The Tease…The first Sony NEX-7 Samples with the Zeiss 24 1.8 and 50 1.8!

The 1st Sony NEX-7 Samples with the Zeiss 24 1.8 and Sony 50 1.8 and Leica Summitar!

OK, so I have had the Sony NEX-7 (pre-order it at Amazon)  for 24 hours and have shot some random snapshots with it last night and a few today. I am traveling now so will be shooting LOTS more and testing out the features and controls of the NEX-7 but so far I am really digging what I have been seeing. The controls and feel of the camera are TOP notch. The shutter sound is like a quick “snick” and the EVF…man, as far as EVF’s go..this is IT. Also the speed of the camera is great. I can shoot fast and easily due to speedy AF and fast shot to shot time. The swivel LCD comes in handy as well and the video is super. The high ISO of the NEX-7 in real world use is just fine also more than enough for anyone folks. When we start pixel peeping ISO 6400 then we already know the camera is good enough for low light use. If you need more than that, the only cure would be a Nikon D3s.


The Zeiss lens is a GEM. If you pre-ordered it rest easy, it is well worth it for this camera. The Sony 50 1.8 is also VERY nice from what I have seen so far but I have much more to shoot with the camera and lenses. I am going to challenge the camera with some indoor low light high ISO shooting and portraits this weekend as well as having it with me each and every day for the next couple of weeks.

The images below were my very 1st snaps with the camera and I will not be posting any more until my review, which will have all new images and photos and tests. To those asking me  to test everything under the sun, there is only so much I can do. I do not own any wide angle Leica lenses or 90mm Leica lenses so I can not test the wide angles from Leica on this camera just yet, but will do so in the future when I can gather a few wide angle Leica lenses. I do not own the NEX-5n but may be able to get one for a side by side by the time my review hits (actually, I will be getting one for a side by side). This camera does indeed feel “right” and the built in EVF makes all the difference in the world. When Sony told me they built this camera for the enthusiast, they were not joking. There is quite a bit more  to the NEX-7 that will be in my review so check back soon for that!

So far, so good but I have lots more to do with the NEX-7! I will be traveling the rest of the week and will be back home next week Tuesday. Updates during this time may be minimal but when I get back I will be hard at work compiling the review and doing some more side by sides.



Below: Zeiss 24 1.8 – ISO 1250 at 1.8 – 1/60s

Below: Zeiss 24 1.8 at 1.8 – ISO 160 – Toy Camera mode – 1/60s

Below: Zeiss 24 1.8 at f/4.5 0 ISO 1600 at 1/25s

Below: Zeiss 24 1.8 at ISO 400 and 1.8 – 1/60s – High contrast B&W mode 

Below: Zeiss 24 1.8 at ISO 200 – 1/60s – Toy Camera mode

Below: Zeiss 24 1.8 at f/4 and 1/4000s – Spot metered in full AZ sun

A crazy self portrait because I am a crazy kind of guy  🙂 24 at 1.8 – High Contrast B&W mode.

ISO 1600 at 1.8 – 24mm – My son with his crazy big Nikon D2h – High contrast B&W mode

Leica 50 Summitar at F/2 – I have to say, shooting the NEX-7 and Ricoh GXR M A12 Module side by side, the Sony wins for usability, high ISO, and seems equal in IQ with less noise. Shooting M glass on the NEX is SO enjoyable due to the brilliant EVF and peaking. Both of which are better than the GXR. That is no question. But I will need to shoot much more to see the reality of the IQ difference and plan on doing so all weekend.

and the new $299 Sony 50 1.8 is one sweet lens. This is at f/4 but my review will show it is even sharp wide open. Click image to see 100% crop from an OOC JPEG!

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  1. why does anyone need 23mp in a camera. especially a camera like the nex7. to me, that is overkill. 16 mp is more than enough for a camera like this, or any camera. the nikon d7000 has 16mp and the high iso is very good right up to around 16,000. to many people are megapixel crazy. more megapixels do not equal better images.

  2. (ADMIN PLEASE READ – please delete my previous post and use this one. Put the wrong name in. Sorry!)

    I don’t get the need for a big body with an above average sized lens.

    It is a little …’lopsided-ish’, though having used the nex 5, as an overall package it is much, much more convenient than have a dslr matched with a ‘proper-sized’ lens.

    That jab aside however, I totally agree, a wider range of pancakes is sorely missing…but they’ve been picking up on Sony’s patents on collapsible lens designs and liquid lenses (!), so I’m definitely looking forward to the future.

  3. I hardly believe anyone would buy a genuine Leica lens for full frame for use on a Sony Nex or Ricoh GXR, even less any of the latest, top $$$ Summilux/Aspherical/Apo stuff. But some may have a stash of old Leica glass, but lack the willingness to drop the top $$$ on a M9.

    Personally I enjoy using my 50 year old 35/50mm Summicrons on a new Nex, but even with the peaking feature manual focus is a hassle and I would retire them any time in exchange for an E-Mount lens.

    The price for the Sony E-Mount 1.8/50 isn’t much more than for a quality M to E-Mount adapter. The Sony 2.8/16 is not great, but as part of a kit costs almost nothing. Price and bulk of the 1.8/24 are hard to accept, but there isn’t any reasonable alternative from Leica or Voigtländer. Likely many people will adopt the 1.8/24 as their standard lens. They will use it a lot, making the price more acceptable, compared to a rarely used exotic lens.

  4. I really don’t get the tiny camera, huge lens trend now a days. Why would you want to put these large lenses on such small camera’s?

  5. That Sony 50 f/1.8 appears very promising. I may end up with NEX-7 and 50 f/1.8 and save money by not going the Zeiss route.

  6. There seems to be little understanding on this thread that having twice as many pixels on the same size sensor (NEX-7 vs Fuji X100) is going to mean more noise at all ISOs, assuming that other factors are roughly the same, as they are. The NEX-7 has noticeably more noise even at the lowest ISO, compared to the Sony A850. We should expect the NEX-7 to have at least a stop or so more noise at high ISOs.

    Here are side-by-side comparisons of the Sony A65 (same sensor as NEX-7) with the Sony A850 (full frame 24mp), showing about a stop more noise at all ISOs.

    Whether it matters is another question. If you stay at ISO1600 or below, and are looking at prints instead of 100% screen crops, the NEX-7 might be fine for you.

    • I guess Sony couldn’t resist the temptation to get some attention by starting the megapixel race again.

      They should have been clever and made a 10 megapixel super high quality sensor that could compete with or was even better than the X100 sensor and some high quality lenses to go with it.

  7. wow.. you finally have it!! can’t wait the comparison against e-p3 in term of colours and straight ooc jpeg..

  8. I’m looking more forward to seeing Steves tests of the Nikon J1/V1 which scores higher than Oly EP3 (except for high ISO). The Nikon has better dynamic range and better color depth than the Oly.

    Not that I’m a big fan of DxOMark, but my first impression was that the J1/V1 sample pictures looked very good for such a small sensor.


  9. This is going to be a serious competitor for the Leica, with a huge financial gap.
    As I do not want to spent 5.5k€ for the M9 and the DSLR’s are too big, my choise is made and I will go for the Nex 7.
    MAybe only first with the 18-55 kit lens, later with the 18-200 and a nice Zeis.

    Looking forward to the release…


  10. Hey Steve, could you post a picture of the Zeiss 24mm just sitting on a table next to one or more familiar lenses. Leica lenses maybe? I’m trying to get a sense of how big the Zeiss is. It looks huge, but I suspect it’s not, really.

    • i was going to say, the lens size is a bit worrying i’d say. but since the nex7 is a small body so we could be wrong.

      Design wise, i’m still very undecided on the nex system: when the viewfinder is mounted, it looks like a clunky assemblage of cubes defying ergonomy. i think the GXR is suffering from the same issues. i prefer when a camera body and lens are all integrated into one strong object with nothing popping out. but then again, if it’s insanely intuitive fun to use, i may do the jump.

  11. EMERGENCY!! Please show the horrible Sony NEX skin tones and not hide them under B&W portraits of you and your son!! I had horrible skin tones (yellow ded chicken skin) and some heavy orange skin tones from the NEX 5N. Is it too much to ask for a couple of full color OOC jpeg portraits??

  12. Would love to see video comparison between GH2 and that I can make up my mind whether I should buy this camera or wait for the new GH2 version.

    Looking forward for your review Steve!

  13. My question: what about the feel-balance of that biggish lens on that tight camera body? How does it feel and respond. Just hoping for an “answer.” All this helps. On the Leica mount, does it add to the weight? And, of course want to hear more about the Sony 50 1.8. I guess that would shoot at about 75mm. Thanks again for doing this.

  14. I’m trying to decide between the NEX-7 and the GXR with A12-M module… I find the form-factor of the GXR quite appealing and photographer oriented and the image quality from my NEX-5 has left me cold when compared to my M9s using the same lens…

    • Which raw converter do you use? It is often forgotten that selection of raw converter is just as important as lens or camera selection.

  15. try to get a voigtlander 35/1.4 lens
    for size, FL, aperture, color, look and price, is the most usable alternative lens for nex cameras, and in the 7 it will look so freaking amazing, I want to see it !! borrow one

  16. Dang it, Steve! Now I can feel a new hole start burning in my pocket… :(((

    If what you have been saying about the grip, EVF, n later on IQ remains as exciting as they are now then I am game. Coukd help fulfill my short ‘tele’ needs in Leica system… (need a new drybox 🙁

  17. Steve,Last 3 articals there is more talk on lenses than Camera.We getting away from the point, the point was to know how Nex 7 camera does compared to others mainly Nex 5n.

    Happy to know you are having Nex 5n in side by side tests. While doing that use Sony e lenses 18-55, 50-1.8 & 18-200mm.

    Be realistic how many people will be interested or can afford to have Leica or Zeiss Lens. People are interested to know how Nex 7 performs and it’s image quality in different situations using lenses designed for this camera by Sony. And compare it with Nex 5n and other cameras.

  18. Steve,
    Looking at your first backyard test shots of the tree branch . . . side by side on my monitor . . . IMO the X100 has noticeably better shadow detail, tonal gradation and DR than the NEX 7. Maybe this gets better when the NEX gets “dialed in” but as is, I think the X100 still wins.

  19. Hi Steve ,

    Thanks for the NEX-7 post. Any chance you could shoot some normal portrait shots with the 50mm
    without using any of the incamera film modes . I’m trying to gleam how sharp it is in normal portrait outside situations .

  20. Hi Steven,

    Thanks for all the updates on nex-7!
    I preordered mine last week, body-only. I am thinking to buy the 30mm macro lens when I receive the camera. I am wondering if it’s possible that you could include the 30mm lens in your review as I am having trouble deciding which lens to get. I would like to use it for street and portrait.
    Can’t wait for you review! Thx!

  21. Wait a moment : am I the only not impressed here ?
    Ok, the first shots are clean but may be too clean. The lenses seem to have no caracter at alll.

    I L-O-V-E my M9-P and my GXR so I may be biased on this one but the early photos seem on par with the competition…

    I’m eagerly waiting for the video samples, I’m sure that the NEX7 will shine on this point.

    • You are not the only one. I have no itch to pull the credit card, The NEX7 body looks nice, but bodies and sensors come and competition (mft, Samsung) will catch up or even surpass some of the NEX gadgetry soon. As far as systems are concerned, it’s about investing into the right lenses and Sony still falls short, by quite a margin, in the lens contest. Just ordered the GXR with M module, it’s the better backup to my M9, allwing to get the max use out of my m-lenses. And the X100 stays, it is proving again how high Fuji raised the IQ bar with it, the fun challenge it wins anyway with its compact and sleek looks and the brilliant hybrid VF.

  22. “…and I will not be posting any more until my review, which will have all new images and photos and tests”

    No! Don’t do that to us!!!

  23. Steve, stop throwing us just bones, we want RAW meet 🙂
    Looking forward to you review (I would like to see some of the VC wides in there too). Please do keep the Ricoh GXR in the comparison loop. Have a good trip.

  24. I think showing Highish ISO in Black and White isn’t very helpful with regards to how it handles noise. Could you show some in color when you have more time please. Thank you!

  25. Nex 7 may be a cheap M9 substitute, but the low light results from my X100 (i.e. 1600 ISO and above) knock both of them into a cocked hat. The 1600 ISO shot above is appalling by comparison.

    OK, different camera types – Hare & Tortoise, Apples & Oranges, etc. are always awkward comparisons, but, ignoring obvious lens system interchangeability, then for ultimate APS compact IQ I haven’t found much better than X100.

    Compared to my Nex 3 for example (Nikon/Zeiss primes fitted) the X100 still has superior image rendering engine – as proved by it’s results. I’m a great Zeiss fan – but I still don’t think their (Sony generation) lenses always work well with digital sensors.

    Sad to see you selling the X100 …. ‘new kid on the block’ fever Steve? I’m holding out for the (legendary, mythical) interchangeable lens X100 hands-on at least before I jump ship.

    • Only much better if you spend most of your time shooting over ISO1600; which I personally rarely ever do. ISO1600 and below I’ll take the NEX-7; and we haven’t even seen RAW conversions yet. It will only get better after that.

      Plus, of course there’s the obvious fact that you can change lenses on the NEX-7. Sadly that alone rules out the X100 for a lot of us. The NEX-7 may be the new kid on the block, but for me personally it is the camera I have waited for since the inception of digital photography. I’m glad to see a company finally do it.

      • Err – Steve talked of doing further low-light shots – he started it, not me! ALL digital sensors do well at 100 ISO – it is all about how they perform higher up the scale nowadays. Part of the current digital scene is the ‘adaptability’ of sensors in adverse light … where the X100 is an equal of Nikon D3 etc.

        I’m taking quality hand held interior shots in environments that would have needed extensive lighting rigs (on film) some years ago. That is not the view of a ‘low-light’ fanatic – just a statement of where sensor performance has taken us. I now get great handheld shots, in low or adverse light, that film simply could not have delivered.

        Many X100 users are finding that 400 or 800 ISO has become the new 100 ISO, such is the quality and rendering available. Steve’s own high ISO shots above simply aren’t showing the Nex 7 to be any great improvement on the older 3 & 5 models.

        • In all honesty I would rather have an ISO50 setting or even an ISO25 setting instead of ISO6400 and 12,800 so I wouldn’t have to fiddle with ND filters. I guess if you’re always shooting in horrible light with f/5.6 glass ISO400 may be the new standard (although I don’t know why anyone does, if the light sucks I don’t bother taking photos because there’s no point), but I find myself bumping against the shutter limit pretty often when using ISO400. So I still do the vast majority of my shooting at ISO100-200.

          • Eric – do you live on the surface of the Sun, use a tripod mounted camera with f0.95 lens, taking only photos of supernovas?

            I used to hate the ‘no-shot’ scenario with Kodachrome (I wanted best quality too) but the X100 and similar cameras freed me from that tyranny.

            Unless you are a great fan of flash (i.e. no atmospheric low lit interiors) I can’t see how a virtually grainless high ISO image is not preferable to the image you didn’t bother to take because your ISO 25 camera was unable to do so.

            Even wide open at f2.0 in Saharan North Africa, I’ve rarely ‘hit the buffers’ and started looking for ND filters to kill the over-exposure. I only use high quality fast glass (slowest lens I own is f2.8) but unless I’m looking for zero depth of field why would I always want to use them wide-open all the time.

            Unless you are using a tripod, I’d say most photographers are aware of how quickly light falls away – even on a sunny day. Shady conditions, or a UV filter to cut glare easily knocks off a couple of stops or more, a reflection killing polarizer is 2 stops or so just on it’s own, not to mention the drop in EV in relatively well lit interiors ….

            If you still equate high ISO with poor performance (in a digital world) then you must be using the wrong cameras – or missing a lot of good shooting opportunities!

          • Honestly, light and composition are my only real interests in photography. I guess Edward Hopper was too big of an influence on me back when I was painting more than shooting; and that just carried over to the photography world. Sunlight, and the way it effects objects and scenes is pretty much all I shoot these days. When I do portraits, yes, I almost always use strobes to help with natural light, so I rarely ever go over ISO800 in any situation. I guess if night street photography is your thing then yes, ISO6400 might be important to you. However, luckily for me that’s not much of a concern. On the rare occasion when I do take a night shot it’s because I see something that is well lit; such as a person standing in just the right spot under a street lamp; so again, ISO800 is fine for that.

            And yes when doing outdoor portraits using reflectors + shooting at f/2 will indeed make one bump up against the shutter limit rather often unless ND filters are used (especially if the camera has a limit of 1/2000 or 1/4000). Even more of a concern is bumping against the flash sync limit when using large apertures + strobes. In short, ISO50 would be more helpful for what I do than ISO6400 is. Unfortunately it seems I’m in the minority now as people seem to think super clean ISO6400 is a requirement for any camera they buy.

        • I agree that x100 is good but IQ and high ISO performance of the D3 is clearly on a higher level than what can be achieved with the x100. Images are much cleaner from the D3 which also has 1 or 2 steps better high ISO performance.

    • You are stating a personal opinion which is fine but when I compare my 5N and X100 at high ISO (3200) there is no discernible difference in RAW. OOC JPEG is another story but I would never shoot JPEG at high ISO anyways.

      Whether the 7 is as good as the 5N (in terms of high ISO) has not been answered but in my opinion -based on these RAW comparisons – the 5N is just as good as the X100 if not better.

      The X100 is amazing if you are only shooting 35mm and want a compact package – which is why I’m keeping mine but I think the 5N is a bit better in the IQ department and a much more flexible package. And the 7N looks to better the 5N in all categories except possibly high ISO.

      • Not just a personal opinion – I own, and have tested both Nex and X100 side by side – both RAW and JPEG, and just writing what I found in testing of identically shot images.

        Other tests, including Steve’s own have found similar differences. My conclusions may not be as your’s or someone else’s, but that does not make it just an ‘opinion’.

        We both seem to agree we are keeping our X100 – no argument there!

        I’d suggest the Fuji will still take the IQ trophy if they release an interchangeable lens competitor – their processing algorithms seem far better than Sony’s …. and I’m a BIG Sony and Zeiss fan.

        In ultimate terms there isn’t a lot in it – no-one is gonna be disappointed big time if they buy ANY Nex model …. I just find Sony and Zeiss is still not getting the film-like IQ (from identical/similar components) that Fuji is.

        • Did you down res the 5n to the lower resolution of the x100 in doing your comparison? If not, the comparison is not valid.

          • Yes, I took an 89% crop of the X100.

            I’d say it is a valid comparison and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone – look at the DxOMark scores. The X100 has an excellent sensor and does very well at high ISO, as does the NEX 5N (which by the way is much superior to the NEX 3 that Photozopia made his comparison with).

            The real question is how good is the 7 at high ISO compared to the 5N. I know the 5N is comparable if not better than the X100 at high ISO but will the 7 be able to keep pace?

            If you are shooting JPEG only, hands down the X100 is the best at high ISO – compared to the NEX cameras. Sony just applies too heavy of a hand resulting in funky artifacts.

        • If you care to read DxOMark results correctly you will see D3 is only marked on an ability to go up to spectacularly stupid ISO figures. USEABLE images – as distinguished by Dynamic Range, Tonal Range, Colour Sensitivity etc. prove – as I’ve stated before – the D3 crashes of the edge, with test charts nosediving.

          The X100 ‘pegs’ its upper physical sensitivities at ISO 1000 and concentrates on useable image processing. It’s chart (for all the above criteria) are virtually flat compared to the D3 whose image quality is sacrificed.

          The DxOMark higher sensor rating is not a measure of the D3’s quality or useability in real life. It DOES not provide high quality, high ISO images like the X100 or even Nex models. I also agree with retow – the D3 is a heavy, expensive lump of a camera too.

          • The D3 just has cleaner output and better high ISO capability, thats all I’m saying. The FF shines in every respect and is clear that the output from the D3 is generally better than any APS-C camera.

          • @photozopia: “The DxOMark higher sensor rating is not a measure of the D3′s quality or useability in real life. It DOES not provide high quality, high ISO images like the X100 or even Nex models”

            That is a riduculus comment. I own a D700 (same sensor as D3) and and an X100 and i know for a fact that your statement untrue.

            The D3/D700 is in a different league then X100 and NEX even though the X100 is really a wonderful camera with very high IQ.

    • Photozopia, I ensure you the NEX-7 will be just as good in low light as the X100 – lets not forget that one of these cameras has twice as many pixels which makes a real difference in comparing printed output (looking at 100% crops, one would need to either scale up the X100 to 24mp or the NEX-7 down to 12mp, then algorithms start to cloud things).

      Steves examples thus far have been processed and sized down for web only.

      The NEX-7 will also be a revelation at low ISO (with next generation dynamic range which is as important as high ISO for most).

      The X100 does look pretty though.

      • Hi Sam – don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the Nex-7, nor it’s Zeiss lens for that matter – they ‘aint dogs! A fan of both companies products, I was an early adopter of Sony’s DSC-R1 – a camera with a fixed Zeiss zoom to die for ….. in good light.

        I’d always pick it over my Canon 5D and prime lenses on a good, sunny, day – or if using flash indoors or lit studio shots etc. It would literally cream the 5D – even with L glass.

        But, as the sun fell (don’t even talk about evenings or night-time) the 5D came into it’s own. With flash lit subjects the Sony could still compete, it is even able to focus in pitch darkness, but 5D had the quality in low light hand-held natural shots

        Anything can take a good picture in good light – it’s what it can do in dim light that shows up the flaws in either sensor or lens performance.

        Early tests of the 5n or 7 don’t seem to find the extra pixels are any real advantage – Steve’s ISO 1600 examples MIGHT look better at larger sizes, viewed from a greater distance, but I’m seeing signal to noise ratios (digital grain if you like) that looks worse than those turned out by my X100.

    • Are you talking about the photo captioned with this?

      ISO 1600 at 1.8 – 24mm – My son with his crazy big Nikon D2h – High contrast B&W mode

      Those last four words are important when judging the quality of the image.

  26. Go for it Jerry, I am, I have already sold my D300s and lenses. As soon as Nex 7 is available in Australia, I’m buying one. Have been hanging out for a decent compact mirrorless camera to replace my heavy DSLR. Have carried heavy cameras all my life, thus far, time to get something good and light. Thanks to Steve for all your efforts in bringing us all the news we are all longing to hear about, the Nex 7.

  27. Wow this looks really promising Steve! I am tempted to replace my heavy-ass DSLR with this compact yet high performing camera!

  28. Steve, when I mentioned Leica wides I should rather say m-mount wides. I`m not talking about WATE, 21/1.4 or 24/1.4. I use wide range of old canons, old leicas, some russians and first of all VC. Just use the most popular, modern and affordable that most of us m-mount folks use. I would suggest VC 15/4.5, 21/4 and 24/4. You don`t have to buy them, it sholdn`t be diffy to borrow them from your fotopals. Here I I am not interested how the lenses perform but how the sonys matrix cope with them. Especially compared with Ricoh M-module and eventually NEX5n. Ufortunately I am not that famous to get these two or three cameras loaned and lenses but if I did, it would take me just a day or less to make these comparisons. But as I understand you do a lot of travelling so all right, keep sending us snapshots, preferably of places we would like to be there.

  29. Looking forward to reading your full review, the only thing missing from the NEX-5 I had was a built-in EVF so the NEX-7 looks very promising.

    btw, I hope your not out traveling on that pink moped

  30. Very nice pix Steve! Looking forward to some RAW files, the in camera noise reduction is getting rid of quite a bit details.

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