The first compelling mirrorless camera…Sony NEX-7

Time for another opinion article. This time I’m looking at the viability of mirrorless cameras. In particular, one of the most interesting out there at the moment. This is an opinion article because I haven’t used the camera. I’m basing my words from reviews I’ve seen as well as the general specifications.

All camera images are stock photos from Sony’s press department.

The Sony NEX-7 isn’t your normal mirrorless camera.

It has a professional look to it, reminiscent of the Pentax K-7/K-5 series of cameras I currently use. It even uses magnesium alloy for the casing like they have. I like the look and the size (8% narrower, 31% shorter, 41% thinner).

The camera looks to have a nice control layout. You can have aperture, shutter speed, and ISO all accessible with semi-dedicated controls. This sounds like a key feature and should make photographing with the camera a breeze. I would have liked more dedicated buttons in general though. I’ll give them a +1 for the dedicated video button.

– A system that uses APS-C sized sensors. This is bigger than the majority of mirrorless cameras out at the moment. Ideal for depth of field control.
– A MIC port! I use mine a lot because I record videos for this site and it’s a great help. This has become one of my must haves in a camera I plan on using for video.
– Compact compared to DSLR cameras, but substantial enough that it looks easy to hold and use. This probably has the most ideal size for a semi-pro mirrorless camera give or take.
– The EVF is said to be top-notch (I haven’t tried it yet). EVF are about trade-offs, but they do have benefits of their own like seeing more data in the viewfinder than you would with an optical one as well as being able to use the viewfinder to record video.
– These cameras seem great for video and as I do more and more, any improvements in that area is a big positive. 1080p 60fps video recording ability. Impressive…

Problems I see:
– 1/4000th sec. shutter speed. SLRs at this price range have 1/8000th. 1/4000th maximum could be a problem outside with fast glass like that 24mm f1.8.
– No weather resistance. If they are going to charge around $1200, it should be. Although maybe I’m spoiled by Pentax in this regard.
– As of the time of this article, it isn’t available along with the 24mm and 50mm lenses.
– Estimated shots per charge at 350 (EVF) and 450 (LCD) is a negative compared to SLRs. How the LCD is more efficient I don’t know…
– Sony uses a nonstandard hotshoe apparatus, so with things like generic dumb flash triggers, you need an adapter.
– The camera appears to not have a wired cable release. An odd vacancy considering the level of camera this is.

Overall, it seems pretty compelling for a mirrorless camera. It certainly isn’t cheap, but has most of the features I would expect at that price.

I checked out a popular online store to see what a kit would cost. My ideal kit is comprised of two camera bodies and a number of prime lenses. I also added in a zoom lens for extra range when I need it.

Kit details with prices:
2x NEX-7 camera bodies: $2399.98
2x additional batteries: $105.90
24mm f1.8 lens: $999.95
50mm f1.8 lens: $299.95
16mm f2.8 lens: $249.99
55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 lens: 349.99

I could see dual wielding the two camera bodies fitted with the 24mm and 50mm lenses. That would be a pretty ideal setup and small to boot!

The total with shipping was $4415.79. That’s hardly a good deal, but it is a pretty decent setup when price isn’t considered. 16mm, 24mm, and 50mm is a good prime lens range with respectable aperture sizes, and the 55-210mm is sufficient for events where telephoto is needed. Also keep in mind that prices should go down once everything is in stock and has been out for a few months. The size differences compared to my current kit would be very appealing at conventions, but on the other hand, not having a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second could be a problem outside with f1.8. I’ll have to look into that. I do know when I tried using my old *ist D outside with the 85mm f1.4 I had problems.