NEX-shooter "meet-up" in Sausalito, CA: "1prime" + "blue_skies" + "Buzzards Bay Mel"

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Mel Snyder
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NEX-shooter "meet-up" in Sausalito, CA: "1prime" + "blue_skies" + "Buzzards Bay Mel"
3 months ago

What we look like

Henry ("blue_skies"), Mel Snyder, Don ("1prime") on the deck of the Sausalito Yacht Club when Don berths his lovely "Tres Bien" sailboat

A few weeks ago, Don and Henry and I began private messaging about possibly meeting on my next trip to see my new grandson in San Francisco. Don proposed Sausalito, and I messaged Henry - and he took off a few hours to join us.

It was really fun meeting them in person, and the enjoyment was stoked by Henry's bringing his new A7 and kit lens, and Don's newly acquired NEX-7. Over a bottle of California cabernet and some really quality hamburgers, with the beautiful Sausalito harbor on one side and the hills rising on the other, good company plus good food and great cameras made a fun time. Both guys are genuinely warm and wonderful people.

Don is as enthusiastic and upbeat a person as you will ever meet - you could not fully appreciate that in his forum posts, though you could guess it; Henry really, really understands both cameras and optics - and as an engineer with a global leader in high tech who has dealt with businesses all over the world, you can take to the bank his judgments of where Sony is going and why. Perhaps if more of us could communicate face to face, the forum would be a kinder and gentler place.

It was my first time to touch an A7, and I must admit it's everything I hoped for in the camera. The difference between my NEX-6 and the A7 is the difference between a Mazda Miata and a Ferrari. I'm glad I first touched an A7 at Don's yacht club instead of B&H in Manhattan, or my credit card would have been immediately nicked!

Don and Henry, and some of the gear we passed around

Don and I did a "shoot-off" - me with ny NEX-6 and him with his new NEX-7 - but I waited till he took the camera away from his face to fire.

Henry, in a small section of an overexposed jpeg I tried to bring down in Lightroom. Had to try his A7 with my >30 year old 35mm f1.4 Summilux, but I didn't know how to manually focus the A7 and actually hit his far shoulder. The A7 will pose a learning curve for me - but hey, it will be fun to "go back to school" with one.

Mel and Don on "Tres Bien" - shot with an IR remote

The view off the stern of Don's boat when it's not contaminated by two Sony freaks - that triple-spreader superyacht pulling out of its slip is gorgeous - Sausalito is home to the boats of many well-known tech company execs.

When it comes to "classy classic" Sausalito boats, nothing can easily top this 1929 Abeking & Rasmussen "M Class" yacht, believed to be the last "M Class" boats in existence

The ferry ride over from San Francisco was a chance to squeeze off a few shots through the haze:

An East Coast Concordia yawl, with morning haze on San Francisco bay...

View over the stern on the ferry ride to Sausalito...

...and the panorama of SF on the way back.

A few quick observations on the A7:

As small as I hoped. Shutter vastly quieter than I believed from complaints here. EVF placement is just fine - those of us who've shot rangefinders and SLRs since the film era will not notice anything challenging. Build is more than adequate for the likely life of a 2014 technology product likely to be rendered obsolescent within 3 years by even better cameras. If you were considering the A7 as "the last camera you will ever buy," that will hold true only if you plan to die before 2017. There will be better sensors and better AF in later versions. If you get hung up over what the A7 is not, and are waiting for its features in an updated NEX-7, you are "waiting for Godot." Once I saw it, my guess is that expecting a revised NEX-7 would be like expecting Cadillac to update the 1959 El Dorado for people who like cars with fins.

The learning curve from an APS-C camera as simple as the NEX-6 will be steep, from simpler NEX models, even steeper. This is not a point-and-shoot you can put on automatic and jpeg and expect to get better results than an NEX-5. To the contrary, you are likely to get worse images than with the very consumer-oriented P&S design of the LCD-only NEX. This is going to take many evenings with the manual open to get the most out of it.

I now understand why some are disappointed with the A7. The first time I rented a Hertz Shelby Mustang (yes, believe it or not, that once was possible) I damn near wrecked it driving out of a Chicago Loop franchise - I was unprepared for the 1-turn lock-to-lock steering and what seemed like a binary braking system. The A7 is a thoroughbred, not a canter horse for your kids.

 Mel Snyder's gear list:Mel Snyder's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony Alpha 7 Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 +13 more
Sony Alpha 7 Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony Alpha NEX-7
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