updated 02:10 am EDT, Wed August 24, 2011
Sony NEX-7 and NEX-5N official
Sony matched Nikon on Wednesday by adding its own batch of cameras with a much stronger focus on professionals. The NEX line now has its first truly professional camera in the NEX-7. It has both the highest resolution of any mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, at 24.3 megapixels, but adds serious manual control with twin control dials, a wheel, and three customizable buttons.
The new sensor also widens the sensitivity to ISO 100 to 16,000 while also cutting down the shutter release lag down to 20ms; Sony claims this is the best on any interchangeable lens system, compact or otherwise. Even with the resolution, it can shoot at up to 10 frames per second if users are willing to lock the focus and exposure after the first shot. Tracking focus in normal shooting keeps track of constantly shifting subjects.
Previews also get better treatment. Answering a common complaint about NEX cameras, Sony now has an always-available electronic viewfinder. The 1024x768, OLED-based eyepiece provides full coverage that purportedly challenges real, optical viewfinders while still allowing a full overlay. Sony's signature tilting LCD is available for other conditions.
The camera is Sony's first NEX to shoot in the new 1080p, 60 frames per second mode allowed by the AVCHD 2.0 spec, with 24FPS an option. Photographers finally get a true hot-shoe and don't need a proprietary Sony flash.
In a more modest upgrade, the NEX-5N is a refresh of the NEX-5 that gets both the 20ms shutter lag and the much faster autofocusing. It still has a 16-megapixel sensor, but its processor has reportedly been tuned both to reduce noise as well as to kick the ISO sensitivity up to 25,600, claimed as the highest for a compact interchangeable camera. Accordingly, it gets the NEX-7's 1080p60 video, now with better stereo audio, and 10FPS burst shots.
The NEX-5N ships first and is due in September either in an 18-55mm kit for $700 or body-only for $600. NEX-7 buyers will have to wait until November and can pay either $1,200 for the body or $1,350 with an 18-55mm lens.
Sony's new NEX lenses have arrived as promised and give E-mount cameras much more flexibility than they had in the past. Two primes will be arriving in December, the $300 50mm f1.8 and the $1,000 24mm f1.8; the first true dedicated telephoto, a 55-210mm f4.5-6.3 lens, is coming in October for $350. A new LA-EA2 lens adapter is due in November for $400 and builds in a translucent mirror that enables faster phase detection autofocus when using a regular A-mount (Alpha) lens. An FDA-EV1S viewfinder gives the same 1024x768 OLED eyepiece as the NEX-7 for $350, again with a November date.
- Jon Fingas