Much of Sonys NEX announcements had already leaked prior to its global launch, but theres no denying that its new NEX cameras are impressive products. We got a chance to get some hands on time with one of the new models earlier at the Taipei launch event, alongside some eyes on at the other model.
Starting with the new NEX-5N were looking at a very affordable model, even compared to the current NEX-5 and this is also the first time Sony is offering one of its NEX models without a bundled kit lens. The design changes are fairly minor between the NEX-5 and NEX-5 and, as most of the chances have been made on the inside. For starters were looking at a higher resolution sensor at 16.1 Megapixels (up from 14.2 Megapixels), but Sony has also added support for 1080p60 and 1080i60 video recording as per the updated AVCHD 2.0 spec, at up to 28Mbps at 60p. Other new features include a touch screen, improved ISO sensitivity, an electronic first curtain shutter, an increased maximum shooting rate to 10fps and lens aberration correction.
The accessory port has also been upgraded to version 2.0 and this adds support for a new external EVF which features an XGA (1024×768) resolution OLED display. Sadly the EVF is an optional accessory which is said to carry an MSRP of US$349.99 (no pricing was announced at the Taipei press event). Sony seems to think it has enough of an install base already to offer owners of previous NEX models a cheaper upgrade path. The starting price for the body only in Taiwan is NT$16,980 (S$706) and the basic 18-55mm kit lens bundle is NT$22,980 (S$956) whereas the 16mm and 18-55m bundle is NT$26,980 (S$1,122) and all three options will be available form sometime in September.
The NEX-7 is a camera thats been surrounded by rumours for quite some time and sadly we didnt get a change to go hands on with it at todays event, we have a feeling its going to be a favourite second camera for a lot professional users, while many hobby photographers would consider it over a full-size DSLR, at least based on the spec. Sadly there were no hands on with the NEX-7 at the Taipei launch event, but we did get to snap a few shots of it.
With a 24.3 Megapixel APS-C size sensor its clear that Sony is aiming for a different market with this model, but the high resolution sensor isnt the key feature that sets this camera apart from the previous models in the NEX range. Instead Sony has created something of a hybrid between a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and a traditional range finder in terms of the camera design. The rear of the camera houses the familiar 3in LCD screen (which can still be tilted up and down), but at the far left corner youll also notice an EVF which is the same high-resolution XGA OLED EVF as the optional accessory for the NEX-5N.
The NEX-7 is bigger and heavier than its consumer focused siblings and it has quite a different feature set. Gone is the proprietary NEX accessory shoe in favour of a Sony Alpha hotshoe. Somehow Sony has also managed to squeeze in a built in pop-up flash, although this isnt a particularly powerful option, as its slightly weaker than the original flash for the NEX cameras. Sony has also come up with an interesting control system for the menu, with a pair of extra rotary dials at the top of the camera. These dials are directly correlated to a pair of on-screen menus as the top of the display and theres a button next to the shutter that will cycle through the various options of these menus. The rear wheel is still in place and it will adjust settings from a menu on the right hand side of the LCD as well as any other menu options.
As with the NEX-5N, the NEX-7 does of course also support AVCHD 2.0 video recording at up to 1080p60. For those interested in using the NEX-7 as a video camera, the good news is that Sony has added a microphone input with plug in power support for a standard 3.5mm microphone, a feature sorely missing from the other NEX cameras. Sony didnt unveil the pricing in Taiwan at the event, but the NEX-7 is expected to retail for US$1,199, body only and for US$ 1,399 with the 18-55mm kit lens, although it should also be available with the new 24mm F1.8 Zeiss lens as a kit, for a yet unknown price. The NEX-7 is expected to arrive sometime in November.
Sony also announced three new E-mount lenses, the Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA, US$1,000, the E 50mm F1.8 OSS, US$300 and the E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS, US$350. The E 55-210mm will be available in October, with the other two models following in December. In addition to the new lenses, Sony also announced a new translucent mirror adapter for the NEX series of cameras which is meant to not only bring support for its Alpha lenses, but also SLT level phase-detection autofocus speeds to the NEX series, in fact the adapter sports the same 15-point AF sensor as the new SLT A65. The adapter is expected to retail for US$399 and it features a built in AF motor and its own tripod mount.