« Random Excellence: Colin Steel | Main | Open Mike: Our German Connection »

Saturday, 04 August 2012

Comments

I've been having my own little love affair with the "7" for a couple of months now. So much so that I've retired or sold on my entire m4/3 kit and a couple of Canon DSLRs.

But this is a body desperately in need of a lens system. Come on Sony.

Gordon

I didn't commit to buying my NEX7 until I had a chance to handle one for an uninterrupted hour at the local Sony Style store. I'm still impressed with mine four months on.

I use a pair of OM Zuikos for "serious" shooting (a 24/2.8 and a 50/1.8) but also have a Sigma 30/2.8 for knocking around. I'm not enamored with the kit zoom and don't even know where it is right now - probably back in the box.

If you had told me two years ago that I'd be shooting a Sony today instead of my M6, I'd have laughed in your face.

Mike, I'm using an NEX-7 with Leica M and Nikon adapters. Really great IQ. With one of the tiny Leica Summarit lens it will slip easily into a coat pocket. I'm certain the new Oly will be just as good. With all the new cameras and advancements in digital photography, this is just a great time to be involved in the process.

The Nex 7 is cool. I bought one yesterday. I've been playing with it ever since. I know you are a 35mm focal length fan but if you try the Nex-7 with the cool, little 50mm 1.8 I think you'll be hooked, both on the lens and the camera.

I note that the store also does media recovery... for those that failed to heed Lamberto's tips.

The Nex-7 is the first digital camera I've bought since my D700 over five years ago. The files it produces are very good and are right up there with the D700. What got me excited about it was the ability to use almost any lens on it! I have a number of older( not to me, i bought a lot of them around thirty years ago)manual foucus lenses that really shine when used on the Nex. It's foucusing peaking system combined with the ease of quick foucus magnification is fantastic. There are a couple of downsides - the video record button position and just too many dials for an "older" photographer to keep up with! You can change exposure compensation too easily. Also its size when using a longer unstabilized lens can add some camera shake at lower shutter speeds- theres just not enought mass to help stabilize the lens. But I DONT want it to be any bigger. I just learned to increase the ISO- 1600 is very useable. I've got two Sigma autofoucus lenses (19 &30) that are exceptional and sized to "fit" the Nex. In summary my M8 hasnt seen any use since I got the NEX!

Glad I got my RX100 before seeing this report (somehow I never noticed it before). But $2000 plus? I may be stupid, but I ain't crazy!

As others have said, the camera and sensor are terrific, but the Sony lenses are weak. Also like others, my best images are using Nikon primes via a US$19.95 adaptor. Works great. Manual focusing with peaking is a dream. See my reviews and tests: http://goo.gl/m2vo2

"...The EVF is wonderfully well placed, too, and feels as natural as can be when the camera is raised to your right eye...

But I'm left eye dominant. Wonder if they make a left-handed camera ;-) ?

-db-

Yep, after trying out (and liking--up to a point) Oly EP3, Panasonic G3 & GX1, I finally ran out of GAS after getting my hands on the NEX 7. Love the EVF, and the feel of the body in hand. Now I need some darn lenses--oops GAS is back.

Yes, Ctein's comments on the Fuji X-Pro1 makes clear that those of us who are left-eye dominant will be constantly leaving nose oil on the LCD screen. Of course, I suppose I'd have the same problem with a Leica M8 or M9.

...my buddy who's a life time videographer and film maker bought this as the best digital video finder out of the bunch...I looked at one at "Arts Thrifty Camera" (the other store that passes as a pro shop in south-eastern Wisconsin now), and thought it was "OK"...it's certainly small enough, but the lack of primes, and big lenses vs. small body thing is 'disconcerting'...the chip my be the bomb, but it's hard to tell from the viewfinder...I believe Sony makes Nikon chips, and my Nikon screen looks pretty accurate, but the screen on this camera, both in the view-finder, and on the back, looks cold, and contrasty, doesn't seems to be an reasonable approximation of the actual photo...don't know that to think, it's a lot of dough, more than the new Canon T4i, by a lot, not sure it's worth it, especially if you already have other peoples glass....

I've turned mine into a landscape rig using some nice Alpha glass and the lens mount adapter. Reasonably well balanced on a compact tripod mounted to the collar on the lens adapter, and when packing my bag, I only need to devote about as much space as one would leave for a speedlight for my 24mp camera body. Fire it with a remote, and no risk of mirror-slap blurring the tele's because there is no mirror. Or even a mechanical first curtain shutter

Ergonomics even hand held with something like the 70-300G are not altogether bad either, the balance is definitely towards the lens, but not unpleasant.

Coming from shooting with my old SLR rig, my feet, legs, hips, back and shoulders are absolutely loving me on the trail. And it'll all fit in a rucksack in carry-on luggage.

Viewfinder placement is a bit problematic for left dominant folks like me.

The NEX has been my primary "mirror-less" camera for just over a year, beginning with the 3 and now with a 5N and 7. Although I've been using the OM-D frequently since May, my NEX cameras would unquestionably be the "mirrorless" cameras I'd grab if I had to make a choice today. I like the OM-D but it's not quite in the same class as the NEX, which has really (and unexpectedly) captured my heart and amply proven themselves to me many times. The 5N with the removable/tiltable EVF and its more compact body is an excellent flexible alternative to the larger 7.

I don't really feel the need for more E-mount lenses (although I'd welcome good ones), as I can cover anything with my current set.

I have a NEX-5 that I don't much like, and I switched (nearly a year ago) from Sony to Nikon after 20 years with Maxxum/Alpha SLR gear. But the NEX-7 is quite a camera ... it has a certain "gotta have it" that few other cameras I've tried have. I might very well own one, except for the lack of any "gotta have it" lenses (like the Panasonic 20/1.8 or Olympus 45/1.8).

Curiously, the RX100 is the other camera that has my interest right now.

I found it coincidental that Kirk Tuck just posted that he purchased a NEX-7.

The NEX-7 should certainly have better DR than the smaller sensor in the OM-D, especially considering that it's been recently revealed that the OM-D also has a Sony sensor in it.

The NEX-7 is a fantastic camera, although, since recently buying an X100, I haven't touched the camera. I just like shooting with the Fuji.

For those worried about left-eye dominance, you get nose smudges on DSLRs no matter which eye you use, so it shouldn't be any different than what you're used to. Plus, it's pretty easy to switch so-called eye dominance.

Mike,

Stop your placating. It's a great body. The best mirrorless body on the market. That's not really in question. But you're a lens guy. As am I. We can't let an amazing body forgive no real lens options, or else it won't get better.

As far as I'm concerned, Panasonic, Olympus, and Fuji get it. Sony has outclassed their bodies. Great. But until Sony gives us the lenses that Pana, Oly, Fuji, and even Canon have seen fit to give, they deserve no business, nor special regard for their body. I live the NEX-7, but with no glass, it's a worthless block of plastic/metal.

I am also a NEX-7 user, primarily with the Zeiss 24mm f1.8 E-mount lens, which is superb and the camera/lens combination is very balanced. The Zeiss lens is very flare free and I sometimes leave off the large petal lenshood, as it reduces its 'presence', especially when street shooting. The deciding factor for me was the 35mm, on a 35mm camera, angle of view, as it is my favourite focal length and most of my images are made using it. Compared to my Summicron 35mm f2.0 aspherical on a film Leica, the Sony NEX-7 and Zeiss 24mm resolves much more detail than can be extracted from my films and colour and converted monchrome images have a great look about them.

Focus peaking works well and my Leica lenses are easy to mount and focus, including the Voigtlander 15mm aspherical, although I have to correct the lateral colour shifts with 'Cornerfix'. Herein lies the reason why Zeiss designed and produced the physically larger Sonnar, rather than Biogon, for the 24mm f1.8 E-mount lens.

Looks great but I'd want a 50mm equivalent and there isn't one. What lenses do people recommend?

Mike - have you tested the Panasonic 25mm yet? :-)

I switched to nex-7 from a850, after realizing that most of my studio keepers come from medium format film these days. And let me tell you - this little camera is something else. It's a completely different take on a photographic tool. It doesn't try and pretend it's a rangefinder or a classic SLR. The interface is something new - virtually every control can be reconfigured to your heart's content. I've never seen this amount of configurability (is this even a word?) on any camera.
It even looks different - more like a 90's Hi-Fi stereo than a camera (Technics springs to mind).
There are some minor gripes, too - lack of any kind of weatherproofing is annoying for one. Lack of lenses is a problem, too.
No real dealbreakers though - the image quality is insanely good for such a tiny sensor camera, the handling is flawless, the ability to use any old lens you happen to have from the years of shooting is great too.

I bought a NEX-5n to see if I could use my Leica lenses without making a large investment yet avoiding the 2x crop factor that comes with the micro 4/3 system.

Six months later my two M7s were gone as were my four Leica lenses, all current and one aspheric.

What keeps me from upgrading to a NEX-7 is the removable EVF which I use on the 5n. It is articulated and allows for easy waist level shooting - and easy ground level shooting without the need to get down on one's tummy.

(Lenses now: Sony E mount 50mm and 18mm + WA adapter, Sigma 30mm and Zuiko (Olympus) 1,8 50mm and 2,8 100mm)

I was the happy owner of a Sony R1 in 2007 until I (it hurts still) left it in the back of a cab. Loved it, a bright lens and crisp images; most of all, the top mounted screen that let you shoot Hassy-style, quite unnoticed. You can surely do the same here, and I'm sure IQ has leapt forward f
in five years. But why is the lense line up so poor, slow, big and out od proportion with the slim body? It's like, look I've shrunk the kids except I forgot to do the same to the glass in front. A bit more effort, Sony, and you might find me again. For the time being, I'll wait for the GX2...

ok, you'll tell me that the R1 had a big clunky lense too. but it sort of fit with the body. not quite the case for Nexes...

It's a very potent camera and a tough competitor to the OM-D with both having slightly different strengths. But the Nex lens selection is simply boring. My better lenses are all Nikon, so it's more convenient to just take a Nikon DSLR than start adapting -- more size, but more performance also. Micro 4/3 for going light.

If Sony significantly improves the lens selection, then the race will be a lot closer.

Glad to know it finds in the hands OK - my attempts wasting shop-assistants' time holding the NEX-5 were causing me worries it would be too small.

Still using the GH2 here; my planned upgrade path has been either GH3 (subject to specs) or NEX-7 for about a year now - but recently it occurred to me that the SLT-A77 has remote cable and in-body stabilisation and image-quality within spitting distance of the NEX-7 from what I've read - well anything's better than the GH2's - so that's beginning to subvert the plan a bit. Is it still a dSLR if it has a mirror but it never flips it? ;)

I tried the NEX-7 in the store but couldn't get past the sensation that the EVF was far too close to my eye, no matter how I adjusted the diopter. It was quite uncomfortable for me, and, perhaps because it was the store's test model, the body felt creaky and plasticky, possibly from all of the handling. But regardless of those niggles, it's the lack of viable pancake lens options that really kills the system for me.

I switched from the NEX-5N to the NEX-7 pretty much immediately after getting the chance to handle one. The 5N had been my bag camera for a few months, with my main bodies being an A700 and a Maxxum 7. Within a month, the NEX-7 had become my main camera as well as my Bag camera, the A700 was for sale and the Maxxum 7 semi-retired.

I know the lenses look awkward, but they handle very well, better than pancakes because you have enough room to properly support the lens with a second hand. I actually find that smaller SLR primes are just about the ideal lenses for the NEX-7, generally similar in size to the ZA E 24/1.8 once mounted on an adapter. The only native lens I currently have is the 24/1.8, I've owned the kit zoom and the E 50/1.8 OSS, never used the kit zoom and I really didn't like the rendering of the 50/1.8 OSS, it's very Leica-like and doesn't match well with the 24/1.8.

My normal carry kit is the 24/1.8 paired with either the DT 50/1.8 SAM and 85/2.8 SAM with the LA-EA1 adapter or a Nikon 50/1.8 AI (yep, the long-nose) and a 100/2.8 Series E on a G adapter (I need to get an F adapter with a tripod foot).

The only real issues I have with the NEX-7 are:

Lousy tripod mounting. It's WAY too slim to be secure with even moderate-sized lenses. A Jim Buchanan grip will solve this.

No wired remote. 'Nuff said, I don't like IR remotes.

Inability to turn off the auto-magnification in DMF and MF modes without disabling magnification entirely. I've got the AF/MF button assigned to Magnification, I don't need the auto-magnification and it gets in my way.

Interestingly, despite the decent AF, I almost always use the 7 in Manual Focus and Manual Exposure modes. With the Tri-Navi system Manual Exposure works better than any other digital body as you have all three exposure controls (Shutter, Aperture, ISO) directly controllable on a dial.

Dennis, interesting that you should say that about the RX 100. I'm selling off Pentax and Nikon gear and will end up with two cameras, my six months old NEX 7 and new RX100.

I know a lot of photographers prefer optical viewfinders, but I prefer shooting my Pentax lenses on the NEX 7 vs. my soon to be sold K 5.

No I.S.?

Mike, this camera seems to be a perfect illustration of what you and Ctein have been saying about how individual tastes override any inherent "goodness" in many cameras.
Those of us who like our NEX-7s seem to do so for very specific working styles. The lack of native lenses means that you, who don't like adapters, probably will not be satisfied.
Many of us who don't want to buy a new collection of lenses find this to be a better choice than M 4/3 or even DSLRs.
I bought mine to go behind my Leica lenses. I've paid $1300 for a batch of film often enough to shrug it off, and that's what I see the camera as.
It's a nice compliment to my D700, which I bought because I didn't want to "invest" in lenses for APS-C sensors. And I use it in many situations where I just would not feel comfortable dragging out the D700 blunderbuss.
These two cameras suit my taste and odd shooting style, but I would not suggest them to someone else as the "best" choices.

Ken,

Which E-mount lenses do you have/use for your NEX cameras?

Mike

About this left-eye thing. I am left-eyed, though I'm right handed. And, I hunt, and used to shoot a shotgun at birds. The problem there is that shotguns don't have back sights, only front sights, and if you're right-handed, and if your left eye takes over as you lift the shotgun to your shoulder, you are essentially looking a bit sideways across that front sight.

There is a common cure for this. If you wear glasses, as I do, you can put a tiny spot of Vaseline on the left lens of your glasses, where you look through the lens toward the front gun sight. This spot is no bigger than the head of a straight pin. The spot is usually well above the usual area through which you look. When you're just walking around and talking to people, you never see it -- but when you lift the gun to your shoulder, and look at the sight, the left eye can't see it, because of that spot of Vaseline, and your brain automatically shifts dominance to your right eye.

I've found that when looking through a camera viewfinder, I don't stand straight and look straight through my glasses; I actually cock my head down a bit. I suspect I could use the same Vaseline technique to shift dominance to my right eye...

I don't do that, because if I shoot right-eyed, my brain knows I'm shooting through a viewfinder, and so there's no problem, and dominance may shift. I think that a little effort will make shooting with either eye easy enough, but if left-eye dominance really bothers you, it's easy enough to shift with the Vaseline technique...

This is the camera that I was soooo going to buy. But having tried it at the store, I found one major flaw affecting us glass-wearing invalids: the EVF's proximity sensor. It demands a fairly solid or even forced contact to the EVF rubber to turn on and very easily turns off even when one is holding the camera to the eye. I know people have tried using it without the rubber but I wouldn't want to do that in order not to scratch my lenses.

The same time I was checking this camera out I also gave the OM-D a try and in this regard it works definitely better.

My one big gripe with the NEX7 is the placement of the video start button and the fact that the ^@#%^ thing can't be disabled in setup. I see there's a new custom solution for this ergonomic flub - a $20 custom turned collar that makes it a recessed button.

Of course, as soon as I buy it Sony will update firmware and make it redundant...

It seems we are undergoing a paradigm shift in photography away from the SLR model for serious photography to more compact cameras. Before the SLRs became dominant in film photography in the late 1960s, many photogs used rangefinder type 35s or even compact folding roll film cameras. Even in the 1970s many people used compact 35s like the Olympus rc for their carry around camera. The change to smaller more compact digitals may turn out to be a great thing. Afterall, you can't take great pictures with a cmera you've left at home. The main problem for me is the lack of a good eyelevel optical finder on most compact digitals, even those commanding premium prices. This lack is an absolute deal killer for me.

I've hated every EVF I've ever tried (admittedly, not many) but one night last April I got to look through the EVF of a NEX-7 in a dark bar and I was highly impressed. Having heard that the OM-D had essentially the same EVF, I ordered it (the OM-D) that night.

Now my EVF-less GF1 sits there, forlorn and for sale, as I gleefully use my OM-D, always giving a nod to the NEX-7 for showing me what's possible with an electronic viewfinder. It's more than a decade since I've used an optical/mirrored viewfinder, and boy, did I miss it. I'm sticking with Micro4/3, and I'm really glad that EVFs have finally crossed the line in terms of clarity and usability.

@ Mike Potter: I have quite an inventory of lenses for my NEX bodies. In addition to the 18-55 kit lens I have the 24, 30 macro, 50, 16, 18-200, and recently the Sigma 30. I also have a DT 15-50 f2.8 that I use with the SAL1650 adapter...nice glass but too clunky and impractical. The Zeiss 24 f1.8 and the 50mm f1.8 are probably my most frequently mounted, followed closely by the 16mm pancake.

I have used some of my Leica and Zeiss M lenses on NEX bodies but, frankly, the relative rewards (when encountered) were insufficient compensation for the inconvenience/inaccuracy due to lack of automated integration and lack of camera compensatory recognition. I'll take the small, light Zeiss 24 E-mount on a NEX over my large, heavy Leica 24mm Summilux any day!

So...I really don't understand all the complaints about lack of lenses for this camera.
----

A fellow reader asked me, privately, why I prefer the NEX over the OM-D. Others have already since posted some opinions I share. The NEX has a slightly larger and, yes, better (in my observation and opinion) sensor. I much prefer the NEX-7's programmable dual-dial control system as well as the overall control ergonomics. The video record button is badly placed but has not caused me trouble. The thinness and lightness of the NEX-7, and even more so the 5N) just makes it more svelte and informal to carry than the shrunken-DSLR form of the OM-D.

As I've noted before, you really can't go wrong with the OM-D, either. It's a terrific camera. But the NEX is a very different design concept that I personally prefer for many situations.

I also use the NEX-7, primarily with the 24/1.8 Zeiss and 50/1.8. I have really enjoyed using it and am very happy with the whole package. I even have started using it during events and weddings, often with the LA-EA2 adapter and as big as the 70-200/2.8 G Sony mounted to it.

Got Nex3, nex5n and alpha77 (just a few months).

Nex7 is too small.

Regarding NEX lenses, I personally own & use the 18-55 kit zoom, the 18-200 (the original, not the new rebadged Tamron) and the 16/2.8 "pancake".

The 16 has a reputation for poor corner performance (even stopped down, it never approaches the center, which is VERY sharp). David Kilpatrick, a long-time Minolta/Sony watcher & publisher in the UK, is a fan of it, saying it's an impressive design given its specs. Personally, I like it well enough and have no complaints about the images I get from it, but I have little use for a 16mm prime (and to this day, fail to understand why Sony thought a 16mm prime in lieu of anything closer to normal was a good idea for the starting system). I use the 16 if I need to fit the camera in a jacket pocket (like on the ski slope) and I used it when I went parasailing; I'll also carry it when traveling because it's so small & light, there's no reason not to, but I rarely carry it as my only lens.

The 18-55 is a decent kit lens; again I have no qualms about using it. The 18-200 is better, but the 18-55 is small & light enough to tote around all day on a wrist strap, to plop on the table in a restaurant without taking up space (particularly with a skinny wrist strap and not a neck strap).

The 18-200 is really a beautiful lens, with silky smooth zoom & focus rings. It was designed as the kit lens for the NEX-VG10 camcorder and features excellent IS as well. It looks big on the NEX-5 in pictures. In practice, it is not a big lens. Using it is no problem, but it's clunky to carry on a wrist strap, so I use a really small Lowepro shoulder bag.

The 50/1.8 has a good reputation, but I find 50mm on APS-C to be "no man's land", too short or too long for almost everything.

There's a 30mm macro (a lens Sony probably could have skipped for years, with no adverse reaction, except for this group of hobbyists who apparently like to photograph their meals). There's a 55-200 that complements the 18-55, but matches it with a slow f/6.3 tele end.

Then there are two lenses from Sigma - 19/2.8 and 30/2.8 - which are also available for m43 and which, conveniently, match the lenses in the new DP1/DP2 Merrill fixed lens compacts. The 30 is reportedly very sharp across the frame. It's shorter than the kit zoom, but longer than the 16mm pancake. Supposedly, Sigma skipped a pancake design to avoid angle of incidence issues which plague the NEX-7 with certain wide angle lenses, resulting in poor corner performance wide open.

Finally, strong rumors suggest that Sony will announce two compact zooms and a fairly-compact-but-not-pancake 35/1.8 in August (pre-Photokina). The 35/1.8 will be welcome (though if Samsung can do an excellent 30/2 pancake, I'd have much preferred the same from Sony).

I'm still in a quandry as to whether to expand my NEX kit or throw in the towel and split my shooting between my Nikon DSLR and a little RX100. Tough to be spoiled for choices.

Note the OM-D EVF, while excellent, is in no way related to the NEX-7 EVF. The OM-D unit is much smaller (comparable in size to a large APS_C optical finder where the Sony unit is comparable to a 35mm FF finder in projection size) and has about half the resolution of Sony's 2.4MP unit. The Oly is however crisper and handles panning better.

Both EVF's are excellent, but they have different strengths due to the use of completely different panels and optics.

Just to follow up on my previous post ... the 50/1.8 *does* have IS, which is unique in a lens with that spec. And my other comment is on focus-by-wire and the lack of focus scales. A couple weeks ago, I was on vacation on Cape Cod, out on the back porch watching lightning over the water, so broke out the NEX-5 with a little tripod and one of the zoom lenses set to 18mm. Try focusing on infinity when you can't see anything ! I had point the camera at something close, focus on it, then turn the focus ring the other way, and just keep turning it until I was pretty sure it must be at infinity. No focus scales on the lens, no feedback in the LCD saying how far out I'm focused, nothing visible on the LCD. It worked out fine, but was disconcerting. (I did get one nice shot, but the best lightning came during one the times the camera was doing its black frame recording - I keep long exposure NR on; I appreciate the results of black frame subtraction).

The comments to this entry are closed.