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Customer Reviews: 23
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Matthew Durr "Amazon Connoisseur" RSS Feed (Kentucky)
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Fotodiox Pro 16-rib, 60" Black and White Reflective Parabolic Umbrella
Fotodiox Pro 16-rib, 60" Black and White Reflective Parabolic Umbrella
Offered by fotodiox Inc.
Price: $59.95
3 used & new from $50.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Balance of Performance and Price, August 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After one of my cheapo ($25) 60-inch umbrellas snapped in the wind as part of a dual-strobe setup, I decided to go with the more expensive Fotodiox umbrella due to 1. The thicker black backing 2. The parabolic shape to help control the spread of light and 3. The seemingly hardier construction.

Compared to my remaining cheap umbrella, the Fotodiox umbrellas have significantly less spill into the rest of the room, and they reflect 2.5x the amount of light, as measured with some test shots on a static subject.

I have had good luck with Fotodiox products before, and this umbrella adds to that list. The included carrying bag for each umbrella is a nice touch as well. So far both have held up great even in moderate winds (~10mph).

My most recent shoot using these umbrellas had two positioned with six gelled speedlights firing into them all at full power to overpower a backlighting sun for a large group portrait. If it wasn't for the high reflectance (i.e. if I still had the cheapo umbrellas), I would have been completely unable to provide adequate fill light given my shooting parameters.


Cygolite Expilion 800 USB Bicycle Headlight
Cygolite Expilion 800 USB Bicycle Headlight
Price: $117.90
9 used & new from $85.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helped Save a Life--An Indispensable Accessory, August 19, 2014
First, let me get a few trivial matters out of the way:
1. This light is very bright, and helps light the road even when streetlights/other cars' headlights are bearing down. 800 lumens in the boost setting is almost stupid-bright for a headlight this size, as motorists, other bikers, and pedestrians will often stop in their tracks just to see what it is coming their way. The SteadyPulse mode is another equally effective "see and be seen" mode that works best at near-dusk when it isn't quite dark, but it is still hard to be seen.

2. The battery life is great for a light this size. 1.5 hours on boost is more than enough for a good 20 mile ride. The removable and swappable batteries are what make this light such a great deal.

3. Build quality is top notch, and the mounting bracket (once the rubber settles in after multiple days of tightening) is very secure to mount/dismount the light whenever you are on/off the bike. The USB cover does sometimes give me a bit of trouble in securely fastening like other reviewers have mentioned, but it really is nothing even worth complaining about.

Now, there are the special modes. If you somehow find yourself on a deserted island, the S.O.S. mode will surely come in handy. The flashlight mode also turns the headlight into a very efficient and dim light to carry around for camping. It is the day flash mode (in lieu of a true strobe mode) that gives this review its title.

To make a long story shorter, a friend and I were biking at night on a paved trail side-by-side. I had this headlight and we were both wearing helmets. My friend took her hands off of the handlebars for an instant, and the front wheel turned and flipped her over the handlebars, headfirst into the pavement at 10-15 mph. Even with the helmet, she still suffered a serious skull fracture, deep cuts that required stitches, and large scrapes on the elbows and knees.

After calling an ambulance and giving them shoddy directions since the trail was hard to relate to the surrounding roads, I told them to look for a bright flash. After I helped stabilize my friend, I set the Expilion 800 on day flash mode and let it fire away pointing to the nearest road. After the ambulance arrived, they mentioned their thanks to see the flashing, as they almost made a wrong turn to look for us in the wrong direction, which would have meant many more crucial minutes of my friend not getting medical help.

Granted, this mode should normally be reserved for increased daytime visibility, but in emergency situations, the day flash floods a dark area with long pulses of light that is easily visible from over half a mile away.

I never leave home without this light if my biking and commuting runs anywhere near dusk, in the one month I have had it, it has proven itself as a versatile and essential accessory that I hope more bicyclists purchase and use whenever it is needed.


Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 Touit Series for Sony E-mount NEX Cameras
Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 Touit Series for Sony E-mount NEX Cameras
Offered by Green Mountain Camera
Price: $720.00
10 used & new from $649.00

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High Price, High Performance, July 2, 2013
I've written an extensive review of this lens on my website, complete with photographic and video examples. I'll share some of the finer points of this lens here, but for the full review, just google this lens and matthew durr photography.

So, making this review quick and concise: what does this lens do well on a NEX-7?
-Extremely high cross-frame sharpness
-Negligible chromatic aberrations, both in- and out-of-focus
-Stellar build quality
-Smooth bokeh up close
-Superb rubberized focus ring (it's fly-by-wire focusing though)

What holds the Touit 32mm back
-Bokeh gets a little busy as focus distance increases
-Multiple flare reflections
-Noticeable barrel distortion for a prime lens
-Expensive at $900

This lens can be a tough one to recommend to just anyone with a NEX (or Fuji camera, for that matter) considering its price. Compared to its most obvious competition, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS at half the price, the Zeiss doesn't present a very high value. In some ways, like distortion and bokeh, the Sony actually performs better. In terms of pure photographic potential, the Zeiss is superior. But for anyone who wants to go handheld at night, or record handheld video often, the optical stabilization in the Sony makes it a marginally better lens. Both the Sony 35mm and Zeiss 32mm are great lenses, with different attributes to each.


Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens
Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens
Offered by Cameta Camera
Price: $398.00
23 used & new from $344.95

112 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "nifty fifty" many NEX users have been waiting for, January 21, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
EDIT #2: I have gotten ahold of and thoroughly tested the new Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8, with a review both here on Amazon and my website. Though the below review still stands, the Zeiss is overall an optically better lens. For handheld low-light and video applications, the Sony inches ahead.

EDIT: As of February 4th, Sony has officially announced the release of a firmware update to the NEX-5r/6 to allow this lens (and many others) to function with the on-sensor PDAF. There is now even less to complain about on this lens' performance. END EDIT

Original Review:

I've already written a rather extensive review of this fine lens on my website (look up Matthew Durr Photography if you want to read more detailed information), but let me distill down the lens' major high points and bottom low points:

The Good:
-Even on the NEX-7, the 35mm f/1.8 provides good to great sharpness at most apertures
-The OSS gives about 3-4 stops of shutter speed advantage, depending on how steady your hands are
-Out-of-focus areas are generally pleasing for a lens of this type, save for some busyness with complex backgrounds (tree branches, for example)
-Extremely compact, focuses quick, and is a good value for the money

The Bad:
-Even being a good value (the OSS is accounting for a majority of the lens' cost), $450 for a 52.5mm f/2.8 equivalent Field-of-View lens (on a full-frame 35mm sensor) is pretty high
-Longitudinal chromatic aberrations at the wider apertures, mainly in the backgrounds, can be distracting (but can mostly be edited out)

Okay, so why did I give it five stars with the above listed cons? It's simple. In nearly every shooting situation that calls for the 50mm field-of-view, this 35mm f/1.8 delivers. Low-light? OSS. Subject separation? f/1.8 Sharp landscapes? Shoot at f/5.6. Traveling? It's a compact kit!

Ignore the naysayers griping about how it's not compatible with the NEX5r/6's PDAF yet, or that it's "just as good" as the kit lens at 35mm. For one, Sony will surely come out with an update eventually to allow the PDAF to function (though it isn't needed for anything besides moving subjects). Secondly, this lens lets in over five times as much light wide-open than the kit lens does at 35mm. This means that, all other image parameters made equal, a shot taken at 1/10 with the kit lens can be accomplished at 1/50 with this lens. Or, given the same shutter speed in a low-light scenario, the 35mm f/1.8 can shoot at ISO 400 while the kit lens' camera has to go up to over ISO 1600.

Bottom line? The 35mm f/1.8 is a great lens that provides excellent image quality at the "normal" field-of-view that so many NEX photographers have been waiting for since the camera line's inception.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 7, 2013 2:44 PM PDT


Neewer® Wireless Shutter Release IR Remote Control for Sony Alpha A33, A55, A57, A65, A77, A99, NEX-5, NEX-6, NEX-7, A230, A330, A380, A390, A450, A500, A550, A560, A580, A700, A850, A900 (RMT-DSLR1 Replacement)
Neewer® Wireless Shutter Release IR Remote Control for Sony Alpha A33, A55, A57, A65, A77, A99, NEX-5, NEX-6, NEX-7, A230, A330, A380, A390, A450, A500, A550, A560, A580, A700, A850, A900 (RMT-DSLR1 Replacement)
Offered by KincaidGlobalTrade (USA)
Price: $6.95
8 used & new from $1.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and it works great!, July 26, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Can't expect much from a $4 electronic. Great to be surprised the only two functions it controls work perfectly. Range is a comfortable 15 feet (reliably, anyway). The little plastic tab can be re-inserted into the battery compartment to further extend the battery life.

Can't complain about anything!


Bower CS52 Snap Lens Cap for A 52MM Lens
Bower CS52 Snap Lens Cap for A 52MM Lens
Offered by EasyFoto
Price: $2.90
7 used & new from $0.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Value, July 26, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Keeping it short, this cap allows you to always keep your lens hood mounted, since you can pinch from the center and put it on, rather than squeeze from the sides as the old Nikon caps.

Have already bought three of various sizes. No complaints on any of them!


Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 [Old Version]
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 [Old Version]
Offered by INNOSOFT
Price: $139.99

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My thoughts on the program itself, and thoughts on complaints of speed, March 21, 2012
I'll keep this short and sweet:
This is my first divulgence into "real" photo editing, now that my photography has started to get to new levels (paid). This program is worth all the money just for the RAW converter, I'm not even kidding. I will probably never use the "book", "map", or even "web" module, and frankly, I'm fine with that.

Back to the RAW converter: If you have a sensor that is rated to have a high dynamic range, prepare to be amazed. You can literally create single shot HDR photographs with excellent recovery of crushed blacks and blown highlights. This has many advantages:
1. You no longer need to do multiple exposures (unless you are looking for an EXTREME dynamic range, such as the "baked" look)
2. You can essentially just point and shoot, and the auto-edit will mostly save the exposure for you, just a few manual edits via the sliders and you're golden. Fine detail is preserved amazingly well
3. You will free up space on your hard drive over time, as normal HDR photos have 3-7 bracketed photos
4. You can do HDR without a tripod, making more subjects accessible to many more photo opportunities

Now, addressing people's concerns over the speed (many, many posts about it on the internet), I have a feeling it may have to do with the OS. I'm running OS 10.6.8 (latest version of snow leopard) with a 2.66 ghz i7 dual core processor, 8 gigs of RAM, and an NVIDIA 330M with 512 MB of memory. It seems the problem lies with either the Windows kernel or even OS 10.7 (Lion, which I've not upgraded to, seen many problems with 64-bit programs). On average, it takes about a second when zooming at 100% in the develop module for the picture to "pop" in focus. This is well within the speed I was expecting, and it doesn't interrupt my workflow one bit. Other functions with the program are very snappy and responsive, most adjustments happen in real time. The only one I can think of that has a delay (about 2 seconds) is the luminance noise reduction. This was expected in my case, as my NEX-7's 24MP files are a lot for this program to chew through.

Overall, I can't recommend this enough, I am looking forward to learning all the intricacies that this program has to offer. And I seem to learn new tricks with it every day!
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2012 10:56 PM PDT


Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter with Aperture Dial (De-Clicked), Nikon G and DX type Lens to Sony E-Mount NEX Camera, Nikon G - NEX Pro Camera Adapter, fits Sony NEX-3, NEX-5, NEX-5N, NEX-7, NEX-7N, NEX-C3, NEX-F3, Sony Camcorder NEX-VG10, VG20, FS-100, FS-700
Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter with Aperture Dial (De-Clicked), Nikon G and DX type Lens to Sony E-Mount NEX Camera, Nikon G - NEX Pro Camera Adapter, fits Sony NEX-3, NEX-5, NEX-5N, NEX-7, NEX-7N, NEX-C3, NEX-F3, Sony Camcorder NEX-VG10, VG20, FS-100, FS-700
Offered by fotodiox Inc.
Price: $59.95

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Built well and fits lenses tightly, but still, be careful!, March 12, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
EDIT: Since the time of this review, Fotodiox has changed the design of the adapter to accomodate Nikon G lenses, at the same time removing the tripod mount. I do not have the new version, so I cannot comment on if it is as good/better/worse than the previous version I own. END EDIT
Got this for using a Nikon 50mm f/2 AI and Monster Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AI-s ED on a NEX-7. It works extremely well with the 50mm, as the weight of the lens is light enough to allow for safe one hand holding (if you've already prefocused, of course, or just holding the camera around). With the 300mm f/2.8 though, the lens is well over 5 pounds, so I obviously hold the kit by the lens in this case.

One thing to remember, you won't want to hold this set up by the camera only if you are attaching a lens much heavier than the 50mm I have listed above. It's about 7 ounces. The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AI-s is about 8 ounces, so you'd be fine, but something like the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 is about 12 ounces, so over time you may be putting too much pressure and strain on either the adapter or the mount, so just be careful.

On a side note, it's great that the tripod collar not only removes, but that there isn't a gaping hole in the lens once you do so.

Bottom line? A must have for any NEX owner who either has some old Nikon manual lenses or plans to acquire some. It's much better built than the cheaper $25 adapters, but not overly expensive such as the $150 Metabones or $300 Novoflex.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2013 9:08 PM PST


Sony NEX-7 24.3 MP Compact Interchangeable Lens Camera - Body Only (OLD MODEL)
Sony NEX-7 24.3 MP Compact Interchangeable Lens Camera - Body Only (OLD MODEL)
Offered by DavisMAX
Price: $994.09
25 used & new from $419.00

40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sports and General Photography with the NEX-7 (Rolling Review Style), March 12, 2012
Warning: This review is LONG. You may want to set aside time to read it. All pictures mentioned should be under the product pictures for this camera.

Let me start out by saying I'm new to photography. Not new in the sense that I don't know how to generally operate a camera, but concepts such as equalizing the exposure pyramid, composition, and "seeing the focal length" are areas that I have really just delved into. Just for a bit of scope, before getting this camera, I was shooting a Nikon d300 with the glass talked about in detail below, for only 2 months. Before that, point-and-shoots. A very big leap in equipment from basic consumer to enthusiast. So why did I get into this so fast?

Simple--demand.

My college's sports department needed a cheaper alternative for season games to get action shots, as they couldn't afford the resident pro photographer for every game. At the time, I was shooting a borrowed Nikon d40 for our newspaper. I wanted to give it a shot, and very quickly found that it wouldn't cut it for a sports camera, especially for indoor basketball games. After trying a couple different old lenses that my father no longer needed, such as the Tokina 80-200 f/2.8 AT-X, I ended up loaning out his trusty d300. It got the job done, but was limited by my complete lack of large aperture autofocus lenses, as the simple focus confirmation dot paired with the optical viewfinder weren't accurate enough for reliable results.

After what seemed like enough research to write a dissertation, I came to the conclusion that I'd be better off actually investing in a body to use the glass I already had, rather than get better glass for a still great, but 5 year old camera. This fell onto the camera up for review today, and after falling victim to the same shortage many other photographers had to wait through, I have finally had a chance to see what the hype is all about.

First day:

Luckily for me, my Nikon F mount to E mount adapter came in the same day as the camera, and after the very long, 5-hour, initial battery charge...ran out of usable light outside to take any usable photos.

I did, however, have ample time to take a few pictures with the main lenses I use with it, as well as a size comparison between the d300 and a point-and-shoot. You can see these in the product pictures.

Spoiler ahead: the size comparison picture I have attached demonstrates the point that Sony got it right and managed to pack in almost every single feature a DSLR has, remove the reflex mirror, and keep the whole package about the size of a normal compact camera. This is no small feat.

As far as first impressions about the camera itself, it just /feels/ right. Great rubberized grip, great weight, solid all metal build, and everything has a defined edge "cut" that really makes the design of this stand out when in the hand.

Second/Third Day:
So, enter again a couple days later, after I've really gotten a chance to mess around with the camera, and my first impressions about the general feel were backed up by the image quality. Outstanding. Rich. Detailed. Those are the three words that come to mind every time I ask myself how to feel about the NEX-7's RAW files (I strive to only shoot RAW for maximum post processing flexibility) at low ISO's. Seeing as it is March, the flowers are out, so take a quick look at my boring flower shot and get back here. Good? Now check out the one with the robin taken with the 300mm f/2.8. Alright? Awesome, we can move on.

So one thing I really wanted to test with this camera that is a hard quality to quantify is the usability, how it shoots, how it operates, and how it just feels as a quality piece of kit. Well there's good news, and bad news. Good news is, its highly customizable and modular control interface allows me to have complete and total control over my exposures. With the live exposure feedback on both the LCD screen and EVF, I know exactly what the picture will look like /before/ I take it, (constant DoF preview, for instance), something an optical viewfinder can never do. The bad news, however, which is really just niggling here, is that in order to get your preferred settings where you want, you have to play with the camera for a good few hours straight, wading through the honestly awful menu structure. I won't lie, it is disorganized and laid out terribly. That said, with the exception of formatting the memory card, I have assigned all the settings I ever need to on-body (and out of menu) controls, so my trips to the menu will be very few and far in between. If you worry about this point, rest easy, once you fiddle around and get everything assigned to the button of your choice, you'll be good to go.

A quick praise and redux of the EVF/LCD screen with peaking and manual focus assist: for still subjects, the combination of the two leads to extremely precise focusing that is amazingly useful for lenses, such as the two I use, that have a large maximum aperture. When you start focusing, you can actually see a band of color (can choose from Red, Yellow, or White, I use yellow on high intensity) move along so you know when and where the focus will hit. Then, after your area is in "color", you use manual focus assist (I assigned it to the AF/MF-AEL button) to get even more precise focus. Now on moving subjects, just stick to peaking and hope for the best. Again, if you are using a large aperture (f/2.8 or larger), then typically what flashes in your peaking color will be in focus. Of course, if you have any prior experience with manual focusing, you'll be right at home here. In my case, these lenses are easier to use on the NEX-7 than they ever would on the d300. One thing to note about the EVF though, in moderately low to good light, it has very fast response, so much so that it is essentially real time, with no screen tearing like I was expecting. In low light, in order to show a decent image on screen, it has to turn the refresh rate down, so it lags a tad. Just keep that in mind.

Fourth Day:

I really wanted to put this camera through its paces today and went on a photo trip of sorts out to a local covered bridge. I wanted to find out more strengths, and possible new weaknesses. To keep it short and sweet, take a look at the "one-shot HDR" picture from inside the bridge and come back. Looking good, no? Anyways, onto a few quick strengths, with a light prime attached, this camera is just a piece of cake to carry around, angle, and shoot. Held mine for 2 hours straight without a neck strap (one of the weaknesses of this camera is that the included neck strap is truly awful) and simply changing hands when carrying it was the only remedy needed for taking the weight off. The tilting LCD helps you get up and close to focus without having to bend or crouch too much, and is bright enough to see in all but direct mid-day sunlight. One note about the EVF, though, the eyecup isn't quite deep enough to block out ALL outside light, but the chances of outside light creeping in is pretty small, and once you know where it's coming from, you can press the camera up to your eye in whatever angle you need to get it to be a complete seal.

So, fourth day impressions? Getting more and more comfortable with it, but take note, this is a camera that DEMANDS that you take it with you and shoot, as memorizing what your settings and buttons do takes a bit of time. For me, I'm already starting to intrinsically get this process down, and am starting to see what all the hype is about the controls. One side note, all I have with me is a slow class 4 card. When writing RAW files each file takes about 3 seconds, when I do a 3-4 shot burst, that time gets compounded. I have a fast (Sandisk UHS-1 95MB/s) card coming in hopefully tomorrow, and although the camera doesn't support it the UHS-1 class speed, it'll be a good, fast class 10 card to have if I ever get another future NEX that has UHS-1 support, OR a USB 3.0 card reader.

First week round-up:
I have now had the chance to really get to know this camera over the past week. Here's just a quick roundup of pros and cons that I find relevant to shooting, some of which are mentioned above.

Pros:
1. 24MP sensor strikes the perfect balance between high resolution, ISO noise, file size, and dynamic range. Any camera I get from this point on needs to have at least this many megapixels, as the cropping flexibility is tremendous.
2. Body design and function is great. The "L" shape creates a very secure grip, and the fact that it is rubberized just makes it grip that much more. Everything, save for the buttons and screen, is metal. There is nothing like the feeling of picking up a camera after a few hours to be greeted by a cold, hard, magnesium alloy body. Though it's not weather sealed, I'm sure this camera can take some punishment.
3. The EVF has changed the way I shoot, coming from an OVF. Being able to "see what the sensor sees" is a true game changer. I will never go back to an OVF. It's not all peachy though, see cons.
4. The peaking and focus magnification functions, combined with the bright tilt screen, have made getting numerous shots that I couldn't get with a DSLR (with manual lenses), possible. It's just amazing to zoom into 100% to get tack-sharp accurate focus in real time, even with large aperture lenses. It's even more fun to see the "band" of the depth of field get closer and further away as you play with the focus ring. :)
5. Though I haven't done much video yet, the few little clips I have tried out are great. Seeing as I got this camera for PICTURES, the fact that it does any sort of video at all (let alone 1080/60p at 28 Mbps!!!) is like icing on top of red velvet cake. On a similar note, I have not once accidentally pushed the video record button, as many others complain about. Maybe I'm just lucky with the curvature of my thumb?
6. With a fast card (in my case, a SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB, SDHC, UHS-1 Flash Memory Card SDSDXPA-032G-X46,Black), camera operation is great. RAW files write fast, even after a large burst of 6-10 photos, and scrolling through photos and magnifying to check focus is a lot faster than a class 4 or 6 card.

Cons:
1. Though pixel-level detail with 24MP at ISO 100 in RAW is flat out amazing, viewing anything higher than ISO 400 reveals pixel-level noise. Not great if you're a pixel peeper. That said, at an IMAGE level, noise only really shows up at 3200, and is easily removable in post processing. Also, since I try to always use a large aperture prime, I can afford to always stay within ISO 100-400. No big deal here.
2. The EVF struggles in high contrast situations to accurately show highlights and shadows, meaning it clips both of them. However, this doesn't affect the image upon immediate playback, and if you shoot in RAW, you really just need to make sure your subject is generally exposed right and you can mess with all the highlights and shadows quickly and easily in post. Also, though the refresh rate is truly real-time in moderately low to good light, when it gets really low, the screen rate is something like 10-15 fps, which is because the sensor needs to lower the "virtual" shutter rate so it can show a properly exposed viewfinder image. This is the case with ANY mirrorless camera.
3. 24MP RAW files will quickly fill your hard drive. You better bet on getting a large external hard drive on down the road.
4. The only native lens that outresolves the sensor is the Zeiss 24mm f/1.8. However, I have seen many amazing shots already from the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS, despite it technically not being up to snuff. That said, there are some great lenses in e-mount on Sony's roadmap for this year, and until then, if you are using any good manual full-frame lenses (such as mine, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AI-s E-series which is replacing the 50mm f/2 AI pictured in the product images, and the 300mm f/2.8 AI-s ED) they outresolve the sensor very well.

Last installment of the rolling review, queue paid sports photography:
If you have read this far, kudos to you. This will be the final post regarding the fast action performance of this camera.

First, see the baseball and softball pictures posted in the product images. Now get back here! Can you tell those were caught with a manual focus lens?

I didn't think so. There are 5 big things that this camera has over any other DSLR or mirrorless (in the same price range) in regards to sports photography (granted that you already have some proficiency with manual focus lenses). Let me explain:

1. 10 fps full resolution with a 17 file (in RAW!!!) buffer depth. Though fps can never be high enough (even the D4's 12 fps would miss some of the action in baseball), I have never once locked myself up while shooting, being able to consistently fire off 3-7 shot bursts and go right to shooting another. Cameras like the Samsung NX200, for instance, have a fast burst mode, but a poor buffer depth, locking up often. When paired with a fast card (I was redundant as mentioned before and got the 32gb Sandisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s, maxing out probably at 25MB/s), this camera doesn't disappoint in pure operational speed.
2. 24MP is absolutely huge. I've also said this before, but in this sort of situation what the resolution allows me to do is shoot first, compose later (in PP), and still maintain perfect amounts of detail. Going to around 50% crop? No problem! This sort of advantage gives me more time to get focus, instead of thinking of tightly framing a shot.
3. Peaking and manual focus assist. For people running, and quick acquisition, use peaking. If you look where you should (the ground, not the players), just wait until the band of the depth of field gets to them, and snap away. You may not hit critical focus (especially at f/2.8!), but for a generally good shot, this works very well. When you have time to prefocus, such as on the player at bat, the pitcher, or various bases waiting for someone to steal, THAT'S where the genius of manual focus assist comes in, just zoom straight in with the press of a button and turn the ring until you see the fine sand detail. Using these in combination feels like it gets me to about 75% autofocus performance (not including the stupid fast sonic wave focus lenses), and frankly, that's great.
4. Weight (lack-thereof). Though having a big lens attached to any camera makes a heavy set-up, in cases like this, with a 5.6 pound lens on a monopod, literally all the weight is in the lens, the camera is just an add-on. This has its own advantages. You can get by with a cheaper tripod built to hold less (I'm using a cheapo 14 clam Vivitar monopod, and no worries about it collapsing on me), and when carrying it around the field, the overall weight is negligible (after you take into account what you are carrying!).
5. Price/Performance. This is the biggest point of them all. What all these factors combine to do, for the money, is staggering. To get the same quality of pictures with autofocus, would need a d400 (doesn't exist yet, but will probably have the same sensor as this camera) and the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AF-S VR ED. I would probably have to get a better monopod for the extra weight as well. All in all an outfit like that would cost about $7000-$8000, that's not including any other accessories like a vertical grip, extra batteries, or even a capable memory card. My set-up? NEX-7+Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AI-s ED+Vivitar Monopod+Fotodiox Adapter+32gb SanDisk Extreme Pro? $1800. Is autofocus really worth $5000? For me, even if I had the money, and after seeing what my combination can do, I say no.

So final thoughts? You can already see what my argument would be based on the major points above. There are so many more valid points I could make about the system to back up my claim, but I feel those are all I need.

I'll say it right here and now, if you have any proficiency, or plan to acquire proficiency, with manual focus lenses, the NEX-7 with a capable ED telephoto Nikon or Canon lens is currently the best choice for a rising sports shooter on a limited budget. You'll mis-focus here and there with really fast moving targets, and will need a lot of practice to keep up with sports such as soccer and football (which I firmly believe will be doable), but there is no other camera/lens combination out there that gives a photographer this much performance for this little cost. Let your photos speak for you and get the jobs, not what your camera outfit looks like (I get nothing but stares when walking around with this thing). I showed my employer my pictures before I presented the camera, and got the job BECAUSE OF THE PICTURES.

Now that I've written this, go ahead and get yourself an ED telephoto before the prices skyrocket too much on eBay if you have a NEX. :)

This concludes my rolling review. I may on down the road in a few months update it. We'll see. My initial impression of a 5-star camera still stands extremely well. Comments and ratings are welcome!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2012 11:20 PM PDT


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything about it screams quality, February 16, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Since a mounting plate is one of the most crucial parts of a tripod/monopod mounting setup, you don't want to buy cheap and hope for the best. That's why even though I am using a Vivitar VIV-VT-67 67-Inch Monopod, I got this plate for current and future use on other mounting situations.

Everything is metal, and, though small, feels substantial in the hand. The quality of workmanship is almost felt when holding it.

The rubber on top of the mount ensures that you will screw in tightly with no give, the ring on the screw ensures that you can tighten it easily, the simple push in locking mechanism gives you a tactile feedback when you know it's locked, the release lever along with the safety trigger is ingenious to prevent accidental dismounts, and did I mention everything is metal?

Another nice feature, it has markings on the bottom that point the mount in the right direction of your lens so you know exactly where to rotate it.

I was unsure about my purchase, as this plate was 3 times the cost of my monopod. However, since I now know that I have a quality product that I'm sure will last for 10, 20, even 30 years, I can rest easy in my investment.

Get it, use it, and enjoy photography.


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