I wrote a post a couple of years ago (on this site but got canned in the redo) about Sony’s rough roll-out of their camera business, and took a lot of heat for it. People didn’t like how I pointed out the average selling price for one of Sony’s lenses (real high!), and the fact that their full frame offerings were dismal to say the least. Well, after a couple of years and Sony’s introduction of the FE system, I decided to write up some thoughts on Sony’s progress since then.
Note; the term ‘current’ or ‘currently’ means June of 2014.
Prices and availability are from Sony’s US retail website on the last week of May, 2014.
Full Frame ‘a’ mount system.
Sony has seemingly stalled this system, and is concentrating on the FE mirrorless system. I have no problem with that. But Sony needs to introduce all new lenses, not just adapters so you can use their outdated Sony branded Minolta lenses. Of course there are good lenses out there, new and old, like the 300/2.8 G, 135STF, 50/1.4 Zeiss, 135/1.8 Zeiss, 85/1.4 and the 24-70/2.8 Zeiss. Everything else is pretty much sub par in optical performance for today in my opinion. Sony has not produced a single macro lens for this system. Sony, it’s 2014, not the late 1980s. Only new lens in last two years; the 50/1.4 Zeiss. Currently only one camera available, the A99. My gut feeling; forget this system; ebay it and move on.
APS-C, or ‘DT’ system.
Sony’s ‘DT’ system unfortunately has also slowed substantially, no doubt due to the huge interest in the ‘E’ system. I’m not sure Sony has plans to keep development up for this system other than introducing new cameras so you have something to mount all your lenses to. No new lenses in the last two years except for a rehashed 18-55 kit lens. My gut feeling, Sony isn’t interested anymore, move on to the ‘E’ system
E (formerly NEX) system.
Sony’s newest system is the shining star of their small-scale imaging abilities, and it’s clearly number one on their list of priorities. Since the debut of the NEX system in early 2010, Sony has come out with 14 total cameras and 20 lenses, with many more coming up according to Sony, mostly for full frame though. I’m not including aftermarket stuff from Sigma and Zeiss Touit, some of their lenses are really good, but are not from Sony. If you look at the numbers below, you can see that the full frame system is far more expensive than their smaller sensor APS-C system.
Total number of aps-c cameras produced; 11.
Total number of aps-c lenses produced; 15 (excludes converter lenses).
Total number of full frame cameras produced; 3.
Total number of full frame lenses produced; 5
Average retail price for an aps-c ‘E’ mount camera; $483.
Average retail price for an aps-c ‘E’ mount lens; $602.
Average retail price for a full frame ‘E’ mount camera; $2100.
Average retail price for a full frame ‘E’ mount lens; $1000.
My take: Sony’s ‘E’ mount APS-C system is by far the smartest purchase, get a good body, and a couple of good lenses for under $2000. If you can’t take good pictures with this stuff, it’s not the stuff, it’s you.
Sony’s full frame ‘E’ mount is looking quite good, if you have a lot of money. So far the lenses are averaging a grand a piece, and over two grand for a camera body!! The prime lenses are really good, the zooms seem ok, but not great. Get a good body and a couple of good lenses for as sum north of $4000. Purchase this system if you shoot mostly in poor light, and like to look at your images at 100% on your computer.
Honestly, when I bought my A7R, the only way I could tell the difference from the NEX-7 is by the noise reduction, it’s better on the A7R, but for most people not worth all the extra money.
Today’s reality: higher end camera products are the only profit generator for Sony, and probably a few other camera companies too. Get used to high prices for quality gear, or go back to film.
FWIW; when out and about taking pictures for fun, I use medium format film close to the car, or when hiking, the micro 4/3 system, the cameras and lenses are just so light and small, plus there’s an excellent selection. I also use a Canon G1X, and may even try the Sony RX100 in the near future.
The thoughts here are my own, I do not have any affiliation with any camera or lens company, I just buy what I like. I like Sony’s cameras stuff, and the potential of the ‘E’ system, but I hope they will continue to develop and produce more lenses for both sensor sizes, especially quality telephoto lenses and fast, wide angle, like 24/1.4, and 35/1.4 etc.