Tag Archives: SLR

Undressing a Sony NEX Camera

Undressing a Sony NEX Camera

I have to say I have one of the better jobs on the planet, at least for a photography gear-head. The part I like best — well, really there’s a lot of parts I like best — but one fun part is that my job description includes: Take things apart. See how they work. Learn how to fix them.
Sometimes taking things apart is disappointing. I just don’t want to know things like “so you hold that together with a piece of Scotch tape, huh?” Some cameras and lenses look really nice on the outside, but inside there’s so much chaos I wonder if someone in the corporation is saying “We have 2 million of these parts left over, put them in something so we don’t have to write them off.”

Every so often, though, I get to see an internal design that is so elegant and efficient I think the engineers should have signed it like a painting. The Sony NEX cameras are that way. Perhaps being so small required efficient engineering, or maybe the team that designed it just was so good. Maybe the fact that there was no legacy technology that was cheap to carry over to the next model let the engineers, rather than the beancounters, make all the decisions. Whatever the reason, the layout is amazing.

I got to take apart an NEX 3 the other day (water in a camera is a bad thing) and thought some of you might like seeing the insides so I took a few pictures along the way.

The Usual Disclaimer Stuff

First things first: if your camera looks like this, then leave it alone. I have it on good authority that the curse of Serenput I (3,500 years later and we still can’t top the Egyptians when it comes to a good curse) is inscribed in the electronic chips of every NEX camera:

Whoever shall enter here and take these offerings: his arm shall be cut off like that of a bull, his neck shall be twisted off like that of a bird, his office shall not exist, the position of his son shall not exist, his house shall not exist in Nubia, his tomb shall not exist in the necropolis, his god shall not accept his white bread, he shall be cooked together with the condemned, his children shall belong to the fire, his corpse shall not be to the ground, I shall be against him as a crocodile on the water, as a serpent on earth, and as an enemy in the necropolis.

We’re semi-trained, semi-professionals with another 20 of these on the shelf. If we screw it up, we’ll only have 19 left, which is probably less critical than if you screw up the only one you have and then need to ‘splain to your wife why you have to buy a new camera.

Now Let’s Get to It!

It’s pretty obvious the 4 screws on the front hold the mount on, just like with every other camera.

And then that the three screws under that hold the mount base, which also lets you remove the lens stop. So far just about like every other camera (although unlike some there are no shims under the mount).

Flipping the camera over and removing 13 screws lets the back come right off. Thank you Sony #1: Notice all 13 screws are exactly the same size, which is a nice thing. A typical SLR uses 4 or 5 different size screws and you have to mark or remember exactly which screw goes where.

Thank you Sony #2: all the back buttons are all mounted on a single flex with one connection: you can remove and replace it in about 30 seconds should the need arise. Just the circular dial button on most cameras has 6 to 9 pieces (which I can assure you can’t be reassembled in less than an hour, 15 minutes of which is for profanity breaks, the other 45 require using a magnifying loupe which leaves you cross-eyed for the rest of the day).

The tilting LCD is surprisingly easy to disassemble – removing a few screws removes the cover and exposes the flexes. Disconnecting those and the LCD comes free.

After the LCD is removed and it’s flexes disconnected, the metal shielding plate is lifted up and the circuit boards are visible. If you haven’t looked at other cameras, you may not appreciate just how clean and well laid out this is. Every flex connector comes onto the main circuit board directly: no long, winding, taped-down cables on this camera. Notice also there is significant electrical shielding over critical cables and circuit boards (I’ve removed the secondary shield over the main board already). What nice, clean design!

After disconnecting the flexes and removing a couple of screws the two circuit boards and the plastic frame under them come out. Another ‘thank you Sony’: the smaller assembly is the memory card circuit. Those break somewhat frequently and on some cameras (yes, I’m talking about you, Canon 5D II) you may end up replacing the entire circuit board when that happens. On the NEX that would never be necessary.

Under that pretty copper shield (another point worth considering: copper is much more expensive than aluminum) is the imaging chip. It’s held in place with 4 screws and no shims. I’m not sure if the mirrorless design with it’s close backfocusing distance means alignment of the imaging chip and lens mount isn’t as critical as on an SLR, or if Sony is able to machine to such close tolerances that shims aren’t necessary. Maybe one of you can enlighten me.

The last few assemblies are the shutter and battery compartment, again easily removed.

Only after they are removed is the top button assembly accesible. So note to self: don’t break the shutter button on this camera. The electronic connections on the lens mount and the metal chassis of the camera are the last pieces out (lower right in the picture below). Even completely disassembled, there are amazingly few parts to this camera.

For those of you who want to ask, no, there was no reason to put the camera back together after water submersion. We wouldn’t trust the electronics to keep working even if they did work for a while. But there are a number of nonelectric parts that are salvageable, which is why we take them apart. OK, really there aren’t a lot of salvageable parts, after water immersion. But taking them apart is fun anyway.

And to give you a bit of perspective: If I wanted to take pictures of all the parts from a disassembled SLR, I would have needed about 4 images the size of the above. I’m generally not a Sony fan, but it’s amazing how much Sony has simplified the design of this camera – not just compared to SLRs, but even to other mirrorless cameras. And props to them for doing a lot of little things that cost money but probably make the camera better and more reliable: heavy electronic shielding, gluing down the flex clamps, using copper shields instead of aluminum, etc.

About the author: Roger Cicala is the founder of LensRentals. This article was originally published here.

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Lens Rentals stripped down a Sony NEX-3, and showed off its incredible design.

What Is Inside a Sony NEX-3?

Photo by Lens Rentals

Lens Rentals stripped down a Sony NEX-3, and showed off its incredible design.

Roger Cicala over at Lens Rentals has taken a water-damaged Sony NEX-3, and stripped it for parts, in the process showing off the incredible design that went into making this tiny ILC. Reading over his description of taking it apart piece by piece, you’re really struck by how much Sony did to make it simple to disassemble, and how elegant the construction is.

For example, Cicala notes how the buttons on the rear are all mounted on a single board, rather than separately, so it only takes a few minutes to take out and replace, rather than hours like on many other cameras. Or how the memory card circuit is separate from the main circuit, so the entire circuit board doesn’t need to be replaced if only part of it fails. He even emphasizes how cleanly laid out the circuitry is, with no wasted space.

Even more incredible? A photograph like the one above of all the pieces in a standard SLR would have to be four times the size — the NEX-3 has a fraction of the number of components as larger cameras. Hopefully that means that it’s easy enough to repair, and people will keep them going for years.

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Another Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/15 ZF.2/ZE super wide angle lens teaser

Another Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/15 ZF.2/ZE super wide angle lens teaser

Zeiss posted another teaser on Facebook for the upcoming Distagon T* 2,8/15 ZF.2/ZE super wide angle lens:

“Here’s the next close-up of the newest member of our SLR family of lenses. The lens shade with 95mm filter thread is integrated into the design. This new super wide-angle lens from Carl Zeiss will be available from May 2012.”

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Zeiss posted a teaser on their official blog about “new super wide angle lens from Carl Zeiss”:

Zeiss teases about the upcoming Distagon T* 2,8/15 ZF.2/ZE super wide angle lens

Zeiss posted a teaser on their official blog about “new super wide angle lens from Carl Zeiss”:

“It is here: the lens at the top of the wish list of our community on Facebook and Flickr. Now you can look forward to exploring entirely new creative opportunities. In the next few days, this is where we will be showing you everything our new SLR lens has to offer.”

I am sure this teaser is for the new Distagon T* 2,8/15 ZF.2/ZE super wide angle lens that is expected to be released on March 16th, 2012 and will start shipping in May. Expect the price tag to be around 000.

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March 06, 2012 at 01:57AM


New Gear: Limited Edition Silver Pentax K-5 With Ultra-thin Marc Newson 40mm Lens

Pentax’s newest special edition K-5 is more than just a recolor, it also packs a special, limited edition 40mm f/2.8 lens.

Pentax has a reputation for releasing garish variants of their SLRs, but the newest attempt is not only relatively decent looking, but also comes with a special, limited-edition lens. The Silver Pentax K-5 will only be sold through Pentax’s webstore for ,599.95, and will ship out in April, with just 1500 sets produced.

The special lens on this kit is designed by Marc Newson, and Pentax is calling it the world’s thinnest fixed focal lenght lens for an SLR. It’s an smc PENTAX-DA 40mm f/2.8 XS.

Unlike some of the other limited edition cameras on the market, the silver K-5 is remarkably affordable. A normal K-5 has a list price of ,199.95 for body only, and ,349.95 with an 18-55mm kit lens. Putting a ,599.95 pricetag on a limited edition body with a rare lens seems pretty reasonable.

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March 02, 2012 at 07:32AM


Pentax K-5 silver special edition with a Marc Newson designed DA 40mm f/2.8 XS ultra-thin lens announced

As previously reported, Pentax Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation announced the Pentax K-5 silver special edition camera kit with a Marc Newson designed DA 40mm f/2.8 XS ultra-thin lens (the same lens from the K-01 kit). The kit will be available in April 2012 for 599.95.

Press release:

DENVER, CO March 1, 2012… PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION is pleased to announce the launch of the PENTAX K-5 Silver Special Edition. Available only as a limited edition of 1,500 sets worldwide, the package consists of the PENTAX K-5 digital SLR camera body matched with the new, ultra thin smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS lens.

The exclusive package combines the PENTAX K-5 — the flagship model of the PENTAX K series of digital SLR cameras — with the smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS lens — the world’s thinnest unifocal lens*. Marc Newson, one of the world’s most renowned industrial designers, masterly designed this lens. Both the camera body and the lens barrel feature the same elegant silver finish, assuring that this package is a high-performance imaging tool that also boasts maximum visual harmony. Meticulous attention has been paid to every detail of the package, including a specially designed package, while the camera’s firmware has been updated to the latest version (Ver.1.13).

* The world’s thinnest interchangeable lens for lens-interchangeable digital SLR cameras, as of February 25, 2012 (based on PENTAX’s research).Note: The specifications of the camera body (except for the firmware) and the lens are same as those for the standard K-5 model.

The K-5 Silver Special Edition package will be available in April 2012 for 599.95 USD and will be available exclusively through the PENTAX Web Store (www.pentaxwebstore.com) and Ace Photo (www.acephoto.net). More information is available at the following link: www.pentaximaging.com/news and product images are available at: www.pentaximaging.com/press/pressfiles.html PENTAX is a leader in the production of a variety of adventure ready digital cameras including weather-resistant digital SLRs and stylish, compact, waterproof cameras, as well as lenses, flash units, binoculars, scopes, and eyepieces. For more than 90 years, PENTAX has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of adventurous consumers and businesses. With new headquarters in Denver, Colorado, PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION is a subsidiary of PENTAX RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. effective October 1, 2011. Additional details may be found here:www.pentaximaging.com/news

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February 24, 2012 at 11:27PM


New Gear: Booq Python Camera Bags

Bag makers Booq has expanded into a range of high-end camera-specific carriers

The folks at Booq have just announced an entire new line of bags, designed specifically for SLR users. The Booq Python bags each have a different style and hold a different amount of gear, depending on your needs.

At the top of the line is the Python pack, pictured above. This 59.95 backpack fits 1-2 DSLRs, up to 4 mid-size lenses, 1 large zoom lens, tripod, tablet and a laptop up to 15”. It uses side-loading openings, so you can sling it over and pull out your gear without needing to take the pack off entirely. The pack, along with the rest of the line, has water repellant exteriors, thick padding, and contrasting red interiors to make it easy to spot your gear.

The Python sling is a large, single strap bag which hangs over one of your shoulders. It can squeeze in 1-2 DSLRs, up to 4 mid-size lenses, 1 large zoom lens, tripod, and a tablet or laptop under 13″, and will set you back 29.95

The Python courier is, unsurprisingly, a courier bag. For 79.95, it has space for a DLSR with attached lens, up to four additional lenses, and a tablet. You can also quickly remove the rigid internal support system, and use it as a standard courier bag.

Finally, and least expensively, the 9.95 Python toploader , with space your camera, its lens, and enough pockets to stash all the usual tiny accoutrement that follows you everywhere while shooting.

The bags aren’t cheap, but they have a fairly subtle, clean look that some people will likely find very attractive.

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February 20, 2012 at 10:01PM


PocketWizard Plus III announced

PocketWizard announced the previously leaked Plus III transceiver. For more info check this dedicated site and the latest Joe McNally’s post. The price is 39.00 and is currently available for pre-order at B&H.

Press release:

LPA Design Announces New PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver
Easy-to-use, feature-packed radio trigger is ideal for any serious photographer

So. Burlington, VT – February 20, 2012 – LPA Design, manufacturers of PocketWizard Photo Products, the world leader in reliable wireless control of cameras, flash lighting and light meters, announces the new PocketWizard Plus III – a feature-packed, easy-to-use solution for remote flash and camera triggering. This new simple but powerful radio provides professional and serious amateur photographers with the most reliable triggering system which they will never outgrow and never want to be without.

“Our goals in designing the new Plus III were simple: It needed to do more, cost less and offer the same reliability and simplicity as the legendary Plus II. We believe the Plus III achieves all of this and more in its sleek new design,” said Dave Schmidt, LPA Designs VP of Marketing. “Photographers need tools that will help them create images they couldn’t before and with less hassle and lower cost. The Plus III is exactly that tool.”

The new Plus III Transceiver features 32 channels and Selective Quad-Zone Triggering that enables photographers to remotely trigger flash and/or cameras in groups or individually all wirelessly from hundreds of feet away. Performance enhancing features include Long Range Mode and Repeater Mode to help photographers tackle the most challenging shooting environments and open the door for never-attempted image ideas. All features, channels and zones can be easily set using the soft-touch keypad and are clearly displayed on the backlit LCD display. *

The versatile new PocketWizard Plus III is compatible with all other PocketWizard radios and virtually every popular flash and professional digital SLR camera system. It also communicates with all PocketWizard-enabled photo gear including select Profoto, Dynalite, Norman and Photogenic flash systems and Sekonic light meters.

The new Plus III will be demonstrated at the PocketWizard WPPI 2012 Booth #621 in Las Vegas, NV, February 20-23, 2012 as well as in the JP Distribution booth at Focus on Imaging Show in Birmingham, UK, March 4-7, 2012.
* Please see PocketWizard PLUS III Features and Specifications documents for more information.

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February 14, 2012 at 09:18PM


Lensbaby Introduces the Edge 80 Optic

This is what Lensbaby has been teasing us on Facebook for several days now: the new Edge 80 Optic. The new lens features a f/2.8 – f/22 12-blade aperture and is compatible with the Composer Pro, Composer, Muse, Scout and Control Freak. The price of the Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic is 00 (MSRP). Here are some samples and the full press release after the break:

Edge 80 gives photographers extraordinary creative control over depth of field

Portland, OR – Lensbaby, announces today the availability of its 80mm Edge 80 Optic, the newest addition to its Optic Swap System. This new optic is compatible with the Lensbaby Composer Pro, Composer, Muse, Scout and Control Freak, and will transform any of these bending lens bodies into a tilt lens that delivers a selective slice of sharp focus through an image. Like the Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic, the Edge 80 features Lensbaby’s internal 12-blade adjustable aperture.

“The Edge 80 Optic allows photographers to create images with quality that is on-par with some of the best lenses I’ve ever used. Like a great lens mounted on a view camera bellows, you can make spectacular ‘straight’ photos with the Edge 80 pointed straight ahead and then, when you want a different look altogether, fluidly tilt the lens to create a razor sharp slice of selective focus through your image,” said Craig Strong, Lensbaby President and Co-Founder. For more information, visit the Edge 80 hub.

The Edge 80 provides a flat field of focus that, pointed straight ahead, takes photos that are sharp from edge to edge. Tilting the Edge 80 allows photographers to create vertical, horizontal and diagonal slices of focus through the image. Objects in both the foreground and the background can be in focus within that slice. Photographers can control the size of the slice of focus by changing the 12-blade aperture. For example, f/2.8 will produce a thin slice of focus with abundant blur. F/22 will produce a very wide slice of focus with just a small amount of blur. The Edge 80 allows photographers to quickly and seamlessly change the 12-blade aperture from f/2.8 through f/22, simply by rotating the dial on the front of the optic. An incredibly versatile portrait lens, Edge 80 can also be used to great effect in any situation that lends itself to selective focus – from food photography to giving landscapes a “miniature” appearance. To better understand how tilt, aperture, and focus affect an Edge 80 image, visit the Edge 80 Optic simulator.

With the addition of Edge 80 to the Optic Swap System, Lensbaby provides photographers with yet another way to creatively control depth of field. A photographer needs only to buy one Lensbaby lens to gain access to a system offering 8 interchangeable optics that each give different ways to control depth of field and other creative effects – an unprecedented system within the world of photography.

With the Edge 80, photographers can control a flat field of focus that becomes a slice of sharpness through the photo when the lens is tilted. With Lensbaby’s Sweet 35, Double Glass, Single Glass, and Plastic Optics, photographers can control a curved field of focus that brings one area of the photo into sharp focus with other areas at the same depth of field falling off into blur. The Pinhole/Zone plate provides infinite depth of field, the Soft Focus optic delivers a sharp image with a soft overlay from edge to edge, while the Fisheye Optic provides a 160 degree angle of view on the world.

Edge 80 Optic Product Specs:

Focal Length: 80mm

12-blade internal aperture, controlled by a dial on the front of the optic

Aperture range from f/2.8 through f/22

Flat field of focus optic (when tilted, creates a slice of sharp focus, bordered by blur)

Compatible with Lensbaby Composer Pro, Composer, Muse, Scout and Control Freak lens bodies*

Minimum focusing distance: approximately 17” when the optic is extended forward in close focus mode and fully tilted

Maximum focusing distance: Infinity

5 multi-coated glass elements, in four groups

46mm front threads**

* The Edge 80 Optic is not compatible with the Composer with Tilt Transformer for Micro 4/3rds and Sony NEX Cameras.** The Edge 80 Optic is not compatible with current 37mm Lensbaby accessories.

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February 10, 2012 at 08:02AM


New Lensbaby product coming in 5 days

Lensbaby posted on Facebook that they will be announcing a new product on Valentine’s day (February 14, 2012) “that will make you fall in love with photography all over again”. Curious?

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