The build quality of the Sony NEX system

Sony NEX-5n Zeiss 24mm f/1.8


Ever since becoming a born again Sony NEX fanboy, one of the things that has impressed me about the system is the build quality. I do realise that since I'm writing this, my cameras and lenses will suddenly spontaneously disassemble and cease to function, but as of this moment I'm very impressed by the engineering and manufacturing quality of the system. Somewhat more so than my a77 and a-mount lenses, which feel somewhat more fragile.

I was an early insulter of the NEX system, comparing the cameras to bars of soap. And yes I'm fickle, easily convinced and flit between camera systems like a bee to the next pretty flower, but I'm beginning to think that this stuff might actually be well designed, well thought out and (I can't believe I'm writing this!) beautiful.

After the arrival of my Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 lens yesterday, I couldn't leave it alone. I found myself walking around the house with it, putting it on shelves and standing back to admire it. It arrived early afternoon and since we are in the month of darkness here in the UK, I didn't have much time to try it out outdoors. So I'm sitting here writing this waiting for the sun to come up, wondering just how many layers of clothing I'm going to have to wear, wanting desperately to go outside and try it out again.

Regular readers to this blog will know that there is a pattern for new gear that arrives here. It usually follows the timeline of Awesome > OK > I''ve sold it! My NEX stuff seems to reversing this trend.

The reasons for this are firstly that the NEX-5n's I have take really good pictures, but secondly they handle really well, and feel really solid in the hand. I've written before about how well put together the lenses are, but it seems to extend to other accessories. From the picture above you will see that I have leather half cases for my cameras. These are very well made, are rigid and give the camera a "more substantial presence resulting in a very satisfactory handling experience". (They feel good!)

My only little niggle is the viewfinder. It does have this tendency to move upward whenever I put my eye to it, and the mechanism that fastens it to the camera is fiddly and looks just one false move away from sheering away from the body. Pretty similar to other add-on EVF's but I think I'm going to prefer the built in viewfinder on the NEX-7. 

Dpreview commented on the NEX-7's build quality in their review. http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonynex7/  

"...it's an undoubtedly purposeful-looking camera, handsome even." 

"The NEX-7's build quality is excellent - the metal-shelled body feels solid with no flexing or creaks, and the handgrip is covered with a thick rubberized coating. The three control dials and most of the buttons are crafted from metal, giving a real quality feel. The overall impression is of a camera that's designed to provide as much control as possible at your fingertips, with minimal fripperies or gimmicks."

So despite my initial suspicion and reluctance to see the benefits of the NEX system, I'm really beginning to warm to it. On the day the Zeiss arrived, my last remaining m4/3 camera and lenses got parcelled up and sent to a new home. So currently sitting on the shelf are an a77, two Sony NEX-5n's and the Samsung NX200, which has a "my days are numbered" look in its eyes. Especially after Dpreview wrote of the NEX-7:- "...and in terms of out-and-out image quality it's probably the best APS-C camera yet, regardless of size."

So my joke about this blog becoming Sonyimageplus, may turn out to not be a joke after all. Sonys "big bang" announcements back in the summer have turned out to be somewhat significant here, and I seem to have bought (or ordered) virtually everything they announced. I think the only thing I'm missing is the A65 camera. 

I can imagine many of you going "He's doing it again, give him 6 months and he'll be using something else" You may well be right and I know myself well enough not to make any predictions as to what I will using over a week in advance. But for now I'm getting great results and enjoying my Sony gear, and the NEX stuff in particular, and the fact that I like it more and more as time progresses is certainly a new sensation. We'll see how things progess but there's just the tiniest little suspicion lurking somehere in the back of my mind that I may finally be on the verge of discovering "my camera" or at least "my camera system". 

As I said don't hold your breath, and in a years (months? weeks?) time you will have every right to remind me of this post if I get attracted by the two birds in the bush, yet again!

UPDATE (16/02/2012)

I have of course, bought into m4/3 again. Just couldn't resist it!!