Photography Gear

Sony NEX Custom Settings and Upgrading Camera Gear

Quick Note: If you are looking for more information about custom controls, Lenses and tips for the Sony NEX series, take a look here for my guides, reviews and links.

Last night and this morning I went into the camera settings menu and reprogrammed all of my custom key settings. Within about an hour of unboxing back in March when I bought the camera, I had assigned all of the available custom keys. I haven't really touched them since then.

I was out shooting earlier this week and found myself annoyed that a setting I wanted to change...which I change quite often was a couple layers deep in a menu. That started my tinkering. The 5N has two dedicated user assignable buttons and one Custom menu that can be assigned to the center button. The custom 1 touch buttons should logically get me to places that I either use often or need to be able to change quickly.

I've found that my most used functions are Quality, HDR, MF/AF and ISO. I had all of these except for HDR in the custom menu, and then the custom soft key on the screen was set to quickly access different modes.

I switched them around a bit as the ISO, and ability to switch to manual focus are the most important to me. Truthfully, I would love to have access to at least one more variable in the A,S and M modes.

What if there were more buttons available?

I had a chance to visit a local camera shop near my office this week and check out both the NEX 6 and The NEX 7. Both have very similar menus and the same custom button options are found in the same areas.

I've considered both as upgrade paths, but have held steady for a few reasons.

  1. The actual image quality in tests has appeared to be remarkably similar on the 5's and the 6. In fact, SonyAlpha Rumors linked to a great article by DxOmark who did some tests and the results seems to show that the sensor quality on the NEX 6 is identical to that of the 5N. There are some differences in the sensor that primarily assist with auto focus as well, but I haven't had many issues with that so it wouldn't really make much difference to me. I already posted some thoughts on the sensor in the 7. The short summary is that it probably has too many pixels for its own good.

  2. Now that I'm a few months in, I really wish that my camera had an electronic viewfinder which both the 6 and 7 have. There is an EVF unit that snaps right onto the top of my camera, but at nearly $300, if I were to consider it, I might as well look into a new body.

  3. The NEX 7 has a beautifully designed user interface with 3 active control knobs that are active most of the time and are user-assignable. In other words, When you are in Aperture Priority, one knob obviously controls the aperture, and the others can control Exposure compensation and ISO. When in Manual, There can be a dedicated control for ISO, one for Shutter, and one for Aperture. Sweet.

  4. The 6 has a dedicated function knob which is great, but the control wheels are not very flexible and most of the time, the one dial on the back of the camera is rendered inactive. In other words, though the size and the form factor is almost identical to the 7, they didn't really take advantage of the extra space or dedicated knobs. They just gave you a new knob, and force you to use it instead of the other


Any upgrade would be one of form and not function at this point. I love the idea of better and more controls, but I don't think that the image quality would improve significantly. I'm glad that the data backs this up because I'm the type to look for reasons to upgrade. What I'm seeing even more clearly is that a solid body doesn't need to be replaced all that often, and that it makes more sense to invest your time and money into a couple of great lenses that you can trust.

I love what John Carey has to say about it here, and here

Seems as though any time I casually start looking at, reading about, or considering a new camera I always come to the same conclusion...Why?

His images are primarily created with a 6 year old Canon 5D and are stunning. He does use one hell of a lens though. I'm new at this, but taking notes from John.