Peaking into the past, present, and future with the Nex-7
By Vitor Munhoz – His website is HERE, his blog is HERE
The recent plethora of new goodies being announced made me stop to think about the pace and direction of photographic innovation. In particular, the new Sony Nex models got me wondering whatever happened to the Sony Nex-7?
Rewind to less than a year ago and anyone who was anybody online could not place Sony Nex-7 on a higher pedestal. It was the be all and end all of photographic achievement. While some prophesized the death of DSLR’s, others went out of their way to test it up against everything and even overturn the sovereignty of the Leica M9. Then, as if its 15 minutes of fame were up, new kids showed up on the block and cast the Nex-7 into oblivion.
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How could such a revolutionary camera be overshadowed so quickly? Could this just be the new lifespan of technology or simply our short attention span? I refused to believe in either. There had to be something more.
I myself had a Nex-7 for a few months, and due to several gripes with it, thought it best to part ways. But it couldn’t have been that everyone had the same experience as me, considering I was using it solely with legacy lenses, such as the exotic Konica 21-35mm M-Hexar Dual and an old beat up Nikon 50mm 1.8 Series E. It also couldn’t have been the gorgeous colors, image quality or even that EVF which I miss to this day.
Coincidentally, whilst reviewing my old photographs of a village museum taken with the Nex-7, I began to form parallels between it and the camera. The village museum is a sanctuary of old technology. It nestles amazing tools from the past that have been abandoned with the coming of newer ones. What caught my attention was that the village museum didn’t simply carry random old tools – it displayed tools that survived the test of time despite newer technology. The printing press, the anvil, and even the rusty old steam donkey have each served a singular purpose, and in doing so, still hold relevance to this day. I don’t want to compare a camera to an anvil here, but regardless of the complexity of photography as an artform and a craft, the camera is ultimately a tool.
In our age, however, tools can be made to incorporate countless features, and I think what attracted many of us to the Nex-7 was that it wasn’t a simple tool anymore, it was the ultimate tool.
Here was a camera that was smaller than a DSLR with an image sensor that dethroned a Leica. It had a promise of future high-end lenses, led by the Zeiss 24 E, and access to professional AF if desired. Not only that, but also like the village museum, it breathed a second life into an entire world of optics unlike any other camera had with its new focus peaking mode. This camera served everyone and there was no job too big or too small for it. It could take on editorial, commercial, landscape, portraiture and why not even sports. It was in every sense of the term a “jack of all trades.” To my naiveté, however, I use the term “jack of all trades” quite too often without considering its second part: “jack of all trades, master of none.”
Such “Jacks of all trades” have a very arduous road to success and you don’t see them in village museums for a reason. Their relevance usually falls short when compared to the tools they were meant to assimilate. There is something about the simple, but dependable tools that have proven their worth, the ones that are still in the annals of history and, in some cases, used to this day despite technological advancements.
The same can be said about cameras. A year has passed and not much has changed: DSLR’s are still going strong and Leicas still cost an arm and a leg. As inventive and farsighted as the Nex-7 was said to be, I think what it lacked was clearer vision of what it was and whom it was for. The jack-of-all-trades was truly a master of none. As I began to cross off my list of uses for the Sony Nex-7, I felt as if it was all a foolish dream, much like what it must feel after buying an all-in-one TV remote/fax machine/nose-hair trimmer on a whim. The Nex-7 wasn’t here to replace anything.
For starters, Sony’s hotshoe is an anchor holding back the entire Nex and Alpha systems. The alternatives – a ridiculously priced conversion adapter or third party versions that only work sporadically – just aren’t acceptable. Even with a magical 24 mp sensor, commercial and portrait photographers will sound a clear “no, thanks” with the fear of a conversion adapter acting up during a photo shoot.
Second, the focus peaking mode is interesting, but it’s still a long way from being fully trusted. When it tells you absolutely everything in your frame is in focus because you’re shooting at f8 outdoors on a sunny day, I’m sure many street shooters with their legacy lenses will also join in with a “no, thanks.”
But above all, trying to embrace the entire system just caused me to question Sony and its priorities as a whole. Why should I invest in a system from a company that can’t be bothered releasing a single firmware update to their flagship Nex model? Instead, they attempt to resolve criticism of the Nex-7 by developing a replacement model. Three new cameras later (including the upcoming Nex-6) and no new lenses as we were made out to believe, no accessories, and no support. They give us the newest cameras like clockwork, but what are we truly gaining? Since my 4-month-old camera will soon be labeled previous generation I can assure you it’s definitely not something that will be remembered a few years from now. If there ever was a village museum for cameras, I don’t imagine it having room for the Sony Nex-7.
I don’t want to put anyone off of the Nex-7. It is capable of magnificent images and I’m sure many owners out there love it to pieces. I only wish that my experience and views can encourage discussion regarding the bigger picture and what us consumers are benefitting from this new age of market demand and supply. While we all wait for upcoming announcements, I hope that these new tools can help us achieve more than we could before, rather than just being this-year’s model waiting to be replaced in 2013.
“Since my 4-month-old camera will soon be labeled previous generation.”
So much for prognostication, Vitor! I see the NEX 7 is alive and kicking at the end of 2013. 😉 That’s about 15 months down the road, and the 7, by virtue of features and sensor size, is still arguably the best of all cropped-sensor mirrorless cameras.
If the menu system of the 7 is remains chaotic, there have been worthy firmware updates, additional and excellent optics are available, and a hotshot adapter from Sony is all of $25.
“I can assure you it’s definitely not something that will be remembered a few years from now.”
Given it wasn’t the first NEX, there’s no reason to remember it. It’s just the best NEX, so far.
The flaw in the Nex-7, which I have used with great joy for 15 months, is that Sony did not appear to have a clear set of use cases that drove the inclusion of a particular configuration model, so we ended up with a 90% camera in all cases, except perhaps full automated mode, which I believe is never used. In the absence of multiple user configurations, I set the controls up just after I bought it and left it in that configuration, so that I can access what I need (with a couple excpetions) quickly without resort to the menus,.
What I have is a camera I can employ to a level beyond anything I have used in the past in spite of my fading eyesight and arm strength.
I am yet another film camera guy who started 50 years ago. Even made a living with it for a bit, then put it away until DSLRs came out that could start to compete with film image quality. The images I can get with my Nex-7 and 24mm f1.8 are far superior to anything I could get with any of the DSLRs I owned, including my 5D Mark II with Canon glass to match. (The Nex-7 sensor quality probably has a lot to do with this perception.)
Not because the cameras weren’t capable, but because I never learned to use phase detect AF, and now almost always use manual focus on the Nex-7, the first camera I’ve owned since my film days that can support the use of manual focus (without peaking) to produce images to justify the purchase of a lens like the 24mm Zeiss.
“Be patient and stop complaining.”
Those are the hardest things to learn.
I was born during the days of film. When I started to get into photography, the first budget DSLRs just came out. It was perfect timing. Over the years, I grew to understand that photography wasn’t about the tools but the person who uses them. This is obviously cliche since time immemorial.
I am forever grateful to all types of disruptive innovations in the camera world. It just proves that people should invest time in developing the character of their photographs. There will never be a magic pill to that.
I just bought a 7 and I don’t think I will regret it anytime soon. It just opens up so many more possibilities. After bearing with a 2nd hand 5D classic for three years, I decided that I needed a FF camera (5D3), a casual camera (X100) and a light pro-like compact (NEX7).
All of that I gradually bought this year as the need for each one arose. The price of the 3 could’ve bought me a Leica M (without the glass, oops) but I couldn’t have done as much. People where I’m from are starting to find my work appealing.
In the end, cameras will always be forgotten. The photographs one makes are more important. We’re not supposed to aspire to use the tools of masters like Cartier-Bresson but to aspire to make photos as powerful as theirs.
I don’t mean to sound conceited but it’s way better to hope that a camera will end up in a museum because it belonged to a certain photographer. The model and make would then be subordinate to the user.
I like to think that a camera is made part of history for the way it was used. Why don’t we pick favorites and get to work in making history?
No matter how you look at it, people make history.
Ps Steve, your site is inspiring.
About one month and a half later (as of october 18th), sony released a firmware update to correct several of the complaints raised by in the comments. And by this time we also have new lenses. I guess the wide angle zoom and the 35mm f/1.8 are going to be welcomed additions by all the commenters above. Sony has just proved that sometimes it is worth to be patient and to stop complaining.
Phew, I finally got down to the bottom of all the comments !!
What a well informed and constructive discussion.
Reading all the comments it would seem that many of the “issues” users have with the Nex 7 could be solved if Sony released a software kit to allow full customisation of the interface – disable buttons, swap functions, extend bracketing etc.
It seems strange that with the ever increasing rate-of-change within photographic equipment, software is not playing a more prominent role. Surely the hardware is getting to the point where it doesn’t matter how much better it gets if much of it is getting in the way when you put your eye to the camera?
Well, as much as we wish we get firmware upgrades with substance i do not believe it is very common to just get that. I bought a Canon 7D relatively soon after it came out and only now (3y later) there is firmware upgrade that really brings substantial improvements. The pace of nre camera releases is fast though and there is a tendency that the latest release is what sticks. However i still believe the NEX-7 is right up there with the same arguments it was lauded when it first came out: small and light, excellent sensor, excellent EVF, and innovative operational concept (i personally like the physical controls although like most i think the menue system needs improvement). I cannot really judge how much of an issue the hotshoe is since i never use it. For me quite franky there are only 2 areas where i wish improvments: AF (particularly tracking) and more choices for AF lenses (although i started to like using manual focus lenses).
An excellent and insightful article. I too wondered “what happened” to the NEX-7. As an Olympus E-P1 owner, I marveled at all the accolades piled upon the NEX-7 when it first came out. Now all the thunder is for the OMD EM-5. Your comment about the no firmware update is very telling. It’s as if Sony was this brilliant kid with attention deficit issues…bouncing all over the place.
I just read Steve’s article “The Power of Negative thinking”, and it stroke me how much negativity there is in many of the comments here, including mine! I guess I expressed no negativity concerning the NEX-7, which I love, but there is indeed about Leica (mainly about their second hand price), and that’s not fair. You know, I adore the Leica M concept endlessly. But I figuered it’s too expensive for me. Everybody must look at his own budget, and if Leica is too expensive, be happy with another camera, like I am. To be honest, the second hand price is something I do consider, but really only very little. The main reason why I buy a certain product is very simply: how much joy can it bring me! Not: how many flaws does it have! But: how many features does it have that I like! Because those bring me the joy. If there are enough of those “feel good features”, I will consider all flaws as marginal, and they will certainly not spoil my joy!
So coming back on Leica, and its second hand price, I never let it decide what to buy. Same counts for how soon a product will be outdated by a successor: I never let it decide what to buy. I figure: if I can be happy with this camera today, why shouldn’t I be tomorrow, even though there is a newer and so called improved one. In the end, it will be very hard to see what camera took what picture, if it’s the NEX-5N or the NEX-6, or 7 for hat matter.
I guess you must look at your budget, and decide within your financial capabilities what camera you will enjoy the most. And whenever you are attracted to a new one (or old one), and you have the means, I’d say: go for it and enjoy yourself! Don’t dwell on the price (but stay within your budget) or moan about its second hand value, because one can’t put a value on enjoying life.
I recently bought some gear that many will call really outright crazy. Having seen so many guest contributions with film pictures, I really was fascinated (again) by this traditional medium. Add my adoration for the Leica M concept to that, and my perpetual love for Zeiss…, well, I bought myself I Zeiss Ikon ZM, the silver one that’s been put off the market, because I love the silver the most! But next to that I also bought an old, but perfectly operational, Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 524/2 folding camera with Tessar optics, that shoots on 60x90mm film, and that I can put in my overcoat pocket (speaking of compact camera’s in the 50’s!). This camera must be about my age, and is very close to the first camera I ever used as a child! Every time I take it in my hands, it brings me back to the good moments with my late father, when he learned me how to use it. Further I bought a Jobo color film processing machine and a scanner. You can tell that I’m really thrilled! I wish I’d have more time to spend for my shooting, but my business still takes most of it. All those buys are probably a no good investment, but I guess it’s an investment in fun. And, thinking of another article of Steve “The Leica Monochrome is already outdated, therefore it wil never be obsolete”, I thought those camera’s will never be obsolete in a million years!
Dirk, good on you for Positive Thinking.
I agree with you on several points, and personally I think “obsolete” should never be used to describe a camera. Everyone has different reasons to use a camera. For example, I have an undying love for TLR’s. If there’s a kind of camera that people don’t care about anymore, it’s a TLR. You see them used as props everywhere, and they are often the symbol of an antique and outdated film camera. But whenever I look through my old Yashica TLR, it brings me back to my school days of being simply enamoured about photography and I can’t help but stare through that finder for minutes.
I hope I don’t sound like a hypocrite, after having written such an essay. The intention was to encourage discussion on the bigger picture and not on the Nex-7 itself, although I did use it as my sacrificial lamb (hehe). I was upset that it brought out a lot of bitter and defensive comments, and I hope Steve’s essay wasn’t directed at me. 😛
Dear Vitor, I’m sure Steve’s essay was as much directed at me as it was at you and everybody else who lost his “positive thinking” (for a while). So don’t worry. But this PT (indeed, positive th…) is something we need to cultivate and to cherish, because negativisme always looms around the corner. I try to kick my ass on a regular basis, because, also on a regular basis, I find myself slipping away (a bit)…
BTW, everybody has his own reasons to buy a camera. And I believe, most of the time it’s about feeling good. So that’s alright. I had a friend who used a TLR, and it appealed to me too! 🙂
sony quickly realized there mistakes with the nex 5 & and came out with the 5n and yes they had updates for the nex 5 ,but again they knew that 14 mp sensor wasnt the prime match & replaced it with the 16 mp sensor that again fixed most flaws that the 14 mp sensor was bringing , again dirk r/d didnt do its job from beginning instead they rushed to get into the market place at consumers expense ! i have nothing against sony and even enjoyed the nex 5n & 7 , i just think its going to be a long while before they get there act together and bring out a proper nex system , olympus & panasonic seem to have no issues with r/d and there micro 4/3 systems, sony should do the same ! in reference to leica m cameras you are right they are far from perfect , and we all know there will be another new model eventually , but most of us know that we really dont need to upgrade from one to the next …i personally still use a m8.2 and love it to death !since your in the music business & im a part time musician 🙂 , its a different business from consumers electronics perhaps im wrong and love to hear how !!! but the point still remains sonys camera division needs to get there act together !
You know, Boris, all of this really seems very odd to me. All I can tell is: I’ve seen tons of pictures, taken with the NEX-7, of astonishing quality by many great photographers. Myself, I can do whatever I want with this camera, with 11 different lenses! Yes sometimes I’m working around a flaw that I consider marginal. I’m NEVER going to replace this camera, but for a mirrorless full frame, which I guess will be the next Sony NEX (read the rumors).
Very interesting post&comments, thanks Vitor, this is food for though!
Steve got a point here, Apple did update their Iphone every year and it won’t keep it from getting a warm place in the village museum. And the first model was quite poor (no 3G, no GPS, no app). But we only know it’s a “classic” nearly 5 years after, so trying to figure out about NEX (or any mirrorless actually) doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Maybe NEX7 will only be remembered by Leicaists, who will bless/curse forever it for being the cause of the M10 EVF… j/k 😉
One last thought, would it make sense for Sony to developp a lot of lense for enthousiasts when the new bodies make them obsolete so fast? I’m thinking of the new phase/contrast hybrid AF or the rumored 2013 full frame… Only time will tell I guess! 🙂
Thanks Vitor for getting me to think this through. I have a NEX 7 and a couple M lenses + the native 24 and 50 + adapter for my Nikkors. I also have a D800 with good set of primes. And I have a V1 with its 2 zooms. Next to that I have an old FM3a and my old M6. In fact, too many systems. Since the D800 landed on me, every now and then I decide I should get rid of something, and invariably the NEX is identified as being superfluous. Based on thoughts quite similar to yours.
Then I take it out, as I did yesterday, and realise it is quite irreplaceable.
It really hits a sweet spot in terms of combining very high IQ with very low weight. Susbstantially lighter than Leica M. It is unfortunately not small enough to be called compact because of the lens sizes, but it is not that far from there. The body on its own slips in a jean pocket. It is really a case of managing the lenses.
It has loads of features, and even though it is not nearly as responsive, fast, surefooted as the D800, it does its stuff quite well.
And the files are excellent. Really excellent.
I have come to realise that if I did get rid of that system, I’d soon be pining for something to replace it. Just because I love great IQ, and love fast lenses with large enough sensors, and love having a camera with me when I am out and about, and that D800 is not the lightest or most discreet of beasts…
And, really, there is nothing else on the market with an APS sensor or larger that brings together the same combination of features.
The Fuji X100 and X2 are very tempting but have fixed lenses, and yesterday I was glad to have two excellent lenses with me. The XPro1 has it all on paper, with smaller lenses, but, after trying it, I found that its many quirks muddle the experience. What else is there that brings me DSLR quality without DSLR weight and size? Do not tell me M9…
I have no “love” for the NEX 7, but I have learned to respect it, and I would not be so sure it will never find a place in your museum. In fact that depends on what comes next. It could very well end up being seen as a pioneer development…
I don’t think Brian was complaining about any lack of support from Sony.
Nor was he hoping for a “new one” next year. Rather he was describing his success with the N7, and expecting that to continue. As I said before, not a camera for beginners. Try buying one second hand – very difficult, and new sales continue apace. This is a curious article.
besides sony being hurt by the tsunami there were other companys as well nikon,canon but both recovered quickly , i think sonys camera division just has bad management and lost its way after the tsunami , as far as using leica zeiss voightlander glass ya thats all great …but the point still remains sony launched a system that they had no intention on updating either with firmware updates or more usable full auto lenses …there were countless times that i missed shots do to me having to manual focus my zeiss or leica lens and even if i did think it was in focus …in fact later i found out it wasnt ! since you mentioned leica m8 m8.2 m9 and now soon to be released m10 …well on the used market even after 3-5 yrs ,those out dated models will still bring you top dollar ! as i also stated before …sony is basically playing the catch up game to all other manufactures…and i for one dont want to be on there train of simple r/d mistakes !
In my business (music trade) I deal will quite some Japanese companies. Some suffered a lot from the tsunami, others not much, some not at all, depending on the location of theire factories. I don’t know where the Nikon and Canon plants are located – maybe they didn’t suffer that much. I really don’t know, I guess you know that neither. Anyway, I don’t wanna speak out an opinion here. I only know that Sony really suffered heavily.
About their intention to come up with updates, well, they came up with an update for my older NEX-5, so why wouldn’t they wanna support the -7? Maybe there’s another reason to it? Maybe their NEX-7 R&D departement was in the same complex and was also distroyed? Which caused a serious delay? … I simply don’t know and I don’t wanna guess and then proclaim this as a fact.
Fact remains that an update would indeed be wellcome. But I believe that this is not the heart of the matter. Imagine you get a few updates and in a years time, the camera is still outdated by a successor. The effect remains the same: after a year you’re still left with old gear that’s worth only a fraction of the price and you still get frustrated. And this counts for ALL brands! So I think we first need to look at the camera as it is now. Then we see a fantastic device, which delivers great images and we can use for many years. OK we need to work around some flaws, but every Leica owner does that too (the M’s don’t even have a tiltable LCD screen – can you imagine?). So we need to forget about the marketing commotion and concentrate on our pictures. Forget about the detail-flaws, it’ll only make you a grumpy old (or young) man. When there comes an update, embrace it, but use this camera now as the fantastic tool that it is.
Concerning older Leica’s, they will indeed loose a smaller percentage of their price, but calculated in dollars, I believe you will still have lost a lot more money. The M9-P is now $1000 down, new! That’s about the price of a NEX-7 body ($1198). How much will those M9-P owners loose, when they put their camera on the second hand market, you think? Do I need to say more? This second hand price is really an argument against Leica! If you buy a new Leica, you gotta keep it – using old stuff after some time – or you gotta spend a crazy amount of money if you wanna keep up with the latest evolutions. But can I tell you something? The M8 still takes lovely pictures!
I have been in the lucky position to buy the M8 and M9 new, but this stops now. The current Leicas pricing (bodies and lenses) takes me out of the market. As you say, the m8 (and the M9) still take great photos.
As far as Sony is concerned, I pre-ordered my NEX-7 directly from Sony Europe. To tell you the full story would take too long, but save to say they offered me a discount for maintaining the order during the delays and then tried to get out of it. To this day, the matter has not been resolved to my satisfaction, which is that they abide by what they offered in the first place. The lesson that I learnt is that if they don’t have it in stock, don’t order it.
I pre-ordered my 7 too. And again I’ll pre-order a full frame NEX, without hesitation, notwithstanding the delay that occured with the 7. Why? First: I REALLY love the 7. I never had a camera that could do so much for me. The only thing that I’d really wanna add to it is a full frame sensor. Second: the delay was really an exceptional situation beyond Sony’s capabilities, let’s stay fair. What are the odds that another tsunami strikes the NEX’s factory again?
BTW the fact that the Leica prices take you out of the market (and I’m sure there are many like you), proves my main point: the industry cannot continue letting it’s customers down in the way that it’s doing now. Let’s do some simple logic: how many (potential) Leica users need to by how many camera’s. Does Leica really expect them to each posess three to five M’s in 2022? Do they think the second hand market for Leica’s is really that big? If yes, there will be MASSIVE losses on the new-price. Or do they expect you to simply dump your older Leica as garbage, or put it in a box in the attic? Writing this down is almost perverse. But there are only so much possibilities, you know… Thinking this over, and then thinking at the Leica prices made me chose for the NEX. Indeed the M8 still makes lovely pictures, but I think I’d prefer a full frame NEX instead, regardless its price. That plunges the second hand price of the M8, and I don’t know what it will do with the M9 price…
After my experience, I will not pre-order from Sony Europe. I will order if they say that it is in stock, like I did with the RX100, which is amazing me with it’s IQ. And there, I have experienced both sides of Sony. The RX100 arrived 2 days after it was ordered from across Europe. I was impressed.The NEX-7 was ordered in October last year and even now, there is no sign from Sony of a resolution of the matter. I am, though, very happy with the NEX-7, but only wish there was a 50mm f1.4 equivalent as I have never been really comfortable with 35mm.
As far as Leica are concerned, I think there has been a clear shift from using the existing sales channel (Leica specialists) to selling through their own boutiques. I have spoken to one specialist who finds it hard to get any product from Leica. To me this appears to be Leica trying to retake the market and keep it to itself, thereby earning all the profit. I personally find this approach a little short sighted, as are their price hikes.
What happen to the Nex-7? I do not own one, but it was on my list. The M9 was too much money and two little camera. The Nex-7 is an APC in a mirriorless camera. Sony got the format right. Leica has to be full frame to match thier lens. The Sony camera went full bore high tech.. They made an other mistake. Had the Nex-7 been a 18-20mp camera it would have been great. But that high 24mp took from it low light IQ. It is not bad in low low light, just not great. Also, for me, even at ISO 100 the camera has a bit of noise in it much like the Nikons D800. A fine camera without lens. Sony kind of killed the system by depending on others for most of there lens. Megapixels aren’t everything. I am sure Sony can do better. For now the mirriorless camera for me is Fuji’s X-Pro 1. It has everything one would need it a full system. Again no petty arguments, please. The world is full choices, even in photography. Photography is an art, bond by science.
The NEX-7 is a great camera, I still own mine and have been shooting it with the $199 Sigma 30 2.8 with amazing results, better than any Sony lens I have shot with it. Having a renewed love for my NEX-7 and with new Sony goodies in my hand by Friday (those that are announced and some that haven’t been) I am excited to see what is coming.
Pehaps you are missing my point. Sony does not need an Nex-8, the need a whole new camera. It should be backed up by a full system. The X-Pro 1 has taken out the AA filter and it works. Just like Leica. Sony needs to see the MP race for what it is. If it is the Holy Grail, the everyone dump what you have and by a D800. They need more then just more then MP, it has to be an all around camera. My point is not to put Sony down. It is to say that you need a system, not just MP.
This was a really excellent article and I think it applies to a lot of attempts to get away from DSLRs now that, with digital, we don’t ‘need’ their bulky interface to see what we are shooting (i.e. mirrorless). I myself think M4/3 is the best contender here as they have the lenses, with more to come and a system based on legacy lens use, especially with a crop factor, doesn’t have a chance. Why Sony is so slow to grow their lens collection I don’t know, but I suppose like you say, serious users are wary of an unproven and in many ways unfinished platform. All we have we can be sure of are SLRs, Rangefinders and Medium Format, the last being the least neccessary with the high resolution digital can have even in a camera phone.
I don’t have an M9, but having seen the results it’s clearly the king. If someone else can make a full/frame equivalent, they’ll be onto a winner with all the superb M mount glass in existance. Since Sony make the sensors, I think there’ll be full-frame Nex sooner or later an it’ll be great for that. But knowing Sony it’ll be replaced by another model in a few years, though full-frame cameras do change a bit more slowly than smaller-sensored ones.
Honestly, if it wasn’t for the difficultly in reducing depth if field I’d say M/43 is the answer. As a user alongside my Nikon collection, I know I still prefer having more selective focus and also a nice viewfinder. They’ll also never make a larger sensor. Yet a full-frame NEX- yes please!
To date, the only obituary I’ve read for the NEX-7 is right here. Mr. Munhoz seems to think because he couldn’t figure out what to use his NEX-7 for, that no one else has been been able to either. It might surprise him to learn that the NEX-7 still ranks #23 in Amazon’s Compact System Cameras category, outranking newer mirrorless cameras, such as the Panasonic DMC-G5 (#36) and the Pentax K-01(#47). Apparently, the world doesn’t revolve around Mr. Munhoz and his choices. The only one who is sounding the NEX-7’s death knell is himself. The NEX-7, for myself and many others, continues to be a superb picture taking machine. And while it is true that Sony has dropped the ball with regards to high-quality E-mount lenses for the NEX system, for the right photographer, the NEX-7 is a godsend. No, if I were a commercial or portrait photographer I would not have chosen the NEX-7. But neither would I have needed to purchase one in order to figure that out. I did my homework before buying my NEX-7. I knew what I was getting into. I understood its strengths and weaknesses. Any pro worth his or her salt would have done the same.
Mr. Munhoz’s NEX-7 diatribe strikes me as nothing more than sour grapes by someone who didn’t bother to research the camera carefully before he bought it and was surprised that it didn’t meet his assumptions.
Mr.Frost, lets please cut the formalities and the personal attacks. No I do not believe the world revolves around me, and unlike many out there, I did do a lot of my homework before purchasing one. In fact, I was a lucky enough to actually try out a preproduction model in October 2011 as opposed to all the other people who bought theirs according to someone else’s opinion.
My analysis, as I have stated both in the essay and in the commentary, is an attempt to form a parallel between the history of technological advancements and the status quo of the photographic industry. I used the Sony Nex-7 because of my recent experience with it, but you can replace it for many other cameras out there.
Please don’t take my opinion of the Nex-7 as an insult to your character, I’m sure you’re a smart fellow and your money was well spent.
No insult taken.It is, after all, only a camera.
Doug Frost, you need to lighten up. You missed the point of what Vitor was stating regarding the photography business. Sony (and most all other manufacturers) releases a model, hope it gets popular, sells many units and then it’s onto the next model. That’s how it works now. Just because Vitor points out some of the flaws he feels are congruent with his usage with photography and this particular model doesn’t mean he is expecting everyone else out there to follow suit.
Kent, you obviously missed my point, which was an answer to the question Mr. Munhoz asked in the first paragraph of his essay. The answer, of course, is that nothing has happened to the NEX-7. The fact that Mr. Munhoz felt it even necessary to ask betrayed a curious ignorance of the facts.
I SO MUCH DISAGREE WITH YOU!!! Nevertheless, this is a well written article indeed, with an interesting point of view, really worthwhile reading and discussing about it. And I agree with many of your points, but not with the heart of the matter. Yes, the hotshoe is not OK. But really, to me (and I guess to many others) it’s of very little importance, since I never use it, nor would I use a standard hotshoe on a camera with such a high ISO capacity. And if ever (never say never), I wouldn’t mind using an adapter shoe. Really this is a detail of marginal importance.
Much worse is the constant releasing of new models, that outdate the one you bought only half a year ago. Although I don’t believe that the NEX-6 will outdate the -7 (amongst others, it won’t have the tri-nav controls, which are realy great on the -7), it’s simply positioned lower. But you now, this outdating of young camera’s IS NOT A SONY PROBLEM! It’s definitely a problem of the short term marketing strategy, directed by the law of the stock exchange market, where one thinks that, by outdating a former model, everybody will buy the new one, what makes the turnover figures and the profits of the next year or even the next quarter for the shareholders grow. The CEO’s are judged on those immediate profits by their shareholders, and loose their job if they don’t deliver. So they are obliged to think short term. I have seen the results of this in my business too (the music industry), where in the 80’s/90’s the big companies launched new Synthesizers every few months, thinking that, if they announced that this one really outdated the former model, everybody would buy the new one. But this only works for so long! The result was a general and massive frustration amongst the customers and a collapse of that part of the industry, because the customers turned their back to that practice and refused to “follow” the industry any longer, being tired of time after time seeing drastically devaluated their instrument after what they expected to be only a fraction of its lifetime.
So THIS IS NOT A SONY PROBLEM! How do you think all Fuji X-Pro 1 owners will feel, now that Fuji is about to release the X-Pro 2? And what about Leica? When I bought a Canon EOS-1 D for our studio work, I got acquainted with the M-8 and immediately fell in love with it. I wanted to buy one for my personal use some time later, but by the time I was ready for it, there was already an M-9 (with a second version of the M-8 in between). This made me wonder if it was that good an idea to spend about 7000 Euros on a camera body, that would be “old stuff” in a few years time, where one used to buy a Leica (almost) for life! At that moment, I decided never to pay that kind of money for a digital camera for my personal use. In the meanwhile, we’ve had the launch of the Monochrome and soon to come the M-10 (sorry to you all, M-9 owners!).
In those times, when the world really needs to take care of the environment, a company like Leica (and as a matter of fact, all other companies too) should take care of building an updatable “frame”, that can last at least a few decades, instead of one that is to be replaced after a few years or even a few months. It would reduce the waste and be more respectful towards the customer.
In the meanwhile, the NEX-7 is one hell of a camera. I have one of the very first that came to Europe, and it’s simply a fantastic device. And the focus peaking is terrific!!! This is really an interesting function. After some practice one can really focus VERY fast with it. (I know it’s not in vogue with many to wanna practice some skills, but sorry to those “lazy guys”, blame yourself for that.) And still, if you prefer, you have the other (slower, but for some, probably securer) way to focus. Are we going to complain then, about the extra possibility of focus peaking on the NEX camera’s??? Of course many (certainly all snapshooters) will prefer and can use the auto focus.
No, NON OF THOSE are the reasons why the NEX-7 didn’t live up to its commercial expectations. I remember clearly, having ordered one for myself at the very moment of its announcement, and having heard of the delay, due to the unforeseeable tsunami, that crippled the production and caused a delay for so many months. At that time I thought: this is gonna heart this camera! And so it did. It’s simply very important for a product that the announcement, the publicity campaign, the production and the launching follow one another in a very swift way. Due to the tsunami, this was completely messed up. It was a disaster in many ways. And it ruined this fantastic product. Yet the NEX-7 is IMO still by far the most interesting camera in its genre. Overall it offers quite more than the M-Pro 1 (again, IMO), and that for a considerably lower cost. And about the critic concerning the (so called) limited amount of available lenses, really, I can only laugh with it. Momentarily, I choose out of 3 Zeiss ZM lenses, 1 Voigtländer, (those are all new lenses) 5 Canon FD lenses and 3 Jupiters. My lenses range from 17 to 135 mm, with different speeds and different characters. I can monitor them all directly and perfectly through the viewfinder (or the tiltable LCD display), getting a clear impression of depth of field. All lenses are manufactured or adapted conform to M-mount standard, and a Novoflex adapter makes the camera M-mount compatible. This works fluently and perfectly, so why fuzz? Come on. Let’s get real. Let’s not make problems, where there are non.
In this marketing driven society, due to the tsunami, SONY HAS LOST THE MOMENTUM for the launch and the success of the NEX-7. That’s all there is to it. But THIS CAMERA REMAINS A MASTERPIECE, with more functions and image quality than most will EVER NEED and EVER USE! If you buy a NEX-7, you can be assured of a fantastic camera for many, many years, as long as you don’t let yourself blow away by some marketing guys, that try to tell you that this or that function (that never has been of any importance in the past 100 years of photography!) is something you really can’t live without, or this or that function (where you easily can work around) is now drastically improved. (BTW, this counts for all modern camera’s, but, like I said, IMO the NEX-7 is simply the very best in its genre. But what counts for me doesn’t have to count for you!) Of course there are things that can be improved to the NEX-7 – every Leica has some of those too. But the ultimate camera will never be build. So to all those guys that condemn a camera with some flaws, I have only one big advice: NEVER BUY!
Dirk, I do agree with a lot of your comments though for me the severe magenta shift is a major setback on the nex 7. I would not consider the nex 5 for its lack of integrated EVF, so for me it might well be the nex 6. And of course it will not be perfect
Hello Richard, I use on my NEX-7 lenses of 135 (Jupiter), 85 (Zeiss ZM, Canon FD, Jupiter), 50 (Zeiss ZM, Canon FD, Jupiter) 35 (Voigtländer), 24 (Canon FD), 20 (Canon FD) and 17mm (Canon FD) without magenta shift! So for myself, really, I don’t see the problem. It’s only when you use wide angle M-mounts that the color shift occurs. But there are so much other wide angles that you can use (Nikon, Canon, Zeiss, … …). The choice is so vast, more than we could start to dream of, say 10 years ago. I really don’t know why this all of a sudden would be any problem today.
Oh, and I also have a Zeiss ZM 28, that indeed sometimes shows a magenta shift, but as far as now, I’ve been able to neutralise that when converting from RAW in Photoshop – in a very easy and swift way (3 steps).
That being said, if you didn’t buy yet, I totally agree that the 6 is probably a very good choice. Me, I’m not gonna change this camera (the 7) EVER, unless for a non-Leica fullframe compact mirrorless. And the rumors are very strong that Sony is gonna come with exactly that very soon. So I’m thrilled. I think I’m gonna be one of the very first buyers, like I was with the 7!
You can take a look at
I’ve posted a picture there, in which I tried to evoke as much magenta shift as possible, with next to it the processed version, without the magenta shift.
All the whining about the Sony hotshoe is simply hot air. If you’re a pro and you’re shooting Sony, but the silly Sony adapter/converter. If you’re not a pro then continue to whine.
Sony is not a photography company. They’re an electronics company. Why design lenses and accessories when you can simply put out a new piece of electronic wizardry? For sure they’re not building a system.
I don’t think the hotshoe issue is hot air. The Minolta hotshoe is nuisance and I’m glad Sony is finally letting it go. I don’t like calling myself a pro, but I do it for a living, and even having the original Sony adapter is still adding one more unnecessary risk of failure to a system of electronics. Everyone knows how these gadgets are and I don’t want to be standing in front of a model and my client trying to fidget around with an adapter when it decides to act up. That being said, one can argue the same about any camera equipment, be it a small converter or a Nikon D800, so issues like this do come with the territory.
When I spoke of Sony as a company, I wasn’t referring to its entirety, but specifically at its photographic division. That is what matters to me and the photographic community in my opinion. Canon is 53.9% office equipment (printers, toners, and other MFDs) and 11.8% industrial optical equipment. Pentax was bought by Hoya years ago solely because of their medical division, and once they had what they wanted, they passed the camera division along to Ricoh. You name the brand, Nikon, Olympus, and they are all like Sony in a way, so the argument that they do much more than cameras shouldn’t be an excuse for their strategies.
Thanks for your excellent write! The amount of thought and interest you put in it is something that can truly impress the reader (me at least).
I agree with you about the nex cameras.
It shows in everything we desire: we are chasing the dream of perfection. It’s an addiction that just gets worse. Everything has to grow and get better, faster, easier, what ever. Tv’s get bigger all the time, cars get more comfortable, and the soap suspenders in public toalets work without touching the damn thing. And are we happier than before? Hands up if you are.
In many ways sony cameras are one kind of dose to this addiction. As well as many other cameras. It’s MENT to be like that because it’s the way to make money. Thats why sony cameras have so much features for almost all kinds of photographers; more people will blindly believe them to be the cure fot the annoing unperfection. And this is also why sony cameras will never have to be perfect; it’s enough that they are PROMISING.
But stil, weirdly, nex cameras are also serious tools for serious photographers. I think it may even be an accident. I just cant see how the original nex-5&3 were originally supposed to be taken as seriously as they are today. With the accessories and wirmwares they used to have they were FULL of down sides, for the target group that just wanted to believe in the dream, not really get anything amazing done in real life photography.
Today nex cameras are a mix of sort of un-serious history and VERY serious future. I just hope that it’s really going to that serious direction, and not just being another apperiance of that dream we have to believe in.
Agree with Vitor, Leishon, and many others here, that while the NEX-5N have very few issues, which seems to be addressed in the NEX-5R, the main problem is lack of good, fast lenses, with anti-shake.
I use my NEX-5N mainly for sweep panoramas, and other wide angle shots, where lack of anti-shake isn’t a problem. Not out of choice, but the Nikon V1 does the rest so beautifully, with or without, anti-shake lenses, and the selection of really good lenses, at reasonable prices, is vast!
If Sony just put more effort into the lenses, things would be great, but they don’t. So my next camera will be a Nikon (my first DSLR from that maker – I used to be a Pentaxian, through and through!
Vitor, This was an interesting read. I think the “museum” issue you’re pointing out is one that relates to electronics in general, and not just cameras. And as cameras – especially ILCs – get closer to other electronics such as phones, they do begin to have a much shorter lifespan, and thus lose their drool-worthiness quite quickly. My tool of choice is a 5n right now, but I know that I will be upgrading to either a 5r or a 6 very shortly, just as I will be upgrading my iPhone 4s.
I don’t think your comments are a criticism of the 7, just an observation that what was top-of-the-line just 6 months ago is now obsolete… Android phone owners have the same issue on an even shorter timeframe.
This does diminish the appeal and perceived value of these cameras, I agree. However, I would argue that this is actually more of a problem with the old release cycle of DSLRs than with ILCs: a new flagship DSLR every 3-4 years? Really? That may have worked in the 90s, but no industry can afford to have such a long release cycle anymore – even cars get refreshed more often than that! When cameras were mostly analog tools, there was no benefit in a faster release cycle, and a camera was an investment that did not depreciate so fast. But now cameras are electronic toys, and electronics need quicker lifecycles.
So bring on the change, I say. The NEX 7 (may it live forever) may not become a museum piece, but it has been a key player in getting manufacturers to create ILCs for serious photographers, and not just as point-and-shoot substitutes. And for that, I say, may it be enshrined in the hall of fame forever.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Steve. I your call to embrace this new era of camera cycles is tempting. 😉
A great article and good comments.
I just got back from a two week trip to Japan. It’s wasn’t a “photography” trip, and while I intended to shoot mainly film with my M7, I also took the NEX-7 and an adapter to use my M-mount glass (I do own the E 18-200, but don’t like it at all–actually, I think I have a bad copy of that lens).
I want to love the NEX; I really do. But I can’t. The sensor is great, with good dynamic range and incredible resolution. The camera feels good in my hands, and even with the Nokton 35mm f/1.2 attached it still isn’t too heavy.
But, as pointed out in the article, there are several aspects where, in my opinion, the NEX stumbles. These include:
– The video record button.
– Focus peaking. I’ve had many situations where almost everything in the viewfinder is yellow/red.
– Even low ISOs have a bit more noise than I would like.
– TriNAV was billed as highly customizable. I’d like to switch EV Comp from right to left wheel, but can’t find a way. That’s just one example.
– Exposure bracketing only in 0.7 stop increments.
– Wireless remote apparently won’t work with exposure bracketing turned on (I might be wrong here as I got the remote while on my trip. But, I couldn’t find a way to turn on bracketing and still be able to have the remote trigger the shutter.)
As with most cameras, the NEX-7 is great for some situations and in those situations the results can be wonderful. Alas, the quirks of the camera make me less likely to take it out and use it. I’m moving towards using it with legacy glass, attached to a tripod and for creating very detailed multi row panoramas, and even then would probably still prefer to use a M9.
But, what concerns me the most is this: many of the issues found in the NEX-7 are ones that can be corrected with a firmware update, but none has been provided or even hinted at. Does that mean that Sony doesn’t read online forums or customer reviews of their products? Or does it mean that they read them and choose to ignore them? Does it mean they don’t view these issues as problems, or does it mean the company is going to focus on future products in an effort to gain new customers instead of supporting current customers?
The answers to these questions are important, in my opinion. While I think that getting the E 24mm f/1.8 and/or the 50mm f/1.8 lenses would increase my enjoyment of the NEX-7, at this time I’m not willing to spend more money on the system until I have some indication Sony plans to support its current customers and users. All of the major camera companies have a demonstrable history of supporting the current customers while also trying to attract new ones, except Sony with it’s NEX line. A camera such as the NEX-7 should not have a supported life span of 1 year until the next, newer, better version comes out. Even then, we haven’t seen much support during the 1 year the -7 has been out.
In a sense the NEX-7 is held hostage by the lower priced NEX bodies and Sony’s customer base. A serious lens line is expensive and the market for them (enthusiasts only) is quite thin. Within the enthusiast category, peel out those perfectly content to shoot with legacy glass, they already own. For Sony, its probably not a body worth investing in. Another way of saying they probably should have never introduced the body. NEX-9, doubtful. The entire market for it would is comprise legacy glass shooters with little incentive to replicate lenses just for AF. But, no guarantee Sony won’t introduce yet another NEX body.
FWIW I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’d love a FF version, but solely so I can use my few Leica R lenses to their full potential, i.e. full FOV with each lens. This may be possible with the next M digital from Leica, but unfortunately this will be priced above my means.
I love the focus peaking. It’s perfect when you want shallow DOF. If everything in your finder is yellow, this means you go for a very wide DOF, and then, you don’t need the focus peaking that much. Or everything is at the same distance. In those cases, you can turn the focus peaking of or, maybe better, try a less sensitive position.
Totally agree with you, and I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear in my post. What I meant was that when stopped down everything appears as yellow, indicating the camera things everything is in focus. Unfortunately, that is not the case and there are large portions that are out of focus.
Focus peaking is a great feature. I just wish it was a bit more accurate. But, as mentioned above by Ray, the enthusiasts Sony appears to be catering to probably aren’t after critically sharp focus and likely aren’t using legacy lenses.
I disagree. The only thing the peaking feature is really useful for, is manual focus ‘legacy’ lenses. Sony most definitely realizes that they have a big market in people using these lenses.
That is exactly right! The focus peeking (BTW, it’s peeking, not peaking) works best at larger apertures. If you’re stopping down to f/5.6, you don’t really need the focus peeking.
“Peek” ..is to look and see: I’m “peeking” round the corner ..it’s looking with a hint of secrecy or wariness.
“Peaking” is reaching the apex or pinnacle of something: my endurance is “peaking”, and from here I’m going to become rapidly exhausted.
So focus peaking shows regions of ultimate sharpness: the peak of sharpness (like the peak of Everest).
Focus peeking is surreptitiously, or secretly, looking for best focus.
I think what’s generally understood is focus peaking ..finding the ultimate sharpness of focus. “Peeking” in this context would be like peering from behind a curtain: having a quick look at the focus when nobody’s noticing.
So Focus Peaking is what the camera offers by way of checking focus. And the headline up at the top of this article “Peaking into the Past, Present and Future..” is a clever pun of Steve’s ..it should really be “Peeking” (looking) into the Past, Present and Future.. but Steve’s used the word “Peaking” because this article is about Focus Peaking!
“Peaking into the past” is grammatically incorrect. This seems like a simple case of misspelling. One that I have been guilty of myself on occasion, just like every once in a while I spell lens as “lense”.
Actually, Roy, I did intend it as a play on words regarding the focus peaking mode. Nevertheless, I’ve been known to have a few spelling mistakes slip, so thank you for the input.
“Peaking into the past” is grammatically incorrect.
You may find that plenty of poetry is also “grammatically incorrect”.
But here, it really suits the topic – if you’ve a sense of fun and mischief.
Perhaps I did Vitor an injustice; maybe it was his headline, not Steve’s.
But whoever wrote it, I find it ingenious, and fun!
Well, guys, I agree. As a matter of fact, the peeking (thanks for the correction, Roy, my native language is Dutch) works the best at larger apertures, so I found myself sometimes (!), in critical circumstances, turning the aperture open to focus and then back to the setting I want. OK, it is a bit of a hastle, and perhaps we will get an even better version of it in the future, but this really doesn’t occur too much and IMO the advantages of the system weigh so much heavier than the flaws. I still think focus peeking really matters and is one of the very best features of a modern camera – next to a tiltable LCD screen. 🙂 (I really don’t get why there are still digital camera’s being made without it. Capital mistake! But that’s a totally different matter.)
That is what I do as well, and that is probably the best technique – use focus peeking at the widest aperture, then stop down to the f-stop you want.
If you are already stopped down to f/5.6 or f/8, or sometimes even f/2.8 with very short focal lengths, there is too much DoF, so you end up with a much wider range over which the focus confirmation stays on.
One nice thing with the focus peeking in the NEX cameras is that the highlighting intensifies as you approach best focus. So even stopped down, you can look for the brightest highlighting, or a middle of the range during which your target of focus is highlighted.
But focusing at wide open and stopping down seems to work best. There is one slight problem with this technique, though – many lenses that have focus shift errors. Meaning, when you change the aperture, the plane of best focus moves. So you need to know that about your lens!
For critical focusing, it’s best to use the NEX-7 on a tripod and use LiveView with the 10x magnification + focus peeking confirmation.
Sorry, typo: meant to say “many lenses that have focus shift errors.”
Hmm, the strikeout HTML tag does not work here. OK, I meant to say “many lenses have focus shift errors.”
Exactly! Again you wrote down what I wanted to add, Roy. Many times, when it’s a bit less obvious, slightly going back and forth lets you find the middle in a blink, just like you do when focussing with a range finder. And indeed if it’s really critical: LifeView and if necessary a tripod.
A really well written article that comments as much on the consumer as on the Nex-7. I have shot SLR/DSLR’s for 35 years, and, in the last year, have looked for something to replace my trusty, 4 year old, never-had-a-problem-with Canon EOS 40D.
I can’t find it. I want something a little smaller and lighter, but a lot of the cameras now are too small. I have a Canon G11, (as a take-along when I won’t really need the DSLR), which I had to mount on a handle screwed into the tripod socket, because I couldn’t pick the thing up without pushing one or two buttons.
I want at least an APS-C sensor, a good viewfinder, depth of field preview and interchangeable lenses. To me, the only viable answer is still a DSLR.
I live in France and we have an excellent photo magazine here called Reponses Photo, which has the usual contents, plus a number of forums in which to submit photos. There are 3 best colour pics and 3 B&W pics every month, and at least one reader’s portfolio. I looked back through a number of copies and did a rough survey and here’s what I found.
About 80% of the winning submissions and portfolios were shot with SLR/DSLR’s, often with a good zoom lens. About 15% were shot with rangefinders, almost always with a 35mm, and about 5% with mirrorless.
The French are gadget freaks and will happily accept new technology, but they’re sticking with their DSLR’s and rangefinders. Also notice, that the serious DSLR’s have a lifespan of 2-3 years, (Canon 5D), whereas Sony has popped out enough different Nex’s already that I’ve lost count. It’s the Camera of the Month Club.
The solution I’ve come up with for the time being is two padded straps on my camera bag, one over each shoulder to distribute the weight of the body and grip, a short zoom, and a longer zoom. I can walk around all day like this and am ready for anything, having a choice of auto focus, manual focus, auto or manual exposure, or auto with a convenient override.
Vito, I think you’re right. The Nex’s won’t be in the village museum, but the SLR’s and rangefinders will be,.
excellent article vitor !! I for one agree with you completely , the nex 7 indeed has many issues as you pointed out , biggest issue for me with this camera was it did so much but nothing perfectly ! the fact that sony still hasnt come out with any additional lenses for any of there nex cameras just pisses me of …the fact that sony is playing catch up to nikon,canon, etc is a fact …suddenly out of no where sony wants a piece of the photography pie , and as good as there attempts are ,they are doing it at the consumers expense …trial & error , instead of thinking things through and making the cameras user friendly (example – menu system is horrid ,got to go through menu to get to most simple functions, evf on the 7 is also slow sensor problem , no firmware updates , poor choice of lenses) everything you mentioned basically …and like you said instead of fixing all the bugs with an easy update , they decided to come out with new models that address all the current issues and again have everybody start upgrading to the new model of this year !! and its not just sony to blame here , this seems to be the trend now with most camera company’s …& most are coming aboard this new gravy train ! personally i will not be one of there pigeons ! again great article I hope you send a copy to sony’s main office & see what there response will be !!!
“suddenly out of no where sony wants a piece of the photography pie…they are doing it at the consumers expense …trial & error , instead of thinking things through and making the cameras user friendly ”
It’s interesting reading through these old comments. This one is a bit schizoid, criticizing Sony for a rush to production, and then complaining that Sony didn’t rush out firmware updates or new optics.
Now, with the passage of significant time, we see that Sony has brought out new firmware and there are plenty of lenses from which to choose at a variety of price points (never mind that one of the great selling points of the camera was the ability to lenses from other companies and other photographic eras).
We do have the NEX 6, yet the NEX 7 is still top of the line. Anyone holding out for something better than the 7 since Vitor’s post has missed out on a lot of fun with a terrific camera.
It’s nicely put but I do disagree with a few points:
To me for shooting in studio the the adaptor for the hotshoe had never been a problem (even I got several ones in several studios).
The peaking didn’t let me down I got same amount of out of focus with the manual M-lenses than with the E-Lenses.
There are good quality glasses for the ones who admit printing A3 (or similar sizes) on a regular basis and even some better lenses. the E50 is comparable to the summicron 50 (got both) it’s not as good but not by much despite the price being on two different planets.
This being said, with photo products I don’t buy them because they are new or I fancy them, I purchased them when I was convinced they would fill a need that I had, and so far I didn’t have to re-sell or felt disappointed with any purchase.
For instance the new announcements who are going to probably take place at photokina they will available 6 months (at best) or 9 months (widely available and tested to allow an informed decision), in the mean time I will continue to take picture while other will long lust having them what is going to separate the new from the old is improvement of some characteristics no revolution is coming. I will focus on taking better pictures in the meantime, that will mostly likely help me most.
I see a lot of people standing up for the Nex-7, which is great, but I do want to reiterate that I did not mean this essay to be a direct attack on the Nex-7. It’s a great camera, but truth of the matter is that even some people here are already looking to replace it in the near future.
My interest is to try and understand this moment within the photographic industry that is both exciting and at times frustrating. Questions that I raised with the Nex-7 could also be asked of other models out there. I focused on the Nex-7 due to my recent experience with one.
“..My interest is to try and understand this moment within the photographic industry..”
Once upon a time, engineering companies, pretty much starting with Leitz, built small camera bodies to use “narrow gauge” 35mm movie film which Kodak had pioneered.
You chose your camera body, depending on the features you wanted and the price you could pay.
Then you used that camera body for many years, and occasionally bought extra lenses for it.
The “quality” of the pictures you shot depended on your understanding of how the camera worked, depended on the lenses, and could vary with your choice of film.
Once you’d bought a Spotmatic, or a Contax, or a Leica, or a Rollei, or a Reid, or an Argus, or a Kodak, or a Hanimex, or a Fuji, or a Konica or whatever ..you stuck with it, and chose different films for different kinds of pix. The film gave the look you were after (..Kodachrome, or print film – b&w or colour – Agfa, Orwo, Efke, Adox, Ilford or whatever..) and camera manufacturers slowly created “improved” models, which maybe had faster flash sync or a better film-rewind handle.
Then came electronics, and newer camera models had better, or faster, light-metering. And then came electronically-controlled shutters: the Canon AE-1 and the Olympus OM-2. But once you’d bought a camera with great metering and an electronically-controlled shutter, your choice for shooting was – once again – your choice of lens, and your choice of film: the camera could last you ten years or more.
But then electronic sensors started being fitted into little cameras: Kodak, Apple, Casio; you bought the camera ..and its built-in picture-recording capability.
After that, you had to keep upgrading as the pixel count rose.
The “..photographic industry..” is not a camera-body manufacturing industry any more. It’s a pixel-count industry. You’re not buying a “camera” any more ..you’re buying a sensor (with a camera body attached).
The “industry” – like any other industry – is offering throw-away, soon-to-be-obsolete, devices. (Like the newspaper industry offers yours-for-a-day newspapers ..although they’re not really selling “news”: they’re selling advertising space to advertisers, and then placing those ads in front of your eyes by telling you that the paper contains “news” ..just like commercial TV channels offer “entertainment” but they’re really selling your eyes to advertisers.)
Don’t think of a camera as a “camera” ..it isn’t. What “the industry” is offering is sensors. Just because it looks like a camera, that doesn’t mean that what you’re buying is a “camera”. You’re buying a sensor.
When a better sensor comes along, you’ll throw away the previous one, and buy the new one.
That is what “..the photographic industry..” now is. It’s a sensor industry, and sensors are improved every few weeks.
This has nothing to do with “photography”.
You can take photos with any old roll-film camera. You can take great photos with a Kiev, or a Fed, or a Pentax Spotmatic, or an Olympus OM-1, or an old 1940s Leica IIIc and a new roll of film ..or – if you shoot digitally – with an old Epson/Cosina R-D1, or a Sony F828, or an original Canon 300D.
Photography depends on what’s in your mind’s eye, not on pixels.
The Oly OM-D (..or E-M5, or whatever they call it..) is a great digital camera because it can let you get the shot you want when other cameras cannot, because (besides a great sensor and built-in software) it has excellent mechanical stabilisation built in. Put any lens on it, and you can shoot in about two stops less light compared with pretty much any other camera. Even if it’s updated tomorrow, and an E-M4 is announced with a 24 or 36 megapixel sensor in a similar-sized body, the E-M5 will still be a great camera. It will still take great pictures – if you have the mind’s eye to visualise them, and the lens(es), and technique, to shoot what is in your mind’s eye.
The camera – once you’ve chosen one, and decided that it really fits your bill – is not important. If you’re happy with it, you don’t need a higher-pixel-count sensor next month.
You need to exercise your mind, and think “how do I and my equipment take better pictures next month?” not “how can I afford more pixels next month?”
I’m assuming and hoping the Full Frame Nex (2013) will be the Nex 7 replacement.
I suspect Vitor had little trouble finding a purchaser. It’s not a camera for beginners.
As a matter of fact, James, it was quite difficult selling my Nex-7. I truly think there was an enormous hype about it that now has died down to almost nothing. Everyone’s waiting for the Nex-6, 9, and whatever is around the corner.
Great article Vitor. It’s great to see many people out there are still enjoying this great little camera.
Since I bought my NEX-7 at start of the year, it has been everything it was hyped up to be.
The high megapixel count meant i could crop most images and get better composition, or downsample for a cleaner image;
The EVF is such a joy to use, even in the dark(contrast can also be reduced using creative styles to help you focus better in high contrast situations);
Focus peaking has been a godsend since I do not own any AF lenses;
The compact size lets me carry it everywhere therefore creates many memorable photos just because it’s always there with you.
I was excited when the X-Pro1 was launched, but quickly realised it did not have any of the advantages listed above.
I also considered a used M9 but after trying out a friend’s M8, decided rangefinder shooting was not for me.
When I shoot with the Voigtlander 12mm, the corners are an issue but it can be fixed using software, ans sometimes I just leave it be because it just seems make some pictures more interesting.
The only other feartures that would convince me to purchase a new camera would be more resolution, FF sensor(36MP FF NEX next year I hear), weather sealing(so I can shoot more in the rain), and image stabilization in camera(so I can shoot more at night).
Until such a camera comes out I will continue to enjoy the NEX-7.
I dont think the Sony NEX-7 faded into oblivion and this is not how the new generation of tech is going to be, if people knew the history of how sony got so powerful you’d understand the evil marketing that they do to take over industries, theres a book that explains how the Sony PS One came into be, mainly because the owner of sony wanted to utterly destroy nintendo on personal means. Thats just sony, they will constantly spit out a new product over and over again until it’s officially the “ONE”. They are the samurai of electronics…They have the money and resources… but I’ll never support them… but I also cant say they have crappy products because they dont. They are always ahead of the game in no matter what market they are in, what they do is just constantly reinvent industries until they are the standard name in that industry and than things go downhill badly, my ps one, my original chipped ps one still works, my 2 year old PS3 yells at me…
I’d be highly weary buying into this company, they are not a photography company, they are a big business company. And thats the same with any company that there main focus is not photography, I saw this with plenty of industries growing up salomon and k2 making aggressive inline skates and the industry went downhill and they pulled out while the real skate companies stayed by to fix things and starting selling skates at $500 a piece and than they came back now the market is better, but people who know there history wont buy into those companies. People fight over Nikon, Canon, the Quirky Pentax/ricoh, Olympus, and Leica… But they have all been around for so long and they are all gonna be around in the future. Supporting a company like sony is supporting the destruction of living and thriving history…
I think the reason why a camera like this becomes obsolete too fast is a production cycle and economics of scale.
To make a product cheap, you have to outsource it’s production, and make it a huge order. You can’t produce some average amount each month – one bulk order, which starts going to major retailers somewhere several month before Christmas. And if customers need more cameras later, you can’t afford producing a little more. Neither you can’t afford to make the same bulk order – not so many customers left.
You can only add several small features, repack it in a new form, and make another bulk order for the next Christmas.
I consider $1500 a lot to be paying for a camera. (I do photography for a hobby are rarely generate income from my pics) Sony has had plenty of time to fix a lot of the Nex7’s shortcomings with a firmware update yet we still don’t have it. I don’t want to spend $1500 dollars (or more) every year just to get features I should have had in the first version of a camera. If Sony doesn’t provide at least one firmware update to fix some of the problems this may be the last Sony camera I buy. That is a shame because I would like to stick with Sony. But, if I see they don’t care about people that have already invested in their products then I need to find another company to buy from. If Panasonic would make a camera like this I would have bought it. I really liked the GH2. The only reason I didn’t like it was because of the small 4/3rds sensor.
Interesting way of thinking, but I do not consider the Nex 7 has been forgotten or passed into oblivion. The camera has shocked many people and will continue causing changes for a few months or years to come. Its technology so especial has begun to lay many changes in the way the great thinks (Nikon / Canon). We still have the DSLR photographers true … but they do not change overnight the large investments made, but eventually they will change.
I love My Nex 7. Since I migrate from Nikon to Sony Nex, I’m rediscovering the photography I learned. I like to use old lenses, manual focus and get photos that I could never achieve with Nikon or Canon. A camera that allows me to use any (or almost) type of lens, has allowed me to get my Pentax, Canon and Nikon lenses already considered defuncts.
Unless you’re a studio photographer 90% of the time I have no problems with using the flash and the slaves to get the picture I desire.
Everyone goes through the euphoria of the first time and now we can think with a cool head on how to use and force the camera at full capacity.
We know, from experience, that Sony has not matured enough to understand that the products needs a review or update of firmware. Unfortunately, despite all the years building great tools, the company or its leaders do not understand the concept of “loyal customers, followers of the brand” or simply they do not care as do Nikon and Canon. Someday they will understand.
Technology is advancing at a rate not easy to assimilate and like it or not, in a few months we will have a successor to the Nex 7. And in a few months or years we will buy his replacement. What to do? Well, just keep learning!
I’m luckily still very satisfied with my NEX7 six months in. I use it almost exclusively with legacy glass (normally OM Zuikos), and to be honest I get more focus aid mileage out of image magnification than I do peaking. When I have legacy glass mounted I always set the AF/MF/AEL center button to image magnify, it makes for fast seamless focusing. Thumb to magnify, thumb or light shutter press to go back to full field view. Simplicity.
I purchased a NEX 7 three months ago to use with my 5 Leica M lenses. I only had 3 film Leicas to use with my lenses until the Nex 7 came along. They had more or less been sitting idle for a couple of years until I bought the Nex 7.
I am really contented with the NEX 7 and to be honest I find it easier to use with Leica glass than any of my 3 film Leicas were. The picture quality is superb and true there are a few quirks with the NEX 7 but I have learned to live with them.
I did feel at the time when I bought the Nex 7 it would not be long before something better came along but I think it is true that whatever you buy today will be old technology before long. I am of the opinion that one should be happy with the camera one owns and concentrate on taking better pictures rather than buying better cameras.
Touché, Brian. It’s just sad to see how little some manufacturers care about supporting a camera after the fact, knowing that everyone will forget it as soon as they come out with a new one next year.
“I did feel at the time when I bought the Nex 7 it would not be long before something better came along”
Except nothing better has come along (although the NEX 6 is a fine camera).
At the level of a camera like the NEX-7, the ultimate tool is actually the one who stands behind it. Most ordinary people will just always try to find excuses and try to for a better camera and will never stop spending for new releases. The great one, on the other hand, will never have to pursue a magic camera. They know what to do with whatever they have to bring out the best and wow people.
You said it yourself, Vitor. There no good lenses in the NEX “system”. NEX lenses are too slow, too big and not good enough and most importantly there are not many lenses to choose from.
Tobias – “There are no good lenses in the NEX ‘system’.” Really?
Have you tried the zeiss 24 1.8?, the 50 1.8? The Sigma 19 and 30? The new 18-200?
There are at least 4 outstanding lenses, with more on the way.
I have both the Zeiss 24/1.8 and the Sony 50/1.8. Both are excellent. Have not tried the 18-200 – was planning to research that.
But in addition to the AF lenses supplied by Sony and others, like Sigma, the NEX lenses can work with all the Leica M, Leica R, Zeiss (any mount), Nikon, Canon, etc. lenses for people who are not afraid of manual focusing.
The NEX 7 is a perfectly good camera today and into the future, if you are using it to take photos, record memory’s and pursue your hobby. I have taken hundreds more photos in a month than I ever did with my SLR’s because it is always with me. When I need a flash I slip on the little Sony flash, and don’t have a problem with the flashshoe. I don’t think it was ever meant to be a professional camera system, nor was it designed to replace the absurdly expensive Leica digital cameras, or Nikon and Canon for that matter. The camera has made a hit in the market it was intended for, and is still selling strong, so I am not seeing your analogy to a museum piece at this point. People putting cameras on pedestals better plan on buying a lot of cameras!
I got an NEX-7 as a placeholder to use my Leica-M and Leica-R lenses until there was a superior solution, meaning a camera with a full-frame sensor that I could use as a UCAM (universal camera).
Since I sold my M9 a little over a year ago, the average price of a used M9 has dropped by about $1500, more than enough to finance my NEX + a couple of Novoflex adapters. And that that does not include the cost of a $250 grip, a $125 Thumbs Up and a ridiculous $350 external view finder, all of which would be needed to make an M9 a usable camera. The cost of these “optional accessories” alone almost completely financed an NEX-5N + a Novoflex adapter before the NEX-7 arrived on the scene.
Compared to the Leica M9, for the last 15 months, the NEX cameras have provided me a superior solution in terms of portability, compactness, light weight, higher ISO, quieter shutter, usability with my Leica-M, Leica-R, Zeiss-M, Zeiss ZF.2 and Nikkor lenses.
With the NEX-7, I can compose better (no frame lines, no view blockages), I can compose first and then focus, I can focus with far more accuracy using the focus confirm, I can focus with critical accuracy with Live View on a tripod, I can use GND/CPL filters, and I can review the image I just shot down to the pixel level far better than the crappy LCD on an M9 that even a mobile phone camera maker would be ashamed to put on its cheapest smart phone.
The EVF is a pleasure to use even in near darkness – it’s like watching a TV in a dark room. I can take pictures with my NEX cameras in very low light or low contrast, in situations that an M9 simply can’t handle.
In addition, the NEX-7 also provides HD video, as well as some other goodies like panoramic stitching, built-in HDR (which sucks), the ability to swivel the LCD back so I can shoot from waist level, like a Rolleiflex, or by kneeling down, from an ankle level, without having to belly flop on dirt.
In addition, the 50/1.8 and the 24/1.8 Sony E mount lenses are pretty darned good, if I wanted to be lazy and use AF. Even the kit zooms are not bad – at least, AF and zoom are available, if I need ever them.
Shooting with my NEX 5N and 7, I have far more usable and memorable images from my M lenses, including the 50 Noctilux at f/0.95, than I ever had with from my M9. In addition, I have a whole bunch of wonderful images from my APO TELYT-R 280/4, APO Elmarit-R 180/2.8, APO Macro Elmarit-R 100/2.8, etc.
I also don’t ever have to worry about sending my M9 to Leica every few years to get the RF properly coupled to the main lens optics.
The NEX-7 can’t handle ultra wide angle M lenses – it has a thick plate covering the sensor that kills acute ray angles, leaving hideous magenta coloration. But the NEX-5N does not have this problem, so I can still use my Leica 21 lux and Zeiss 15/2.8 M lenses.
There are only two things I miss from my old M9 that the NEX-7 and 5N can’t do: One, the NEX bodies don’t have a full frame sensor, so I’m limited to the APS-C size. Two, at low ISOs (400-640), the CCD sensor in the M9 is clearly superior to the CMOS sensor in the NEX bodies. I get much cleaner images from the M9. Above ISO 640, it is somewhat of a toss up, and around 1250, both are quite noisy. At ISO 3200 or 6400, the NEX cameras give me crappy images, but at least, they can go that high. At very low ISOs (100-200), the M9 images are probably cleaner, but the NEX images are clean enough that it is hard to tell the difference.
I agree that it is not clear exactly what Sony had in mind for the NEX-7. However, it has served me well. Sometime within the next six months, I expect to replace it with a body with a full-frame sensor – either an NEX-9 or a Leica M10 or something from another manufacturer.
At that point, I suspect the price of a used M9 would have taken an even bigger nosedive. I could either sell my NEX-7 or keep it as an optional accessory to my Leica M / R lenses, or give it to my wife or kids. There is very little downside to it.
If you own 2-3 M lenses, you’re already at an investment of US$10,000 or more. So, bottom line, if you regard the NEX-7 as an accessory to your Leica M / R lenses for ~10% or less of the cost of these lenses, then it begins to make a lot of sense, whether you own an M9 or plan to buy an M10 or don’t have any M camera at all.
However, as of Sept. 2012, I would not recommend buying an NEX-7. It is only a matter of time before Sony’s 36MP sensor (used in the Nikon D800/D800E) makes its appearance in a mirrorless / EVF camera that could be used as a UCAM. Such a camera would also present a very potent alternative to a Leica M10 at a fraction of the cost.
So I am quite happy with situation, waiting to see what rolls out of Leica and Sony at Photokina and the following few months, before making my next camera decision. In the meantime, my NEX-5N and NEX-7 are serving my needs better than my M9 ever did.
A well reasoned argument. It is interesting to learn that the 7 sensor exhibits issues with extreme WA M lenses, and that the 5N doesn’t. With their longer back focal distance and consequent less oblique light rays, I would guess that R lenses would be a better bet. Any thoughts?
Indeed, they are. The NEX-7 has no problem with my 19/2.8 Elmarit-R or the Nikkor 14-24/2.8, even at 14mm. But it struggles with wide angle M lenses. Here’s a comparison of the Sony NEX-7 with the 5N, using a Zeiss Distagon 15/2.8 and the Voigtlander Super Heliar 15/4.5:
Indeed, they are. The NEX-7 has no problem with my 19/2.8 Elmarit-R or the Nikkor 14-24/2.8, even at 14mm. But it struggles with wide angle M lenses. Here’s a comparison of the Sony NEX-7 with the 5N, using a Zeiss Distagon 15/2.8 and the Voigtlander Super Heliar 15/4.5:
Thank you Roy,
This is probably the most useful piece of information ever written on the Nex5n/7 for those keen on Leica’s glass. Last December after reading the extensive work you published on Flickr, instead of buying an M9 and a Summicron 50, I put the money on the Noctilux 0.95 and used it on Nex5N. Three months after that I was going to get an M9 to get the 50mm focal length, but I couldn’t even focus the Nocitlux on M9 so instead I bought two more Leica M lenses with the money as well as a Nex7. This is the perfect marriage of best optics and clever electronics. Thank you once again.
Thanks for the kind words, Hakan. The bigger underlying question that no one else seems to be addressing is whether the rangefinder as a camera design paradigm, is coming to an end.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the legendary Leica M camera users, supposedly used just one M body all his life, with just one 50mm lens. It is also said that he never really focused the lens, but rather, set the focus by judging the distance to his subject, and always shooting at f/5.6. According to Ken Rockwell, HCB knew his camera + lens so well that he did not even have look through the viewfinder – he could just point the camera and click.
But digital photography, increasingly higher sensor resolutions and increasingly faster lenses have changed all that. If I am shooting wide open at 50/0.95 or 90/2, there is no way I can set focus by distance. If I am trying to focus on something in the bottom right corner of the frame, I can’t even see my subject with a fast M lens, because of the blockage.
The resolution even at 18MP is already so high that with fast M lenses wide open, you can no longer focus and recompose if the subjects are close to the camera (1-3m). That recomp is enough to lose the best focus. That problem will only get worse with even higher resolutions. Even the slightest misalignment between the VF and the lens optics will be exposed at high resolutions.
So it seems to me that Leica is faced with climbing increasingly higher mountains with each new generation of sensor technology. Every new generation of the RF mechanism has to be even more precise and even more expensive than the prior generation. That is exactly the opposite direction in which digital technology moves – every new generation of computer or smart phone or image sensor gives you much more capability for the same or lower price.
So Leica is fighting the Slide Rule’s battle against the calculator. If you look at the amazing MTF of the new 50mm Summicron, it makes you wonder how long that could be realized before the RF coupling starts drifting, and you need to send the camera back to Leica for a tweak.
So the philosophical question for Leica is whether the M camera will be what it historically was, i.e., a street photography / reportage camera, or what market forces are making it, i.e., a platform that can support a wide range of lenses and use cases. That puts Leica at a cross roads.
The RF is wonderful for its simplicity and old-time charm of “pure photography”. It would be a shame to lose the RF, but it seems to be running out of steam very quickly.
So we have to wait and see what Leica does in the M10. If the rumors are true that the M10 will be an RF, but will also provide an EVF and Live View for critical focusing, or “compose first, focus next” use cases, that would be exciting, and a huge improvement over the M9.
However, the moment there is an EVF, people will (happily) also start using the M10 with much longer focal lengths, like their 180/2.8 or 180/2 R lenses, or 280/4 APO TELYT-R or Nikon / Canon 500mm super teles, etc., as well as much wider lenses, like 15mm or fisheye, not to mention macro lenses. That will push the M10 even more towards being a platform, and lead to increasing use of the EVF and Live View.
So that begs the question: why pay for the expensive RF mechanism in the camera at all? Surely, that is a very big part of the cost of an M9 / M10. So how long will it be before usage mostly switches over the the EVF?
We may be fast approaching that inflection point, and I think we will see this question answered in the next 1-2 years!
The images will be as sharp as they ever were. As will prints made at standard sizes. Pixel peepers may not be happy with the focus, and they will likely buy other cameras, but the small number of people who can afford Leicas and find rangefinder focusing attractive will continue to buy them. They won’t become any more obsolete than they already are, since most buyers moved on decades ago.
Re. “Pixel peepers may not be happy with the focus, and they will likely buy other cameras”
One of Leica’s favorite bragging points is how stopping down a Leica lens is only for DoF control, and not for increased sharpness. This is a theme you will find echoed repeatedly by other Leica aficionados. Just read what Erwin Puts says in his Leica Compendium.
Leica goes out of its way to point out how the new 50 cron is razor sharp corner to corner, and looking at its MTF curves, I certainly believe that. That’s why I have pre-ordered one, its astronomical price notwithstanding.
The advertising for the M9-M emphatically points out how getting rid of the Bayer filter improved sharpness by 30%.
I don’t think there is ANY lens about which Leica point out how sharp it is wide open. I don’t think there is any camera or lens manufacturer who is (justifiably) more proud than Leica of the sharpness of their lenses.
That is why Leica charges a huge premium for its gear. Frankly, that is why I love Leica! And that is why I am willing to pay that premium to get that corner-to-corner sharp image.
But at the same time, having paid that Leica premium for that superior sharpness, I am not going to settle for anything that undermines my ability to collect it, especially caused by potholes set up by Leica. I want my ROI.
So it seems rather hypocritical for you to dismiss the loss of sharpness as the whining of a pixel peeper. Affordability is not the issue at all, let’s be very clear on that.
Re. “The images will be as sharp as they ever were. As will prints made at standard sizes.”
Sorry, I have to disagree. With every new generation of sensor technology, it becomes increasingly more difficult to accurately focus with an RF.
Also, today, at standard sizes, I can show you 4″ x 6″ prints from my Sony NEX-5 with the 18-55 kit lens that are just about as good as prints from my Leica S2 with a 70mm Leica Summarit-S lens. The Sony cost me about $750, the Leica S2 cost me about $30,000.
So if your goal is 4″ x 6″ standard prints from Walgreens, you are wasting money on a Leica M9 + M lenses. You might as well save your money, send the kid to a better school, buy the wife or girlfriend a nice gift, or salt it away for your retirement. Why squander it on a Leica?
My brain is wired a little differently. I am not a Leica shareholder. I don’t get a bonus or dividend by contributing Leica’s profits. Leica is not run by my kids, so I don’t have to do whatever I can to promote them.
I am a businessman. For my investment in my M lenses, which is considerable, my standards are much higher than 4″ x 6″ prints, and I demand a camera that can give me the most out of my M lenses.
Today, that is simply NOT the obsolete M9. The NEX 5 / 5N / 7 / 5R have already seen to that by surpassing the M9. I am now waiting for something more.
This is ex-act-ly my experience. In every detail. Thanks for writing it down in detail. 🙂
But me, I never wanted to buy a Leica, because I don’t want to loose that kind of money after a next version, outdating mine. And me too, I’ll replace my NEX-7 only with a full frame camera (but not a Leica!).
I only have one remark, concerning ultra wide angle M-mount lenses. I found it pretty easy to correct this CA in Photoshop, when converting RAW files. I think the “Profiles” in “Lens Corrections” really offer a solution. And at the same time, you can also take care of (virtually all) fringing. So I don’t see any problem there.
BTW, where I initially only thought of M-mount lenses, I nowadays also use FD lenses on my NEX-7, amongst them 17, 20 and 24mm. Works perfectly! And with those lenses, there is no CA at all.
I too use my NEX cameras with both Leica M and other lenses, including Leica-R, Nikon-F, Zeiss-M and Zeiss ZF.2 lenses. The NEX-7 works fine with Nikon 14-24mm lenses, but has problems only with ultra wide angle lenses using the M mount.
The lens profile correction in Adobe LightRoom or Photoshop will not correct this problem, because it is caused by the acute ray angles interacting with a glass plate that the lens designers did not expect to be present, and is not a part of the lens profile.
So that is really not a routine lens aberration, like distortion, CA, field curvature, vignetting, etc., so there is no profile-based fix to it.
However, if the actual scene does not have strong magenta or purple colors in it, you can use the Magenta luminance or saturation sliders in LR to greatly reduce or even eliminate the magenta color splashes. The magenta coloration is also a non-factor if your end goal is a Black-and-White image.
Thanks for your reply, Roy. I’d like to invite you to take a look at a picture on a (newly opened) Flickr account of mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/7916044494/in/photostream/
This is shot with my Zeiss ZM Biogon 28mm. Of course this not an “ultra” wide angle, but it’s the widest M-mount that I’ve got. Up till now I’ve read on this site that the CA occured with ALL M-mount wide angles. So I tried a Leica 35mm, next to my Biogon. Both clearly showed CA and were, IMO, easy to correct. So I figured I would be able to correct all wide angles. Maybe this doesn’t count for even wider lenses than a 28mm, although it would surprise me. I didn’t try those.
I chose a lake for this test, with the purpose of inducing as much CA as possible. And I think I got quite some. Of course, it was shot wide open.
A second picture shows the same file, after processing in Photoshop. To my eye the CA is completely gone. The processing was not done in a completely “automated” way, but took no more time, than what I use for any picture that I wanna keep. Please look upon this picture as a “real world” test shot.
I’m realy very curious for your opinion.
BTW, I discovered that the Voigtländer 35mm lenses (Nokton 1.2 and 1.4) in M-mount show no CA what so ever. So I bought the 1.4 for its compact size.
Looking forward to your reply… 😉
Fascinating. I saw the dramatic improvement you were able to achieve in correcting the purple / magenta coloration using the lens’s profile. However, it can’t be CA, since I don’t think the Zeiss 28mm Biogon suffers from so much CA. Also, I was not able to do the same fix for my Leica 21 Summilux. So I am not clear what is happening here!
You are right that at 35mm, there is absolutely no problem with the acute ray angles. So I am not surprised the Voigtländer Noktons worked. Fine lenses, BTW!
Why don’t you send me a RAW-file with CA, Roy. I’ll try the same procedure out on it. Normally, in most circumstances, indeed the CA doesn’t bother me that much with my Biogon 28. But like I said, in this case I tried to invoke it as much as possible, choosing a bright but cloudy sky which reflects in the lake. I’m pretty sure that it is CA indeed, since I can compare with other images that show it a lot less.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If the file’s too big, maybe you can send it by YouSendit.
BTW, I have send an article to Steve on how I deal with CA with my NEX-7, and how the latest version of Photoshop helps me to eliminate it, virtually completely. That goes for the basis CA and the fringing as well. But I know that he get’s tons of emails, and maybe the article is not really interesting for most of his site visitors, or it is too elaborite or simply not good enough. I have no clue about how much this CA problem lives amongst NEX-7 users. Anyway, it’s not published yet.
Sure, will send you a couple of files in the next 2-3 days. (Need to retrieve them from my archives!)
Please, also check Flickr, Roy.
BTW, when I tested the Leica 35mm, it did show CA, although not very much.
I can only speak for my own part naturally. But what happened to my NEX-7 is, that it has been doing what it should – shooting like crazy.
After a 33 year break (using Nikon as a kid/youngster back in 70’thies) I took up passionate photography again, and bought the NEX-7 in april, with a Zeiss 24mm/F1.8, a 85mm (A-mount) F1.4, and later an SLR Magic 50mm T0.95 CINE (which I now use far most of the time). In 5 months I have shot about 10-12.000 photographs, saving about 1/10 of them in Lightroom. And my “Inner Photo Spirit” has been reborn, taking Thorsten von Overgaard’s online courses (which I highly recommend for anyone who is attracted to his style and approach).
I LOVE my NEX. Not as a gadget, but as the tool of “painting with light” I have been hoping and longing for. I actually agree on most of your points. I did consider a M4/3-camera, or other more retro-like alternatives, as one of the Fuji-wonders. But since I started to research I had the feeling that the NEX/E-mount, with the combination of APS-C and the very short flange-distance, would bee the door to the future of glass-versatility. When it comes too glass. I think that is coming true.
The NEX-7 is far from perfect, and I would prefer a much more “clean” version. Even the “Tri Nav”-thing has too many buttons and possibilities to my taste. So I totally agree on the “simple tool” vs. “ultimate tool” distinction. I have however surrendered (being a video-guy and therefore sceptic to the more that 16 Mp-sensor) myself to the high 24 Mp resolution, being able to crop far more (with proper glass) in many situations. Many of my best photos would probably not have been possible with lower resolution (and definitely not with less quality glass).
After 5 months of photography, in my free time, I have had my first paid job, and invitations from iStock-inspectors to join as a contributor. So, what happened to my NEX-7? It has been working hard, and will continue to do so. I sincerely hope for a more enthusiast-focused model, with less bells and whistles and more raw “nakedness”. I now exactly how my ideal NEX system should be.
Thank you for a great article!
Thanks for your feedback! I must admit that selling mine was one of the toughest partings I’ve had (and buying and selling cameras for me is like renting, I’m always trying something new).
I still have a soft spot for the Nex-7 and its sensor, but my love/hate relationship was getting on my nerves so it had to go. That Nex-6 seems like what the Nex-7 should’ve been all along, and it seems like they’re going in the right direction.
I’ll go one step further. I still use my Sony NEX 5 with the 18-55 and 16mm lens. I also have the wide converter for it. Many people complain about this camera. the menus, the flash, the this and that, but I have to say that the sensor is beautiful. It’s the same sensor in my Nikon. Plus, I love the way the Sony renders files. Some don’t like the kit lens, and I have frustrations with it, and the loud shutter too. I don’t use the flash at all. I love this camera though. I love the tilt screen, even if it doesn’t tilt outward like the Canon cameras. I love the files I get from this camera. I love the video! Love it. The only way I will sell this camera is if they come out with a full frame version. Oh wait. I won’t even sell it then. I will keep it as a second body. Yep.
It looks like Sony is moving to a standard hotshoe with the NEX-6 and A99, so that’s a step in the right direction.
As for focus peaking, you just have to learn to use it. NEVER rely on anything covered in red (or whichever color you choose) as being in critical focus. The trick is to zero in on a small point in the scene, just as you would with an AF point, and watch the red “well up” in that specific, small area. With a lot of practice, peaking is a very accurate tool.
I don’t consider myself a pro at anything, I’m sure there are faster gunslingers out there. 😉
After 4 months of solely shooting legacy lenses of all sizes and shapes, though, I felt like I gave it a good chance. Matter of fact is the focus peaking will be mistaken in several situations, specially if there is a lot of contrast in your image. Of course, for a subject that naturally stands out in your frame, it’s a piece of cake. But when there is a busy background, or in cases where you’re outside on a sunny day shooting f8, the focus peaking is all over the place.
At one point I found myself having to magnify into my composition every time just to be sure I wasn’t missing my shots, but that slowed me down so much that I started missing shots altogether.
You have to be very disciplined with peaking. Do you always set the lens at infinity before starting manual focus? It’s always good practice to have your starting point consistent. If you do that, watch the red well up in whatever point your focusing on, and then immediately pull back focus when the “welling up” starts to recede, you’ll become much more consistent.
I’ve been using focus peaking for over a year (NEX-5, 5n and 7,) and it takes a mastery not unlike using a rangefinder for the first time.
FWIW, I’m actually debating on selling my NEX-7, because I’ve really been enjoying the Fuji X100. For most of my shooting, a single focal length is fine, and I can use my old NEX-5 for the occasional tele shot.
Agree with you GH. I find focus peaking great, infinite focus & then reel it back in.
If he has been using it for 4 months, and still doesn’t feel that it’s accurate, then it is a FAIL. Period.
Very well-written article, and you make some good points. Heck, I’m not a pro and the Sony flash interface pisses *me* off a lot. My main digicams these days are Sonys, but I realize they are first a consumer electronics company and second a camera company. Though I don’t love that fact, I just feel they are doing the most innovative things, have native compatibility with Zeiss glass, and according to your article, that seems to come at the cost of constant product releases (at least with the NEX-7). Bummer.
Thanks Mike. It is a bummer to be left in second plane by a company that has so much potential to raise the bar. All I can do is hope it gets better, specially now that their camera division is one of the few that are actually making Sony any money.