A quick intro to the current state of digital cameras. For the most part, you've got point-and-shoots, and DSLRs. DSLRs have a mirror that flips up inside, allowing you to look through the lens itself when you use the viewfinder. DSLRs have a much larger sensor than point-and-shoots, allowing for much higher image quality as well. Recently, the new Micro Four-Thirds standard attempted to bridge the divide between point-and-shoots and DSLRs, by removing the mirror element and maintaining a larger sensor with a live image displayed on a screen. But the sensor in Micro Four-Thirds cameras is still much smaller than the (still cropped) APS-C sensor found in most DSLRs. This is where Sony comes into play.
Image via dpreview.com
What you see here is the new Sony NEX-5 camera, coming out this July. It features a full APS-C sensor in the smallest mirror-less interchangeable lens system to date. Retailing at $650 with a 16mm f2.8 pancake and $700 with an 18-55mm zoom lens, both crafted out of metal and not plastic like most modern lenses, the cost is a steal for the phenomenal image quality that samples have produced thus far. In many ways, it even surpasses my current Pentax body. For those looking for a cheaper option, Sony is also releasing the NEX-3 with plastic housing (as opposed to the metal casing of the NEX-5) and reduced video options, but with a $100 savings.
While nothing is set in stone, there's a very good chance that the NEX-5 (with the 18-55mm lens) will become my new secondary body. As of late, I've been taking my primary camera everywhere I go, which gets rather cumbersome and challenging depending on the circumstance. If I had a camera with identical image quality, better video capabilities and more casual features in an incredibly small form factor, I would definitely feel safer bringing that instead. Though it could never replace the pure power that having an optical viewfinder provides, mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras fill an interesting niche in the increasingly diverse camera market. And there's a very real chance I'll own a piece of this revolution come later this summer.