Enthusiast interchangeable lens camera roundup (2013)
Sony NEX 7
24MP APS-C CMOS Sensor | Three-dial 'Tri-Navi' interface | 2.4m dot OLED viewfinder
What we like:
- High-resolution images
- Excellent electronic viewfinder
- Great build quality
What we don't:
- Tri-Navi poorly integrated with simplistic interface
- Dated JPEG engine
- Limited lens range
The NEX-7 sits at the top of Sony's APS-C mirrorless camera range, boasting solid magnesium-alloy build, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder and interesting three-dial direct-access interface. This 'Tri-Navi' interface and its 24MP sensor are the major things to distinguish the NEX-7 from the newer, slightly simpler NEX-6. The next step up from here is the Alpha 7, a full-frame, more DSLR-shaped model that really needs the latest 'FE' lenses to make the most of it.
"It can provide a very satisfying shooting experience"
The NEX-7's Raw image quality is very good (it was class-leading when first launched), but its JPEG engine, with its rather simplistic sharpening and noise reduction doesn't always show that to its full effect.
The Tri-Navi interface is interesting but we didn't feel it was very well integrated with the rest of the camera's interface. It gives direct access to major shooting parameters, but access to other settings requires delving around in the seemingly infinite NEX Setup menu. But if you're prepared to spend some time setting up the camera, it can provide a very satisfying shooting experience.
The NEX-7 was an ambitious camera when launched, but so many subsequent refinements have appeared on less-expensive NEXs (not least in terms of improved JPEG output), along with additional features such as Wi-Fi and on-sensor phase detection, that it's hard to recommend now it on build-quality alone.