Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/03/2012 13:50:14 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/03/2012 14:51:08 MST Print View

Thanks Ryan. That was one interesting read, and I am looking forward to the 24 Episode and the next parts of this "living review" =)

One question: How loud is the shutter on the NEX-7? On the NEX-5N I find it rather loud, and I wonder if it is similar on the NEX-7.

Edited by skullmonkey on 01/03/2012 15:15:15 MST.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/03/2012 15:20:31 MST Print View

Shutter noise is no better on the NEX-5. Hopefully they've fixed this issue in the NEX-7 or have plans to do so. I would imagine that it's a firmware issue as there is no mirror, correct?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/03/2012 17:38:51 MST Print View

The shutter on the NEX-7 isn't so loud that you don't need earplugs. Maybe it would work as a bear deterrent?

Yes, it's loud.

No mirror, but you have double the actuations of an SLR: close > open > close > open and a fast frame rate in continuous mode that requires a more robust shutter, maybe? I'm not convinced it's firmware.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/04/2012 00:07:43 MST Print View

Very thorough review. Nicely done.

BTW, any chance you can get me one of Roger's tents?

Mark Roberts
(redwedge) - MLife

Locale: Lapland
Re: Nex-7 on 01/04/2012 01:13:50 MST Print View

Interesting contextual review, Ryan. Looking forward to the rest. I'd be interested in some comparisons though to the other cameras on the market rather than just picking one. The Panasonic GF cameras, and the soon-to-be-released GX range in particular are, I think, well suited to photogrpahers wishing to lighten up, and can also use legacy lenses with adaptors.

The thing that put me off the NEX-7 was the lack of dedicated controls - those two assignable wheels are nice but, as you point out, dedicated buttons/wheels are preferable. At least, in my experience, I can never remember what function is assigned to the buttons, and end up pressing them all to find the one I want.

Another thing with the micro 4/3 format is the dynamic range of the sensor: as you'd expect, it's way better than a compact, but the smaller sensor still falls short of a full-frame DSLR (this is most noticeable in twilight/night shots). Nonetheless, I generally pick up my GF1 over my D300 when heading out. It's lighter, smaller, and for about 80% of the time the results are comparable to a DSLR.

Edited by redwedge on 01/04/2012 01:16:29 MST.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/04/2012 10:41:14 MST Print View

Great article, but your introduction failed to mention film cameras. A small film camera can provide SLR quality pictures at a much smaller weight than even this camera. Assuming you can get the film processed, it is probably the best option. It is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, of course. If your intent is to display the pictures on a digital monitor, then a digital camera makes sense. If your intent is to display a slide show, then film makes sense. For glossy pictures, either will do.

Tom Andrews
(TomAndrews) - M
Re: Sony Nex7 on 01/04/2012 12:31:23 MST Print View

Hi Ryan, Thanks for the useful review. I have been following this and other cameras on a variety of photography sites and they all agree that the Sony Nex7 is a great camera. However, for my planned uses it will not be the camera I am about to buy, which will be a Panasonic GH2 with their 14-140mm lens. I am a professional fine art photographer (wildlandart.com) who wants to add video to my mix, especially wildlife video. I am also an ultralight backpacker and will spend this coming August in Yellowstone backpacking with my video rig (the GH2 with tripod).

The GH2 has an extra ability not found on the Nex7 of selecting just the 1920x1080 pixels at the center of the micro 4/3 sensor and thus giving an extra tele zoom capability of 2.6. So the 35 mm equivialent on the 140mm end of the lens is 140x2x2.6 = 728mm, with which I hope to film wolves. Just as on the Nex7, the GH2 has full HD 1080P video and an excellent electronic viewfinder. The sensor is a bit smaller but the reviews in dPreview and Luminous Landscape (excellent websites for photographers) and elsewhere show that the image quality is superb and easily comparible to APS-C sensors on digital SLRs. So I will get a tad bit more low light/high ISO noise compared with the Nex7 but gain an essential extra telephoto capability for my wildlife video needs. With the excellent 14-140 lens the GH2 weighs a bit less than 2 lbs and will replace my Canon Rebel which I carried on a full John Muir Trail backpack two years ago and on Wind Rivers, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Glacier National Park, and other backpacking trips in recent years. I wear the camera over my shoulder at all times and hardly notice the weight. I can't seem to get my backpacking baseweight below 14 lbs (my skinny 68 year old frame gets cold easily), but have used BackPackingLight over the years to give me the advice and reviews I need to keep me going. Many thanks!! Tom

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/04/2012 12:58:03 MST Print View

Ryan,

Great article and timely for me as I am considering buying the NEX5n, which is more of the auto "idiot" camera, to replace my Canon 880IS Digital Elph pocket camera.

I am interested more in documenting my trips, but would like to have the better sensor to capture "better" looking photos without too much complication beyond point and shoot.

Anyway, questions for you....What case were you using for the NEX7?

Wondering if you have one that is lighter than the Sony case that is sold by Sony for the NEX line of cameras.

Looking forward to future articles on this camera.

Thanks!

-Tony

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/04/2012 13:10:43 MST Print View

Excellent, Ryan. I'm looking forward to the entire review as I have only had limited contact with the 7.

I've been putting together something similar focusing on the NEX 5N, and the kit that I'm using now.

I'm especially interested which RF lenses you have used on it, and how you find them compared to the 5N.

Edited by JacobD on 01/04/2012 13:11:29 MST.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
4/3 on 01/04/2012 13:46:11 MST Print View

IMO micro 4/3 has a big advantage over these compact APS-C cameras. The slightly smaller image circle combined with an ultra-close sensor distance means a big difference to one major factor not really mentioned in this article: weight of the lenses.

Old manual lenses are great, but they are heavy metallic things, and this is the area where the most weight stands to be lost. But if you must, they can also be used very easily on most u4/3 cams with an appropriate adapter. I do this all the time on my GH1 and focus/exposure are both totally painless and nearly instant with a bit of practice.

For native micro 4/3, lenses can be designed *far* smaller and lighter, especially on the wide-angle side of things, and actually need fewer glass elements because of the closeness of the sensor. Both Olympus and Panasonic are making some truly revolutionary lenses right now, many of which are either pancakes or collapse down to pancake size when not shooting, and most have spectacular optics. The Panasonic 7-14mm is simultaneously the lightest, the widest, and one of the sharpest pro-level ultra-ultra-wides around.
Sony seems to be getting kinda close with a few NEX lenses, but still suffers from a larger image circle (heavier) and the optics don't seem to be as good in general. The selection of really good native lenses for NEX is much poorer than that of u4/3.

Anyway, great article, it's just that I think the hypothesis of "higher image quality for less weight" could use a bit of scrutiny when the whole package is looked at. This is especially true when it comes to native, autofocus lenses, which the majority will desire.

Olympus cameras and the GF series aren't using the best sensors of u4/3, yet, which is maybe where the "substandard image quality" argument comes from, but others (like the GH2) are using really nice sensors which compete really well with APS-C... especially under conditions you're probably shooting in while backpacking! The GH cams are barely heavier and much nicer to use than the smaller cams, plus you get the best possible video.

Edit: the new, smaller and viewfinder-less GX1 seems to now have a better sensor, so the best of both worlds. Have you checked it out at all, Ryan?

Edited by dasbin on 01/04/2012 13:55:57 MST.

Duane Pandorf
(dpandorf) - F
Ricoh GXR & M mount module on 01/04/2012 14:08:24 MST Print View

You didn't specifically mention whether you've experimented with Ricoh's M mount module that's designed for the Leica M mount lenses. If so, I'm curious as to why, if you have, why you disliked it.

I assume one of the reasons is tat it does not offer the HD benefits the NEX7 offers but it does have the APS-C sensor withou an AA filter. I have read that the NEX7 has some of the same issues the Leica M9 has with the wider angle lenses too.

Thanks

Duane Pandorf

blog.duanepandorf.com
www.duanepandorf.com

Michael Byrne
(mikerbyrne) - F

Locale: New York
NEX-5n as an alternative on 01/04/2012 16:15:35 MST Print View

Personally I'm loving my NEX-5n for travel and backpacking photography.
Very light and small and beats my olympus m4/3 as far as image quality.
Low light quality is the best in this price range.

Hoping to get a scuba housing for my trip later in the year.
Happy new year guys.

Frank Rossi
(rossifp) - MLife
Voigtlander M-mount lenses on 01/04/2012 17:01:47 MST Print View

The use of Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 lens with the Voigtlander VM adapter ($179) is interesting. The Leica lens weights 6.8-oz and cost $2195. Too expensive for my budget.

Voigtlander has far less expensive M-mount manual focus lenses.
12mm f/5.6 $749; 15mm f/4.5 5.5-oz $599; 21mm f/4 4.8-oz $419; 25mm f/4 5.1-oz $419; 35mm f/1.4 7.1-oz $629; 35mm f/2.5 4.7-oz $409; 40mm f/1.4 6.2-oz $529.
These lenses are imported by CameraQuest.com and also sold by adorama.com and bhphotovideo.com

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Sony NEX-7 Comments on 01/04/2012 17:15:35 MST Print View

@Ross - I'm with you on film. I still own a Contax T3 and I'd be awfully hesitant to say that it cannot capture better images with Velvia 50 than any digital on the market that is twice its weight or lighter…just didn't feel the need to open that Pandora's box up on this review ;)

@Tom - The GH2 just might be my pick if my primary focus was videography instead of still photography. My primary focus remains in shooting stills, for now. It's a super camera (the GH2) for video, and the tele zoom feature pioneered on it was brilliant. It's bulkier than the NEX7. Photo quality is a toss up for routine, low-contrast photos. At the "fringes" of contrast or for low light (long exposures at low ISO), the NEX-7 captures a noticeably cleaner image with better dynamic range - not a "lot" by web viewing standards, but meaningful nonetheless - to me at least.

@Tony - the case I'm using is the Lowepro Edit 100. A fine case. It doesn't have a rain cover though, so I use a shower cap (one for the case, one for the camera when shooting in the rain. I'm looking for a lighter case, yes (I may just make one), the Edit 100 is just what I have now, and it fits the NEX7 with a lens very well.

@Jacob - I don't plan on doing a side-by-side comparison with RF lenses on the 5N vs. the 7, so can't comment on that.

@Bradley - regarding the image circle on MFT sensors = smaller, lighter lenses - you are correct. This remains true as you continue to go down in sensor size. (Check out the lenses on the new small sensor interchangeable lens Nikons, the V1/J1. The lenses are tiny.) For example, the Olympus and Panny 14-42 zooms are 3.4 (the "X" << very cool lens) to 6.9 oz. The Sony 18-55 is 6.9 oz. I've used my Leica lenses on both Oly and Panny MFT bodies, all the way back to the EP1 and GF1. You are right in that it becomes easy enough in practice. Manual focusing on the NEX7 takes it to another level of joy, though. Finally, my "higher image quality for less weight" should really be taken in context with DSLR systems rather than other mirror less systems. The GX1 is also a super little camera, but gives up some nice features like dial controls (it does still have one dial) and a VF. I love how the GX1 feels in the hand with that new 14-42 lens, though.

@Duane - I love Ricoh cameras. I shot with a GRD for years, and may pull the trigger on its next iteration. The GXR has the a great UI, but no built in VF, and no vid, which for me is a deal killer. Yes, the NEX7 suffers from color fringing with retrofocus lenses like the Elmarit-M 28/2.8, but it's easily corrected. I use Cornerfix.

@Frank - buy used Leica lenses and shop around. You can get some great deals on them (not on eBay - seek out used dealers). The Voigtlander 15/4.5 is a KILLER lens, by the way, and a steal for that price.

Edited by ryan on 01/04/2012 17:18:24 MST.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Tripod on 01/04/2012 17:32:59 MST Print View

Just curious what usage you find to justify adding a 1.9 pound tripod into the mix.
It's been hard for me to find many situations where either a monopod (just my trekking pole with a little adapter) or a mini-pod didn't do the trick. This includes astrophotgraphy.

I also figured out a good trick when hiking with a partner, when you have 3 trekking poles available - you can lash the legs of a mini-pod onto the tops of the 3 trekking poles and create a makeshift tripod. If you want stability, hang something heavy (ie backpack) from the center.
But I've rarely needed that - only when there's nothing around high enough to put a mini-pod on and I want to do a self-portrait... which admittedly is very rarely anyway, as I'm not so keen on looking at pictures of myself.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
tripod on 01/04/2012 17:37:01 MST Print View

Bradley - the main reason is that I just don't like fooling around with "building" a makeshift tripod, I like something tall enough to get me above grasses, and I like enough stability to deal with a little bit of wind. That said, my 0531 was the 'pod I paired with my D7000. I do think my requirements for the NEX-7 will go down, so I'm shopping around for something lighter.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Carrying on 01/04/2012 17:38:15 MST Print View

Also just FYI if anyone's interested - I made a neat little solution for quick-access carrying (in good weather). Just bent some coat hanger wire to the contours of my camera, and it hangs on my sternum strap. The camera rests inside, lens-down. I can pick it up and snap quickly in one motion with one hand.

Wrapped the coat hanger wire in some foam tape so nothing gets scratched. Weighs about an ounce, maybe less.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Re: tripod on 01/04/2012 17:40:02 MST Print View

Fair enough for sure - there's something to be said for adding a little weight if it makes something you commonly do a lot easier.
Sometimes I think we should be deciding what to bring based not just on weight, but on the caloric expenditure of carrying the weight vs. the extra caloric expenditure of a DIY (but weightless) field solution. Even from just this objective standpoint, we might be expending more energy overall by going too light on certain things.

Edited by dasbin on 01/04/2012 17:43:06 MST.

Robert Brookshire
(brookshire) - M
Re: Re: Nex-7 on 01/05/2012 11:13:50 MST Print View

@Mark Roberts: This is probably what you meant to say, so I apologize for nit-picking, but I wanted to make the distinction that a Nikon D300 has an APS-C sensor and not a 35mm "full-frame". This is important if we are comparing 4/3rds sensors with DSLR's, most of which have APS-C sensors. Full frame sensors are a whole different category, though today even most professionals carry at least one APS-C body.

Modern APS-C sensors are superb and I suspect that 4/3rds could be a lot more comparable if one of the Big 3 had ignored their strategy experts enough produce (micro)4/3rds cameras and thus help develop leading-edge sensors. 4/3rds sensors seem to trail the state-of-the-art by at least a year and probably more. "Boo" to Nikon for building the new "1" system around a unique CX sensor. Just think what a company like Nikon could do with 4/3rds...

Edited by brookshire on 01/05/2012 11:18:10 MST.

Chris Joseph
(chriscaja)
Question on the review on 01/05/2012 11:29:49 MST Print View

I may have missed this, but when will subsequent parts of this review be completed?

Ayumi Obinata
(plassy) - F
mirrorless camera on 01/05/2012 16:58:54 MST Print View

I love mirrorless cameras. My last trip, I brought Panasonic GF1 M4/3 with Olympus ultra wide zoom 9-18mm (18-36mm equivalent). NEX-7 is a very interesting camera indeed, but NEX's current lens line up is poor and lacks ultra wide option. I wish Sony releases more NEX format lenses this year.

Edited by plassy on 01/22/2012 21:40:13 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: mirrorless camera on 01/05/2012 17:44:19 MST Print View

The Voigtlander 12mm (with an adapter) works pretty well on the NEX-7 (as long as color fringing is corrected in Cornerfix, etc.), which gives you 18mm equivalent.

Currently, for autofocus, the E mount AF 16/2.8 (24mm equivalent) is your widest option.

The E mount is a much younger system. I'm sure we'll see quite a variety of lenses for it in coming years. Recall that MFT lenses were pretty slow to build critical mass as well. Now we're flooded with options.

Nikolas Andersen
(nsandersen) - MLife
Great camera, but no good dedicated lenses on 01/06/2012 15:30:13 MST Print View

I think the NEX-7 is the best of the csc cameras, but I ended up getting the Panasonic G3. Two problems I had with the Sony were the price - over 2.5 times more expensive, and no dedicated lenses I would want, let alone any taking full advantage of the camera.

I can focus manually, and that's fine for landscapes, but for that price it needs to do other things too.

The 16mm sounded good (as the only Sony one), but in the sample pictures I saw the corner sharpness could not even be described as such. That was the final blow.

How do people find the 16mm pancake lens?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Sony 16/2.8 Lens on 01/06/2012 22:56:02 MST Print View

I'll put details up in the review when I'm done with this lens, but after using a lens like the Leica Elmarit, and then going to the Sony 16/2.8 - you can't help but be disappointed.

So I approached my perspective with this lens from a different angle, and instead compared IQ to the kit 18-55/3.5-5.6 lens. The latter offers *noticeably* higher IQ throughout its aperture and zoom range, relative to the 16/2.8.

The 16/2.8 makes the ergonomics of this camera fantastic. It's such a light and small lens, autofocuses fast and well, and - at f/8 delivers very nice images. At low apertures, it turns the NEX-7 into a crippled heap of expensive and heavier-than-in-needs-to-be-junk. The lens is OK enough for Youtube videos and smallish web images, though.

Nate Lee
(nathan52) - MLife
Thanks on 01/09/2012 18:13:28 MST Print View

This was a nice article. Thanks for shining a light on this.

Ross Marriner
(rossnm) - MLife
Re Sony NEX-7 review on 01/18/2012 20:23:40 MST Print View

Hi

thanks for the great report. I look forward to the upcoming reports and how well it goes in the field testing. I am keen to know of any super wide lenses (manual or auto ) that can be used with this camera. Any recomendations?? I really like the idea of having a view finder and being able to use quality manual lenses where it is easy to control depth of focus for those stunning landscape shots.

Keep up the good work

Ross

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
SONY NEX-7 Rolling Review Update: Part 3 Now Online on 07/06/2012 10:49:55 MDT Print View

FYI

James Parker
(dakotakid_parker)

Locale: United States
Good review on 07/11/2012 11:04:40 MDT Print View

Ryan, thanks for the commentary and insights. I recently took a NEX-7 with it's three standard lens (16, 18-55 and 55-210) on an five-day trip into the Sawtooth Range in Idaho, and put the camera through it's paces. I particularly appreciate your comments on using the manual focus lenses rather than the slow kit lenses.

I found that I rarely used the long zoom. The 16 is useful, and after a quick run-through of the images, your comments are spot on. I used the kit lens the most, and found it adequate, for the weight. As a Canon 5D user, it's really refreshing to carry such a light rig! I didn't carry a full-size tripod, relying on a GorillaPod, and the built-in OSS of the camera itself.

I'm at the point where I really don't want to lug a ton of weight into the backcountry anymore. I did acquire a very small Benro tripod with a ball head, with a corresponding weight of about 1.9 pounds, but ended up leaving it behind. I carried six batteries and four 16Gb card. I carry the system in a little LowePro 110 bag attached to the hip strap on my pack, which is secure. One advantage to that pack is that it does have a built-in rain cover. It will not hold both zooms and the camera at the same time, however.

I also carried the Sony remote, which has way too many functions when all you want to do is trigger the shutter. A simple remote would be great. I found myself wishing I had carried a small macro lens, either, the Sigma 30 or Sony's offering rather than the long zoom.

Thanks again for your excellent review. I'm still on the fence with the Leica/Zeiss lenses, and your thoughts are certainly timely as I want to push the limits of this particular style of shooting in the woods.

Jim Parker
http://photo.parkerparker.info

Ron Bishop
(Compass) - MLife

Locale: Ontario
NEX-7 Review on 07/12/2012 08:07:46 MDT Print View

Very interesting article, Ryan. It's an added bonus that you're also an accomplished photographer.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Great Review! on 08/06/2012 18:32:21 MDT Print View

Great review Ryan! I'm very much looking forward to Parts 4, 5 & 6 as well. It was your review that first brought this camera to my attention, and after doing a bit of further research I finally pulled the trigger on one back in May. Glad I did, it's a great camera! So far I've accumulated most of the prime lenses available, as well as the kit 18-55mm, and the 55-210mm. The standouts certainly are the Zeiss 24mm, the 50mm f/1.8, the 55-210mm, and both the Sigma primes. There may be some sample variation in the 16mm, I find mine to be quite good, at least in the f/5.6-f/8 range where I normally use it. At those apertures I find it to actually be a bit better than the kit zoom, which also isn't a bad optic.

I haven't done much hiking with this camera yet, but I fully expect it to perform very well for landscape work. So far I've mostly used it for street photography, and for that purpose it excels. I think the NEX-7 image quality is quite comparable to my full-frame Nikon D700, and it is significantly better than either of the m4/3 cameras I've owned (the Oly E-P1 and the Panny GH1).

If anyone's interested, I have a gallery of my better NEX-7 shots here.

And here's a gallery of test shots for pixel peepers that compares the kit zoom to all the primes I own.

Thanks again for the great review!

Gordon

Edited by swearingen on 08/06/2012 18:34:28 MDT.

Tom Andrews
(TomAndrews) - M
Other Cameras on 10/20/2012 11:46:32 MDT Print View

Hi Ryan,

I am trying to find another camera that is lighter than my Panasonic GH2, which is probably the relatively light weight digital camera of choice for wildlife video. Your review of the NEX-7 is excellent. When you compare it to other cameras, I would suggest adding the Sony RX100 and the Sigma DP-2M and DP-1M. These are high on my list of possible cameras which includes the NEX-7, or more likely the NEX-6, which is a tad lighter and less expensive than the NEX-7.

First the RX100. This camera only weighs 8.5 oz, costs $650, yet has a 20.9 MP sensor over twice the size of any comparable weight camera (though 1/3 the size of the NEX-7). It has an excellent non-interchangeable zoom lens, produces very high quality RAW images for its sensor size and shoots full 1080P60 HD video. Based on current reviews, it seems to be the camera of choice for a truly small, very light weight camera, particularly for the ultralight backpacker who primarily wants to show their work on the web or via email or only wants prints up to perhaps 11x14, which includes most backpackers who want to carry a camera.

Now for the Sigma cameras. These are very serious cameras. The DP-2M and DP-1M are fixed focal length, non-interchangeable lens cameras with a 45 and 28 mm lenses respectively (35 mm equivalent). They weigh only 12.5oz each yet the reviews (Luminous Landscape and dPreview) show that with their foveon sensors they have a 48 MP equivalency and produce images that are superior to most if not all full frame DSLR cameras, even approaching medium format $30,000+ digital cameras, in image quality. They also cost ~$1000 each which is considerably less than the NEX-7 with Leica or Zeiss fixed focal length lenses. For the serious photographer who really wants to make large prints and can accustom his/her eye to composing with a fixed focal length lens, these cameras can't be beat and are very backpackable.

I may have just talked myself into buying both an RX100 for that carry everywhere camera and the DP-2M or DP-1M for my more serious backpacking photography or perhaps the NEX-6 as a compromise between the two. I just posted a gallery of 61 photographs from Zion National Park taken with an old 10 MP Canon Rebel DSLR (and run carefully through Adobe Camera RAW and then Photoshop) on my website, wildlandart.com. I think they show that almost any of these kinds of lightweight digital cameras under discussion are capable of producing very high quality web images. Thanks again for your thorough and very knowledgeable review.

Tom Andrews

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
NEX-6 on 11/24/2012 21:38:14 MST Print View

I just picked up a Sony NEX 6 after a rather exhaustive look into the state of the market. I care about bulk, low light performance, autofocus speed, image quality, and weight not necessarily in that order. I have a Fuji X100 and it takes absolutely stunning photos in a tiny package, but I want to take quality video and be able to switch out lenses in the backcountry. I narrowed down my comparison shopping to buying a body and a standard prime lens with a large aperture. Here were the contenders from my research:

1. Olympus OM-D EM-5 with Panasonic 20mm ƒ/1.7. It's compact, very light, and with inbody 4 stop image stabilization, it'd be a very serious low-light shooter and good for video. The camera body is weather sealed too! Unfortunately while it may be weather sealed, none of the lenses are, and the electronic viewfinder is passable but not great. Ultimately, I couldn't settle for a m4/3 sensor and the resultant image quality. $1300 for camera and lens.

2. Fuji X-E1 with Fuji 35mm ƒ/1.4. It oozes old-school style, takes the best photos of any mirrorless camera currently on the market, and the lenses are fantastic, if expensive. It also has the best low light performance of any mirrorless on the market. Unfortunately, it auto focuses slowly, it doesn't have optical image stabilization, and the video is fully automatic (non adjustable). It's also expensive. $1600 for camera and lens.

3. Sony NEX-6 with Sony 35mm ƒ/1.8 OSS. This is what I ultimately settled on. Technically, the 35mm lens isn't out until the end of December, but it's an optical image stabilized large aperture standard prime lens with super fast autofocus—it sounds almost too good to be true. Preliminary reviews have found the lens is sharp and the bokeh is pleasing. The NEX has excellent image quality, excellent video, almost equivalent low-light performance to the Fuji, and (as this article stated) focus peaking! I bought a Canon FD 50mm ƒ/1.8 for $40 today from a local camera store and mounted it to the NEX-6 with a $20 adapter. For $60, I have an excellent portrait lens that's quick enough to focus that's it not even a bother thanks to the NEX. This feature alone is worth buying into the NEX system. $1300 for camera and lens.

I hemmed and hawed for a long time, but the ability to painlessly use manual focus lenses of yesteryear make the NEX system gold. I feel like I can invest in my standard lens that will be on the camera 95% of the time, and then pick up inexpensive (but still quality) manual focus lenses for telephoto or wide angle. Wide angle lenses made for the FD mount may be slightly heavier and more bulky, but they don't fringe purple like the photos Ryan illustrated and are significantly cheaper than even the Voigtlanders (the crappiest of the M mount lenses).

Aaron Ledbetter
(l3db3tt3r) - MLife
NEX6 on 05/01/2013 16:25:22 MDT Print View

I have the Nex 6. I am very pleased with its portability, and the compact lenses. I just ordered the LowePro Sport 100 as a case, if anyone is interested in knowing how it works out...

What sold me on purchasing the nex6 however was getting the Metabones Speed Booster, so I could use my Canon EF lenses with the added benefit of an increase of maximum aperture by 1 stop, and it makes the lens 0.7x wider (near full frame). I would highly recommend checking it out. Also, Metabones is readying to release similar products for other camera makes, and also for the micro 4/3 sized sensor (effectively adding 2 stops?!?)

I hope I put something exciting on your radar.

Ben Pearre
(fugue137) - MLife
Thanks... also, that paddle? on 11/24/2013 18:23:47 MST Print View

Timely! Many thanks!

I'm looking forward to upgrading to a system somewhat like the one that you describe, although for candids (and wildlife, on occasion) I really do want autofocus and I miss shots when I change lenses. Fun though it would be, a new camera like this would save me about 0.3 grams per dollar, whereas there are several upgrades in my list that would save me > 2 grams per dollar, and one (backpack) that runs 5 g/$. So it'll be a while. If these cameras could do anything better than my current rig, that would skew the math. Faster lenses are compelling, but compelling enough for me?

I carry a Nikon D5100 and usually bring the kit lens (18-55mm VR), and carry it in a Dana Dry Rib that I lined with thin foam (yeah, could cut 50g for cheap). Total weight (including polarising filter, cleaning cloth, lens pen, and IR remote): 974 grams with 1 battery, which is good for about 800 shots (fewer if I do night photography). It's a good rig: even the kit lens with its crappy motor focuses fast due to solid phase detect AF, and even does a credible job with microphotography. Of course I wish the kit lens had a faster aperature and a faster AF motor, and that the polarising filter were attached to the body rather than to the moving objective lens carrier out front... still, AFAICT an SLR has fewer weird quirks than Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens (EVIL) cameras such as the Sony, although I expect that that will change eventually.

Also note that Canon now has "the lightest SLR ever" at 400g for body+battery+card (Nikon's D3200 trails at 500g, and my D5100 is 550g). And if Canon is competing on weight, others will follow...

How are those lenses in the cold? Ken Rockwell did some tests of a few of his favourites. Do you notice any problems with your lens choices, or with the camera? Is it easy to operate with gloves on?
http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/50-comparison/cold.htm
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/digital-wide-zooms/comparison-arctic.htm

BUT ALSO:

In your photo of the canoe, what is that paddle? It looks like a composite and probably ultralight Greenland-style double paddle, in this style: www.qajaqusa.org/QK/makegreen2.pdf Where does it come from?