I'm looking for some feedback from those that have used the Sony NEX-7, both with E-mount lenses and M-mount lenses. I've read great reviews of the -7, so when one was in the store here in Auckland I bought it. I wanted a back-up body for my M9 that could use my M-mount lenses, but also something that could replace my Canon 5Dii when traveling for longer reach. I'm about to go back to Bhutan, where I need 150-300mm reach, and thought the NEX-7 with 18-200mm lens would fit the bill. Alas, I'm not as satisfied with the -7 as I thought I would be, especially given Michael's great review and the experiences shared by others.
At first I thought it was my technique--maybe the higher megapixel count required a faster shutter speed. So, I started shooting at ISO 200 or 400 with a shutter speed of at least 2-3x the 1/effective focal length. This didn't help. I put the camera on a tripod, and the results were not much better (using the self timer release, and it was on my RRS TVC-24L and BH-40 head).
Over the past few weeks I've noticed the following:
- Using the 18-200mm, the autofocus does not get the subject in focus. It locks onto the subject and indicates it's in focus, but when I look at it on my computer monitor, the subject is not in focus. This happens at almost all apertures, even when stopping down should increase the depth of field enough.
- Given that this is a 1.5x crop frame, even at f/10 and f/16, the depth of field is razor thin--couple of inches at most (for a subject 10-15 feet away from me, using an effective focal length of about 75mm).
- Using the 18-200mm, I find that I need to zoom in through the EVF to fine tune the focus, and when zoomed in I find the autofocus was off quite a bit. But, even doing that I'm still not getting the subject in focus (when using higher shutter speeds than should be needed)
- When using M-mount glass and focus peaking, I've found that the focus peaking does not really show what's in focus. If I first use focus peaking and then zoom in, it is clear that what focus peaking indicated was in focus was really not in focus. No biggie on that, since I can adjust as needed, but this means that every shot needs to be adjusted which rules out shooting in fast changing situations.
I've searched this and other online forums and can't find others who have had this experience. So, is it me? I feel my technique is solid, but maybe it isn't. Is the camera bad and in need of adjustment? I guess it could be the lenses, but my M-mount glass is spot on on the M9, so find it hard to believe it wouldn't be so on the -7; maybe the 18-200 is misaligned?
Right now I don't feel comfortable taking this camera to Bhutan with me, and will probably take the 5Dii and 70-300L lens. I get some great shots with wonderful detail with the NEX-7, but the consistency is maybe at 20%, whereas I know the 5Dii is closer to 90-95% with regards to focus, stability and depth of field. I feel I can rely on the 5Dii, but I can not right now rely on the NEX-7.
I've attached a few images below as examples. The first one, of a Bhutanese religious weaving, was taken with the -7 and Leica 90mm APO Summicron using the built in flash; 1/60 of a second and amazing detail--that's the "I know it can work" shot. The other two are pretty much straight out of the camera and converted to JPEG in LR4. I've included the full frame and crops of about 100%; I just don't think the detail is there--at least the detail that is possible from the 5Dii.
I know the chances are it is me, not the camera, that is to blame. But, my continues tests using tripod, magnified focus, multiple lenses, etc, continues to show the same results. Any comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I really want to like and use the NEX-7.
The below images are with the 18-200mm, at f/10 and 1/500 second, ISO 400
Below images are with 18-200mm, f/10, 1/800 second, ISO 200