[S]ony broke into the mirrorless market with their NEX line of cameras featuring small slab of a body and relatively large lens. One year later they introduced the NEX7, a pro grade mirrorless camera that had photographers drooling. Here's how it fares with M mount in the streets.
Sony NEX 7
In 2011 photographers were salivating over the NEX7 with it's small body, integrated evf (it was before the OMD and Xpro) and of course 24 megapixels in an APSC sensor. Heck the guy I got my GXR from was a dude that had GAS over the NEX7. I must say that the EVF and 24 megapixels were very attractive at that time but I never quite understood the NEX form factor.
All the cameras are good enough, but 24 megapixels do get the attention of photographers, it's half the resolution of some medium format cameras (of course the sensors cannot compare but it is still impressive). While I believe that 24 megapixels is in the overkill area, it is a lot of cropping power at hand that is always useful. On smaller megapixel cameras, you kind of break a sweat knowing you are throwing out precious pixels, but with the NEX7 you won't feel guilty throwing out half the frame and still obtain nice prints. While I have not experienced this myself, users report that the NEX7 gives magenta casts on wide angle Voigtlanders (12mm-15mm). Here's two full size jpgs:
The NEX7 is basically a little slab with a nice grip on the right, with a viewfinder on the left and double dials on the right. They really did good with the grip, nice and big, you won't drop it in the streets. The double dials are easily accessible and can change shutter speed and other settings that you choose. There is one empty button near the shutter release that you can customize. Besides this the NEX7 is very screen oriented, there is no mode change dial, if you want to change anything it will have to be through the screen.
The big news about NEX7 was an integrated viewfinder in such a small body. Not quite a big deal a year later after the release but it IS nice to have it in such a small body. The original PENs and NEXs have optional viewfinders that are almost $200 extras. The viewfinder is non issue because the camera has focus peaking, so you don't need to force your eyes to see if something is in focus.
Focus peaking is the magic word there, so even if the viewfinder was crappy, you could get things in focus. But the real treat is the screen, it is a flipper, so just like the OMD you can put it in “Twin lens mode” where you can hold the NEX7 at waist level and focus. Unlike the OM-D it has focus peaking so focusing is way easier at waist level. Unlike the GXR you can customize the focus peaking by making it larger and of another color, very useful if you are in monochrome mode. There is magnification but it is not my cup of tea. Focusing is extremely easy, I nailed 1.4 on a man's hair while both of us were walking without any problems, something that would be hard with simply EVF focusing. Just like the GXR you can put any kind of lens in there and know that you can nail the focus easily.
This camera puts the E in Easy in street shooting situations, it just has all the good points of the other cameras. The higher fps and buffer of the Olympus OM-D, the focus peaking of the GXR, the flipping screen of the OM-D. Shooting with the NEX7 is like shooting without restraints, simple focus peaking and high fps with large buffer. There is not much to say about the NEX7 with M glass because it is a very straightforward process, almost too easy. I must say that it rates number 1 as the best camera for street shooting with M mount, it just has everything going for it.
Sample RAW files
Taken with nex7
I was waiting for the train to come and I saw this figure as it was stopping by. I liked the composition with the doors closed so I took it before they opened. I am happy I had zone focusing because I simply made sure his head was highlighted and snapped a couple of frames. If I had the xpro or omd and trying to focus using the viewfinder I would have most likely missed.
The photo of these little girls would be very hard with cameras with simple EVF, you would have NO clue what is in focus like the reflections, the glass or the girls.
Strengths / Weaknesses
+ Great handling
+ Focus peaking
+ Hight FPS
+ Great buffer
+ 24 Megapixels
+ Tilt LCD
+ Easy to use
– No mode changing dial
– Form factor (very subjective)
– Too easy (where's the fun in that? 🙂 )
The form factor is not for everybody but the NEX7 is the best camera with M mount for the street, bar none. It is easy to use and is not limiting in any way.
[Where to get it]
Here from Amazon