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Thread: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

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    NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    I used to shoot an a850 and a bevy of lenses for everything…landscapes, street, general out-and-about, natural light portrait and studio portrait…pretty much in that order.

    A few months ago, tired of hauling it all around all the time (or, more often, *not* hauling it around) I dumped it all for a Leica M9. I couldn't be happier. For my purposes, it is the perfect camera for 70% of my photography…primarily landscapes, street, and general out-and-about.

    My only gap is portraiture, particularly studio. I do people and pets. I can do some nice people work with the M9 outdoors, but pets are out of the question for me (I'm too slow!)

    So I am trying to decide between the a77 and the NEX 7. Knowing that the a77 is very new and the NEX not even out yet, what are your thoughts on either as a portrait camera?

    Will the NEX keep up with the a77 focus-wise (think pets)? Will it be usable in a studio with strobe lighting? I like the tilt-screen…very medium format slr type experience in terms of interacting with your subject instead of having an eye pressed to the finder. I like that (and have shot that way before).

    My comfort zone would indicate the a77. Looks great and I'm used to the SLR style for this type of work. On the other hand, the NEX seems to be a new paradigm from the ground up. It seems to me to be a very "studio-ready" camera, but maybe that's on paper and I'm missing something that would limit it in this use?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks so much,
    Jeff

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    The NEX-7 uses contrast detection AF as opposed to the phase detection AF in the A77. Phase detection is faster than contrast detection, especially useful for tracking focus. The NEX-7 is mirrorless and is expected to have the edge on image quality. There is also a NEX A-mount adapter with a pellicle mirror and phase detection AF (to the tune of $399) but that kind of negates the whole "NEX camera is smaller than my SLR" vibe.
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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffnesh View Post
    I used to shoot an a850 and a bevy of lenses for everything…landscapes, street, general out-and-about, natural light portrait and studio portrait…pretty much in that order.

    A few months ago, tired of hauling it all around all the time (or, more often, *not* hauling it around) I dumped it all for a Leica M9. I couldn't be happier. For my purposes, it is the perfect camera for 70% of my photography…primarily landscapes, street, and general out-and-about.

    My only gap is portraiture, particularly studio. I do people and pets. I can do some nice people work with the M9 outdoors, but pets are out of the question for me (I'm too slow!)

    So I am trying to decide between the a77 and the NEX 7. Knowing that the a77 is very new and the NEX not even out yet, what are your thoughts on either as a portrait camera?

    Will the NEX keep up with the a77 focus-wise (think pets)? Will it be usable in a studio with strobe lighting? I like the tilt-screen…very medium format slr type experience in terms of interacting with your subject instead of having an eye pressed to the finder. I like that (and have shot that way before).

    My comfort zone would indicate the a77. Looks great and I'm used to the SLR style for this type of work. On the other hand, the NEX seems to be a new paradigm from the ground up. It seems to me to be a very "studio-ready" camera, but maybe that's on paper and I'm missing something that would limit it in this use?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks so much,
    Jeff
    Hi Jeff
    I think it depends on whether you need the best high ISO - the pellicle in the A77 is likely to mean that the NEX7 is slightly better . . . added to which you can use your Leica lenses with the NEX7.

    I'm loving the A77 at the moment (and my A900 is staying firmly around) - but the NEX7 is definitely calling from the future!

    However, the AF tracking on the A77 really is very good.

    Perhaps you need both?

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post

    Perhaps you need both?
    Both, yes, don't think I haven't thought of that! There are places I don't want to take the M9 (back and forth to work, for example).

    That's where I started really..."Gee, love the M9, looks perfect for portraits. I'll get one of those. Oh, and maybe an nex-5n for the briefcase/filming a kids school concert, etc." Then I thought, "Hey, maybe the nex-7 will cover both ends: small tote around *and* the studio."

    Sigh. Choices......

    Thanks,
    Jeff

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffnesh View Post
    Both, yes, don't think I haven't thought of that! There are places I don't want to take the M9 (back and forth to work, for example).

    That's where I started really..."Gee, love the M9, looks perfect for portraits. I'll get one of those. Oh, and maybe an nex-5n for the briefcase/filming a kids school concert, etc." Then I thought, "Hey, maybe the nex-7 will cover both ends: small tote around *and* the studio."

    Sigh. Choices......

    Thanks,
    Jeff
    you don't really mean 'Thanks' do you . . . .
    If it's any consolation I've sold off all my Pentax and Olympus kit in anticipation of the new Sony gear.

    Obviously, I don't have a NEX7, but I'm very pleased with the A77 - I think we probably need a firmware update, but the camera seems to be a delight.

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    OT, but inspired by this thread:

    If the A99 (or whatever the A900 replacement is called) is EVF-equipped AND less expensive than the A900 was (relatively) when it came out, the Big Two have some real competition.

    I have not used EVFs apart from the G series cameras, but because I use finders for framing only, pretty much, I am sure I can live with one on the new big Sony.

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    OT, but inspired by this thread:

    If the A99 (or whatever the A900 replacement is called) is EVF-equipped AND less expensive than the A900 was (relatively) when it came out, the Big Two have some real competition.

    I have not used EVFs apart from the G series cameras, but because I use finders for framing only, pretty much, I am sure I can live with one on the new big Sony.
    HI Kit - I was always dead against them (EVF's that is) but the one on the A77 is very easy to live with - after a couple of minutes you really do forget that it's an evf.

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Jone, there's another aspect (at least) too: focus peaking. If you have come from the pro video world, all EVFs are BW, all have focus peaking, and all are only a facsimile of what you are recording. None of that makes any difference to a pro shooter: you very quickly learn what the camera is capturing. With a BW viewfinder, contrast and sharpness are very easy to see, too.

    Now the focus peaking aspect is virtually identical to the focus masks used on the MF cameras that folk here rave about. I can't check this on my A850 in the studio (I really wish I could, for macro work especially) and as you know, Capture one pro and the Sonys do not talk to each other in a way that allows the focus mask to be seen before capture.

    But if the new Sony comes out with an EVF, and it's fitted with focus peaking (even if a colour version) then we simply will not need Focus Mask. If you have not used focus peaking, you are in for a pleasant surprise: in any light condition you can see perfectly what part of the picture is the sharpest, and you can literally pull focus over a subject's iris—they really are that precise.

    For me personally (and this is being appreciated daily while on-location with Jack's old GH2) I like EVFs; I like the fact that the good ones are close to 1:1 so I can keep my other eye open if I want) and I use the EVF for framing. I know what the camera is capturing. Interesting times, indeed.

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    If you plan to use it in studio only I would buy another A850 (or wait for the A99)
    You should get it for low price, the IQ is top notch as is the viewfinder, you know how to use it.
    What would be the advantage of a Nex for studio-use other than it doesnt sit as stable in the hand as a slr?
    And if you want to use Leica glass or use a small camera outside you have the M9.

    Regards, Tom

    PS: I understand wanting the Nex7 because its a new innovative product, and I also sometimes think I want one (it was the same with m4/3) but if you have the M9...when would you prefer the Nex over the Leica M9(after the Nex7 looses the "new toy factor") ?

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Kit,
    I've never used a camera with focus peaking, but have heard a number of accounts that it has been a boon to people who had all but given up on manual focus.
    My question is this; is focus peaking effective in tracking moving subjects, or is it most effective with stationary subjects?

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Hello all,

    I was only commenting on Jono's post re. EVFs; and had forgotten the OP focus (excuse the pun!) completely.

    to Tom: yes, 100%; I was talking about EVFs in the context of the rumoured A99

    to surfotog: if you are quick enough to follow focus (and if you shoot surfers, I am assuming, then you must be) then yes, it works well then too. The edge that is delineated by the peaking control is as obvious as a focus mask in C1Pro, if you are familiar with this tool, and as you change/rack focus, this edge moves through the thing being focussed.

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    Jone, there's another aspect (at least) too: focus peaking. If you have come from the pro video world, all EVFs are BW, all have focus peaking, and all are only a facsimile of what you are recording. None of that makes any difference to a pro shooter: you very quickly learn what the camera is capturing. With a BW viewfinder, contrast and sharpness are very easy to see, too.
    They great thing about being a raw shooter on NEX is that you can set the camera to any jpeg settings you wish, like B&W, and adjust contrast and sharpness settings to your liking for focus peaking.

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post

    PS: I understand wanting the Nex7 because its a new innovative product, and I also sometimes think I want one (it was the same with m4/3) but if you have the M9...when would you prefer the Nex over the Leica M9(after the Nex7 looses the "new toy factor") ?
    thanks for all the input...I don't think I'd ever prefer the nex over the M9, but it would offer video and something to toss in a bag when I don't want the M9 banging around...the A77 gets me what I need (studio, focus speed, video), just thought I'd float the idea of the nex instead. So far, it feels like the a77 will be the choice!

    Thanks again,
    Jeff

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    IMHO A77 with Zeiss 85mm lens. If you were to go back to a full frame the Zeiss 135 would tempt me.
    My only current commercial work is portraits, press won't/can't pay any more and fro that I'm using a K5 with a 50-135 f2.8. Presume there is a Sony/Minolta equivalent. I find 16mp more than enough for portraits, that involves retouching, so more would require more, well that's how I see it.
    If I were to go back into the studio for portraits I would be tempted by an old full frame Sony with the above mentioned Zeiss lenses. Luckily I'm sliding into retirement, and the world, as we know it, ends about the same time according to some visionaries; just my luck.
    I've attached an example of what I mean about mp retouching and this was from a Nikon 12mp camera and a youthfulish model
    I know the final one is over the top but it's just a set I use to show retouching levels
    David

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    PS: I understand wanting the Nex7 because its a new innovative product, and I also sometimes think I want one (it was the same with m4/3) but if you have the M9...when would you prefer the Nex over the Leica M9(after the Nex7 looses the "new toy factor") ?
    HI Tom
    for me, it's mostly when I want to use a zoom but I don't want to carry around an SLR. Simple as that. I can also imagine having some fun with the noctilux and the helicoid adaptor for close ups.
    But for portrait / studio use I do agree, not really the answer.

    all the best

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    Jeff, you have clearly outlined your needs, but haven't expanded on how you shoot in the studio.

    Do you use strobes, or some other form of lighting ... or do you have a natural light studio set-up?

    Like you, I shoot doggies, squirmy kids, portraits, as well as a range of other stuff like body builders, pregnant ladies, model comps, and a host of commercial product and people photography. Most are done with strobes, some with continuous light, and a few using natural light from a large picture window in my studio area.

    Like you, I have a range of gear that is used for the appropriate applications including: A M9, a NEX5 with the standard lenses, M adapter and the A adapter for the ZA/SAM lenses ... which I tend to use as a back-up for both the A900 and M9 for event work, and only occasionally as a primary camera like fairly frequent casual travel, and social outings where its size is the determining factor.

    While the NEX7 looks to be a quantum improvement over the NEX5 (real viewfinder, improved EVF, standard Sony flash shoe so radio triggers can be used, and the increase in resolution) I would offer a caution regarding its suitability for any studio application other than as a dire circumstance back-up. IMO, even with the projected improvements, the NEX would be the last tool I'd reach for in the studio, not the first. Setting aside that my tool-box includes some state of the art MFD gear, I would reach for a A900/850 before the M or NEX type solutions for the work I do.

    Just because these new cameras offer a fresh technological paradigm doesn't mean they suddenly become a super cam able to leap tall buildings faster than a speeding bullet

    I'd say be cautious about things like focus peaking, which I think is being over-sold here. Best to try it out before committing ... especially if you think the M9 is too slow. I also seriously doubt that the NEX7 will focus the ZA or Sony SAM AF lenses anywhere near as fast and accurately as an A900/850 will. In addition, I'm not a fan of cropped frame anything for studio work, but that's a separate discussion.

    Personally, I am waiting until after the A99 is launched, to see if it is worth the effort, time and expense other than new toys that may or may not add to the work I do.

    In a vast majority of situations like being discussed here, a photographer's studio work would more exponentially benefit from improved lighting tools and techniques over yet another camera solution.

    My 2¢,

    -Marc

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    Re: NEX 7 or A77 for portrait/studio use?

    I always found small format SLR's to be poor studio cameras,...but, since this is being discussed; what exactly are the advantages of A77 over a simpler, smaller, lighter, cheaper, quieter camera with the same sensor that does not have a light bleeding, image smearing pellicle in the way and is not bound by one set of lenses?......

    .........The A77 could be just the thing for a nature/sports/aviation photog but the 12fps wont really matter for most studio/general photography.

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