The following is a guest post from Digital Rev.
What’s Next for NEX
It’s been a little over 3 years since Sony unveiled their NEX camera range with the NEX 3 and NEX 5. Fast forward to 2013 and you have a filled out range of camera bodies to choose from: starting with the NEX F3 (entry) NEX 5 R (mid) and ending with two advance amateur models in the NEX 6 and 7.
To complement these camera bodies, you can now choose from 6 Sony prime and 7 Zoom lens, 2 converters, an A-mount adapter and a variety of e-mount lenses from Carl Zeiss, Cosina, Samyang, Sigma and Tamron bringing the total to over 20 lenses in all.
Summer 2013 -Two New Zeiss Touit Lenses join the e-mount line up
I recently had the chance to use the new Touit 2.8/12mm. (NOTE: Zeiss also released another prime in the Touit series the 1.8/32mm) This wide angle Touit 12mm prime has all that lovely Zeiss build quality you would expect and the compliments the black NEX 6 or 7 very well especially if you’re after that chunky but small DSLR look in the hand. You can see the nice, sharp images it can produce – it’s a superb ultra-wide lens to add to any camera bag. The one negative comment I would have to add is the rather too smooth rubber focal ring that doesn’t stop turning, it feels just a little cheap for a Zeiss and I would have preferred a ring that does have a stop point.
Where will NEX go?
So looking at this line of cameras got me thinking about where the NEX series will go.
There has been much talk of a full frame NEX which I suppose might fit between an RX1 and an A99 but I would be unsure about how that would work with e-mount lenses on a full frame sensor body? If you further search for a recent Sony patent application it may be true that the camera maker will move away from SLT technology in the A mount and move over to fully translucent camera perhaps an A-E hybrid bridge camera. The camera would accept lenses from both the A and E-Mount variants, just how this will actually work is still not clear. As for actual camera updates I am sure you can expect a new NEX 7 (probably this year) and I have already seen rumors on a new NEX 5T but with no new specifications to share yet.
With the point and shoot market being taken over by Smartphone and the heavy pro DSLR becoming if anything more high end and expensive I expect Sony and other camera makers to develop their interchangeable compact camera lines. Indeed the labeling and technology for cameras means there is no one single word that defines them and each camera maker has a slightly different take on a system. One of the downsides is that explaining this tech to non-camera geeks is a little tedious if not boring (my vote would go for a compact camera system label). One area that is still left untouched and needs a great re-think is the software user interface and the ease of connecting these cameras for such tasks as wifi transfer. Whenever I have tried to connect cameras to a wifi network it has been tiresome and drawn out and makes Smartphone cameras shine in comparison. So what about the interface issues? – I think that the classic text and option menus no longer cut it and much can be learnt from some of the elegance and touch screen UI of the Nexus 4 Android Jelly Bean camera, the new Nokia Pro camera software on the new Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Samsung Galaxy camera interface. None of these are perfect but they are getting somewhere.
In contrast the latest apps for the NEX 6 and 5R can be found at playmemoriescameraapps.com. If I am right these are all developed by Sony and for the just those cameras and I presume that the locked nature of the software development kit means Sony aren’t going to open this up to independent developers anytime soon. These apps are also small fry compared to thousands of photo mobile apps for iOS and Android. Granted Sony makes does make it on iOS/Android app for these cameras but all those really do is connect the camera to your Smartphone so you can use it as a photo gallery viewer.
As Sony make and develop many Android based mobile devices I can see a lot of Android focused development coming to a future NEX eco-system at some point. The tech world is full of rumor on future cameras and a new Sony mobile camera lens may be out very soon that might even allow you to connect it to a touch screen device. I would hope that the next generation NEX camera would dovetail into an Android mix up of what is camera and what is a mobile device with a super accurate and simple photo interface. The NEX line of cameras is the perfect example of an established camera maker hardware needing to make a leap into the connected digital world – I expect something special from them – perhaps even something like Artefactgroup that takes the wireless connection even further and preserve the precision that photographer demand but throws in all the modern ease of a truly mobile and flexible camera. Maybe this will lead to an amazing modular camera that allows you to pick a sensor, storage attachments and screen much like the way you buy a laptop or tablet these days … Who knows, but I have a feeling we are going to see some radical changes in this market soon.