Sony NEX-7 Tests, Part 3

These are my final tests (for now) of the Sony NEX-7. See also Part 1 and Part 2. To wrap this up, I rented two Sony E-mount lenses: a second 18-35mm f/3.5-5.6 and a 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3. The reason for getting a second 18-55mm was to determine whether the disappointing performance was due to my particular copy or shows up in other copies.

As for the 18-55mm, my copy of the lens is in fact slightly sharper at 55mm and f/5.6. At f/8, both mine and the rental lens were equally sharp. As mentioned in the previous tests, this is really a “keep it at f/8” lens if you want the sharpest possible results.

Comparing the 18-55mm to the 18-200mm was also interesting. At 55mm f/5.6 the longer lens was sharper in the center but noticeably softer in the corners. At 55mm f/8 they were equally sharp in the center but the longer lens was again softer in the corners. And comparing the 18-200mm to itself wide open at 55mm (f/5.6) and 200mm (f/6.3), it was quite soft at the longest focal length (center and corners) as well as showing quite a bit of chromatic aberration in the corners at 200mm.

While I still like the camera quite a bit, I’m really looking forward to some better zoom lenses. I like the 11x range of the 18-200mm, but since it’s about the same size/weight as the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6, there’s not much advantage over just using the Nikon lens on my D7000. The Nikon body is larger, but with a big lens, the difference isn’t as significant. With the smaller 18-55mm, you take more advantage of the NEX-7’s diminutive body. For now, at least, I’m going to stick to the smaller lenses for the NEX-7 and just take my big Nikons (D700, D3s) with the superior glass when compactness doesn’t matter.

FYI: I’ve heard the Sony 50mm f/1.8 ($300) is supposedly a better lens than these zooms, and since it’s obviously much faster, I may give that one a try. I like the idea of a 75mm full-frame equivalent lens.

2 thoughts on “Sony NEX-7 Tests, Part 3

  1. If you were to take these cameras and lenses outside and shoot some travel photos and post them on Google+, or even make 12×18″ prints, would anyone be able to tell which lens/camera produces the best photo when looking at them at normal viewing distances?


  2. Eric, you wouldn’t notice the problems on the image in a G+ stream, but you certainly would if you looked at it in the G+ lightbox on a large monitor such as my 27-inch iMac. Likewise, you would notice this on a larger print. I often print at 10×15 (for a 16×20 frame) and the softness is noticeable. But you do need to look for it unless you’re comparing two images side-by-side. You don’t see it as a specific flaw in the image, but if it’s in an otherwise very sharp are of the shot, you see it as a “softer” look. Sharpness is often perceived relatively. eg, If the background is soft, the foreground can look sharper than it really is. So the lens softness just really limits the maximum sharpness you can achieve. And, of course, if you want to crop substantially or enlarge more, it does matter.


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