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Thread: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

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    Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    I've been photographing for a few years with a NEX-5 and a NEX-C3. My primary interest is industrial archeology and that's fairly challenging in several respects (including physical, after 60) mainly because of the extreme dynamic range, very low light, and tonal range. Normal configuration is (tripod, of course) NEX-5+Contax Zeiss 50/1.4 and NEX-C3 + CV Heliar 15. I occasionally use other lenses including a Contax Zeiss 80-200, a Nikkor 135/2.8. I even used a Canon 500/8 Reflex (some places are huge).

    Now for the question: I had very high expectations on Sony A7. However I have been using it for a while and I am a bit underwhelmed. I do not see a dramatic change from the NEX: sure 24Mpix are handy, but I managed to print fairly good 60x90s from the C3, and noise might be lower. But I do not see a dramatically better rendering (do I dare say, sometimes the opposite)?

    Time to change glasses, or someone else has the same feeling?

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Perhaps the FF A7 is challenging your legacy lenses more than a lower res APSc cropped sensor does?

    Sometimes certain combinations of sensor and lenses meet expectations more than others.

    FF renders DOF differently (less) at any given f/stop and distance, and APSc often uses the sweet-spot of an optic.

    Also, I've found that sensors that deliver more dynamic range can also produce a flatter looking rendering out-of-camera requiring more attention to contrast in post. I didn't like the Nikon D3X for this reason, and still prefer the punchier contrast and color rendering from a Leica M9 to that of the newer M240, even though the latter is an improved camera by most other measures.

    So called advancements aren't always going to be everyone's liking. These days, I've become a bit leery to move from something that is working for me to something newer just because the specs and web gurus say it is better.

    - Marc

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    I do not think that my lenses are challenged by the sensor, though I agree that the combination lens/sensor might be more or less pleasant: it's more a matter of color and transitions than of resolution.
    You have a good point in suggesting more attention in post. In addition to flatness, I have noticed that the A7 can take -2 stops and more without blinking, so it is perhaps a matter to find the right approach. Damn, the NEXes required very little post.

    Thank you for your suggestions.

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    This seems odd to me. A7 files seem obviously superior to me compared to those of the Nex 7. I would not say any better color or sharpness, but they seem to have more depth and richness. I returned my A7 because I wasn't taken with the handling, but the much better files were my main reservation when doing so. But I shoot mainly B&W, so maybe the difference is more apparent in that treatment.

    John

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    never tried the A7, but used the a99 a lot (comparable sensor). recognize what you see. It is not that the nex-7 is better, but the ff is not any better, at least not in the final print. sold my a99 and are having fun with my nex-7 again. thought for a while indeed there was more richness in the ff files, but in direct comparison of the print I do not see it.

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Yes, that's my feeling: a small step forward, if any.

    However, I also have the nagging feeling that I am not doing things right and perhaps my post should be better. For instance, Phillip seems to work magic out of his shots.

    And, of course, I might be less used to the A7 than I am to NEX, I am using a Nikon zoom rather than the CV 15, etc.

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by f64 View Post
    Now for the question: I had very high expectations on Sony A7. However I have been using it for a while and I am a bit underwhelmed. I do not see a dramatic change from the NEX: sure 24Mpix are handy, but I managed to print fairly good 60x90s from the C3, and noise might be lower. But I do not see a dramatically better rendering (do I dare say, sometimes the opposite)?
    The problem is not with the camera, it is with your expectations. Of course you will not see dramatically better results between camera A and camera B when the results you get with camera A and your workflow are already very good. The advantage of the larger sensor are to be found somewhere else: it may still give good results in situations where the small one reaches its limits and it may increase your creative choices (e.g. depth of field, wide angles...).

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Well, I think the problem is with the camera.

    If you use the A7R in crop mode you get 16Mpix, which is exactly the number of pixels of a NEX-5R. This means that the pixel density is roughly the same. Since, FF is considered better than APS-C because of larger photosites, it can't be in this case.
    In fact, I remember reading a lot of comments on the A7R on minimum handheld speed, and camera shake that apply quite well to the NEX (I thought I was getting older, but it was the camera getting newer).

    For the A7, it is a bit different, since the pixel density is lower (and a lower pixel density, plus no problems with wide-angles, is the reason why I bought the NEXC3 instead of the NEX7).

    That said, I seem to start to get the knack on the A7 and to like it better.

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Every new digital dslr I ever got surrendered better and sharper images. However, the only time I was overwhelmed by the improvement was when I went from a 8mp APSc body to a 12mp FF body.
    If you don't see a significant improvement from a APSc 16mp to a FF with 24mp, I'd dare to say something's wrong.
    Best
    Eduardo

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    f64, you and maybe a lot of people might agree with Michael Reichmann:

    "since digital cameras became the mainstream, the industry focused on increasing pixel count, increasing sensor size, improving dynamic range, and improving high ISO image quality. I would maintain though that in the past few years each of these parameters has reached and even topped reasonable expectations. The curve has become very flat."

    What Matters

    Many such as I do not agree. I'll take the huge gains in image quality of the past two years with both hands - a lot of my images could not have been made with previous gen cameras, to the point I need to revisit several locations. Maybe my expectations are unreasonable however ;-) DxO chart of the cameras you mention - see the measured data:

    Sony A7 versus Sony NEX-5N versus Sony NEX-C3 - Side by side camera comparison - DxOMark

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    I never used NEX cameras before, but the first Sony camera i am using is A7R, i bought it without putting that big expectation to it against say my most Canon DSLRs, so i can't talk about NEX cameras, but i know that it will not be that big or dramatically improvements over many Canon/Nikon DSLRs out there anyway, so i should keep using it to do my work as usual without thinking about how much improvement in image quality i must see.

    For many more mp could an improvement, and for some others better high ISO could be a big improvement, even AF, DR, video,.....etc, so if you use a new camera try to take the strongest point out of it and pass the weakest point that may make you to go back to your older models of cameras, sometimes a new 16mp camera is better than an old 20-24mp camera in some aspects, so don't always think about strong points of your old cameras and forgetting the strongest points of the new cameras themselves.
    Tareq

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by philip_pj View Post
    f64, you and maybe a lot of people might agree with Michael Reichmann:

    "since digital cameras became the mainstream, the industry focused on increasing pixel count, increasing sensor size, improving dynamic range, and improving high ISO image quality. I would maintain though that in the past few years each of these parameters has reached and even topped reasonable expectations. The curve has become very flat."

    What Matters

    Many such as I do not agree. I'll take the huge gains in image quality of the past two years with both hands - a lot of my images could not have been made with previous gen cameras, to the point I need to revisit several locations. Maybe my expectations are unreasonable however ;-) DxO chart of the cameras you mention - see the measured data:

    Sony A7 versus Sony NEX-5N versus Sony NEX-C3 - Side by side camera comparison - DxOMark
    I don't often agree with MR, but in this case I think he has many good points.

    I think "fatigue" is an excellent choice of a descriptor for the whole photographic industry and far too many photo enthusiasts.

    Have we become preoccupied with jumping from one technological lily pad to the next? At the hint of some minuscule improvement as measured in some sterile lab, there is a beating of drums and blowing of trumpets like the coronation of some medieval king. It all has become so mentally and financially exhausting.

    It seems that the actual details of the "next thing to arrive" are debated and masturbated until its' replacement arrives, and it starts all over again. The only real difference now days is the usurper's arrival time has grown ever shorter. We barely have something in hand before everyone is clamoring for its' replacement … I read a recent post that wished for the Sony FE24-70/4-II … Maybe what we should be clamoring for is to get something right in the first place?

    What is really telling is how there is a rush to post the first pics from the latest gadget so we can be a mini folk hero or something … which are often the same god dammed subject or place shot with the previous "latest greatest". Not an iota of fresh creativity, or insight, or anything to indicate some advancement other than some tiny techno-nerd observation about IQ. Hell, the previous one's looked just as good or bad depending on the image itself.

    I think MR is right when he says that these camera companies better wake up and start making simpler tools, to which I would add, do so with the emphasis on creativity and fulfilling some sense of insight and innovative application of their tools rather than yet another semi-useless feature that'll get used .05% of the time if at all.

    If we just look at the "photography" ads being produced by Apple and now some of the other phone companies. It is about creative interaction with the world about you. The ideas and usage scenarios depicted are simply terrific. They are murdering the camera companies at a game the camera companies should excel at. Instead we get … WaHoo! 5 more megapixels, .025 more DR … who gives a shyt. Only the tecno nerds, so we have something to debate on the internet.

    IMHO.

    - Marc

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Marc,
    The Leica T does some of what you argue for in your last two paragraphs.

    Dave
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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by dchew View Post
    Marc,
    The Leica T does some of what you argue for in your last two paragraphs.

    Dave
    Does it Dave? Really?

    Not sure how some tech polishing a block of aluminum for hours helps me with my photography. It may look good, but sounds sweaty slippery or finger numbing cold to me. I guess it is better to look good than to feel good.

    Apparently their interface is more logical and easier to use than that of Sony for example, yet there is always some quirk that amounts to two steps forward one step back. However, I applaud them for the "Less is More" direction.

    Then we have yet ANOTHER proprietary lens mount, and it isn't M. 3X and 6X magnification with adapted M lenses will be tricky, especially without focus peaking.

    Leica just doesn't seem to grasp that their reputation and customer base is with the M, and new customers entering the enthusiasts market may not take to Rangefinder cameras … the M-240's tack-ons are substandard to cameras 1/3 the price and this customer base knows that.

    Not sure "less is more" extends to a "me too" 16 meg APSc sensor … less in this case, is just less. Granted, they probably don't want this camera nipping at the heals of their M(240)

    Unfortunately, the word innovative has become a commodity term. Over-used and stripped of its descriptive power.

    $5,600 for the T, kit lens and EVF places this in the category IMO.

    Not singling out the T, just using it as an example of what MR was talking about, and I expanded on a bit.

    - Marc
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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by f64 View Post
    However, I also have the nagging feeling that I am not doing things right and perhaps my post should be better. For instance, Phillip seems to work magic out of his shots.
    I think there is your answer. Cameras and technology get you so far. I often work with college students and they seem to be amazed I what I get out of their files compared to them. The largest influence to any photograph is the photographer. Perhaps you could take a workshop or, better, sit down with a really experienced photographer and play with some images. I can tell folks to do x, y, and z, but people cannot visualize it. But when you sit down with a student and you take one of their images and then work it, you can see the light go on. The students still need to learn, but they start to understand where they can go.

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Does it Dave? Really?
    ...
    Leica just doesn't seem to grasp that their reputation and customer base is with the M, and new customers entering the enthusiasts market may not take to Rangefinder cameras …
    Have to disagree with you, Marc. I think the M240 "tack ons" as you call them and the T are exactly the indication that Leica knows that new customers entering the enthusiasts market and wanting their lenses, their imaging qualities might not be so happy with "just the old M" model in a camera.

    The obsessive body finishing stuff on the T is a bit of over-hype to me, but damn it's gotten them advertising cred with a viral video and every other fracking enthusiast list rationalizing why their favorite camera is just as good despite NOT having a 45 minute polish and finish video to ballyhoo.

    Three folks I know ran to buy an M240 as soon as it was available Specifically because it did video. I don't think they're insane, they wanted the optical finder, the large format in a small form factor, etc. They've made good money on their video work ...

    I see nothing wrong with basing the T on a well-proven, excellent sensor rather than risking the imaging qualities at the same time as innovating on the user experience. And providing a new lens mount for a new, forward looking line of lenses that support automation AND the possibility of a full frame model in the future, a daring ultra-simplified control experience ... exactly what Leica's future customers will want. Us graybeards are the old rank and file who have loved the M, we're not the future customer base.

    Change is inevitable, time marches on relentlessly. Getting there, being ready for it, changing in tune to it ... That's what the S, the M240, and the T say to me. Leica will die, surely and definitively, if they do not innovate in ways that other camera manufacturers do not. They provide the model for all the others to aspire to.

    The prices ... eh? As I've said before, they are high but no one's forcing me to spend the money. I choose to spend the money, when I do, because I feel the thing I'm buying is worth the premium.

    Every time I pick up the Sony A7 with any of my lovely Leica R lenses, I marvel at how wonderful the old lenses do on its lovely sensor and what a clunky, awkward body design the A7 is. I endure the body to enjoy what I can make with the lenses. I tried a NEX 6 briefly ... awkward, clumsy, etc, body design were the biggest obstacles to my plunking down the cash.

    Somehow, I think the T will not be awkward and clunky. Somehow, I think the Leica lenses for the T will make that sensor sing beyond its "two-three year old" antiquity. ;-)

    As to the original question: NEX vs A7 ... as I said, I tried a NEX 6 briefly and just couldn't bring myself to buy it. From a raw file/sensor point of view, tho, up to ISO 6400 I really don't see that much difference between the A7 and the Olympus E-M1, and the E-M1 body is way more sophisticated, complete, etc. What the A7 offers, for me, is a way to use my R and Nikkor SLR lenses on the format that they were designed for. The same lenses on the E-M1 work well also, but you lose the magic of all that tuning for the format that Leica does, that Nikon does. The key, in the end, is the nuance of the lenses used as they were designed to be with respect to DoF and FoV, and the sensor is good enough to serve them. That's all I expected, and the A7 provides it.

    G

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Sorry I am late in chiming in, after having thrown the stone in the pond. I spent the last few days dealing with my Netgear NAS turned into a brick by a Kernel panic error. It held quite a few non-backupped photos etc. Luckily it was just a failed disk and I still wonder why a NAS should panic for that. Anyway, I should have known better than being lazy with backups and relying on technology too much. If you are doing the same thing, beware!

    Although I have come to like my A7 much more, I very much agree with Michael Reichmann: we are probably there (but I also agree with philip_pj, we weren't there a few years ago).

    I also completely agree with MR on the interface. I teach Human-Computer Interaction and I find camera interfaces clumsy at best. In addition, I am getting more and more upset by designers (of cameras but of computers as well, anybody likes Windows 8?) changing the interface in a revolutionary way for no other apparent reason than change for change's sake (and usually making the whole thing worse). Progressing from the NEX to the A7, I was annoyed by a lot of things I must do differently in the two cameras for no apparent reason: magnifying and reviewing come to mind. Ok, I can customize, but why should I?

    Can I stretch MR's point a bit? Progress has already killed reflexes, and I believe it is going to kill Full Frames quickly. The only reason I see to lug around heavy and bulky equipment is IQ: but if I can get it in a smaller APS-C package I'll be much happier. Even happier with a micro 4/3: have you seen the movie on Saul Leiter (The Online Photographer: Saul Leiter 1923-2013) showing him shooting beautiful photos with a Lumix? (though I admit that I continue to dream of view cameras, hence my nick).

    The only problem is that I, like many, hate the look of modern lenses, so I am stuck with APS-C at the minimum, at least for wide. But the size/weight convenience of the NEX weighted against a somewhat better IQ of the A7 still leaves me undecided.

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by f64 View Post
    ...
    The only problem is that I, like many, hate the look of modern lenses, so I am stuck with APS-C at the minimum, at least for wide. But the size/weight convenience of the NEX weighted against a somewhat better IQ of the A7 still leaves me undecided.
    Hmm. The look of modern lenses ... There is certainly something in the Leica Fairy Dust used on the older R and M lenses, they're sweet and just how is hard to define. Modern lenses have responded to the desire for sharpness όber alles, contrast up up up, technical accuracy, etc. BUT overall the look the lens offers is the baseline and starting point for your photographs, the rest is in how you use the lenses and render the images they make.

    I love how these older Leica R lenses image, but that said my modern Olympus FT and Olympus/Panasonic-Leica mFT lenses have their own superb imaging character as well. What I do with the images they make is where the magic happens, to my eye.

    G

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Me, I want bigger and I want smaller.
    I own a Nex 6 with a 16-50 kit lens. Maybe I was lucky getting a good copy. It is all I need now for leisure photography. For Super B prints is more than enough. Rare prints I should say because now it is about sharing on the internet 95% of the time. The Nex interface is kind of weird but once one get used to it and accept certain (not many) limitations of a small body, the camera becomes lovable.
    Now, I want to go even smaller. The rumored/expected new iteration of the RX100 seems to be really interesting. Quite possibly, that camera will be my next leisure rig. The Nex could be converted to IR.
    On the other hand, I can't help it but deep sigh about medium format sensors. The insane prices have stopped me but now with the inexpensive Pentax 645Z out and that prices of DMFB's started (already) to drop, I may be in sometime this year or the next one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by f64 View Post
    Sorry I am late in chiming in, after having thrown the stone in the pond. I spent the last few days dealing with my Netgear NAS turned into a brick by a Kernel panic error. It held quite a few non-backupped photos etc. Luckily it was just a failed disk and I still wonder why a NAS should panic for that. Anyway, I should have known better than being lazy with backups and relying on technology too much. If you are doing the same thing, beware!

    Although I have come to like my A7 much more, I very much agree with Michael Reichmann: we are probably there (but I also agree with philip_pj, we weren't there a few years ago).

    I also completely agree with MR on the interface. I teach Human-Computer Interaction and I find camera interfaces clumsy at best. In addition, I am getting more and more upset by designers (of cameras but of computers as well, anybody likes Windows 8?) changing the interface in a revolutionary way for no other apparent reason than change for change's sake (and usually making the whole thing worse). Progressing from the NEX to the A7, I was annoyed by a lot of things I must do differently in the two cameras for no apparent reason: magnifying and reviewing come to mind. Ok, I can customize, but why should I?

    Can I stretch MR's point a bit? Progress has already killed reflexes, and I believe it is going to kill Full Frames quickly. The only reason I see to lug around heavy and bulky equipment is IQ: but if I can get it in a smaller APS-C package I'll be much happier. Even happier with a micro 4/3: have you seen the movie on Saul Leiter (The Online Photographer: Saul Leiter 1923-2013) showing him shooting beautiful photos with a Lumix? (though I admit that I continue to dream of view cameras, hence my nick).

    The only problem is that I, like many, hate the look of modern lenses, so I am stuck with APS-C at the minimum, at least for wide. But the size/weight convenience of the NEX weighted against a somewhat better IQ of the A7 still leaves me undecided.

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    Re: Sony NEX vs A7 - Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I read a recent post that wished for the Sony FE24-70/4-II … Maybe what we should be clamoring for is to get something right in the first place?
    - Marc
    I posted that, in jest. I guess you didn't catch the implied sarcasm. I am not one who has spent a lot of time over the years testing lenses, but I am very disappointed with this lens. I am sure there will be a next generation of this lens at some point, if Sony stays the course with the FE cameras. Too bad it has to wait. As for clamoring to get something right in the first place, you don't know whether they got it "right" until they release it, and at that point it's too late. The best you can do is complain loudly about what they did do with the 24-70 and hope that they do a much better job with design and quality control on other lenses coming down the pike. I for one would gladly have paid a premium for for a better version of the 24-70.
    I am not sure what MR's or your point is when it comes to the Sony A7R. For me and many, many others, the attraction is not the IQ of the A7R in and of itself. There are many other cameras that would equal or surpass it. I have one with 80MP. However, I can fit the Sony in the palm of my hand and carry the body and a few lenses to places where that 80mp kit just ain't going. That's not a matter of foccusing on minute differences in image quality.

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