Friday, July 13, 2012

Fuji FinePix X100 and Sony NEX-7

Sensor size comparison. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Last year it was the Fuji FinePix X100, this year it's been the Sony NEX-7.

Many of you have lusted after these smaller APS-C sensor cameras. For their portability. For their dynamic range. The NEX-7 even shoots 1080p at 60fps. They are the crème de la crème of today's small camera technology. They offer a bridge for many prosumers that don't want to use a standard DSLR. These cameras have the same size sensors as Nikon DX (crop) cameras. They are much larger than the Four Thirds and even slightly bigger than the Canon APS-C sensors like those in my Canon 7D.

And many of you have jumped on over and purchased one of these bad boys.

Perhaps one of the aforementioned benefits of these cameras caught your attention? Perhaps you felt like trying something new? However inevitably you'll each discover that it does no more (and probably much less) than your 5DMII and D700.

How do I know this? Do I own either camera? Nope. But I don't need to own one to come to the following conclusion:

If you own a 5DMII/5DMIII or a D700/D800 are trying to capture "better" pictures with one of these cameras, you'll be sorely disappointed.

Now if you need portability for street shooting or for other less obvious situations, or you need 1080p/60fps, or you need a better live view system, etc. basically if you need something specific that these cameras offer, then by all means please buy one of these cameras.

But if you're looking to create significantly better images by just changing cameras, you're in for a rude awakening. The camera won't give you better images. For all intents and purposes it will deliver worse results being because it's less versatile in lower light situations.

For shooting fashion, I've rarely been limited by the size of my camera. Sure there have been times where I'm on location and wished my camera weren't so heavy or so obvious. But as "obvious" as my camera is, it's never as obvious as my models. My limiting factor is and always will be getting a model to a location, dressed the way they are, and then not attracting a ridiculous amount of attention. Seriously, what attracts more attention? A photographer holding a D3 with a 70-200mm lens mounted on the front? Or a scantily clad Kate Compton.

Even a conservatively clad Kate Compton will attract more attention than a D3/70-200mm lens combo.

So portability aside, what do these cameras offer? A better live view (that I wouldn't use). The chance to buy new lenses (as if I didn't have enough reasons to buy new lenses already!). 1080p/60fps would be huge for me but unfortunately my follow focus unit won't work with it. Slightly better dynamic range. A few more megapixels.

What do I give up? ISO performance, battery life, full-frame, lots of speed (memory buffer, autofocus, fps, overall response, changing settings, etc.)

But maybe you have a NEX-7 or X100? Maybe you can tell me that my assumptions are flawed and therefore the logic is faulty. I'd love a reason to try out a new toy. Really. Am I wrong or am I right?


  1. I have a nex-7 with 50 f1.8 and 30 f2.8 Awesome IQ better than my 7d in a tiny little package. Used it in studio as well but it shines with available light. When you look into the viewfinder and see the world around you black and white (cause I shoot B&W raw) with the exact look you will get in your image you will be amazed. I have a lot of old manual lenses and NEX provides peaking which is an amazing manual focus assist tool and it does not exist any other camera. Peaking was the reason I chose nex over xpro1. Also I love how you can tilt the screen up and operate the camera from waist level.

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  3. For starters the NEX-7 and Xpro1 are vastly different cameras. For people shooting bodies below the D3/5D either of them has better IQ. In fact the NEX-7 has greater dynamic range than the new 5D3 (I own both). The AF is also lickity-split faster than the Fuji..and most other compact cameras currently offered. Aside from the ISO 500 and up range the Sony is a pretty good camera ounce for ounce.

    Having said that, no camera will help you take better pictures. As you point out, that's usually left to experience, talent and connection with the subject.

  4. I have an X100 but would be unlikely to use it for serious work, it's my street/travel/location scouting camera, a tool for fun rather than a serious professional workhouse. 1/1000 flash sync is nice though ;)

    I think all the 'omg fashion shoot with an iphone', 'omg wedding with an X100' etc. fall into 'just because you can doesn't mean you should' category. Ultimately we use whatever tool works for us and what we do with our gear is far more interesting than the gear itself.

  5. Well, to give the mirrorless system a fighting chance, I decided to pick one up and see what all the fuss is about... my initial impressions in the most recent post.

    I will confirm it has better IQ than my Canon 7D as well. Not sure it trumps my D3. But it's probably close. The D3 is an old champ.

  6. BTW, the NEX-7 is limited to about 1/200 flash sync based upon its physical shutter, so no advantage for me there!

  7. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)