Thursday, August 26, 2010

How little the NEX still system needs

There has been a lot of discussion on the internet about the place of the NEX series, particularly in light of how small the latest A33 and A55 from Sony are. In particular there has been some discussion that the NEX adventure is largely unnessary and will further dilute Sony's resources to develop the A-mount. I disagee.

When thinking about the A and E mounts I am reminded, very strongly, of Contax which ran a 'full' SLR line-up (albeit only the C/Y manual mount was what we would call 'full' these days) and a 'full' and mature rangefinder range. If we consider the NEX 3 and NEX 5 as spiritual successors to the Contax G series (which I do) it is really instructive to remember just how small the Contax G RF lens line-ups were. The entire Contax G mount range was:

Hologon 16/8
Biogon 21/2.8
Biogon 28/2.8
Planar 35/2
Planar 45/2
Sonnar 90/2.8
Vario-Sonnar 35–70/3.5–5.6

Thats it - 7 lenses.

Even looking at the much more mature and well supported Leica M mount there are only 11 basic focal lengths (albeit in some lengths there are a variety of speeds) although to be really fair we should also note that the Leicas are all manual focus and with the addition of a very cheap adapter can be used on the NEX series.

So, using the Contax G as a 'model' range what would an E mount lens line-up require (I'm assuming a 1.5 crop factor but not worrying about DOF issues of an APS sensor) the rough 35mm FF equivalent is shown in parenthesis also.

10 (15/16)
14 (20)
16 (24)
20 (28/30)
24 (35)
30 (45/50)
60 (90)

Now given that the 35-80ish zooms are now longer very fashionable I'd suggest something like:

16-50 (24-75)

Also, considering the need for video, we also need a superzoom, say:

18-250 (28-380)

So if we got all that we would have replicated the entire Contax G range and be only a few lenses short of everything Leica has deemed necessary after almost 70 years. Thats not a lot and only a small investment for a company like Sony to produce. So instead of thinking of the E mount as a competitor to the A mount we should see it as a compliment and instead of worrying about how it diverts resources from the A-mount we should be pleased that a system that requires so little can bring so much to the Alpha community.

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