
    However, its extremely poor high-ISO performance, short battery life, lack of third-party RAW support, and sluggish overall feel has the Sigma at a huge disadvantage compared with similarly equipped ILCs (I didn't say "peers," because it really has none). But those images . . . amazing. The better-than-D7000 quality of the Nikon Coolpix A's images convinced me of the advantages fixed-lens compacts can offer, where the optics have been optimized to the sensor at a very high degree. The Sigma DP3 proves this performance benefit in a longer lensed compact. Since getting my Coolpix A, I've been really warming up to the idea of shooting two compact bodies--two fixed-lens compacts. At only $552 for a Japanese import, I might just give this a shot.
     
  12. Ralph, the image quality from a Foveon equipped camera is highly addictive. I've been shooting them almost exclusively since I started in digital 7 years ago. I own an SD15 now which, even though it has a relative low resolution compared to modern cameras, still looks better than my NEX 7 in the final print. And even though the NEX 7 has much higher resolution, the Sigma has a dimensionality and realism no Bayer camera can match since each pixel is unique. But they can certainly be a pain to deal with, with slow quirky bodies.
    And the new DP3M camera's image quality is simply superb. But with each exposure taking 7 seconds to process (in raw mode, which is the best way to shoot them) and having only a seven shot buffer it forces you into a style of careful, almost meditative, photography that went out with shooting large format. In other words, you really have to slow yourself down when using it. But if you love high resolution beautiful landscapes, portraits or close-up the results are worth it.
     
  13. Gushing LL reviews aren't really a source for rational information.
     
  14. DxO ISO score of 1083 (which bests even its successor, the NEX 3N, which has a DxO low-light score of 1067)​
    The difference between an DxO ISO score of 500 and 1000 is ONE stop. Those figure of merit scores don't mean much either; it's more important to see what the difference is at specific ISO speeds. Without being able correlate numeric values to visible characteristics renders the numbers meaningless.
    That sigma camera is just the ticket if you're looking for that pointillist painting look when you're shooting those night grab shots at ISO 3200.
     
  15. Andy, I take it you've never shot with a Foveon equipped camera.
    As for reviews there are plenty more, all equally gushing:
    http://diglloyd.com/blog/2012/20121005_1-SigmaDP1Merrill-comments.html
    http://www.fotopolis.pl/index.php?n=15841&p=0
    http://www.optyczne.pl/230.1-Test_aparatu-Sigma_DP3_Merrill-Wstęp.html
    http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/sigma-dp2-merrill-camera/
    http://www.optyczne.pl/227.1-Test_aparatu-Sigma_DP1_Merrill-Wstęp.html
    And the conclusions are pretty much the same, a PITA to use and process but the results are worth it (at least for those who value image quality over convenience).
     
  16. So what? There's nothing these cameras are being shown doing that you can't do with any other pretty decent APSC
    camera with a prime lens, being used carefully. The reviews are gushing over the fact that careful use and a reasonably
    good lens will result in a sharp image - which has always been true and has nothing to do with magic sensors.

    This is because there is no such thing as a magic sensor. It's just a camera, with the slowest 50mm lens you'll ever see,
    that costs $900.
     
  17. Mike said:
    Ralph, the image quality from a Foveon equipped camera is highly addictive . . . But if you love high resolution beautiful landscapes, portraits or close-up the results are worth it.
    Thanks for your comments, Mike! Yeah, I was pretty amazed by the LL sample images. Quantitative measurements are fine as a starting point, but images of human subjects are always the most compelling tests. I think the problem is that we're often trying to serve too many masters with a single system, or a with single piece of gear. Many times, a highly specialized tool is required (or, simply desired), one which is best suited to task, and one which best fits the specific application requirements.

    My Nikon Coolpix 'A' certainly solved one specific problem--to always have a camera with me. That it's also one of the prettiest APS-C imagers I've ever seen is a huge plus. I just wish Nikon took the Merrill DP route, and built additional fixed-lens compacts with different lenses, similar to Sigma's approach. But, if no one is going to make the "perfect" long-lens compact, then maybe I'll just have to adapt my requirements, and adjust to what's offered. Certainly the DP3 has some huge trade-offs, but I have to admit, I'm pretty impressed.
     
  18. Bruce said:
    The difference between an DxO ISO score of 500 and 1000 is ONE stop.
    I consider a 1-EV performance difference significant.
     
  19. Andy said:
    So what? There's nothing these cameras are being shown doing that you can't do with any other pretty decent APSC camera with a prime lens, being used carefully.
    Well, that's why I'm discussing this in the mirrorless forum. Full-sized APS-C DSLRs are either impractical, or simply inconvenient for certain applications. I'd bet money that my Coolpix 'A' images bests those taken with my D7000 with my AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8D mounted, and it's a mere fraction of its size, plus, it was only about one-third the cost.
     
  20. Okay, I'm "back" (I lost my head for a while looking a those Merrill images). As much as I like the images from the DP3, operationally, it probably just won't work for me. I see that the recently announced Olympus E-M1/E-M10 micro-4/3rds bodies have upgraded ASICs (TruePic VII), so I can only guess that a similar upgrade is due for the more compact versions of Olympus' line. What brings me back to Olympus is its super-sexy 75mm f/1.8 (150mm-equivalent) mid-tele. Probably too rich for my blood, but I can still opt for the almost-as-sexy 45mm f/1.8 (90mm-equivalent), which has a much less painful selling price of only $399. Perhaps, it's worth a short wait to see if an upgraded E-PL5 arrives this spring.
     
  21. The absolute, hands down, high value, telephoto, native µ4/3 lens is the Sigma 60/2.8. I have one and the 75/1.8 & 45/1.8. It gives up 1 - 1/3 stops to the other lenses, but it's tack sharp WO. I can hand hold it @ 1/15 sec. with an E-M5 and that equates to a reasonable ISOs in rather dim light. At less than 1/3 of the size and price of the 75/1.8 it's a great deal.
     
  22. Ralph,
    Are you planing to carry with you two fixed lens cameras?
     
  23. the m4/3's biggest plusses are AF speed, lens selection, and IBIS in-body stabilization. but you're giving away image quality to the Fuji X series as well as low-light performance. the sigma DP3 is probably worth it at under $600, but it's not going to be the best for low-light candids. or anything which requires speed. personally, i'm waiting for an XT1 to go with my XE1 and x100. the 56/1.2 is definitely on my radar. if the dp3 drops to $500 i might go for it.
     
  24. Being a Fuji x100 user with a hankering for a longer lens, this thread has really got me thinking about the sigma dp3. Two
    small compacts in a camera bag wouldn't be much heavier than one body and two primes, and there would be no need to
    switch lenses in the field and worry about getting dust/dirt on the sensor.
     
  25. Bruce said:
    The absolute, hands down, high value, telephoto, native µ4/3 lens is the Sigma 60/2.8. I have one and the 75/1.8 & 45/1.8. It gives up 1 - 1/3 stops to the other lenses, but it's tack sharp WO.
    Thanks for the info, Bruce. Although price is always a consideration, that 150mm-equivalent f/1.8 sure seems cool. If I go this way, I would be going for max-speed and optimum subject isolation, so I would choose either the 45mm or 75mm. I would love to see some wide-open portraits shot with your 75mm f/1.8 if you care to share any (and, also any shot with the 45mm f/1.8 as well).
     
  26. Thomas said:
    Are you planing to carry with you two fixed lens cameras?
    Well, I found my carry-all-the-time camera in the Nikon Coolpix A. So, that will be with me 100% of the time from now on, regardless. Occasionally, I'd like to also carry a long-lensed compact in addition to that. So, yes, sometimes.
     
  27. Eric said:
    . . . the 56/1.2 is definitely on my radar . . .
    Yeah, I would absolutely love that Fuji 85mm-equivalent f/1.2. That was my first choice--very pricey way to go, though.
     
  28. Benny said:
    . . . this thread has really got me thinking about the sigma dp3. Two small compacts in a camera bag wouldn't be much heavier than one body and two primes, and there would be no need to switch lenses in the field . . .
    Yeah, at first glance, the Sigma DP3 looks like the perfect solution. But it's a camera with some significant drawbacks, as well as some unique strengths. Tough choice. I may still opt for a discounted Ebay model from a Japanese seller. I typically carry two identical full-frame bodies when shooting events, which provide near-instant, focal-length switching. So, I think having that same kind of versatility in a pair of compacts would be pretty slick.
     
  29. Hector said:
    Here's what I think about doing for something more compact: trade a D7000 for a D3300. But in your case, I think the 50-135 lacks a focusing motor.
    Yeah, at first I was hell-bent on getting another compact, but I just compared the D3200 vs. a D7000 on camerasize.com, and there appears to be a significant size difference (more than I had thought). If I go this route, I could pair it with the Tamron AF 60mm f/2.0 to achieve a 90mm-equivalent, portrait-length lens. But, I've been all over the map here . . . I'm even half-thinking of slapping my old Ais 105mm f/1.8 onto a Sony NEX 3N (with an F-mount adapter), and focusing manually. Being able to shoot at f/1.8 on a 157.5mm-equivalent lens on an APS-C compact would be wild! Plus, the NEX 3N is super-affordable at only $349!
     
  30. I think looking at this camerasize.com comparison may have clinched the deal:
    [​IMG]
    Nikon Coolpix A vs. Sony Alpha NEX-3N
    Sony NEX 3N; APS-C; 16.2MP; DxO low-light score: 1067 ($339 including slow kit lens).
    Sony E-mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS, 75mm-equivalent ($298).
     
  31. Sony Alpha NEX-3N:
    While the Sony NEX-3N reportedly produces sharp, low-noise images with good dynamic range and pleasing colorimetry (likely on par with the Nikon 'A'), I could find no mention of "auto-ISO" or "minimum shutter speed" in its user manual. So, I assume it has neither. It has a program mode, but who knows how "smart" it is?
    Since I've gotten my Coolpix 'A,' I've begun shooting almost exclusively in program mode/auto-ISO (with a minimum shutter speed specified) with surprisingly spot-on results. I'm quickly warming up to this way of "dumbed-down" shooting. My last series of Nikon 'A' photos (posted in mirrorless monday) were all shot in program mode, all lensed at f/2.8 @ 1/160th (my preset minimum shutter speed), as the ISO automatically varied from 1,000 up to 3,200 (all shot in the same room). Now, I really see the value of having both a "smart" program mode, and an auto-ISO feature in a compact shooter. If the NEX-3N's program mode is inherently "dumb," then, unfortunately, this value-priced option may be out of consideration.
     
  32. Sony Alpha NEX-3N: Part Deux
    On the other hand the NEX-3N is only $339! One thing about the Sony is that I can mount different/exotic lenses on it using available adapters. Also, a feature unique to the Sony is its focus-peaking circuit, making manual focusing easier, perhaps significantly so. I've also been dying to shoot my pre-Ai Nikkor 43-86mm zoom on a modern sensor (but I haven't yet had it Ai-converted). Does anyone know if I'm able to mount a pre-Ai lens onto an F-mount to E-mount adapter?
     
  33. I said:
    I'm even half-thinking of slapping my old Ais 105mm f/1.8 onto a Sony NEX 3N (with an F-mount adapter), and focusing manually. Being able to shoot at f/1.8 on a 157.5mm-equivalent lens on an APS-C compact would be wild!
    To get an idea of how the Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 Ais would scale on a NEX-3N, here's photo of it next to my Coolpix 'A':
    [​IMG]
     
  34. Preferred "portrait" focal-lengths:
    I've been playing with my various 'D' lenses, and Ais manual-focus Nikkors on my APS-C D7000, and realized that a 50mm f/1.8 (75mm-equivalent) on an APS-C body is too short for me. The AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 (127mm-equivalent) is nice, but the 105mm f/1.8 Ais (157.5mm-equivalent) is really nice. I've been shooting my Sigma 150mm f/2.8 on my full-frame bodies almost exclusively for portraits ever since I got it, so I've been increasingly leaning toward longer focal lengths for people in recent months. With the focus-peaking feature of the Sony NEX-3N, using a manual-focus SLR lens could be a fairly workable combination. Note that the Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 Ais is almost half the size of the Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8, plus, it's a full one-and-a-third stops faster.
    Here's a slightly longer shot, lensed with a Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 on a Nikon D7000:
    [​IMG]
    Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 @ 125mm (187.5mm-equivalent) on an APS-C imager.
     
  35. That 105 is a heck of a lens, but as you say it's huge. If you can get a 105mm f/2.5 or even a 100mm Series E you'd have
    a good lens with less size and weight.

    I don't think there is a compact camera option with a fixed lens in the focal length range you're looking for. There are
    some that have good zoom lenses but you wouldn't be able to get the background blur.
     
  36. Does the Sony Nex 3N have good focus peaking like the more expensive models? If so, then yes, I see where a Nex 3N coupled with a manual long lens with adapter might be a relatively affordable alternative to the Sigma DP3. However, comments from many on the Net regarding the Sigma Dp3 indicate that it is a stellar performer, as long as there is sufficient light to shoot at low ISO. Some refer to the Sigma as a pocket technical camera, and others have compared its IQ to slightly below that of MF.
     
  37. And I just noticed that the Sigma 60mm DN f2.8 for sony E mount is only $239, the price of a good Novoflex adapter! Hmm.....Sony Nex 3N with the Sigma 60mm DN.
     
  38. Andy said:
    That 105 is a heck of a lens, but as you say it's huge . . .
    Yeah, that's one heavy hunk of glass, but it's still more compact than my modern AF-S f/1.4 FX primes. The AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D is smaller still. But, the 105mm Ais, mounted on the tiny NEX-3N, will be like holding a lens with a built-in viewfinder! Kind of an odd form-factor, but I'm thinking I might actually like it. The heft of the lens, with its large barrel, should yield a firm left-handed cradle position. Plus, it should be much easier to manual-focus using the NEX-3N's focus-peaking feature on its 3" LCD, rather than using either a D3200 or D7000 in live view mode, which has no such focusing aids (the zoom feature is too difficult to use handheld). Actually, in many situations, it's easier for me to shoot candids like a TLR, using a rear display for framing and focus, rather than using a traditional viewfinder. Plus, the NEX-3N is so affordable, I think it's worth give it a try.
    Andy said:
    I don't think there is a compact camera option with a fixed lens in the focal length range you're looking for.
    Well, the Olympus micro-4/3rds body with the 75mm f/1.8, 150mm-equivalent ($999) actually fits the bill. It's just a bit on the pricey side, since I also have to buy a body (e.g., at least $599 for an E-PL5). Also, for that kind of coin, I'm approaching the price point of the Fuji combo [Fuji XE-2 ($999) + 56mm f/1.2, 85mm-equivalent ($999)], which is APS-C.
     
  39. Benny said:
    Does the Sony Nex 3N have good focus peaking like the more expensive models?
    Yes, I read a review which mentioned that the NEX-3N has this feature. I'll double-check the user manual to make sure.

    Benny said:
    And I just noticed that the Sigma 60mm DN f2.8 for sony E mount is only $239, the price of a good Novoflex adapter! Hmm.....Sony Nex 3N with the Sigma 60mm DN.
    Yes, I really think the NEX-3N is a real sleeper in the ILC market, and represents a terrific value, offering a very good-looking APS-C imager in a very compact package. Now, operationally, it leaves a lot to be desired (e.g., only menu-based ISO adjustment), but since it won't be my main camera, I'll be able to deal with that. If it were to be my only camera, I think I would look elsewhere.
     
  40. Benny said:
    However, comments from many on the Net regarding the Sigma Dp3 indicate that it is a stellar performer, as long as there is sufficient light to shoot at low ISO. Some refer to the Sigma as a pocket technical camera, and others have compared its IQ to slightly below that of MF.
    Agreed--I've read the same reports. However, I think the DP3 just has too many strikes against it to be practical for most shooters--it has extremely short battery life, egregiously long write times, lame performance above ISO 400, etc. It's probably too much to forgive for the majority of us, save for certain niche applications.
     
  41. personally, i would go for the fuji xe-2+56/1.2 over the Nex-3+frankenlens combo, even though its more costly. i guess if you already have the lens, the body is a one-time investment, but the Nex-3 seems rather limited in performance options, other than focus peaking. Sony Nex cameras have been out longer, but Fuji already has better native lenses (and better bodies). so from a long-term investment standpoint, fuji seems like the better option. in any event, with the Nex/Nikkor combo, you no longer have a compact kit, so why not just use the d7000+50-135? Gear Acquisition Syndrome can be addictive but it's not always practical.
     
  42. Eric said:
    . . . personally, i would go for the fuji xe-2+56/1.2 over the Nex-3+frankenlens combo, even though its more costly . . .
    Yes, Eric, I think the Fuji f/1.2 combo would be my first choice as well, if money were no object (the Olympus/75mm f/1.8, perhaps, my second). But the Fuji option is a $2,000 kit, which I'd probably rather put toward something really fun like a Nikon Df, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8, or Profoto B1 500 Air. Again, I think the problem comes when trying to serve too many masters with a single system. Here, I'm basically cherry-picking the best of both compacts, and (affordable) ILCs to fit certain specific needs. I don't plan on "investing" in an entire ILC system, since I only want two focal lengths anyway: short, and long.

    Eric said:
    . . . i guess if you already have the lens, the body is a one-time investment, but the Nex-3 seems rather limited in performance options, other than focus peaking . . . in any event, with the Nex/Nikkor combo, you no longer have a compact kit, so why not just use the d7000+50-135?
    The NEX-3N is likely limited in a number of ways most photographers would find frustrating, or even deal-breakers. But, I only need it to do one thing--enable manual focusing, better than a DSLR is able to do. The Nikkor 105mm is about half the size of the Tokina 50-135mm, and the NEX-3N is a fraction of the size of the D7000--I actually think it will be a comparatively small package. In fact, I'm dying of curiosity just to see what it will look/feel like. For only $339 (less a $50 Amazon discount for applying for their Visa card), and a $44 adapter, I'll have this really weird "Frankencamera," that'll be able to shoot with very little light. Instead of people eyeing my Coolpix 'A' and saying, "Nice camera!," they'll see my NEX-3N/lens-monster and say, "What's that?!?!"
     
  43. I said:
    . . . I've been shooting my Sigma 150mm f/2.8 on my full-frame bodies almost exclusively for portraits ever since I got it, so I've been increasingly leaning toward longer focal lengths for people in recent months . . .
    Here's an image sample of a 150mm lens on an FX body (simulating the FOV of a 105mm lens on an APS-C body):

    [​IMG]
    Sigma 150mm f/2.8 on a Nikon D3s [uncropped].
     
  44. I also have a more compact, pre-Ai Nikkor 43-86mm (64.5-129mm equivalent) f/3.5 zoom which I'm able mount un-converted on a Nikon D5200 (which I'm still debating whether to buy or not), and hopefully, also on an F-mount to E-mount lens adapter for use with the NEX-3N:
    [​IMG]
    Pre-Ai Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 zoom.
     
  45. I said:
    . . . which I'm able mount un-converted on a Nikon D5200 (which I'm still debating whether to buy or not) . . .
    I meant a Nikon D3200.
     
  46. Benny said:
    And I just noticed that the Sigma 60mm DN f2.8 for sony E mount is only $239 . . .
    Ha! Yes, I just drilled down B+H's site for third-party, E-mount lenses, and made the same discovery! A 90mm-equivalent for $239 with auto-focus! Great deal! That went right by me the first time you mentioned it!
    Here's another Sony NEX-3N manual-focus combo:

    • Sony Alpha NEX-3N ($329)
    • Fotodiox G-lens compatible, F-mount adapter ($59.95)
    • Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4, 87mm-equivalent ($489)
     
  47. Yup, Benny, I think that's it! This stand-in for the ill-performing, but excellent-imaging APS-C compact, the Sigma DP3, is the budget combo from both Sony and Sigma. This two-brand, yet still integrated combo will set you back a total of only $568:
    • Sony Alpha NEX-3N ($329)
    • Sigma AF 60mm f/2.8 DN, 90mm-equivalent, for Sony E-mount ($239)
    However, one reviewer commented that the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN offers "[no] PDAF focus support," (and, no OSS), though I gather the lens' internal linear focus motor accommodates CDAF (though, I'm not even sure if the NEX-3N supports PDAF since most published reviews for this lens are NEX-7 centric). Note that the recently announced Sony Alpha 5000 is the NEX-3N's replacement (hence the clearance pricing), due out in March 2014.
     
  48. Sony Alpha NEX-3N notes:
    • There is a dedicated ISO button on the rear rotary selector: press, and turn selector to adjust ISO.
    • There is an auto-ISO function which ranges from 200 ISO (base) to 3,200 ISO (even though the camera's maximum ISO goes up to 16,000).
     
  49. So many combinations! I have a headache. Perhaps we should all go back to film. Yes, the Nikon FM with a couple of primes, loaded with Portra 400. What could be better? :)
     
  50. my head is spinning now.
     
  51. Benny said:
    Perhaps we should all go back to film. Yes, the Nikon FM with a couple of primes, loaded with Portra 400.
    I agree. When I clean out the garage this summer, I'm going to find my Nikon FM2, and shoot Tri-X with just two manual-focus Ais Nikkors, and that's it!
     
  52. It's done . . . almost. Thanks for everyone's helpful contributions to this very long thread. This took me a while to sort out, but I think I finally got what I was looking for, and then some. Thanks to the fact that both the Sony NEX-3N and Nikon D3200 are within a few weeks of being replaced by newer models, the pricing on these two products make them very attractive buys right now:
    1. Ordered the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN "Art" lens (90mm-equivalent) for Sony E-mount from B+H for $239.
    2. Gonna pick-up a Sony NEX-3N at a local BestBuy this week with some gift cards I forgot about ($329 + 9% sales tax, less $200 = $159).
    3. Bought a refurbished Nikon D3200 for $314.95, plus $10 shipping, less a $50 Amazon Visa promotional discount, totaling $274.
    2. Ordered a Fotodiox G-compatible F-mount to E-mount adapter from B+H for $59.95.
    So, when just carrying my NEX-3N for fun, I'll have the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 lens mounted. Not too fast, but not too big either. When I want to experiment, I'll mount the Fotodiox adapter and the Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 Ais manual-focus lens (plus any of my other Nikkors I may want to try). The Nikon D3200 was such a deal, I couldn't resist. At least now I can mount my un-converted, pre-Ai Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 lens on something.
     
  53. Sony Alpha NEX-3N additional notes:
    • Focus-peaking is supported, under "peaking level" menu item: high, mid, low, and off (p. 54, Sony user manual).
    • Focus-peaking color can be chosen under "peaking color" menu item: white, red, or yellow (p. 54, Sony user manual).
    • The NEX-3N does not support PDAF, only CDAF.
    • Both exposure compensation and ISO have dedicated buttons on the D-pad; press and rotate control wheel to adjust.
    • If you buy one, turn off "Clear Image Zoom," and "Digital Zoom" the moment you open the box.
    • The NEX-3N does have a "release w/o lens" set-up option, permitting shutter release when using mechanical lens adapters.
    • As I mentioned earlier, the NEX-3N does have an "ISO AUTO" mode, ranging from ISO 200-3,200 (p. 40, Sony user manual).
     
  54. Whew!, I am glad that is over and done with! New topic: cheap wide angle system. Discuss among yourselves...
     
  55. Replica Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim. $25-30 on Amazon depending on color.
     

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