Sony NEX-7 high-end APS-C mirrorless camera first look
Sony has announced the much leaked NEX-7 enthusiast-targeted mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. It manages to squeeze vast amounts of the A77's capabilities into a body barely bigger than the existing NEX models. It packs a 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor and 2.4M dot OLED electronic viewfinder into its magnesium alloy body and yet still finds room for a pop-up flash and Alpha hot shoe. Working samples of the NEX-7 have not been made available to the press anywhere in the world, so we have not been able to prepare a hands-on preview. However, we have seen and handled an early pre-production unit and have interrogated Sony about its operation. We have used this to prepare an overview of the camera, which we will expand to a preview when cameras with functioning firmware are available.
|MSRP (Body only)||$1199|
|(With exclusive black 18-55mm lens)||$1399|
Sony NEX-7 first look
When Sony introduced its brand-new range of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras in May 2010, the company was very clear about who it thought would buy the NEX-5 and its near-identical-twin NEX-3. Small cameras with APS-C sensors, we were told, would appeal to compact camera users who wanted to upgrade but would be intimidated by the bulk and perceived complexity of an SLR. The cameras were a sales success (especially in Japan), and their influence on this sector of the market has become increasingly clear, with Olympus's PEN E-PL3 paying extensive homage to their key design features, and Panasonic stripping-down its GF line from the enthusiast-friendly DMC-GF1 to the distinctly beginner-orientated DMC-GF3.
In practice, though, it wasn't just beginners buying these cameras. Many enthusiast photographers have been equally attracted to the promise of excellent image quality in a small, highly portable camera, fuelled by the ability to adapt almost any lens to fit. To its credit Sony has taken note and steadily increased the NEXs' appeal, with successive firmware updates to improve usability and add features.
Now, with the NEX-7, Sony is specifically targeting those advanced users with a camera whose key spec reads like it's come straight off an enthusiast's wishlist. First up is the new 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, shared with the co-announced SLT-A77, that enables true 1080p60 video recording. Then there's the EVF that's been squeezed into the compact body (and also shared with the A77) - the 2.4M dot OLED unit is the highest resolution yet seen in a stills camera, and has an eye sensor for automatic switching with the rear LCD. Rounding off the additions are a built-in flash and Alpha-type hotshoe, all in a body that's about the same size as the Olympus PEN E-P3.
The NEX-7 also expands on the existing interface, adding two dials on the top plate that can be used to control a wide variety of functions, plus a conveniently-placed button beside the shutter that's used to cycle through their functions. The familiar rear dial and three 'soft' keys on the back of the camera are retained, as is the handy tilting rear LCD.
|Outline view||With NEX-5N overlaid|
The NEX-7 uses a new shutter arrangement, with an (optional) electronic first curtain. In other words, the camera no longer has to close the shutter then open it again to start the exposure, and according to Sony this decreases shutter lag from 100ms to just 20ms. This isn't completely new technology - Canon's live view capable DSLRs have been using it since the EOS 40D of 2007 - but it's very welcome to see it implemented in this type of camera.
Further indication, if any were needed, of the NEX-7's serious intentions is provided by the co-announced Carl Zeiss-branded E 24mm F1.8 lens (also known as the SEL24F18Z). This offers a field of view equivalent to a 35mm lens on full frame, and places the NEX-7 squarely up against the likes of the Fujifilm FinePix X100 (with its fixed 23mm F2 lens), as well as the E-P3. The NEX-7 will also be sold with a black version of the standard E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS kit zoom.
Sony NEX-7 specification highlights
- All-new 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor (shared with the SLT-A7 and A657)
- ISO 100-16000
- Built-in 2.4M dot OLED EVF with eye sensor
- Electronic first-curtain shutter (cuts response time from 100ms to 20ms)
- 'AVCHD Progressive' 1080p60 HD movie recording with built-in stereo mic
- Tilting rear screen
- Three-dial user interface
- Built in flash and Alpha hotshoe
- Infra-red remote control receiver
- Microphone input socket
New E-mount lenses
Alongside the NEX-7 (and the updated NEX-5N), Sony has also announced three new lenses. As well as the Carl Zeiss E 24mm F1.8 mentioned above, there's an image-stabilized E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS telephoto zoom (SEL55210), and another fast prime in the shape of the E 50mm F1.8 (SEL50F18). While the latter is, in our opinion, a slightly curious focal length for a brand-new APS-C format design (we'd prefer to see a fast portrait lens in the 60-70mm range), there's no denying the fact that inexpensive 50mm primes have proven very popular with DSLR users.
Further lens options - LA-EA2 Alpha mount autofocus adapter
To further expand the range of lenses that NEX owners can use with full functionality, Sony has also announced the LA-EA2 adapter that promises fast autofocus with all existing Alpha mount lenses. This uses the company's SLT technology, with a fixed 'translucent' mirror and built-in phase detection AF sensor, plus an AF motor for 'screw-drive' lenses. Somewhat reminiscent of Leica's old 'Visoflex' system for its M-mount film rangefinders, the rather bulky housing also has its own tripod socket for use with larger lenses. The LA-EA2 includes the same 15-point AF sensor as the SLT A65 and original A55.
|The Sony LA-EA2 NEX-to-SLT adapter promises fully-functioning fast phase-detection autofocus with all Alpha-mount AF lenses - something no other mirrorless system can quite match|
While this certainly expands on the range of lenses accessible to NEX owners, we're not entirely convinced of its real-world practicality (especially as, at $399, it's not cheap). We have a sneaking suspicion that it only exists to show that the NEX can be used with more than the handful of native E-mount lenses, rather than being a big seller. It seems likely that most people who own a range of Alpha lenses will already have SLRs to use them on, increasingly supplemented by 'real' SLTs. And perhaps the biggest attraction of mirrorless camera over SLRs is compactness, which rather goes away when using AF lenses with such a large adapter. But for those who bought a NEX and then discovered that they really wanted an SLT after all, it could well come in handy, and we can see potential for videography.
Tri-Navi control system
|The NEX-7 features three control dials. Here you can see the interface the default controls for Aperture Priority mode with Aperture Value on the left-hand dial, Exposure Comp. on the right and ISO on the rear dial.|
The pre-production NEX-7 units shown to journalists (including ourselves), featured NEX-5N firmware, making it impossible to make sense of how well the NEX-7's 'Tri-Navi' three dial control system works. Given that the existing NEX interface isn't ideal for the kind of committed enthusiast photographers that the NEX-7 is aimed at, it's clear that the most important aspect of the NEX-7 is how well it's been implemented.
We have, however, discussed this interface extensively with Sony and can provide the following exclusive detail about how Tri-Navi will work:
Default 'Exposure' control settings:
The default exposure options are predefined and cannot be adjusted. No matter how many additional functions you choose to assign to the control system, these are always available.
|Exposure mode:||Dial 1||Dial 2||Dial 3|
|Program Mode||Program shift||Exposure compensation||ISO|
|Aperture Priority||Aperture value||Exposure compensation||ISO|
|Shutter Priority||Shutter value||Exposure compensation||ISO|
|Manual exposure||Shutter value||Aperture value||ISO|
Beyond this, you can choose up to four sets of controls that can be applied to the dials (from a choice of 6). When using the camera, pressing the button on the front shoulder cycles between the sets you've selected, in the order you've specified.
|Presets:||Dial 1||Dial 2||Dial 3|
|Focus||Focus Area Mode||Move AF point left/right||Move AF point up/down|
|White Balance||Select WB preset||Fine-tune WB in Amber/Blue axis||Fine-tune WB in Green/Magenta axis|
|D-Range||Extent of DRO or HDR||Exposure Compensation||Off/DRO/HDR|
|Creative Styles||Select Creative Style Preset||Adjust image parameter (Sharpness/
|Select image parameter
|Picture Effects||Select Picture Effect||Adjust effect parameter (where applicable)||N/A|
The exciting option for us is the 'Custom' setting. As you might expect, this allows you to specify which function you want on each dial. There's only one Custom slot, so you can only create one personalized 'set.'
There are nine settings that can be applied to the dials and, once assigned to a dial, is removed from the list of available options for the other dials. There is also the option to assign no function to any given dial.
|Available options:|| Exposure compensation
For settings that usually have multiple options (such as the different extents that can be applied to HDR and DRO), all these options are available as a long list to spin through, when assigned to a dial. This differs from their behavior when they appear as one of the presets.
Although we are not in a position to assess how well this system will work when out with the camera, taking photographs, it does sound promising. Our immediate thought was that we could assign Quality to the left dial, DRO/HDR to the right dial then Exposure Comp. to the center dial, so that it's easy to drop into JPEG-only shooting, shoot an HDR shot, then quickly flick back to Raw shooting (something we've found rather time-consuming on other Sonys).
We will, of course, write more as soon as we have a camera.
Aug 21, 2014
Dec 14, 2011
Aug 22, 2014
Aug 21, 2014
Photographers who fly frequently in the US may want to finally invest in that TSA Pre-check status: in standard security lines, cameras and all other electronics larger than a smartphone will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening.
Images have appeared which claim to show Nikon's forthcoming D850 DSLR, the development of which was announced this week. If genuine, the pictures indicate that the D850 will offer illuminated controls and a tilting LCD screen, but no built-in flash.
To celebrate the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 lens' successful Kickstarter campaign, Lomography has announced a chrome-plated version of the lens in Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts.
Nikon just released four new firmware updates, adding features and fixing bugs in the D600, D610, D750 and the KeyMission 80.
It probably hasn't made your landscape photography bucket list just yet, but there's a good reason to visit Idaho. Here are 9 must-visit locations in this beautiful state.
Oops... Adobe accidentally leaked their unfinished Lightroom-powered cloud-based photo editor 'Project Nimbus' to some Creative Cloud users yesterday.
Storm chaser and award-winning photographer Mike Oblinski just released his latest time-lapse, and it is absolutely stunning.
Looking to level up your video capture capabilities without buying a whole new camera? Blackmagic's Video Assist 4K is well worth considering, despite a few flaws and its lack of 4K/60p support.
We're big fans of Fujifilm's fast-growing GFX system, and the GF 110mm F2 lens is no exception. Positioned as the system's classic portrait lens, its optics are just as impressive with non-human subjects as well.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.
Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its full-frame D810: the D850. Nikon says that the D850 will build on the strengths of its predecessor and offer 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements.'
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.