Jeff K writes
You've mentioned a couple of times that you don't like the placement of the button for MF assist on the NEX 7. I just thought I'd point out that on page 145 of the manual it says you can assign MF assist to the MF/AF button, which is much more conveniently placed and you don't need that button for anything else when using MF glass.
Personally, I think the new NEX cameras are game changers. I've been using a NEX 5N and EVF with a 28 Summicron, ZM 35/2.8, ZM 50/2 and CV 75/2.5 and getting incredible results. I have a NEX 7 on order just because I like the form factor of having the integrated EVF rather than the external one on the 5N.
In reading your posts, you compare the NEX 7 to the M9 when talking about size and build quality and against the FF DSLR's when talking about the sensor characteristics. A lot of us just don't want to lug big DSLR's around. For someone like me who travels a lot and always uses carryon baggage, the NEX has been great. It may not be the smallest camera and it may not have the absolute best sensor, but when using it with rangefinder lenses, I believe that it is that absolute best combination of high IQ in a compact package. I know you like the Fuji X100, but I need the ability to use different focal lengths.
The game changer with the NEX is the best in class EVF. For the expert on Making Sharp Images, I would assume that you fully appreciate eye level live view focus magnification. That combined with focus peaking has given me the highest level of critically focused shots I have ever achieved. I would say with careful technique and using a Katz Eye split prism focus screen on my D300 or Pentax K5, I can achieve critical focus on about 70% of my shots. Using focus magnification on the NEX EVF in conjunction with focus peaking, I have critical focus on 95% of my shots.
A couple of other points. By adjusting the contrast to -3 for jpegs, you open up the shadows in the EVF and get a more accurate histogram. The other thing I have come to rely on is having a live histogram in the eye level EVF and being able to change ISO and exposure compensation without taking the camera from my eye. I no longer have to exposure bracket. Also, magnified live view focusing and focus peaking is sensitive enough to allow me to focus at my shooting aperture, which eliminates focus shift.
I'm not getting rid of my DSLR's, which I will use when I need AF, but most of us have more than one camera. Use your FF DSLR at dusk, but the rest of the time when you don't need autofocus the NEX is the ticket. After all, its sensor is comparable to the best APS-C sensors out there, which is plenty good for most purposes.
DIGLLOYD: I’m writing my review now and will address all of these points.
The Sony NEX-7 is one of a new breed of camera that started with the Panasonic and Olympus 4/3 line. We have now moved to a more sensible size sensor and it would be surprising not to see a full-frame variant soon— though Leica and similar rangefinder lenses already have off-center color issues with 28mm and wider focal lengths.
I totally agree that the integrated EVF is the only sensible way to go— the NEX-5 optional one was an ergonomic failure in the way it stuck up out of the camera, and in forcing the placement of one’s eye into an awkward position. The rear LCD is NOT for taking pictures in general— unless you want to look like an incompetent tourist (yes it has its uses, but in general it’s the wrong way to use the camera, and you’ll get a lot more blurred images holding the camera at arm’s length).
As for Focus assist, the best option is what Sony calls the “Right Key”.
Custom Key Settings => Right Key Setting = MF Assist
Once in Focus Assist mode, pressing the button in the middle of the control dial (“Soft Key C”) toggles between 5.9X and 11.7X, which is a very useful way to go, depending on how critical focus is and how steady one can hold the camera.