This is not a review of the new Sony NEX-7… well maybe just a little.
I don’t like making too much fuss about what sort of camera I use. I believe that what you use is far less important than how you use it. Knowledge can make the images from even the crummiest camera stand out. Ultimately, the best camera is the one we actually have with us. Sometimes the iPhone is the best camera, simply because it’s with me all the time. Does it perform as well as a big DSLR? Of course not! But there have been some times when it just wasn’t prudent to carry a Sherman Tank around my neck – like going out to dinner with my wife. I find that the more I travel, the less I like to carry but the more I wish I had with me. Does that make sense? In a perfect world it would be like Looney Tunes, where I could just reach my hand into unseen space and withdraw from it a Full-Frame camera bearing the best lens and any peripherals I need for that moment. Sadly, modern technology has not afforded us this convenience and so we must make some compromises.
Enter the Sony NEX-7. All of the above images I recently shot using this gem. For a fraction of the size and cost of my Full-Frame Nikon D700, this little camera makes no apologies for image quality or useability. The handling of the NEX-7 is almost perfect. Dedicated dials for aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation means you’re never digging through menus to make adjustments. It took only a few hours of use for the very mechanical interface to become blindly intuitive. My eye never leaves the viewfinder to setup my exposure or to lock focus while framing the shot. This camera is the first in a long time to really excite me with what it can do and how well it does it. I love shooting with it because it so easily gets out of the way from between me and whatever it is I’m photographing. For any of my readers who are photographers and are looking for something to replace their aging DSLR, you will definitely want to put the NEX-7 high on your list of choices. Small, relatively inexpensive, and image quality that rivals ANYTHING in production.
I’ve already acquired a short list of lenses to use with the new adapter, the LA-EA2, Sony made to allow the use of Minolta and Sony Alpha lenses. It’s not just a dumb adapter either. It converts the camera from contrast-based auto focus to lightning fast phase-detection auto focus that comes from the top-of-the-line full-size Alpha DSLR. With the short list of so-so lenses available exclusive to the new NEX series cameras, this adapter opens it up to a whole history of fine Japanese optics from Minolta. That first shot, the red interior of the Bel Air, was shot using a $65 used Minolta 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens I picked up from my local camera shop. What an incredible piece of glass, at any price! Couple good glass to the incredible 24 megapixel APS-C size sensor of the NEX-7 and you get an image that is incredibly rich with detail, color, and tonal range. This image was shot in the shade, right around sunset. The little bit of grain introduced from the higher ISO turned out beautifully analog – like film – and, I think, improved the feel of the image.
First shot – NEX-7 with LA-EA2 lens adapter and Minolta 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5
Second, Third, and Fourth shot – NEX-7 with the Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens
Fifth shot – NEX-7 with LA-EA2 lens adapter and Tamron 90mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro