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Sony NEX-7 Review

This is a big gun in a small package. Considering the sensor has been ported from the A65 and A77 you would expect a fairly zinging performance and you’re not wrong!

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The interchangeable lens, magnesium alloy bodied NEX-7 would also seem to gain from the absence of a partially-silvered mirror in the light path. However, as with all NEX cameras and most lenses, the smallish body is outweighed by the lens, so — with f3.5/18-55mm review lens attached — pocketable it wasn’t!

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The 24.3 megapixel image capture produces a maximum 6000×4000 pixel image, so big prints? You betcha!

Video capture is right up there too, with Full HD 1920×1080 on tap. When shooting a video such matters as AF, manual focus and auto exposure are very smoothly in play; but you can’t shoot stills at the same time.

Sony NEX-7 Features

The viewing situation is excellent, with a 7.6cm LCD screen at the rear and a high res turret finder for eye level viewing, auto switchable with eye contact.

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However, I could curse the designer who placed the tiny dioptric control wheel slap up against the eye-level finder, almost impossible to roll in either direction.

While we’re in whinge mode I also found it quite a chore to load/remove the memory card … the slot is hard up against the compartment hinge. So, a hinge whinge!

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The LCD screen is tiltable through a vertical arc but does not rotate horizontally; in spite of this, with the screen tilted upwards, the camera can be attached to a tripod.

The inbuilt flash will be a help as a fill light but, with a Guide Number of 6 (ISO 100/metres) it will not be of much use for group photos unless you wind up the ISO setting.

There are ten external controls, including power, shutter, replay etc plus two unmarked control dials on top which respectively, handle exposure compensation and aperture/shutter speed. Warning: they’re easy to bump!

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Much of the rest of the camera’s operation — PASM, image size, ISO setting etc — can be accessed via the ultra-clear viewfinder menu.

Claimed to be the “world’s fastest burst shooting speed of any mirrorless interchangeable lens camera”, the NEX-7 can fire off a round of shots at 10 fps. That’s 10 6000×4000 shots every second, with focus fixed at the first frame!

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The camera’s Picture Effect mode offers in-camera effects that comprise 11 modes and 15 effects, such as new HDR Painting, Soft Focus, Miniature and Rich-Tone Mono. Other attractions include 3D Sweep Panorama, Soft Skin, Anti Motion Blur Modes etc.

The relatively small number of scene modes (eight) include twilight shooting, sports action, sunset etc.

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Now a confession: the camera was so new there was no instruction manual available to help with the review, so if there are omissions please be kind to me!

Sony NEX-7 ISO Tests

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Only when ISO 3200 was reached were there signs of image noise; sharpness and colour quality OK.
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By ISO 6400 noise was slightly up but the image was still useable.

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By ISO 12,800 noise up further but still — depending on the shot — still useable. Definition surprisingly good.

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At ISO 25,600 noise was quite noticeable but image sharpness still acceptable. An amazing performance.

Sony NEX-7 Verdict

Quality: the camera displayed exceptionally good image quality and sharpness, along with an enjoyable easy operator interface.

Why you’d buy the NEX-7: access to E-mount lenses, Carl Zeiss and (via an adaptor) Sony A-mount optics.

Why you wouldn’t: you prefer external control of exposure modes; with lens attached the camera is not pocketable; pricey.

A significant camera that could shoot right up there with most DSLRs, but is as easy to use as a snapshot camera.

Sony NEX-7 Specifications

Image Sensor: 24.3 million effective pixels.
Metering: 49 zone multi segment, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Sony E-mount.
Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.5×15.6mm HD CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed (stills): 30 to 1/4000 second and Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: 3-10 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 6000×4000 to 3008×1688.
Movies: 1920×1080 (AVCHD); 1440×1080, 640×480 (MPEG4).
Viewfinder: Eye level 1.3cm (2.36 million); 7.6cm LCD screen (921,600 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW (Sony ARW), JPEG+RAW, MPEG4, AVCHD.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 16000.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, ext mic.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 119.9×69.9×42.6 WHDmm.
Weight: 291 g (body only).
Price: Get a price on the Sony Alpha NEX-7 (Body Only) or Sony Alpha NEX-7 with 18-55mm Lens

Summary
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Sony NEX-7
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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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