Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sony NEX7 with Sony Zeiss 24mm is a great working combo

I had my first full day of shooting in Malawi. I spent a bit of time in the local market, worked in the clinic and then went on the road with a health care provider to a rural house to check on a two-year old.

I'm trying to shoot video and stills. I have five main camera choice although I don't bring all five along. I have the Sony VG10 for video, the NEX7 for stills but it uses the same E-mount lenses, the Sony A77 dSLR, the Leica M9 system and a Zeiss Ikon film camera that uses the M-mount lenses. This is what I found the first day.

In the market people were against having their pictures taken, I was able to steal a few images by having the camera around my neck and holding the shutter down while looking the other way. These shots need a bit of crop and straightening, but the depth of field keeps them sharp. I mostly used the M9 for this. In the clinic I used the M9 a bit but the lens was the Zeiss Biogon 28 f2.8 which was a bit slow for this. I really do need a f1.4 lens, either a 35mm or 50mm if I'm going to keep shooting in third world clinics. For the home care pictures I used the M9 again, the subjects were sitting on the front porch of a house so there was tons of light and easy to use the rangefinder gear.

The Zeiss Ikon is a rangefinder film camera. I shot 28 frames of Ilford Detla 400. A couple shots were in the market when I did have permission to shoot, and the rest was in the country of boys playing with a soccer ball made out of rags. I always try and get shots of kids playing soccer, they get reasonable play in magazines when the World Cup comes around and the magazines are doing stories on the universal sport. Overall I didn't feel I used the film camera all that much. I keep the Zeiss Biogon 35mm f2 on it, with a B+W 040 orange filter to try and darken the skies.

The A77 dSLR system stayed back at the room on day 1.

The VG10 was great for video, Mostly I used the Sony Zeiss 24mm f1.8 with it, this was great in the dark clinic and I had a comfortable working distance with the subjects. This seems to be a great combo for low light video and the lens is very nice to use. The VG10 is on a tripod so I can set it up and let it run while grabbing some still shots at the same time with another camera. This seems to be working well. At the rural house I used the Sony E-mount 55-210 the most, which allowed me to be back out of the situation more and then zoom into the subject. The patient was a 2-year old and was in a lot of pain. He didn't need a camera stuck in his face as well. I even shot a few still frames on the VG10.

The NEX7 was the surprise of the day. Mostly using the Sony Zeiss 24mm this was a great combo in the dark clinic, and out at the rural house. The more I use this camera the more I'm grabbing for it. Most of the stills shot today were on the NEX7. I thought it was great in the dark clinic with the ISO turned up and I even grabbed some video with it. Overall the NEX7 is way more flexible than the Leica system to use. You get great stills even at higher ISO levels, and you can grab quick video instantly. The Sony Zeiss 24mm is very fast and provides great quality. Once back at the room I went through all the custom settings on this camera to really set it up the way I want it. I'm most excited about using this combo tomorrow.

This was with the NEX7 and Zeiss 24mm f1.8 wide open.

This was the NEX7 with the Sony Zeiss 24mm
This is with the Leica M9 and Zeiss Biogon 28mm f2.8

Rob Skeoch
My retail store for traditional photo supplies is
My retail store for rangefinder gear and Zeiss lenses is


  1. this is very good info, Ive read elsewhere that the Ziess is not tack sharp, as the sonnar would indicate, I really wish that it was though. I guess you cannot have it all, although it seems like the NEX gets awfully close

  2. The jpegs that come out of the M9 are not up to much, thats why most people shoot raw and jpegs with them. I don't have the gear with me to process a raw file though and just post the jpegs on the blog. It seems flat as well.


  3. Real classy taking pictures of "people against having their pictures taken."

  4. Well he was in a public place. There's nothing stopping anyone from taking your picture in a public place. There is something special about getting a natural photo of someone in public. Most of the time you don't even know it when you are. Also, I appreciate the information regarding the NEX7 and the two lenses. The 50mm looks very interesting.

  5. A public place that was not his native country, nor governed by his native code of ethics and societal standards. Some folks really come up short on common sense, courtesy, and respect.

  6. Well I think that there is nothing wrong with taking a picture of a whole public place,
    but if you take the portrait of a specific person you should always ask.

  7. Thanks for this. Actually i own a Nex5N, but i am sure, in january i will buy the Nex7.