Episode 139 :: Mirrorless Cameras (Sony NEX 7)








Show Notes

Mirror-less Cameras

In this video, we’ll take a look at the new breed of mirror-less cameras that are being introduced to the market. Basically mirror-less cameras are designed to direct the image from the sensor straight to an electronic viewfinder, effectively bypassing the traditional mirror reflex system found in traditional SLR and DSLR cameras.

By doing away with the traditional design, these cameras can be made much smaller and combine some of the best features of DSLR cameras and point-and-shoot. The size and ergonomics are unbelievably good. The low light performance and resolution are on par with most modern DSLR’s. You also have the option of interchangeable lenses. And because the sensor is so close to the lens flange, if you can find an adaptor you can use almost any lens you want on these things. Old C-mount television studio lenses? Obsolete Canon FD manual focus lenses? No problem! Get a $30 adaptor for the lens you want to use and you’re in business!

The camera we’re looking at in this video is the Sony NEX 7. If you’d like, you can see my full Sony NEX 7 review.

I have to admit – until a few weeks ago I really had no interest in a mirror-less camera. I own many cameras which work just fine and I wasn’t interested in a new system. However I recently found myself looking at the Sony line. I use Sony cameras for my video projects and I fancied the NEX series for their size and reportedly excellent performance in low light. I bought the Sony NEX 7 for video projects, mainly for run and gun footage where a small camera would be optimal.

I am extremely impressed with the video quality and performance of this camera. Its phenomenal. I really am blown away. Its such a “James Bond” type of camera in its size and portability and I’ve never seen performance like this in such a small package.

Equally impressive is the quality of still photos. This I wasn’t really even interested in, but I have to say – this is a serious camera.

So is this good enough to replace a DSLR? Well, almost. The biggest caveat for me is the electronic viewfinder. Its weird and unnatural. Its not driven by the same video feed that the memory card is recording to so the view in low light is grainy and awful. However if you can get used to this its still very usable.

I’ve also noticed its not a fast action camera. There are a ton of imaging options that I discuss in the video. While these all add to the versatility to the camera, they slow down the user experience. This could be that I’m just not used to shooting like this camera wants me to. I do have to say that its not very intuitive.

The image and video quality are on par with just about any DSLR on the market. I think the price point is incredible for the image quality this thing is capable of and this is what it makes it so attractive for any photographer to own one.

Bottom Line

Is this going to replace your DSLR? Probably not just yet.

Is the Sony NEX 7 worth owning? At the price point its a no-brainer. Definitely.

Sony NEX 7

See also:

Olympus PEN E-P5
Nikon D7100

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4 thoughts on “Episode 139 :: Mirrorless Cameras (Sony NEX 7)

  1. It would be cool to see a comparison between the NEX 7 vs the new Fujifilm EX-1, which uses the same sensor, but I believe has much
    better lenses and a much nicer user interface. It feels like a real camera and not like a plastic computer. Just my take, of course, they are both just tools and a good photographer can make money with a iPhone.

  2. Hi,
    Loved this show it was really interesting to hear your thoughts, I have been using the NEX7 for over a year now its a great carry around camera, I think that this class of camera will develop dramatically over the next few years and really start to rival DSLR’s.
    I was interested to hear your brief thoughts on the kit 18-55 lens. I have several lenses including the new wide angle but my fav the 35mm f1.8 Zeiss which is just awesome. I also have adaptor rings to use my ND & 10 stop filters with the camera.
    Also of interest maybe to you is I have a Holga lens for the camera (Holgadirect.com) and somewhat frustratingly these are my most viewed photos on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/milo42/sets/72157626474406633/

    As you say I’m not giving up my D800 just yet & when I travel and fly I only take the NEX its so much more convenient, I really believe that the D800 will be the last DSLR I purchase.

    Keep up the great work on the podcast as somebody who does not have an artisic background, I can do the technical stuff its the arty stuff I find hard and for this I find your show very inspirational, thank you.

  3. I have been using an Olympus OMD since they first came out. I would not go back to a full size camera if you paid me. The prime lenses are great 12, 17 and 45 (equiv to 24, 34 and 90) all with f1.8 or f2. Good quality prints at a3+ on my Epson 2880. Makes you realise what a horrible compromise SLRs are and how the mirror box has hurt lens design.

  4. Thanks Ted for another great show.

    As I mentioned in my past email I have been a nex 7 user for over a year now.
    At first I got very frustrated by the menu system. I came across a web site with a very clear explanation on how to configure the nex 7 so its more like a camera so you don’t need to keep diving into the menus.

    At the risk of telling you what they already know.
    goto
    http://mikehendren.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/9/setting-up-the-nex-7

    Mike