NeinGrenze 5000T Review | NYC Photographer

1/60 sec at f/3.0, ISO 100

The photo above is straight off the camera (SOOC), with no processing whatsoever except I resized it for the web.

Last week Photojojo (my absolute favorite photography blog/store) started carrying the little Japanese NeinGrenze 5000T, a pocket-sized, dedicated tilt-shift, point-and-shoot camera. For $150. Having just received a paycheck, I was feeling particularly impulsive and I ordered one immediately. A few days later I had it in my hands and have been learning my way around it. Lots of trial-and-error, to say the least.

Tilt-shift photography is a niche genre that has started finding its way into the mainstream more and more as of late. The effect can be done in post-production fairly easily, as evidenced by the popularity of such software as TiltShift Generator and Instagram. If you’re not familiar with the technique, check out some amazing examples here! Of course, software can do just about anything these days, but it never looks quite the same as the effect produced by hardware. Unfortunately, true tilt-shift lenses for your SLR start at about $1300. Another option is a Lensbaby, which costs between $150 and $400 depending which model you get. I owned a Control Freak for awhile, but I ended up selling it because I found it too difficult to use.

The NeinGrenze 5000T is easy to use, but not easy to master. Constructed entirely of plastic and extremely lightweight, it’s definitely a toy. In truth, it feels like it shouldn’t have cost more than $50, but I suppose what I spent is the price one pays for immediate gratification, and for having the “first” of anything. I predict that the demand for this camera will create a market for other affordable tilt-shift hardware.

You have control over whether or not the flash fires, size and quality of the images (JPG only), white balance (daylight, cloudy, tungsten, etc.), EV (+/- 2), ISO (100 or 200), saturation and sharpness (low, normal, high), color (standard, vivid, sepia, or monochrome), and whether it shoots in burst. The flash takes forever to load and whites everything out, so for me I think it’s best to just consider this as an outdoor, bright light camera only – sans flash. Also, I’ve found that it tends to overexpose the scene in general, so when I remember I set the EV to -2.0. Other than that, I leave everything else on the default settings.

Shooting with the NeinGrenze 5000T is an exercise in patience and whimsicality. My biggest qualm with its functionality is that it puts a blue/green cast on every photo, and there is no way to turn that off. Through the viewfinder colors appear normal, and your choice of white balance is reflected, but the output is generally the same. As a result, when I shoot outside I set it to “cloudy” mode since that makes everything a bit orange, in an attempt to force the photo to not be so blue. Be prepared to run each photo through your editing software of choice if you want to achieve more realistic coloring.

1/500 sec at f/3.0, ISO 100

You can move the lens slightly with a little switch to make it a macro shot or wide, but once that’s done it seems to pick its sweet spot of focus arbitrarily. In the first photo, the bike is in focus which is way off to the right. On the other hand, in the photo of the leaves (color corrected) the focus is in the center. You can vaguely tell via the camera’s LCD where the focal point is when you’re framing an image, but it’s kind of a guessing game at the same time since the LCD isn’t super high quality. Fortunately, since the output quality isn’t that high, I put an old 1GB SD card in and can take around 800 photos before it will be full. So you can take a LOT of versions of each photo you want and hope that one comes out!

In this photo taken with macro mode (color adjusted), the sweet spot plane is along the bottom:

1/15 sec at f/3.0, ISO 100

To make focusing even trickier, there appears to be some amount of shutter lag. So you have to be willing to sit VERY still, or use a tripod, and it helps if your subject is inanimate! It also shoots video:

There’s a learning curve to this camera, but I love how tiny it is. I can throw it in any bag I have and just have it on me for any situation that might present itself. Here are some more photos I took with it, they are color corrected unless otherwise noted.

1/15 sec at f/3.0, ISO 625

1/15 sec at f/3.0, ISO 550

1/4 sec at f/3.0, ISO 100

1/500 sec at f/3.0, ISO 100

1/500 sec at f/3.0, ISO 100

1/125 sec at f/3.0, ISO 100

1/60 sec at f/3.0, ISO 100

1/1000 sec at f/3.0, ISO 100

I hope this review was helpful! If you have any specific questions, please leave them in the comments!

  • chaz - awesome write up/review. i agree the learning curve with this camera is tricky, but its part of the fun.

    -chazReplyCancel

    • lauren - Thanks, Chaz! Glad you found this post helpful. Care to share any of your Neingrenze shots? :) ReplyCancel

  • Dave - First let me say I’m a novice photographer at best. I have a Zumi +++ & most recently the NeinGrenze. Any tips you could give me on the NeinGrenze would be appreciated. I find the photographs are hit or miss with no rhyme or reason. Some photos of mine appear grainy while others are okay. I have resolved that the camera is only an outside camera only. But if could give me a step by step understanding of the settings of this camera would be so helpful.
    Thanks,
    Dave DavisReplyCancel

  • Bill Russell - Thanks for the hints. Can’t wait to try them out.
    I am an amateur and I would really like to know what the “EV” does? I was shooting some in the rain yesterday, and the cloudy setting on the white balance did work. Didn’t think to try it on every shot.
    On the macro setting, I learned, the sweet spot depends on how close or far away I am. Far away, the focus is closer to the top. The closer I am to an object, the farther down the screen the sweet spot travels.
    My last question is what is a good editing software other than Photoshop? Maybe free online?

    Bill R

    PS… I would love to share my pictures.ReplyCancel

    • lauren - Thanks for your input, Bill! “EV” stands for exposure value compensation. The actual relationship between EV, brightness of a scene, and the results from a camera can get rather confusing, but for the purposes of this camera, it’s pretty straightforward.

      Since the Neingrenze is very basic and does not offer control over shutter speed and aperture, the camera tries to “guess” the correct settings based on how bright or dark the scene is. You can help point it in the right direction by adjusting the EV. As I mentioned in the post, I found that left alone, the camera tends to overexpose – so I push the EV down to -2 for best results on a bright day. Conversely if I were trying to shoot indoors without flash, I would push that EV up to +2.

      As far as editing software, if you are running Windows the only one I’ve tried is GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/) – though I was using it on a Mac.

      For Mac OS, there are two others worth looking into, Acorn (http://flyingmeat.com/acorn/) and Pixelmator (http://www.pixelmator.com/). Personally, I switched from Photoshop to Lightroom and never looked back!

      Now let’s see some of your Neingrenze photos! Post a link!ReplyCancel

  • Neingrenze 5000T Field Test « lauren colchamiro photography - [...] took the little Neingrenze with me on a trip to the Brooklyn Instrument Museum garden one rainy afternoon. We sat at the [...]ReplyCancel

  • Martini - Thanks for the review,

    I’m planning to get it but still in doubt whether it’s a good buy or not. What you recommend?

    Regards,
    MartiniReplyCancel

    • lauren - As long as you have realistic expectations for its performance, I think it’s a good buy! It’s a toy, an alternative to your cell phone camera with a twist. If you’re looking for anything more serious than that, I’d probably keep looking. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

      • Martini - Thank you so much Lauren. It does helps me, so I’m gonna get it haha!ReplyCancel

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