How do you walk away from the best mirrorless compromise out there ??

Answer : you don’t.

Yeah, I scorched my brains over this for weeks to come up with this very, very simple truth. MarlaAug13-76I mean, how painfully simple is that ?

Problem : I’ve been shooting with various NEX bodies and even way more various lenses (native and adapted) for a full year now. That’s a lot of time in my digital book. It means something around 12.000 to 15.000, as I average 1K shots/month, more on vacation or trips, events, etc… I love, love the NEX cameras but most lenses are poor and the AF performance is lacking globally. My three must-haves for a mirrorless camera are tilt LCD screen (*not* swivelling, tilting, it’s a nuance but crucial for what I do), built-in EVF, and APS-C sized sensor (or bigger).

MarlaAug13-77Possible solutions : switch to Fuji. Similar IQ, maybe even better low light performance. Similar to slightly worse AF. Much better and more affordable lenses. BUT. There’s no Fuji body with built-in EVF *and* tilting screen, it’s “either or”, not “both”. Plus (I know, I’m weird) I actually like the NEX controls and UI better (it’s a habit thing, and down to the nitty gritty I think Fuji’s “retro” UI with physical rings and knobs for aperture, ISO and shutter is more marketing than truly functionnal, and I’m saying that based on experience with both).

MarlaAug13-80Switch to m4/3. Yup, I’ve though about that long and hard. I’ve happily shot my Panny GX-1 and good lenses for months last year and they had a lot going for them… But the sensor size and assorted x2 crop for my manual lenses is a no no. Though I admit that the newly released GX-7 gives me goosebumps. m4/3 has a lot of very capable and smallish lenses, with a well oiled used market that makes it easy to shop at decent prices. But the smaller sensor is killing me. Back to the drawing board.

MarlaAug13-83Switch to Samsung NX. Ah ah, now that’s funny. Lenses ? Check. Tilt screen ? Check. APS-C ? Check. But no EVF, and truly Quality Control sucks and the whole system just is lacking the panache of either Fuji X or NEX. Probably nice cameras, but about as exciting as watching nails grow… Plus the one NX200 unit I tried was pathetically bad. Most likely a dud, but doesn’t make me yearn for more anyway.

MarlaAug13-78So I thought, I thought, I turned my brain over until it was almost on fire over this damn issue. Sony is rumored to release yet another half baked iteration of the NEX 5 series in two days, and announce an overpriced 16-70 Zeiss zoom soon after (not even sure that’ll go 2.8 all the way, mostly likely 2.8 to 4). For 1000$, when the fantastic Fuji 18-55/2.8-4 sells for about 650.

MarlaAug13-79Truly, what’s a girl’s supposed to do ?!

Sure, I could take my hard earned cash and buy a (brand new, mind you) Fuji XE-1 with 18-55/2.8-4 attached for only a few € over 1000K. That would be a pretty good buy, too ! I’d “only” lose the tilt screen, all other things being about equal to the NEX 7. Except… Slightly worse AF performance (or on par, but not better anyway), different UI that I don’t like as much, cheaper feeling body (a mere fact) slightly lesser EVF (another fact), and much less refined and useful Peaking feature (critical for me since I shoot manual lenses a LOT). Hmm… doesn’t look that smart after all, does it ?

MarlaAUg13-84Or ? Or I just keep doing what I’ve been doing this past year. Re-buy a 7 to keep company to my (wonderful) little 3N, use the acceptable (barely) 18-55 when convenience is needed, SEL35 when AF is vital, and my well stocked stable of manual beauties whenever else. I just sit on my annoyances and frustration at seeing all other makers making progress and releasing new, updated products, and keep enjoying the unique and brilliant TriNavi UI of the NEX 7, and getting the gorgeous IQ, amazing DR etc I’ve come to love the NEX cameras for.

MarlaAug13-81And I guess that means I don’t spend another dime, either (other than finding another used 7 in good shape for cheap)

MarlaAug13_82ColtAug13-11MarlaAug13_85I think I’m starting to like the idea πŸ˜‰

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About marla2008

Shutterbug. Shallow DOF nut. Mother of Child. Student of the Horse.
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12 Responses to How do you walk away from the best mirrorless compromise out there ??

  1. James (Aus.) says:

    It took me some time to appreciate the N7. Now I think it unsurpassed in the important range of features, not least IQ. Of course lenses matter but with cheap adapters the choice seems unlimited and MF is made very easy.

    I suspect some users still don’t know the shortcuts; for example, even when the two top wheels are locked changing ISO is as simple as pressing the RHS of the back dial. And (after one year) I have yet to inadvertently press the video button.

    Just about to give mine a gallop in Europe and the Outer Hebrides; CV 28/1.9, Elmar 90/4, plus the 16 and several Nikkors should be enough. Together with a vintage Rotu flimsy tripod which telescopes back to nothing..

    Best wishes.

    • marla2008 says:

      I personally disable the video button because I hit it by accident a lot. And I never lock the top wheels, but yes you have a point, it’s a fantastic camera for customizing your controls and settings. Sure, a user custom menu would be very welcome, as would be a bunch of savable setting combinations (as many other makers do), but hey, that just doesn’t happen with Sony…

  2. laurent says:

    I am always quite impressed how you manage to switch from one camera system to the other. It took me at least 6 months before to get familiar with my canon, and, last month, took me about 2 days to get used again to my old Pana fz 28 which I had used daily for 4 years. And I am only using the aperture mode, so full manual should be even more difficult.

    Maybe it is just me being slow…..

    Keep bringing your awesome pictures, I am learning a lot from them…

    Fall color season is only 4 weeks away….maybe you should convince your hubby to come in the Midwest, since he is now allergic to Vermont! The upper peninsula of Michigan is just magnificent!

  3. marla2008 says:

    Laurent you are EVIL !! I’d steal, cheat or even kill right now to be allowed to make a trip to the US, yet it looks like it won’t happen this year, I am soooooo bummed 😦
    Regarding different camera systems, you’re not slow. I’m just fast. Remember I’m a serial switcher, I *literally* owned or at least used a majority of DSLR models ever released so hopping from one UI and set of controls to another is just really easy. It’s exactly like forreign languages. The more you master, the more it actually gets to tackle another one !
    Despite all my love and attachment (addiction ?) for the NEX cameras, i’m still tempted to stray to other systems that offer what NEX is missing. Never say never πŸ˜‰ And thanks for the kind words on the pictures, I’d love to see a few of your son for a change.

  4. Martin says:

    Hi Marla,
    Firstly, I would like to say that you have a very nice blog (i.e. set of photos and accompanying text) here. Secondly, it’s those photos which really draw the eye, and keep me reading. Thirdly, your blog is called “it’s not the camera”… so I think you should bear that in mind when thinking about (or worrying about) which camera body to use.
    The grass is always greener on the other side. Everything is a trade, in some way. I recently sold a few lenses and purchased an RX1 which is an amazing camera, though not perfect.
    I’m keeping my NEX-7. It’s not perfect, but it’s really, really good. The limitations really are *me*, not the camera.
    All the best, and keep taking photos.
    I hope you find your dream camera some day πŸ™‚
    Martin

    • marla2008 says:

      Martin first of all thanks for the kind words !!
      I fully agree that the NEX7’s capabilities go way beyond mine, and that any limitations I may run into come from me and “not the camera” (hence the title of the blog) !
      However, it doesn’t hurt dreaming of the perfect tool, right ?
      Thanks again for stopping by, I’m now on my way to check what magic you pull out of your RX-1 πŸ™‚ !

      • Martin says:

        Hey Marla,
        No, you’re quite right! And I know you know it’s not the camera πŸ˜‰
        You take great photos, so that much is clear. It never hurts to dream about the next best thing, and I hope that someone, somewhere, makes that perfect tool.
        Any magic I make with the RX1 is purely that camera’s doing – it’s got a great lens and sensor πŸ™‚

  5. marla2008 says:

    Since “it’s not the camera” that fails, the operator must be given some credit for good results as well, I guess πŸ˜‰

  6. Paolo Blippo says:

    Hi Marla, congrats for your wonderfully written blog and for your photos… i’ve stumbled upon your posts searchin’ for my first “great” camera. At first, I was searching for a DSLR, and because my brother in law give me as a gift his Minolta film camera with two AF lenses I realize that the best deal for me would be the Sony SLT system, since the same mount. But then, reading after reading (forums, reviews, “fanboysms”, and so on) I stumbled upon the news on mirrorless world and then the Nex system that attracted me so much for many reasons (aps-c, vintange lenses at small prices, handling, customization). Then the OMD-EM5 came in, and attracted me for its vintage feeling, great IQ and IBIS, but because of the price so high and the sensor so small i give up, and then returned to choose NEX, in particular the 6. My main unanswered doubt is: is the absence of IBIS in the NEXs a big problem when shooting with vintage lenses handheld? I already own a Helios 44m 58mm – 2, and the two Minolta AF (28mm 2.8 and 50mm 1.7) which can be attached via the (IMHO) expensive LA-EA2 but also with Fotodiox adapter (but I don’t know how it performs). Then, a bit of my shooting habits: I tend to shoot much street photography recently, it is fun with my smartphone, but it is difficult with my now obsolete bridge camera (an FZ28 Pana) because of the dimensions, but also for the portability. I’d like to have a camera that I can decide to bring always with me without worrying about the weight. Is the Nex-6 suited for shooting street photography *and* for big printings to be exposed at a exhibit? Sorry for my english, and sorry for my infinite response. Thanks in advance if you want to help me understand something in the big mirrorless and camera sea. (the site is my old 365 iPhone 3gs experiment)

    • marla2008 says:

      Hello, and thank you for stopping by !
      I’m gonna try to helo you to the best of my ability First and foremost, let me say I think the 6 has the best IQ of the whole NEX system. I VERY much prefer the 7 for ergonomics, build and operation, but for IQ alone, the 6 is king. It’s globally cleaner and sharper than the 7’s output. For example, I tend to dial sharpness down 1 notch on the 6, and turn it up +1 on the 7.
      The NEX are perfect street cameras because the bottom hinged tilting screen allows you to shoot “from the waist” with the screen totally hidden from your subject’s view.
      I recently aquired the LA-EA2 and it’s way smaller than you’d think it is from seeing it on pictures. It is expensive new but can easily be found at reasonable prices on the used market.
      I’m a huge fan of NEX cameras. They’re far from perfect, the menu system IS a bit weird, the AF would benefit from a serious upgrade, but all in all, they are amazing imaging machines. I know whenever I can’t achieve something with them, I’m the limiting factor, not the camera.
      Now regarding IBIS, you’ll never miss it below 75mm. Above that, sure, I’d love to have it to focus my beautiful legacies, But frankly for 28 and 50mm, I wouldn’t sweat not having stabilization.

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