Things Sony Still Needs

Date originally written: 2/25/12    Updated 11/20/12    Updated 5/11/13

The Sony NEX mount is on its second generation of cameras with a third not-too-distant. Things NEX users are still waiting for:

  • Lenses, lenses, lenses. Sony seems to have this problem across all its interchangeable mount cameras, and it's unclear why. Most of the lenses they've produced are quite good, but we've only got seven, and there are many missing elements (pardon the pun). A wide zoom, a fast normal, a 24-120mm equivalent (16-80mm), a high-spec normal and telephoto zoom pair, come immediately to mind. The 16mm f/2.8 could use a refresh for optical quality, especially with the NEX-7 now in the lineup. The LA-EA2 at first looks like it can help (much like the FT1 helps the Nikon 1 line), but it's not quite the same thing as Nikon's solution: Sony's adapter is a battery hog and even more of size problem due to the very small NEX bodies. Sony would do far, far better with the right, and full, lens lineup. Slow progress, with a few new lenses rolling out at the end of 2012 and early 2013. Yes, progress made, especially with Zeiss Touit lenses now shipping; that helped a lot at the wide angle end.
  • More third party support. It's been slow in coming, but now that we've got a few third-party lenses, most don't solve problems NEX users have. The two Sigma primes are the only gap-fillers so far, and they're not specified optimally (f/2.8 and larger-than-pancake). Sony did the right thing in making mount information available, but to paraphrase a famous movie "Show me the Lenses!" Lens help is still slow in coming, but it's coming. Schneider, Sigma, Zeiss, and others are now introducing E-mount lenses, but delivery of some of those is still a bit off in the future. Zeiss is delivering, Sigma still not doing a lot, Schneider still nowhere to be seen.
  • 3 and 5 separation. The NEX-3 and NEX-5 seem a bit too close together in specification. Can Sony really play entry model with the 3? The reason m4/3 keeps hurting the NEX lineup is mostly all those US$399-499 m4/3 models, even though many of them are closeouts. By the time you get to Sony's NEX-C3 pricing, you're in DSLR categories, and the options within a narrow US$200 price range are enormous, including Sony's own NEX-5N. Sony seems to be fixing this. The NEX-3N is clearly entry level and missing a few key things that the NEX-5R has. The NEX-6 and NEX-7 are also better positioned, so we now have a real four camera lineup with some clarity of purpose.   
  • Silly accessory port. Just ditch it. There's a reason why the hot shoe type connection has prevailed for over 50 years. The fiddly NEX attachment point is a finger tester (I can barely get the lock screw turned on some accessories), a time waster, a proprietary lock-in that doesn't encourage competition so that the best accessories win, and more. Apple may use proprietary connectors, but they're not insane designs, they're simple, reliable, and quick solutions and most can be licensed by third parties.

Funny thing is, the NEX cameras themselves are perfectly fine. While some don't like the modern UI of the NEX models, I don't mind it at all, and the image quality speaks for itself. Too bad the rest of the system doesn't live up to the camera design itself.

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