The strange saga of the Sony Nex 7...

I'm sure I didn't mean to do it. I was at Precision Camera and I must have tripped and fallen.  My credit card slipped out of my hand and shot across the sales floor just as one of my favorite store associates was walking by with a black and gray box.  The card landed on top of the box, hopping like water drops on hot oil, and the sales guy must of interpreted this wild gesture as a funny way to demand some new, fresh product.  By the time I picked myself up off the floor and dusted off my Costco five pocket blue jeans my sales associate already had a sale rung up and was busy suggesting additional product while convincing me to sign a liability waiver holding them harmless from my latest accident.  I must have been too stunned and bewildered to resist so I left the store with a nice plastic bag in one hand and yet another invoice in the other.  

Somehow I made it to the refuge of my favorite coffee shop (Caffe Medici actually makes really good decaffeinated cappuccinos)  and opened the bag to sort out what had just transpired. In the bag was a box with a Sony Nex 7 and a black 18-55mm kit lens.  Next to that box was a Sony 50mm 1.8 lens for the Nex system.  And, finally, at the bottom of the bag was a horribly expensive Sony InfoLithium battery for said camera.  Oh well, who am I to argue with the currents and whims of the universe? If the photo gods have thrust a package upon me it would be churlish to resist.   I headed home for the hoariest of rituals: the charging of the battery. Followed by the next most painful ritual: The rationalization to the spouse.

As you know I have been a long time proponent and user of products in the micro four thirds camera segment. I have owned Olympus EP2's and EP3's, EPL1's and EPL2's and I've both bought dedicated lenses for the system as well as adapting older, manual focus Pen lenses and Nikon Ais lenses to the system.  When I reviewed the EPL2 I went so far as to put a $5,000 Leica Summilux 35mm lens on the front for while.  I got interesting looks from the local high priests of Leica and humorous grins from the Olympus camp.  I've used the Panasonic G3 (much to the dismay of Olympus diehards) and even the GH2.

For a while I tried to isolate what it was about the Pens (other than their contrarian position in the market) that made me so excited about the system.  I liked the lightweight and small profile of the cameras.  Most of the lenses were quite good.  I really liked the electronic viewfinders.  It was a great system for walking around looking for fun stuff to shoot.  And for the first time since I joined this profession and hobby I found a plentiful supply of people who not only shared my interest and passion about the Pens but also loved to get together to shoot them, talk about them and compare notes.  In a sense, the feeling of belonging was a branch of social marketing that I find pretty specific to the Olympus Pen users.

So I thought it was very strange when, after three years of use, my passion for the cameras started to dwindle.  The Olympus OMD came out this year and has been an enormous and well deserved success.  Every time I pick one up and play with it I'm amazed at how cool that camera is.  But for some reason I could never bring myself to buy one. I could never get myself to go down the road of fleshing out a more complete and comprehensive system.  Or to put together a system that would take the place of larger cameras as my working system.  Or, to replace all the other systems with nothing but the Olympus cameras. I'd play with my friend's voluptuous black OMD, all tricked out with the grip and the new 75mm lens and I'd be seduced for the moment but as soon as I handed the camera back all the seduction faded away.  

Then it started to dawn on me.  I liked the Olympus Pen products (and I'm including the OMD in that mix) mostly because they were the first on the scene with a great electronic viewfinder and the whole idea of "pre-chimping" and having pre-shot control of everything you shoot was such a powerful concept that it became the strong core of my attraction for those cameras.  The VF-2 was always a better implementation of an EVF than anything Panasonic had come out with in the same product space.

But the whole time that I was buying and using the Pen cameras for my personal work I was also working my way through the larger DSLR systems, looking for the holy grail of industrial digital cameras for the way I work (which may be totally different than the way you work....). Up until this year I've mostly worked with Canon and Nikon systems but while I respect the image quality these cameras are capable of I was looking for a combination of that capability married to a system with a killer EVF.  Sony came along and they seem committed to an EVF future.  I took a chance and once I started working with their EVF everything else just faded.  

Recently a friend dropped a Nikon 800e by the studio and suggested that I keep it for a while and write a review about it.  I kept it for a day but every time I brought it up to my eye I remembered everything I didn't like about shooting without the amazing electronic preview and everything I really liked about the Sony SLT cameras.  At that moment it was clear to me that the pleasure I got from the Olympus Pen gear was,  in part,  a direct result of my working style with the EVF.  Now the Sonys were supplanting the Pen cameras by dint of having an even better EVF.  I realized that the whole issue of size was, for me, secondary to the way the camera actually functioned.

Once I started to use the a77 (Sony) on a day-in-day-out basis my appreciation for the new method of viewing my subjects continued to increase.  I started picking up the bigger Sony from my equipment tool case rather than a smaller m4:3 camera on those times I went out to shoot for myself.  I've gone into Precision Camera five or six times in the last month with the intention of buying an OMD but each time I played with the competing systems as well and I would leave uncommitted.  I rejected the Fuji X Pro 1 because of all the focusing issues (which I experienced first hand) and mostly because I was amazed to find that the hapless engineers at Fuji didn't provide an adjustable diopter.  I rejected the Leica M9 (the camera I really want) because I can never justify the price in a recession that's affected the art class so dramatically...  I'd already played with the Nikon 1 system and I was frustrated at not being able to buy any decent prime lenses for it.

I started playing with the Nex 7 when the shipments caught up to demand and at first I wasn't terribly interested.  The interface seemed wacky.  But over time I kept coming back again and again to play with the camera.  Finally something clicked and I understood the operating system and the interface.  The final sticks (that broke the camel's back) were the consistently good reviews across the web, coupled with the fact that you can add an adapter that will give you full, fast use of all the Sony Alpha lenses.  That, combined with the same capability that the m4:3 cameras have to use most other lenses in the market place, pushed me forward.

When I went to lunch with Ben today I started telling him all about the new camera.  He laughed. He thought I was making a joke.  When I insisted I was not joking he got very serious. His mother stepped in to assure him that his college savings account required two parent signatures for any withdrawals and he calmed down.  

It would be silly at this juncture for me to write a review of the camera.  I've only used it for several hundred frames.  I took it along with me today on a mid-afternoon walk and I was surprised at how quickly I learned the major points of the control. But I guess I should not have been too surprised as a lot of the menu implementation is the same as that in the SLT line.

Above.  A much more expensive hobby than photography...

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Sony Nex 7 let me give you a brief run down:  It's a relatively small, mirror-less camera which currently (along with the Sony a77 and a65) has the highest resolution, LED illuminated EVF on the market.  It takes dedicated Nex system lenses which are larger than the corresponding m4:3 lenses.  The camera has the same video engine as the a77 which makes it the state of the art in video for consumer cameras that do both disciplines.  And the other big feature that gets most of the headlines is the 24 megapixel APS-C sensor.  It's the same one used in the a77 but as there is no need for a mirror of any kind the Nex 7 handles ISO 3200 quite a bit better than it's rotund and mirrored cousin.

self portrait into a smudgy parking garage mirror.

The Nex 7 with kit lens is lighter than the OMD with grips and kit lens. I used the camera with the 50mm 1.8 lens all afternoon today and found the combo really nice.  If I had already made the step to the Olympus OMD I probably would not have been tempted, but there it is.

A 100% enlargement from the frame one above...

I've found a few of the downsides to the camera. Most have to do with the menu system.  Certain features only work in certain modes.  The dials are TOO configurable.  Stuff like that, mostly.  The one area in which the Olympus cameras trounce the Sony Nex 7 is in fast focus acquisition; the Sony is a slower camera to focus.  The battery life is pretty short as well. I expect I'll get right about 350-400 shots per charge once the battery has been through several more charge cycles.

The upside is that the files are incredibly sharp and detailed. And that includes all the stuff I shot today at ISO 800 (see images below in grocery store).  The image stabilization works quite well and I even channeled my friend, ATMTX, and shot some of the photographs below using the LCD finder on the back of the camera to sight and focus with. Horrors.  The camera handled everything I tried today but I really didn't push it much.  I'll know more about the camera when I've shot some studio portraits and also have done a few road trips with it.  

Are there any recent cameras on the market that can't do a great imaging job at ISO 100?

(tongue in cheek) Ahhh.  It's got those great Sony blues!

 Shot with modified "stinky baby diaper" hold.  Amazing auto ISO and IS.

Is there any modern camera that cake can't make look good?

 One of the features of the Sony Nex 7 is that it looks like a very nicely done hipster doofus point and shoot camera. I was able to shoot images inside several stores and no one batted an eye.  I loved walking around the chic grocery store/glamor bar on Sixth and Lamar snapping images of whatever caught my eye without the least hesitation.

I do think it's funny that I chose to buy the camera yesterday as it seems that Michael Johnston also handled one yesterday and mentioned it on his site today (the Online Photographer). I also think it's funny that my friend, ATMTX, wrote recently that he uses his Sony Nex 5 less and less these days in deference to his growing collection of Olympus cameras and lenses.  And one of my really good friends, Frank, seems to have found personal nirvana with his acquisition of the OMD.  We're all wired a bit differently I guess, and that's what makes this photography thing so much fun.

I put this building shot in for two reasons:  1. It shows off the  wonderfully sharp system and when blown up larger gives a good example of how well the camera and lens work.  But also, #2. A person from the UK wrote to tell me that he hates my building shots and that I live in a tiny, fly-speck of a town and I need to get out more.  This one (above) is just for him.

When I decided to move to the smaller Sony camera I made up my mind to "prune my optical equipment garden."  To that end I sold my Pen gear (all cameras with the older 12 megapixel sensors---not that earth shattering of an idea) and I am also contemplating selling off my collection of the original Pen manual focus lenses.  There was more inventory in the drawer than I remembered...  

Edit: quick on his feet, reader Corwin rescues my Pen lens collection by letting me know that there's actually a Pen FT to Sony Nex lens adapter.  I ordered one and I'll keep using the Pen lenses.  Only now I'll be able to use them with focus peaking. Major score.

Finally, the menus are much more similar between the two different Sony models I use in my work, the a77 and now the Nex7.  It's already much less confusing to go back and forth.  And I don't need to carry the manual around with me in my back pocket.  Well, I guess I'm off on a new imaging adventure. Thanks again for joining me in yet another Quixotic Quest...

I wonder if Cervantes would have been a camera collector?


jw52tx said...

you'll be sorry if you sell the pen lenses, now that you own the nex! But if you are going to- email me! I'll buy you lunch at Hunan Lotus in exchange for looking them over ( Mr.Vo is back in town)

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Love that car shot Kirk! Too bad you stripped the Exif data out ;-)

Richard Alan Fox said...

I like the hat.

Mike Murrow said...

My wife got me the NEX 5 for our anniversary. I had never considered the system before and have been very pleased. Its a great system.

Dave Jenkins said...

I agree that if you sell the manual Pen lenses you will regret it.

I'm very happy with the OM-D. Different strokes, I guess. In any case, thanks for helping me find my way to M4/3 photography.

kirk tuck said...

Wolfgang, I never strip out Exif data. It's something I guess Blogger does. It was Nex 7, 50mm 1.8, 100 ISO 5.6 1/125th.
Color balance set to open shade.

kirk tuck said...

Thanks. A good hat is good to have in the Summer...

kirk tuck said...

They are both great systems. The OMD is a fantastic camera. I guess I just wanted to stay in the same "menu family" as my everyday work cameras.

Mike Hendren said...

Kirk, that is just too funny and way too much like me! I've !loved almost every camera I've owned, but that "other", newer, different machine is always calling me … "Try me" … "Buy me" … "I'm better than your other stuff" :-)
Great post!

Alex said...

" selling off my collection of the original Pen manual focus lenses."
Good god, Kirk, now that is a bit over the top, isnt it? :)
You can always get a new camera, but these lenses?

BTW, isnt it starnge that, with all the technical features to evaluate, a camera basically feels right or not. If it fits the mind and the hand, its a good one. Have fun with your new system.

D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D said...

Let me try again:

Kirk, an accident-prone fellow like you has gotta stay out of camera stores, or you will continue to be involved in this type of mishap.

"....a very nicely done hipster doofus point and shoot camera...." In addition to the EVF and the reasonable size of these and m43 cameras, this is one of the biggest advantage for many types of shooting. Raise a dSLR to take a street photo (or a shot of anything you'd like a human in) and people anywhere near the front of the lens will dive for cover or start climbing walls to avoid being in the frame---at least where I live. A little rinky-dink Oly or similar that every mom seems to have now hardly gets a second glance.

I've seen the NEX 7s and it looks like a nice camera, but I ain't going to be tempted unless I win the lottery and no longer have to worry whether I actually need what I buy. However, I have been contemplating one of those hats, and I may just get one now and blame it on you.

wjl (Wolfgang Lonien) said...

Aaah ok. Well I guessed you would use the base ISO setting whenever you can. Only that somewhere in the text you wrote that you took most with ISO 800. Anyway; great photo.

Martin Duerr said...

How much I like your stories about cameras and yourself.

Way much better than reading camera tests with all that boring flower and backyard images. Thanks!



Phil said...

Selling all your MFT gear 1 month ahead of Photokina? With at least three MFT bodies to be announced? Dunno if that's smart or dumb (time will tell), but it certainly is bold... enjoy your new 3-lens system, I guess.

Corwin said...

Aehm. You know theres adapter for Pen F lens to work on NEX.. do you? I saw some photos with NEX-5N and Pen F lenses and they are working quite nicely I think.. Why not try it?

Otherwise I like NEX system bit more than others exactly because that fact that it can use most lens with right adapter. And its just 1.5x crop which is more friendly than 2x. Which wouldnt be that important itself, but they have very good sensors and one very important feature called focus peaking (and great EVF which makes focusing like that quite a joy).

IMHO best lens for NEX are those from Contax G system probably. Just bit harder to find really good adapter.

Gregg Mack said...

Wow Kirk, I didn't see that coming! It was because of your high praise of the Micro Four Thirds cameras that I looked into the Olympus OM-D and bought one, and three of the lenses that you highly recommended. (And I believe you gave our some very good advice!)

And so yet another adventure begins for you! I look forward to what you have to say about the good and the bad of this camera, and which lenses you enjoy using the most.

I do think you might want to return that hat, though. ;-)

sixblockseast said...

It seems you made quite a rational decision here Kirk. As a hobbyist, I had seriously considered the NEX-7 but decided against it because of the price and limited lens selection. On the other hand, I end up mostly using legacy Minolta MF lenses with the Samsung NX10--something I could have also done with the NEX-7. Perhaps I'll look for good deals on a used NEX-7 once the NEX-7n comes come out ;)

PS: I think you might like luminous-landscape's latest "Industry Insights" essay, which is quite critical of Canon and Nikon and has good things to say about Sony.

Frank Grygier said...

I felt the shock wave all the way up here in Montana but you could replenish the college fund for what you get for the Pen lenses. I love the hat.

Frank Grygier said...

I felt the shock wave all the way up here in Montana but you could replenish the college fund for what you get for the Pen lenses. I love the hat.

kirk tuck said...

Corwin, Thank you for pointing that out. In that case the Pen (MF) lenses stay where they are.

Also, I discovered the focus peaking on my a77 and it rocks.

kirk tuck said...

Ah darn. I was loving the hat...

Anonymous said...

Kirk, Kirk, Kirk,

I thought you were taking the 12 step program for new acquisitions?

I think the trouble may be that we need to teach you to count to 12 first of all (and to leave your credit card at home.)

Perhaps a beret next time, to give you that Cartier-Bresson look.

Cheers oh weak one.

Thomas Hill said...

Oh boy, Kirk is pulling another good one on his readers. He must be in a mischievous mood. Selling all his MFT gear, yea right. I'm not falling for it for even a moment. Ha, ha, ha.........(please say it isn't so)

David Lykes Keenan said...

I honestly do not understand the appeal of the OMD. It's small, awkward to hold, even uncomfortable. The EVF is small and claustrophobic. I read that adding the grip and battery accessory improved its ergonomics but I felt even more uneven surfaces pressing uncomfortably into to my hand. Maybe it's fine for someone with child-like hands but for average adult hands, this camera is terrible IMHO.

Michael Matthews said...

Want to sell a spare VF-2? My E-PL1 is providing much satisfaction, but often I have to wait till I get home to see what I shot.

Frank Grygier said...

Thanlfully I have my mother's hands.

Rob Lowry said...

Echo what's being said here ... get a cheapo adapter and test out your lenses before selling.

With my NEX I have an adapter for the old Minolta Rokkor and Konica Hexanon lenses. When combined with focus peaking, and focus assist manual focus lenses are fun and bring back an element of 'slow photography' that you often write about.

If you do a little looking, you can get an adapter for just about any lens imaginable. Fell in love with a piece of glass on a different system ... doesn't matter ... get the adapter and away you go.


Carlo Santin said...

I'm not really surprised by this purchase of yours Kirk. The Sony system already works for you. I think it's a great camera that can really make manual focusing with lots of cool lenses actually enjoyable. Image quality is fantastic, the shots of the Vette are lovely. I could see myself owning one of these and being happy with it for a long time. I'm waiting until at least Photokina before I spend any money on a new camera.

j said...

Kirk, I have read you blog for a while and haven't posted before. You will not regret the NEX-7. You can put almost any lens on it via adapter, you must get the adapter to try your hasselblad lenses as well. Personally, I purchased the NEX system over m4/3 so I could use my leica lenses and love it.

Regarding the NEX-7 and the knobs, it took me about 2 weeks for find a setup I liked, but once I did I almost never have to go into the menu settings.

Love you blog, love your photos. Keep it up.

j said...

One more thing Kirk, the little Sigma 30 and 19 are outstanding and small. I keep the 30 on as my walk around lens, it is razor sharp from edge to edge, light and really makes the nex pocketable.

Dave Jenkins said...

I could palm a basketball with one hand in my playing days, but the Olympus OM system felt just right to me. I used and loved it for 13 years before aging eyes necessitated a change to an auto-focus system. I now use and love the OM-D and find it feels just fine in my hands.

Different strokes.

Anonymous said...

You could buy an OM-D body for you son and let him use your Pen lenses. I'm sure he would let you borrow the OM-D on occasion.

atmtx said...

Gregg, no plans for me to go to a NEX-7. I want fast aperture lenses with image stabilization.

atmtx said...

Kirk, I'm not surprised you got the NEX-7. You seemed to have a soft spot for Sony even back many years ago with that small body with big lens design you liked so much (was it the F717?) More surprising is my love for the Olympus Pens.

I don't know about those blues but those reds look fantastic.

For the record, Rather than the "stinky baby diaper" approach, I prefer to call it "Using the force" instead of using the EVF targeting computer ;-)

Biro said...

Kirk, you say your new NEX-7 is equipped with the kit 18-55mm zoom. Have you used this lens much yet? I ask because I'll bet many of us would be interested in learning if that lens can keep up with the resolution-hungry 24mp sensor. As an aside, I had been strongly considering picking up an A65 primarily because of the high-quality EVF. The A77 is a bit larger than I'd like. But while in B&H Photo in New York last week, I handled an NEX-7 for the first time. Now I can envision that camera with the 35mm and 50mm Sony primes and maybe even the 19mm Sigma prime for NEX. Congratulations on the next phase in your imaging journey.

Amin said...

Hi Kirk,

I agree with you that the NEX-7 is a great camera, and I think there is lots to like about both the MFT and NEX systems. Seeing you switch was surprise though, because of what you said in "Kirk's Take: Leica 25mm Summilux Review" at TOP:

"I'm a sucker for two specific angles of view/focal lengths. On a full frame, 35mm-type camera I am drawn to the way 50mm and 85mm or 90mm lenses make images look. I think of the short telephotos as my "normal" lenses, and what most people think of as normal lenses I consider my moderate wide angles."

From that review, I understood that the PL25 was your primary workhorse lens for Micro 4/3. What is going to replace that on the Sony? Sigma 30/2.8? Or is the Sony 50/1.8 (75mm equivalent) a good enough compromise between your 50mm and 90mm ideals to serve both purposes? It seemed like a curious move for you.

All best,

J Marcos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J Marcos said...

One of the features I love about the NEX-7 is... reviewing the pictures in the EVF! I have the auto-review feature disabled for fluid picture taking, so when I manually reviewed some photos on a Saturday afternoon at the park, after the warm light had given some nice portraits of the kids, the first thought was "It's so beautiful... just like a slide show!".

I like the modern design of this camera, it has good looks, it's comfortable to hold, and has some new ideas like the triple control dials. I love classic looks too, like the Leica film M cameras, but I appreciate camera design not being stuck in the past just for nostalgia's sake.

Lenses: for me, the Zeiss 24mm is "it" when it comes to the NEX-7. Gives the camera great balance and makes nice, smooth yet colorful pictures of what I love to take pictures of, which is family and travel. The 50mm f/1.8 is excellent too, I compared it to my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and it had the same smooth rendition. Even the kit lens is quite good, I call it my "beach" lens. Alright, maybe it's not a landscapist's ideal choice, but it sure can give you some good casual photos.

And trying to tie some thoughts to Kirk's previous columns, older cameras can give perfectly nice photos in controlled conditions, but these new ones make your life easier. I prefer the NEX-7's handling of highlights on people skin's with harsh light as compared to my Nikon D700. Not sure if it is the extra dynamic range or the better color filters optimized for low ISO, it just looks better to me, to the point where my already pared down Nikon system sits idle - I think it's time to sell it... but a full-frame A99 might be nice for those special lenses which I don't have, like the Zeiss 24mm f/2, the Sony 85mm f/2.8, or a Leica Summicron-R 28mm. And being able to then use them on a NEX, maybe a bit compromised with the crop, is just very cool.

cidereye said...

Kirk, will you please desist from giving camera recommendations as my wallet cannot stand it any more! (My wife made me type this! lol)

Anonymous said...

wouldn't you by now, own 3 or 4 leica M9 cameras, with all the gear which came and went?

I waited for long, and finally scored a well used M9 for less than half of the listprice. it's good to be free of gear worries for good

Peter F. said...

Glad you're sticking with the decaffeinated program! Getting a good decafe is hard. Wish I had your discipline (at least on the coffee front *grin*)

Peter F.

Robert Roaldi said...

But wait, didn't you say the other day that it's not about the gear! :)

Personally, I kind of like the fact that different cameras have wildly different menus. My first car, a Peugeot, had the signal light stalk on the right-hand side. You can get used to anything.

Fletch said...

lol... I've been itching for an NEX 7 but your recent posts pushed me towards rationalising my gear down to an a900, a55 and Minolta Dynax 7. All Alpha mount.

Interested if you will be getting the LA-EA2 Lens Adaptor which allows auto focus on your Alpha Lenses. I'm toying with the idea of replacing the a55 with the a77 but not sure if it makes a lot of sense to mount FF alpha lenses onto a compact mirrorless body.

P.S. The Minolta 135mm f/2.8 lens is a fantastic bargain. It's very compact, sharp and beautifully built. Might be a bit long on a cropped sensor but it's diminutive size makes it almost pocket-able... not sure whylenses seem to be getting bigger over time.

Feri Naf said...

Back to mirrorless ;)
I have to say, after reading all sorts of blogs the mirrorless (EVF) infatuation would have already spread to the general public. But no ... throughout the European summer a big majority of tourist photographers spotted are carrying entry level DSLR-s (almost all Canon or Nikon). I've seen a Nex or two and that's pretty much it. I can't say i don't understand it as i bought EPL3 and consistently got better photos from Nikon D7000. But still ... on the road i would expect that size/weight would matter more.

Rick Maiman said...

Mr. Tuck:
While I appreciate your visual samples of Nex7 quality, may I add that, though owning boat loads of Canon pro bodies and lenses, I bought into the Nex 7 system big time to supplant, ne', usurp my daily news job assignments. I do a great deal of financial trial coverage here in New York; a very busy court house indeed. With the focus selected to facial recognition, and shutter priority, I always get my man. With this camera,the garden variety 18-55 kit zoom on one body and the 16 wide on a short strap around my neck I've a great arsenal for running and gunning perps on trial, bounding out of doorways and fleeing up the street in classic get-a-way mode.
Once my com-padre's here that staccato burst rate and see the blistering results, many think I'm leading a charge, instead of merely riding in the pack. It's a stealth mode approach, not even Sony dreamed of.

Keith I. said...

I definitely love my NEX-7, and because of the EVF and size it replaces my A900 quite often, sometimes even using the LA-EA2 adapter to "borrow" the A900's lenses.

I was really quite impressed by the results with the 50/1.8. That lens really is a bargain! The 50mm and 24/1.8 Zeiss have claimed most of the camera time, but for fun I have been mixing in the lovely Minolta 58/1.2 MC lens and the Nikon 50/1.2 AIS.

The Leica 35/2 Summicron was remarkable and a joy to use on it, but the lens' owner wanted it back.

Keith I. said...

I am totally going to start using that line!

"Using the force"

Low Budget Dave said...

I think Sony is on the right track. I was a little disappointed in the Sony 16 mm lens, but every camera is a compromise, and you can't have everything. As far as I can tell, the pictures out of the IS 50mm are as good as (or better than) any 50mm lens on any ASPC camera anywhere.

On the other hand, I am loving the high speed flash sync built into the little RX100.

So you haven't sold me any new gear today, but I may get me one of those hats.

kirk tuck said...

My job is not to sell gear. My job is to have fun. Buying a fun new camera is a great ROI for fun.

Dave said...

Wait! 3 days ago you said "no more gear!"

The good thing about your blog is the fact my GAS is satisfied by your adventures!

John said...

How is the built-in EVF? I have the Nex-5n along with the external EVF and frankly, it's the worst $300 I've ever spent - in bright situations the EVF basically gets blown out and you see no details. I still think EVFs are the future - it's just that I'd hesitate buying a Nex7 if the EVF wasn't any better than the optional one for the Nex 5.

kirk tuck said...

Done. And you are correct.

Brad C said...

I really think there is something to be said for a system that has both the compact mirrorless bodies, dSLR with EVF and mirrored APS-C and full frame dSLRs. Canon is close but Sony has really positioned themselves well, in my opinion. For a working photographer I think having the same APS-C sensor (and menus) in most of those options helps with workflow.

As a non-professional I have applied some twisted logic and ended up selling my Canon system and going for the OM-D. It is a single body that is both compact enough for me to take skiing or out biking with the kids, and at the same time large enough with the optional grip to use comfortably in the studio. I love having a single body that I use for everything. Ultimately, though, I'm using MFT because of the lenses. They seem to have made exactly what I want to use, in a compact size.

Reading though the comments here it is clear why there are so many different brands and choices - everyone's idea of the perfect camera or system is so wildly different. We can rationalize our choices however we want, but the proof is if you use the camera and bring it with you. In that respect MFT has been a real winner for me... I'm no longer wishing I had a smaller camera, nor wishing I'd brought my Canon. The NEX-7 seems to fill a similar niche - small enough, great quality, lots of control. These cameras (NEX-7, OM-D) have what the Canon EOS-M doesn't - the feel that they are serious tools rather than just a small version of the camera you really want to have with you...

Libby said...

What I hate are all the gear reviews that are basically regurgitated press releases. At least you keep it real.

thomas hobbes said...

definitely don't sell those pen f lenses! they are fantastic in fit and feel on the NEX (some are quite wonderful image quality wise too). over the past 2 years the pen f 42/1.2 has probably been my most used lens on the NEX-3 and now NEX-7, though lately i've been choosing the 40mm c-summicron over it...

soulnibbler said...

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of your pen-E-mount adaptor. I had a similar thing happen to me a couple of weeks ago, I walked by the store planning to look and a 7 followed me home. Most of my lenses are m-mount voigtländers, and I've really found the 7 to be one of the best manual mode cameras. Iso is on the main thumb wheel, shutter speed above that and the one button zoom is very useful. The tweakable (visually) white balance is also new and wonderful. I spent a weekend playing with the kit lens and was rather disappointed event at f6.3-8, but reading the comments I might have to turn on face recognition and try again.

thanks for your blogging :D, I'm also really enjoying the lighting equipment minuets.

P.S. I really love iso 800 in raw, its got a really nice gritty feel to it.

kirk tuck said...

Amin, I do wish that Sony made a fast 35mm lens (50 somthing equiv.) for the Nex system. The 50mm Nex is great and I've had fun using it. I'm waiting on an M adapter and a Pen adapter to arrive. Then I'll see which lens I like best, the 35mm Summicron or the 40mm 1.4 Pen lens. So many choices. The Sony Alpha 35 DT is also a great optic (and cheap as dirt) so I'll try that one too.

kirk tuck said...

Hi WL, The 800 ISO shots were the ones of the cakes at Whole Foods. The exteriors are all pretty uniformly ISO 100 or 200. I wish the Exif remained intact....

kirk tuck said...

Found out about an adapter for the Pens to the Nex. I will be keeping the glass for now but always up for a bit of lunch at Lotus Hunan. Great little restaurant.

kirk tuck said...

I figure it like this: I've owned the same car for ten years. Most people change every four years. In two years I will have saved the price of two cars. The average price of a decent new car is $30K. That will mean I have saved $60K. That means I have the ethical high ground to spend lavishly on cameras. They also have a much smaller carbon footprint...

Ron Zack said...

Over the weekend, I was wondering why Kirk Tuck does not yet have a Sony NEX camera.....and sure enough, he does!

It seems a logical enough progression from the SLT's to the NEX-7 with EVF. No doubt it will be a wonderful addition to the Tuck arsenal of photography.

As for me, I'm satisfied with the Pen EP2 for my "fun" camera, and an Olympus E-600 DSLR that has pretty much the same sensor/imager, but with some of the benefits a small DSLR can bring, especially in regards to using those wonderful Olympus 4/3 lenses.

Looking forward to hearing more about your NEX experience, and here's hoping the Sony A99 will be announced by September, at the latest. That camera should be quite a game changer, I think. Rumors abound that Nikon and Canon will be bringing out sub $2,000 compact full-frame DSLR's, so the full-frame crowd is going to have a lot to chew on.

Have fun with your new toy!

Low Budget Dave said...

Sorry, I didn't mean that as a slight. It seems (to me) that you write best when you write about the thought process. Those are the posts I keep coming back for.

Logically, the only people I would gear advice from are people who don't sell gear. Uunforuntely, it also means the only workshops I would be interested in are from people who don't do workshops.

kirk tuck said...

Didn't take it that way and love your quote that the only workshops you'd be interested in taking are from people who don't do workshops... Really great quote.

tord55 said...

My NEX-5N, and my Nikon V1, lives similar life as your NEX-7, it seems. That is, seldom used with their 'native' lenses (Sony E Mount lenses, respectively Nikon 1 lenses), but there are two exceptions: The NEX quite often carries the Zeiss-branded (but Sony-made) 1.8/24, while the V1 quite often carries the 30-110, sometimes with a close-up lens up front, to make it a hell of a macro lens!

I got into the V1 by pure accident, as I bought it as a present to my wife - she wanted a compact, but better camera, than her previous, but she changed her mind and bought an OM-D, as she had a few m4/3 lenses from her E-PL1 days. So there was I with a new toy, in many ways weird (not least the thumb wheel on the back is designed by someone who never takes his camera out of a bag of any sort, as it is next to impossible not to turn that wheel when extracting, or inserting, said camera. The zoom button is unique, too, and so are a lot of other details, but the photo quality is superb, with enough light (it is, due to the small sensor, not good at high ISO). Independent testers have found the picture quality for the V1 being on par with the 7D, not bad for such a small, portable, and rugged camera!

The inspiration to buy it, originally, came from Steve Huff, who loves his Leicas, and in many ways the V1 is a poor man's Leica, producing excellent results in the right conditions. Other birdwatchers have found the perfect mate for this camera, the AF-S 70-300 VR (you need the Nikon F-to-Nikon 1 adapter (called simply FT1), turning the little camera to amazing zoom camera (in FF terms the zoom range is approximately 200-800mm, perfect for birds-in-flight, BIF, not least due to the excellent anti-shake). With a Canon 500D close-up lens it becomes a macro monster, with full anti-shake, with lovely bokeh. Its totally silent operation, if you use the electronic shutter, instead of the mechanical, helps when you're in a hide, and the small weight is a must nowadays for my tired arms!

I blame Steve Huff for inspiration for the other camera as well, the NEX-5N. If Sony had been delivering their NEX-7 in the pace originally planned, we (the wife and I) would be NEX-7 users now, but alas. It took about a year just to find two NEX-5N EVFs, searching sites in the US, Hong Kong, to eventually find one in 'our' local shop's Stockholm outlet, and then a few months later they were everywhere!

My wife has an early E18-200 on her NEX-5N, while I originally bought the E16, in addition to the kit lens. But I quickly tired of the Sony lenses, and changed to other lenses on my NEX, the first being the Zeiss 1.8/24, then a Sigma 19 (a gift from the dear wife). But the glorious Novoflex adapters for the NEX took me into the land of Pentax K, and Nikon F, lenses. Although I usually use the Sigma, or the Zeiss, I have used it with (very) old 400mm teles from Nikon and Pentax, plus converters, both 1.4X, and 2.0X! You need very sturdy tripods for such work, I can tell you that!

So now I have a few nice Nikon lenses, of varying age, to be used with the V1, but I did wonder how they would work with an APS-C body (I once arrived in this bewildering land of modern cameras via Pentax DSLRs)?! So thus a D3200 soon arrived, which I think uses a sensor very closely related to the NEX-7's, which is very capable, if not that thrilling.

But after having sold almost all of the Pentax gear I found I got enough back to finance a D600, a technological wonder, weighing just as much as my just sold Pentax K-5!

So the plan is now to use the D600 for fairly wide shots (the Samyang 24/1.8 the widest, so far), up to 85/1.8, the V1 with the 70-300 (or the 30-110), and the NEX-5N for panoramas, and similar jobs.

The D3200 seems to be surplus, just now, but time will tell!

Have a nice day!

tord55 said...

I entered the world of digital cameras about ten years ago, and about two years ago into the world of DSLRs, first a Pentax K-x, then having a hate-love relation ship with the K-5 (Like many users of the D7000 (which share the sensor with the K-5), many of us K-5 owners have experienced a long story of problems, but lovely when they work as they should).

Then I started to read Steve Huff, and I must blame him for steering me, and my wife, away from Pentax. First I bought the XZ-1 on his recommendation, and for close up work in good light it is a dream. Then he got me interested in the NEX-5N, but would have bought the NEX-7, had the camera been available when it was supposed to (it arrived in Europe about a year delayed).

Armed with a lot of classic Pentax lenses we, the wife and I, had for a year or so, waited in vain for a newer, better, Pentax DSLR, or MILC, preferably a Full Format.

Instead we were offered the viewfinder-less K-01, the slightly downgraded K-30 (with a viewfinder, hurray), and eventually the K-5 II, which is a mainly processor-upgraded K-5.

The NEX-5N was very much a revelation to us, which only lacked built-in anti-shake to be the camera of my dreams. The lenses, the kit E18-55, and the pancake E16, were not that thrilling, but then I got the Zeiss 1.8/24 (superb), and, eventually the Sigma 19, as sharp as the Zeiss, but different. With those lenses it kicks Pentax' ass with gusto, if you pardon the expression, even though neither has any kind of anti-shake.

Then came the adapters, so now I can use those few Pentax lenses I have left (most sold some while back), and my Nikon F lenses. Great! Both DX and FX lenses work very well, by the way. Even an antiquarian Nikon 400 works just superbly, if in a very manual mode!

I once said I never change from Pentax (bought my first Pentax lens around 1971!). But somehow, i fell off the road, or just stumbled in the shop, like you did?!

Yep, I fell into some Nikons, quite recently. I bought a Nikon V1 for my wife as a present, a year ago, or so, with the 10, 10-30 & 30-110. But she changed her mind and opted for the OM-D instead, as she had a lot of m4/3 lenses lying idle (her E-PL1 had fallen out of favor).

The Nikon V1 is nice, really nice, as long as the light is enough, and the ISO isn't set too high. With the Nikon F-To-Nikon 1 adapter, aptly called FT1, you can use 'normal' Nikon lenses, and I bought a few, from the remains of my inheritance (RIP, mom), including the 35/1.8G, the 50/1.4G & the 85/1.8G, startlingly sharp lenses all of them, but the real clincher was the cheapish AF-S 70-300 VR, which the V1 turned into a superzoom (equivalent to a 200-800 telephoto lens on a FF Nikon). Lovely bokeh, snappy auto-focusing, never a missed shot, as long as there is a background for the lens to lock onto. So not really perfect for BIF (Bird In Flight) photography, but almost (and you can turn off the auto-focus, of course you can!).

With this array of lenses (plus a few more used, old, and/or cheap) I got interested in trying them on a APS-C camera, with anti-shake and auto-focus, so I went for the cheapest I found, the newly released D3200. Great, but like the NEX-7 (with which it shares many of the less starling points about high-resolution sensors, like lots of noise at high ISO settings, as both have more than 20MP on such a smallish sensor - roughly the same pixel density as the V1!).

When almost all our Pentax gear was on sale, only keeping my first DSLR, the K-x, the flash, and three lenses (DA40, DA55-300, and a K400/5.6, I took the plunge, again.

When Pentax definite stated, will make no FF, I bought a D600!

to be continued!

tord55 said...

The rest:

So here I am with a full format, that weighs about the same as the K-5, and it is just as water-proof. The pixel density isn't higher than my old K-x, thus low noise is built-in, and it has a color-depth no other of my cameras can equal. All my Nikon lenses, but the Series 1's, work excellently with the D600, some in DX mode, most in FX.

So this how my kit usually looks like: The V1 armed with the 30-110, or the AF-S 70-300 VR, the D3200 with the 35, and the D600 with the glorious 85, or possibly the 50, or the 24. Seldom change lenses in the field, and the D3200 often stays at home, being replaced by the NEX-5N, and the Zeiss.

The NEX-5N, with the Zeiss 1.8/24, and the D600 with the Nikon AF-S 85/1.8G, are very much like two brothers in arms, with excellent sharpness, excellent detail, and easy handling. Neither has any kind of anti-shake, so you have to plan your shots a bit. I can definitely live with that!

For action I use the AF-S 70-300 VR on either of the Nikons, depending on the circumstances, or a GoPro!

Thanks for your time,


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