I know, I could have written = “Why a *mirrorless* camera will free you from metering issues once for all”. All mirrorless are supposed to give more or less WYSIWYG represenations of the shot to come on the LCD or in the EVF. That’s what master portraitist and elegant blogger Kirk Tuck has called “pre-chimping”. Except the “more or less” part takes all its meaning when it makes the difference between an accurate and reliable preview of your shot (NEX), an approximative preview (GX-1, Samsung NX), and an inaccurate one (Fuji). Full time exposure preview is THE number one reason (over portability and just overall cool factor) that I now use mirrorless full time and have dropped DSLRs entirely, and I suspect for good.
The reason I insist that Sony is superior in this regard to other mirrorless cameras is that it gives you a 100% accurate and reliable view of the exposure the shot you’re about to take will have. Hence freeing you totally from semi automated modes. Just shoot in Manual, use one wheel (on the NEX 7 only, reason why I prefer it to any other NEX model, too !!) to set aperture, chose an ISO value (come on, you’re an adult, it can’t be that hard, start making your own choices), and spin the other wheel till you hit the shutter speed giving you the exposure that you want. Backlit situation ? You decide how much emphasis you want to put on your subject, and how much blown highlights you’re able to tolerate for that. High key ? Just ask. Low key ? Just bump shutter speed until the whole scene is darker. And so on…
I recently demonstrated this to an hobbyist who’s been struggling with exposure issues on her (Sony !) DLSR for a few years. She’s an amateur way less advanced that she likes to think she is (lots of photographic vocabulary dropping but very little understanding of it, lol), yet she was totally taken with the ease and “magic” of what I was showing her !! No more relying on a camera meter, that can be so easily fooled by a bright part of reflection in a scene ! More control over your creative process ! And yes, if you’re ready to put up with slightly less convenient controls and user interface, every single NEX model offers this.
Just an extra word about how other mirrorless cameras handle this. The Panasonics I had, had two display modes, one showing your settings affecting exposure (and white balance, etc) real time, the other, compensating for extreme light levels so you can still compose your image (the NEX offers this too, so you can use studio lights and flash with higher shutter speeds, and see what the heck you’re doing). On the Panny it’s not very well implemented, a bit fiddly, and not entirely accurate. On the Fujis prior to the XE-2 (which is supposed to fix this) the camera “levels” exposure so you do not actually get any reliable preview. That was a total deal breaker for me (not that I was very taken with the XE-1 to start with). I stand by my affirmation that NEX cameras will offer very accurate exposure preview *as long as you account for any DRO settings*. I have DRO set to 1 and so I always make my exposure a *hair* darker than needed, well knowing that the DRO engine will lift shadows to the expected level.
All in all this function is the one that truly revolutionized my practice of photography. Is it a clutch ? No more than AF or auto exposure is. It’s just a wonderful, very smart and amazingly useful feature that I would NOT want to be without anymore. Ever. I’m stunned that CaNikon hasn’t totally started to understand the value of this.