Sony NEX-7 In-Depth Review
When Sony first introduced its 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 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, shared with the 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 user 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 rear dial and three 'soft' keys familiar from the backs of the existing NEX cameras are retained, as is the handy tilting rear LCD. The resulting 'Triple-dial-control' interface makes the NEX-7 the first interchangeable-lens digital camera that in normal use gets one dial dedicated to each of the main exposure parameters (for example shutter speed, aperture and ISO in Manual mode) - such an eminently sensible arrangement we're amazed it hasn't been done before.
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 also gets its own black version of the standard E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS kit zoom.
Sony NEX-7 specification highlights
- 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor (shared with the SLT A-77 and A-65)
- ISO 100-16000 (100-1600 in Auto)
- 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
Compared to the NEX-5N
|Here's the NEX-7 alongside its little brother, the NEX-5N. The body isn't so much bigger, and Sony has managed to add on 2 more control dials, a built-in flash and hotshoe, and an EVF. The NEX-5N has a touchscreen, but its sensor is 'only' 16MP.|
Compared to 'enthusiast' competitors
The NEX-7 resides in a somewhat rarefied sector of the market - that of the truly enthusiast-orientated, 'rangefinder-style' large-sensor camera. The image below shows it compared in size to some of its main competitors - the Micro Four Thirds Olympus PEN E-P3 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1. We've also included the Fujifilm FinePix X100, which like the NEX-7 has an APS-C sensor, extensive external controls and built-in electronic viewfinder, but sports a fixed 23mm F2 lens and decidedly retro design and layout.
|Despite its impressive specification (including tilt screen, pop-up flash and built-in EVF), the NEX-7 is almost exactly the same size as the Olympus PEN E-P3, and only fractionally larger than the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1. Head-on, it's also smaller than the Fujifilm FinePix X100, largely because of the latter's hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder.|
|Viewed from the top, perhaps the most striking features of the NEX-7 is its large handgrip - easily the best in this class. You can also see the two dials on the top plate that are used for the 'Triple-dial-control' system, and the button beside the shutter release that cycles through their functions. One area that may concern some users, though, is the size of Sony's NEX lenses to date: here we're comparing fast prime lenses, and the Sony Carl Zeiss T* E Sonnar 24mm F1.8 is a sizeable beast compared to the Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4, let alone the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH for Micro Four Thirds. Meanwhile the X100's fixed-lens design makes it surprisingly slim.|
|Other manufacturers also offer more-compact, collapsible standard zooms, most notably Panasonic's remarkable X 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 powerzoom seen here adorning the GX1. This confers an undeniable portability advantage.|
- 16 Noise and Noise Reduction
- 17 Dynamic Range
- 18 Resolution
- 19 Raw
- 20 Creative Styles and Picture Effects
- 21 Photographic Features
- 22 High ISO noise comparisons
- 23 Photographic tests
- 24 Movie mode
- 25 Compared to (JPEG)
- 26 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 27 Compared to (RAW)
- 28 Conclusion
- 29 Samples gallery
Dec 11, 2014
Dec 11, 2014
Dec 14, 2011
Dec 13, 2014
|Madrid subway by MAGMATCICO62|
from Your City - Public Transport
|Incandescent Bulb by Kukla|
from Illuminate- Macro only
|Curiousity by PERCY2|
from Macro - Your Best Macro Ever
|Hoar Frosted Trees by sabishiT3T|
There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.
Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets and picked the best of the bunch.
Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.
Despite reports to the contrary, analysis of DPReview images by our friend Jim Kasson confirms a disappointing fact: Sony a7R III is still a Star Eater. But there may be some improvements.
As the saying goes: A photo is worth a thousand words. And if you're sending that photo through Facebook Messenger, your thousand words now look twice as nice after today's update to 4K resolution.
Get to know the new Leica CL in short order by giving our 90 second 'First look' video a watch.
Leica has just released the CL, the forth in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Despite sharing a name with a camera released in the mid-70s, the new CL is a thoroughly modern ILC, with a 24MP sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder.
The Leica CL is a 24MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, which sits alongside the TL2 in the company's APS-C lineup. We've been using one for a few days – check out our gallery of images.
While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. We've been using one for a few days - click through for a detailed first-impressions report.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #4 ranking goes to the Leica M10.
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.