M8 user: high hopes for NEX-7!

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Efix von Otny, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. Efix von Otny

    Efix von Otny New to TalkEmount

    Sep 2, 2011
    As an avid user of rangefinder cameras and the Leica M8 in particular, I was really excited when I first learned that the NEX-7 was going to be real. Since I first read about the new focus peaking feature in the NEX-C3 and NEX-5N cameras, I was absolutely hooked by that idea and started wondering if this might actually be the 21st century re-interpretation of rangefinder photography -- a quick, easy and reliable way to manually focus a lens.

    What I love so much about rangefinder cameras is the fact that they are completely manual in operation, making the act of taking a picture more than just pointing and shooting -- it has a feeling of craftsmanship to it. A correctly calibrated rangefinder is also a highly accurate tool, giving you precise feedback about your focus point. This sensation of being actually involved in the whole process of taking a picture, combined with the outstanding image quality the Leica M8's Kodak sensor delivers, has made this camera the ultimate photographic tool for me personally.

    Leica's interpretation of the digital rangefinder has one major drawback, though: it's based on a design developed for film photography, and instead of transporting the rangefinder idea into the digital age, it forces the former upon the latter. While the sensation of looking through a large and bright viewfinder such as the one of the Leica M8 is definitely a great experience, the fact that it gives you as good as zero information about the final picture can be considered a major shortcoming.

    Now, before you start arguing that back in the days of film you had to wait for the film to be developed in order to see if your picture turned out as you intended it, no matter what type of camera you were using, let me say that I believe that this is actually what makes the biggest difference between digital and analog photography (apart from Polaroid and other types of instant film): the fact that you can immediately see the result. Most modern cameras that use live view technology even show a preview image that is 99% of what your final image will look like, so you can tweak your settings before taking the shot and be 99% sure that the final image will turn out the same as the preview. While this may not be as exciting as analog photography (which I also enjoy greatly), this is in my opinion what digital photography is about: immediate control.

    So, to get back to where I started: the reason why I am so excited about the NEX-7 is that I feel it is finally bringing the rangefinder idea into the digital age. Design-wise, it is very close to a rangefinder camera with its optical viewfinder located top left from the lens mount, a design that I appreciate very much, plus the two large control dials on top that make it easy to change settings such as aperture, ISO, shutter speed etc. In that regard, operation-wise the NEX-7 is much more a Leica M than a NEX.

    The NEX-7's electronic viewfinder features a mind-boggling resolution of more than two million pixels, which -- as I understand -- comes close in viewing sensation to Apple's retina display. Combine this with Sony's great focus peaking feature and the advantages of the digital age that I wrote about above, and you have the ideal tool for using manual lenses with full manual operation of the camera, yet with the instantaneousness and immediacy that makes digital photography so interesting.

    Thus, as a fan of manual operation and of rangefinder cameras in particular, but also being a kid of the digital age, I truly have high hopes in the NEX-7 being able to deliver a similar using experience as the Leica M8, yet with the complete list of advantages modern digital cameras have to offer.

    The only point where I am afraid the NEX-7 may not be able to keep up with the M8 is the image quality department. I am not talking about high ISO noise here -- we all know that the Leicas aren't great in that regard. I am talking about resolution, about colour reproduction, about the ability to make the best of the quality that M mount lenses are able of delivering. This is where the M8 (and M9) really shines -- the quality of the pictures is simply outstanding and breathtaking. And in the end, this may be the one and only reason for keeping the M8 over the NEX-7. But we'll only know once production models of the NEX-7 are readily available.

    Until then, what are your hopes and fears about the NEX-7? Will you buy? And if so, then why? What lenses will you be using it with? What camera(s) are you using now, and will you switch systems or will the NEX-7 be an addition to your current setup? Please join the discussion! :)
  2. olli

    olli TalkEmount Veteran

    Aug 16, 2011
    Washington DC
    Real Name:
    Hello Efix. Thanks for your thoughtful post. I will leave others to respond to your questions but for now I will encourage you to introduce yourself in the Welcomes and Introductions forum.
  3. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    I think everything you said is right on target. I do believe that Sony has improved the microlenses and lightened the AA filter for the NEX-7, so I have high hopes for the image quality department relative to Leica M digital. The one area where a manual focus user will generally find some limitation with NEX 7 is in the 1.5X crop, similar to the Epson RD1.

    However, I agree with you that between all the information that live view affords and peaking, the experience could potentially improve upon the time honored way things have long been done. Another nice thing about live view is that focus shift is a non-issue, so long as you focus at the aperture intended for capture (which should be fine using peaking). If I were going to start out with NEX-7 for manual focus, I'd probably get a Zeiss ZM 25/2.8 Biogon, 50/1.5 Sonnar, and call it a day.
  4. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 8, 2011
    Although I own several DSLRs and two m4/3 Olympus Pen cameras, I haven't enjoyed using my legacy lenses on those cameras because manual focus is a pain. The magnified live view on the m4/3 cameras is accurate, but I've missed shots or had bad composition because when you're zoomed in it's hard to tell if your subject is correctly framed in the shot.

    When focus peaking was added to the NEX-3 via firmware update that camera suddenly became my favorite camera for using legacy lenses. I'd personally like to see more AF lenses for the E-mount, but it's nice to have VERY usable manual focus on the NEX-3 with my old lenses.
  5. dixeyk

    dixeyk TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 18, 2012
    Bellingham . WA
    Real Name:
    I just picked up an NEC C3 because I saw it as a terrific way to use legacy lenses. When it arrives I've got a Hexanon 24/2.8 and 50/1.4 that'll get a new home. It may not be an M8 but it maybe it is a wonderful little reinterpretation of what that experience can be like. From what I have seen IQ certainly seems like it can give the M8 a run for its money.