Remember the NEX-7? Ever since a days-long shooting session back in September, Sony’s prized mirrorless cam has eluded us — and the rest of the world. As you may recall, the flagship Alpha ILC was hit by the Thailand floods, resulting in delay after delay, eventually missing the holiday shopping season entirely before resurfacing late last month. Another week later and our beloved Sony Alpha NEX-7 has finally arrived, ready to take on the streets of New York City. So what exactly is the NEX-7, and why does it cost as much as a mid-range DSLR? First off, the 24.3-megapixel APS-C ILC captures, well, 24.3-megapixel images, offering the highest resolution of any mirrorless model on the market. Its APS-C sensor is identical to the one found in Sony’s A77 DSLR, measuring larger than Micro Four Thirds and on par with most full-size digital SLRs.
If having the ability to capture mural-size images ranks fairly low on your digicam wish list, you may take comfort in some of the NEX-7′s other features, such as its gorgeous and durable magnesium alloy body, built-in XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, 3-inch, 921k-dot articulating LCD and unique tri-navi control interface that enables direct access to key settings adjustments, including both aperture and shutter speed in manual mode. There’s also 1080/60p HD movie capture with full manual control and microphone input support, a 10 frames-per-second continuous shooting mode (with exposure and focus locked) and a BIONZ image processor that’s capable of delivering low-noise images all the way through ISO 16,000. These features combine to make the NEX-7 one of the most powerful mirrorless cameras to date, but are they enough to justify the $1,200 body-only price tag? Join us past the break to find out.
There’s no question that Canon and Nikon still dominate the interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market, but with Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and now Pentax all launching compact, inexpensive, mirrorless models in recent years, the legacy manufacturers have some catching up to do. In an interview confirming the restoration of pre-quake production levels in Japan, Canon camera division head Masaya Maeda told Reuters that the company is “considering the technical aspects” of creating a mirrorless camera, following up by saying “we will launch an interesting product next year.” The comment doesn’t exactly make a mirrorless Canon a sure thing, but it’s as solid a commitment as we can expect for now.
One possible concern for Canon is that entry into the new ILC category would cannibalize the company’s higher-end point-and-shoot offerings, which likely offer higher margins. But if mirrorless models gain market share over traditional DSLRs and Canon doesn’t have its own cam to match, the company could find itself racing to catch up, rather than dominating the ILC category as it has done in the past. Competition from Canon isn’t likely to start a price war, since there isn’t much elasticity at this point, but it could put pressure on other manufacturers to push the limits with image quality, accessory selection, and perhaps even lead to a future lens standard — though we’re probably more likely to see a Pentax Qthat can actually capture DSLR-quality images far before manufacturers decide to adopt a universal lens mount.
Sony announced the successor to its NEX-3 digital camera earlier this week, so we decided to take a post-E3 road trip down to the electronics maker’s US headquarters in San Diego to check out the $599 NEX-C3 for ourselves. We’ll analyze the new sensor’s image quality in a full review before the camera hits stores later this summer, but from our initial impressions, the new cam appears to offer fairly minor tweaks compared to its predecessor. It’s incredibly small for a camera with an APS-C sensor — perhaps even awkwardly so, when paired with the comparatively massive 18-55mm kit lens or Sony’s enormous 18-200mm optic — but not small enough to be any less functional than the previous iteration. Like the NEX-3, the camera was designed to be held by resting the lens on your left palm, rather than by the grip, so size isn’t likely to be an issue. Cosmetic changes include a magnesium alloy top panel, front microphone positioning, and a more efficient display hinge, which helped reduce the camera’s thickness. We’ll be posting a full review in several weeks, but jump past the break for more observations, and a hands-on video from Sony HQ.
We’ve been (impatiently) waiting for Sony to update its NEX line of digital cameras since the NEX-3 was discontinued earlier this year, and it looks like a worthy successor has finally been named. Announced today, the NEX-C3 appears identical to the model leaked in April, and uses the same format APS-C image sensor as its predecessor, bumping resolution to 16.2 megapixels in a camera body smaller than the NEX-5. Sony says the new entry-level cam is designed to fill the gap between point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras, and is the smallest body to pack an APS-C sensor, offering DSLR-level image quality — the same 16.2 MP chip is also included in its new full-size Alpha A35, which replaces the A33. Both cameras can shoot at up to 5.5 fps (the A35 adds a 7 fps mode at 8.4 megapixels), and include 3-inch LCDs, with the NEX keeping its hallmark tilt display, and the A35 adding Sony’s Translucent Mirror live-view mode, and an electronic viewfinder. We have plenty more to share, including a new lens and flash, along with pricing and availability for all, so jump past the break for the juicy details.
In line with Sony’s goal of improving the user experience for beginners, the NEX-C3′s Photo Creativity interface simplifies the process of adjusting advanced settings, to help grow the skills of those new to DSLR shooting. Both models include new Picture Effects (like the retro look you get with those novelty smartphone apps), which will also be available for previous generation cameras via a firmware update on June 20th. The NEX-C3 ships in late July or August, and will be offered with those familiar 18-55mm and 16mm kit lenses for $649 and $599, respectively. Bodies paired with the zoom will be available in black, pink, and silver, while the camera in the fixed-lens kit will only ship in black. The A35 will hit stores in August for $699 with an 18-55mm kit lens, or $599 for the body. There’s also a new 30mm f/3.5 macro lens ($249, October) and a larger external flash ($149, August) for the NEX series. You’ll have to wait a month or two to pick up a C3 of your own, but check back for our hands-on preview later this week.