The zeal of Sony is nothing to scoff at. In little over a decade, they built from the ruins of a dying film giant, created a new digital system, and continue to innovate at such a pace that it brought up the entire industry as a whole. It is no wonder you see so many long-standing photographers jumping ship to run under the Alpha-branded banner.
With such a pace of expansion and growth, however, there is bound to be some confusion with the systems; namely with the NEX and Alpha branding and the difference between NEX, E-Mount and A-mount lenses. Here’s a little breakdown on the Sony camera mounts:
[REWIND: One Of The “100 Most Important People in Photography” Has Moved to Sony After 40 Years With Canon]
In 2006 Konica Minolta struggled to gain ground in the newly emerging digital camera market. The company decided to partner with Sony to develop a new line of DSLR. Sony, at that point, had success with the Cybershot line but had no significant presence in the professional or prosumer market. The merger, however, ended up falling through, with Konica Minolta selling their camera business and resources to Sony.
Later that year Sony would release their first DSLR, the Alpha A100. The new system had a striking resemblance to earlier Konica Minolta products sharing in-body image stabilization, honeycomb pattern metering, eye-start autofocus and even centered around the same lens mount although re-branded. Originally called the A-Type mount, the new Sony A-mount was created by Minolta back in 1985.
During the initial run of the Alpha system, Sony announced 19 lenses and 2 teleconverters, many of which were rebranded Konica Minolta lenses. A-mount seems to have been pushed aside in favor of E-mount, and even though Sony has assured everyone that A-mount support will continue, it would seem the writing’s on the wall.
The New E-mount eXperience
Four years after the introduction of their first DSLR, Sony ventured into the world of mirrorless cameras. The first step into the market came in the form of the NEX-3 and NEX-5, the then world’s smallest, lightest interchangeable lens digital cameras. The new cameras used the new, in-house developed E-mount. Supplementing the A-Mount, E-mount was designed by Sony for their NEX, short for “New E-mount eXperience” and was able to use existing A-Mount lenses via an adapter.
Previous marketing had NEX models using E-mount lenses and Alpha models used A-mount lenses, but this changed in 2013 with the introduction of the a3000 and the restructuring of the Alpha brand. Since then all Sony interchangeable-lens cameras fell under the Alpha umbrella, this includes previous branded NEX cameras as well as future models such as the Sony A9.
If all this marketing and brand restructuring has you thinking in circles you won’t be alone. Sony Artisan Patrick Murphy-Racey sets to make the record straight, clarifying the difference between the defunct NEX brand, E-Mount and FE Lenses and their relationship to each other.