A lunchtime with the NEX-7

Some people might be surprised that I have a NEX-7 lurking in my camera cupboard. I do, though I will admit it doesn’t see a lot of daylight. My first foray into CSCs was a NEX 5 about 18 months-2 years ago. I liked the image quality but hated the lack of controls, which ultimately led me to the NEX-7 almost a year ago. I do like the NEX-7, honestly, but I feel it is a flawed camera much like the X-Pro1, but without a lot of the soul that lets me forgive the X-pro1 for its failings.

So, to start I should say that some of the photos I’ve been most happy with have come from the NEX-7. One of my favourites from May (taken with a (now sold) 18-200mm at 100mm) is above as the featured image. Here is one of my son back in April (taken with a Leica Summicron 50mm):

Daniel watches the garden

Nevertheless, I began to use it less and less. I’ll be honest and say that the purchase of a M9 played a big part in that. I began to use the NEX as a base for M mount lenses and nothing else and when I bought the M9 that stopped.

So the other day, thinking about selling it I thought I would take it out and give it a whirl. This time I would use it with some of the native e-mount lenses that had barely been used.

The Zeiss 24mm. This is a great lens. Honestly. However, it bugs the hell out of me. Which cretin thought of the hood mount design? They should be given doorstops to design in the future. It makes it nigh on impossible to attach a circular polariser to the lens. OK it isn’t impossible but its much harder than it needs to be. In any event, optically I like the lens, but as many others have observed it is at its best stopped down to at least F4. That sounds like harsh critcism but it isn’t meant that way – it is crazy sharp when stopped down. In fact the only aperture at which I think the results are very average is wide open at F1.8. Here are some examples:

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I have no hesitation in looking at some of these and being able to compare them easily with the output I used to get from my A900. Other shots were just weak. The bokeh is horrible in this shot:

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This one has a blown out sky principally because I was fighting with the polariser:

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Overall though I really like the 24mm. It annoys me so much I like it!

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Turning to the 16mm pancake, I couldn’t really be bothered to try it by itself and all the shots I took were with the WA converter. This is a truely underated combination. Really. I probably had the most fun with this lens, despite its flaws.

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I really like the above shot. It could do with some more attention in post – I would probably remove the building in the corner if I had time. However the centre seems very sharp. Look at the original though:

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The dreaded magenta cast of WA lenses on the NEX 7 strikes. It’s really remiss of Sony that no FW update has been issued to pick this up. Nevertheless it isn’t the end of the world for every photo:

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Which brings me to the 50mm F1.8 E mount. This lens isn’t that great IMO. This is probably the best shot I took with it:

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This is an example of the typical results I achieve with the lens:

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Poor! Never mind…. Others have shown me great results with this lens, so perhaps I have a bad copy (not again!). I’ll give it another go later in the week.

As to the camera itself, it would be the usual plaudits and criticisms (tri navi controls good, menus and video button bad). However, I really think that given some work in FW (different menus and a remedy to magenta cast on native WA lenses) and some decent lenses I could really get some cracking results out of the NEX. As it is, I probably wouldn’t pick it up because I would want a 50 equivalent that was sharp and could do bokeh and a good WA zoom. Sony is about to release both of these, so the prospects for the system look bright.

Sony are clearly doing something right because the cameras are very popular in many countries. As for me, I might hold onto the camera for a month or two and see if Sony do update the FW. I’ll be frank, if the UWA zoom is any kop I would keep the NEX for that UWA alone. Otherwise I will likely sell it as it’s too much of a duplication of other cameras I own. Customers who buy few bodies but many lenses aren’t bad Sony, just ask Leica…

Update 17 October: so someone at Sony was listening! New firmware just released…

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