In the Comments yesterday, Thom Hogan, one of the most knowledgable gadflies* of the camera industry there is, said, "...while I like the NEX, so far Sony hasn't delivered on lenses, and I don't see how going to 24 MP is going to help."
Like going to 24 MP in the A900 in 2008 didn't help.
Just to put an underline on this point: this is why Sony now runs neck-and-neck with Canon and Nikon in the compact camera arena but doesn't come anywhere close in SLRs. The company doesn't pay enough attention to lenses. Not for nothing were most of the traditional cameramakers optical companies first and foremost. Sony doesn't get that the lens lines are what sells interchangeable-lens cameras. It's quite apparent from the product lineup and the pace of product introductions that to Sony's way of thinking, lenses are an afterthought, and a limited hodgepodge that includes a few standard zooms and a few premium examples is all you need. Wrong.
Prediction: Sony will never rival Canon and Nikon in SLR (or, let's say, SLR-type) sales** unless and until Sony has a full, complete, and up-to-date lens line for whatever cameras it wants to sell.
*I use the term as a high compliment. Cf. Wikipedia on Socrates: "Plato refers to Socrates as the 'gadfly' of the state (as the gadfly stings the horse into action, so Socrates stung various Athenians), insofar as he irritated some people with considerations of justice and the pursuit of goodness."
**and NEX will never catch Micro 4/3
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Michael Trupiano: "The A900 was the first DSLR I purchased after not using a 35mm for many, many years (exclusively used view camera). I chose the A900 over Canon and Nikon for specific reasons (mostly to do with UI). While I am happy with the camera I frequently wonder if I made the right decision, precisely due to lack of a complete lens family.
"And what Sony perhaps does not understand or perhaps refuses to accept (or perhaps they just don't care) is that photographers invest in a system. And that once they have a significant investment in glass they tend to stick with the same body manufacturer for years to come (all other things being equal)."
Mike replies: I hear ya. I would have bought an A900 but for the lack of lenses. See also SeanG's much harsher comment in the Comments section.
In some ways, Sony parallels in the digital world my favorite cameras from the film era: Contax. Whenever people would ask me about getting into the Contax system, I'd tell them the very same thing you and SeanG are suggesting with Sony: just make sure the lenses you want already exist and that you can afford them, because waiting for new lens introductions—or for prices to come down—would be an exercise in frustration. I knew whereof I spoke.
Significantly, Sony is probably dealing with some of the very same frustrations Contax had to, in that some of the lenses of each were and are made by the same make-haste-slowly company, Carl Zeiss.
That said, I will give Sony credit for introducing one of the lenses I actually wanted, the 85mm ƒ/2.8 (and, completely as an aside, does anybody know where there's a cross section of that lens on the web? I haven't been able to find it). That happened after the advent of the A900. Of course the Sony Alpha mount system is not as complete yet as the Zeiss Contax/Yashica mount system was, either, so they've got more gaps to fill. Still, gotta give credit where it's due.
Featured Comment by mbka: "I think the bigger problem at-large is not confidence in the present (lens lineup, technology) but confidence in the future: credibility that a product line will be supported, expanded, etc. Just as in the larger economy, trust in the future. In this light, Sony's problem is a lack of consistency. First the DSLR line was introduced and heavily advertised as a future complete system. Then NEX as a mirrorless. Then the 33/55 as a mirror-bearing mirrorless. No one knows if NEX is going to get finders or if the A33/55/77 will get smaller. The NEX is an odd product in itself for the reasons you said—odd lens lineup, unclear future, and especially, the lenses are huge compared to the body. It doesn't look very useable to me at all as a setup.
"For all its faults and some slowness in the lens line buildup, Micro 4/3 looks by far the best and most flexible and most 'modern,' truly contemporary, system right now. Yes, some brighter zooms would be nice, probably prevented by the CDAF that needs light lens elements. Yes, sensors have a handicap. But the Pana/Oly systems are remarkable complete compared to NEX, say, never mind the other brands. And I have much higher confidence that at least Panasonic and Olympus will stay the course with m4/3."
Featured Comment by Pascal Jappy: "The infuriating thing, with the (likely) new A77 and NEX-7 is that they seem very good with manual focus lenses but Sony, who seem to have a strong partnership with Zeiss, have no access to the current ZE/ZF lenses that might be well suited to the densely packed pixels of the new cameras. What a shame. Leitax to the rescue (or adapters for the NEX), possibly, but still it's not the same."
Mike replies: I agree, that's positively bewildering.
Featured Comment by Harry Lew: "I have more than enough Alpha mount lenses (Sony/Minolta)...35 at last count for my a700, a850, and several legacy Minolta bodies. (OK, I'm a collector.) But what I'm most excited about is how the NEX cameras open the door to countless manual-focus lenses in whatever brand you crave. Right now, I'm savoring my OM Zuiko 50mm ƒ/1.2 on a cheap (purchased at a ridiculous close-out discount) NEX 3. A $30 adapter lets me use a killer lens that had been languishing in my closet. The lens is a dream to fondle and operate, produces luscious images with incredible bokeh. With a lens like this, who needs native-mount NEX lenses? Having said this, I will be at the head of the order window when the NEX 7 becomes available. And the Zeiss 24 1.8 will be hard to resist."
Featured Comment by Bob Rosinsky: "I purchased a Sony a850 and the CZ 24–70mm ƒ/2.8 alpha mount lens to complement the camera. I love the combo. I primarily photograph dogs in a studio environment with this kit. I set the lens to ƒ/13 to ƒ/16 most of the time. To this day, I am continually amazed by the amount of detail and contrast the lens is able to draw onto the sensor. As for the Sony, I am continually amazed by its dynamic range. I generally shoot at base ISO and use strobes. I've used the Canon 1DS III with the 24–105mm lens too. The Sony/Zeiss combo knocks the socks off of the Canon setup. Fortunately, my lens requirements are rather modest. If I shot architecture, sports, and low-light subjects, my opinion would differ. I am eagerly awaiting the next iteration of a Sony FF camera. I may even consider the a77 as a backup. As with any craft, there is always the right tool for the right job."