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Creative Styles and Picture Effects

The NEX-7 offers two different ways of changing the 'look' of its JPEG output, known as Creative Styles and Picture Effects. The former modify the colour palette and balance to suit particular subjects, whereas the latter offer a series of more 'arty' filters. This is all pretty standard stuff these days, but where the NEX-7 differs from most is directness of control it offers the user.

Creative Styles are available by default in the camera's 'Triple-dial-control' interface, with the left dial changing the selected Style. The right and rear dials even give fingertip access to contrast, sharpening and saturation using the camera's control dials, if you so desire. The live view feed reflects the currently-set option (so if you like to shoot in black and white, for example, you can see a monochrome preview with potentially-distracting colour information removed).

Picture Effects are another of the preset options on the three dials, although they're not enabled as one of the four default settings. Some of the Effects have a number of variant looks - for example there are multiple colour tints to Toy Camera - which can be set using the control dials. Again, these are all previewed live in the EVF or LCD.

The fact that the NEX-7 offers such directly-accessible control over these settings is potentially a good thing for JPEG shooters - it positively encourages experimentation. However RAW shooters will wonder why they have to take priority over more fundamental camera settings such as flash mode.

Creative Styles

The NEX-7 has a large number of pre-baked colour 'looks', including a few unusual options such as 'Sunset' and 'Autumn'. The Contrast, Saturation and Sharpness settings are applied to the various Styles separately; you can't apply sharpness of +1 to all globally, for example.

Standard Vivid Neutral Clear Deep
Light Portrait Landscape Sunset Night Scene
Autumn Black and White Sepia    

Picture Effects

Alongside Creative Styles, the NEX-7 also offers a range of more-arty 'Picture Effects'. Perhaps inspired by Olympus's Art Filters, these include all of the current de rigueur options such as Toy Camera, Pop Colour, and Miniature. The latter is relatively well-implemented, with some control over where the sharp region of the frame will be placed, including an Auto mode that's based on the position of the active AF point.

These effects can only be shot in JPEG mode, and if you have the camera set to record RAW files it will simply refuse to show the Picture Effects Settings screen. If you don't want to assign them as a triple-dial-control option, you can still access them through the Brightness/Color menu.

A couple of the effects utilise Sony's trademark multiple-exposure approach to generate unique looks, but with processing times of around 10 seconds per shot, they're not the most fluid to use for actual photography. In the case of 'Rich-tone Mono', this is a pity as it's capable of attractive output. On the other hand, while they say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, anything that calls itself 'HDR Painting' inevitably has us hiding behind the sofa until the monsters go away.

Most of the modes are previewed live on-screen as you compose. The two multi-shot options are necessarily exceptions, and represented by approximations instead. Meanwhile the camera makes no attempt to preview the Soft Focus and Miniature filters at all.

Pop Color Retro Soft High Key High Cont. Mono Rich Tone Mono  
Toy Camera: Posterization: Partial Colour: Soft Focus: HDR Painting: Miniature:
  Normal   Color   Red   Low   Low   Auto
  Cool   Black + White   Green   Mid   Mid   Top
  Warm   Blue   High   High   Middle (Horiz)
  Green   Yellow   Bottom
  Magenta   Left
  Middle (Vert)

Perhaps the biggest problem with Sony's Picture Effects is the fact that they can only be shot in JPEG - unlike Olympus's Art Filters you can't record a RAW file alongside. So if you happen to capture that sudden, fleeting shot-of-a-lifetime only to realize your camera was inadvertently set to Posterization: Color, too bad. And if you do decide to experiment with them for a couple of shots, it's also all-too-easy to forget to turn RAW recording on again afterwards.

Most of the Picture Effects are available when recording movies, and using them is as simple as pressing the record button. However four can't be used for video, namely the two multi-shot modes (HDR Painting and Rich Tone Mono) along with Miniature and Soft Focus. If the camera is set to one of these and you start recording, the camera switches to your last-used Creative Style instead, which can be a little disconcerting.

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Total comments: 7

Is there a newer version of this camera? I see it was released in 2011, sort of a long time in digicam land.

looking up

Hi, Would the NEX 7 do well for DSO astrophotography{globulars, and galaxies}? Are 15-30 single exposures realistic? I have a C14" on a CGEM-DX mount. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks, Looking UP


Your review is incorrect. The NEX 7 does not have an uncompressed file option. The manual clearly states that ARW files are compressed and this is born out by the size of the files. This results in artifacts at fairly small enlargement.


To my mind there seems to be a certain ‘paranoia’ about the NEX-7, something I find quite disturbing. Whilst most professional reviewers are writing very positive, comprehensive feedback, amateur armchair experts seem to picking holes in everything by writing messages all over the Internet that are littered with non-understandable technical jargon. I am far from sure anyone without an advanced degree in photography can understand what on earth they are on about. Surely the strength of a camera is in the pictures (or video) the camera offers, and in the case of the NEX-7, it’s generally recognised they are quite astounding, comparing quite favourably against cameras at four times the cost.


I agree. I came late to the NEX-7 and think it is an exceptional piece of kit that produces superb images, even in my hands....
I could only criticise the user interface which could be friendlier (and which has apparently been improved on later 'Nex' developments. I have been happy to adapt to it, though.
It is one of those classic cameras (like my Sony R1) which I will hold on to for life.

1 upvote

I have had an NEX-7 for about a year now and like you find it an excellent piece of kit: It far exceeds my abilities. My friend is a Pro in London and uses cameras which are far more expensive said he may get one because the quality is excellent, especially for the quick shots outdoors when setting up his stuff would take too long and the moment lost.

1 upvote

I agree with you and my Canon equipment has been collecting dust since my purchase of the Nex7 and a6000. Both outstanding and so portable. The fact you can shoot video through the viewfinder, is the biggest plus among many for me.The likely negatives come from those who don't own one.

Total comments: 7