Sony NEX-7 Review

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!


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!


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.

sony-NEX-7 dioptre control.jpg

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!


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!

sony-NEX-7 menu 1.jpg

sony-NEX-7 menu 2.jpg

sony-NEX-7 menu 3.jpg

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!

sony-nex-7-Japanese doll 2.JPG

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.

sony-nex-7-Marigold restaurant 3.JPG

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

Sony NEX-7 ISO 100.JPG

Sony NEX-7 ISO 400.JPG

Sony NEX-7 ISO 800.JPG

Sony NEX-7 ISO 1600.JPG

Sony NEX-7 ISO 3200.JPG
Only when ISO 3200 was reached were there signs of image noise; sharpness and colour quality OK.
Sony NEX-7 ISO 6400.JPG
By ISO 6400 noise was slightly up but the image was still useable.

Sony NEX-7 ISO 12800.JPG
By ISO 12,800 noise up further but still — depending on the shot — still useable. Definition surprisingly good.

Sony NEX-7 ISO 16000.JPG

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

Review Date
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Sony NEX-7
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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

Some Older Comments

  • Rafael Quirindongo January 18, 2013 12:24 pm

    Been using the NEX-7 for a month. This camera is a joy to shoot with. Controls are easy and creative control stupendous! Image clarity is truly remarkable. Was using the Canon 40D. The NEX-7 is far and away easier to use and handle. Image quality rivals any DSLR. Can't say anything bad about this camera.

  • Ina May 31, 2012 12:31 am

    I ended up returning the Nex 7 and traded down to the Nex 5 and got two extra lenses because of the difference in value and absolutely love the Nex 5, the picture quality is amazing even in low light.

  • Frank D. May 31, 2012 12:26 am


    What were you shooting & what were your settings? I've photographed moving objects at high shutter speed & nominal ISO (~200-400) using continuous autofocus and had them come out very sharp.

    Frank D.

  • Fauzia May 29, 2012 10:58 pm

    All the hooplah for nothing. The NEX 7 is a total disappointment. The picture gets blurry when moving and following a moving object.

  • Barrie Smith May 16, 2012 07:41 am

    Flash not used.

  • Frank D. May 15, 2012 12:41 pm


    A couple of obvious questions:

    1. Were you using the pop-up flash or a separate unit on the hotshoe? I haven;t taken a single picture with the pop-up unit on mine. Close-ups look too harsh. The unit can be tilted by hand upward, but the flash is so weak, it doesn't help much. I use an HVL-F20AM & it's great! When not in use, it folds down over the lens body & doesn't increase overall dimensions appreciably.

    2. Did you try using the flash compensation? I hardly ever use mine at full strength.

    3. What white balance setting did you use? I normally leave the WB at the setting I would use under the appropriate light conditions; sunny, cloudy, tungsten, etc. Then I adjust flash accordingly.

    I was on Mt. Washington overlooking Pittsburgh on May 4 and took about 50 shots, no flash but long exposures of 2"-6" along with several HDRs. When I was done, I had well over 50% of my battery left. The following night, Super Moon Saturday, I took about 20-30 more exposures & was just under 50% on the battery indicator. Make sure your auto power off is set to the lowest time to conserve juice.

    Hope this helps,


  • Karen Dooley May 14, 2012 11:28 am

    I just got this camera yesterday....I had the NEX3 as soon as it was released years ago and I am blown away by this new 3rd generation little smart camera. Yes, there are a lot of menus to sift through, but its all programmable to what you usually shoot. I see no flaws so far. Who wants to carry a ton of heavy gear? Not me. This camera gets the job done equally if not better than the giants. Adding the viewfinder and the hot shoe for bigger flashes is a design stroke of genius. Nikon is already entering the mirror- less market....its the future.

  • Ina May 7, 2012 11:12 pm

    I bought the Sony Nex 7 last week and I was very happy with the quality of the photos until last Saturday when I attended a food and beverage show, I took approx 28 pictures using flash and auto mode.
    I asked my daughter to take my picture with a celebrity chef in a book signing and it took me going up 3
    times before you could even say the picture was "just ok". I spent $1400 on a camera that people with
    cell phones were getting better flash pictures. When I got home I wanted a photo of the "super moon" and
    when I went outside to take the picture, I got a message that my battery was exhausted!!!! after 28 photos.

  • Frank D. May 3, 2012 12:13 am


    Both are good cameras. I guess it boils down to what you want to do with it. The A65 has a much greater choice of lenses than the E-mount series although it's considerably larger than the NEX series. Reviews of the A65 have been very good, see The only negatives I've heard are that the mode changes aren't quite instantaneous so there's a lag. Also, the in-camera noise reduction is a little weak at high ISO, but then again, I'm not a big believer in high ISO (3200 is usually enough for me).

    There IS an adapter for the NEX-7 that allows the use of A-mount lenses, but it's pricey (~$400) and adds to the bulk of the body which sort of defeats the whole concept of a CSC. I have just about all of the available E-mount lenses & so far, they've done everything I need. Down the road, I'm hoping Sony or Zeiss will come out with a telephoto that has a bit more reach.

    I have two Canon bodies and a number of EF-L and EF-S lenses for them. When I'm heading out to do a day of serious shooting, these are my primary tools. However, I can fit my NEX-7 & 5N along with lenses, flashes & a small tripod in a small backpack that I leave by the front door. If I'm heading out to run errands, go to a family gathering or whatever, I have a good quality camera that's light and capable of full manual control.


  • Mario May 2, 2012 12:10 pm

    I have a nex 3 k traing to decide for a nex7 or alpha 65a

  • Frank D. April 17, 2012 09:33 am


    I'm still waiting on my NEX-7, but I'm betting it can't be that far different from the settings on the 5N.

    Hit the "menu" soft button (top one above wheel). Go to Color/Brightness, wheel down to 'DRO/HDR Auto" & hit the center button. Spin to "Auto HDR" & press the center key. You'll see "Options" next to the bottom soft key. Hit that & you'll see that you can adjust HDR from EV 1.0 to EV 6.0. Pick the one you want & keep hitting the center button until you're locked-in. I use it enough that I customized the center button to do this without removing my eye from the viewfinder (I bought the optional EVF unit for the 5N).

    Have fun!

    Frank D

  • Ernest Armonn April 16, 2012 06:00 pm

    I bought a new Sony Nex-7 and I am very disapointed it is not possible to cahnge the default bracketing exposures. For a real HDR you need exposures differeces of 1x or 2x. The default exposures in this camera are 0.3 or 0.7.
    Do someone know how to change them?

  • Frank D. April 6, 2012 04:31 am

    I had a an NEX-5, traded it for a 5N and love it!!! The 5 has great IQ, but the menu drilling drove me nuts. I like the expanded customization of the function buttons so much that I hardly go through the main menu anymore. The touch screen is nice, but I rarely use it.

    I agree with the low light comments above. I've heard it touted as very good, but I find it to be mediocre unless I crank the ISO. I purchased the Zeiss 24mm f1.8 and haven't taken it off since. This is a great piece of glass but my wallet is still limping.

    I have the NEX-7 on order. When it comes in, I'll probably keep the Zeiss on it and use either the kit lens or the 18-200mm zoom on the 5N.

    I too, have a 5D MKII & several L lenses but more & more, I find myself grabbing the Sony just to run out the door. However, even with the NEX-7 in the bag, I won't give up my Canon gear. The EF 8-15mm L is a FUN lens and the EF100-400 L gives me more reach than anything Sony currently offers in the E-mount line-up (and no, I won't get an adapter to put it on the Sony).

    Frank D.

  • Ray April 5, 2012 03:48 am

    "that the capabilities of the NEX cameras (low light espically) are why astute photographers are flocking to the Sony units."

    What low light capability? My son has the 5n, it's an absolute nightmare in low light. Interestingly, like michael j above, he a band video photographer. Bought the 5 to have some fun with but both he and I view it as useless when light gets low. I've used it as well. Nice shots,no doubt, but it hunts even in light I consider good enough to simply compose and press. The Sony's need some fast (sub 2.0 glass), with af, and then we can see how versatile they are.

    Yes Ed, we must be getting old. Buy a camera, get frustrated with the menu, then find they let their cell phone group do the interface. Perhaps it was not intended to be a camera?

  • Ed February 6, 2012 07:49 am

    Luckily I was able to get one a few weeks ago--legally!! It is one wonderful camera though its menu system tends to drive me bonkers. Maybe its age. One might pocket it with the 50mm kit lens, but who would want to? Using adapters, Metabones and Novoflex, I can use my Canon, Zeiss and Leica lenses. It's something like paradise.No more schlepping a 5DII around with heavy artillery, maybe!!
    If one is afraid of too much noise from 24 pixels trying to breathe in a narrow space, one might well keep the 5N and/or buy the 7. The price of the 5N camera is so relatively cheap and to some even preferable to the 7.
    If one could not afford a $4,000-$7000 camera wht then not buy a 7? It's so close to or equal to those biggere cameras that the only excuse soon for owning them will be for using a 3-6lb lens. But with a tripod and lens collar the 5N or 7 would be wonderful, just look strange, if your too concerned about what looks macho.

  • Rich February 4, 2012 01:30 am

    It's unfortunate that it's still unavailable here in Canada. As soon as the NEX-7 arrives in stores, I'm snapping one up!

  • Michael J January 30, 2012 04:12 pm

    I used to own a NEX-5 (got stolen), and purchased a NEX-3 as replacement. I can't say enough good things about the camera, except its miserable low light conditions. I work a lot with band/musicians, thus, low light/bar type shooting is part of my shooting equation.
    For sports, bands, portraits, etc. I won't leave my Canon gear at home, for smaller, fast projects, I've reached out to my NEX-3 quite frequently. I'm interested in the NEX-7, but not at the planned price tag.

  • Jay Jenkins January 30, 2012 02:49 am

    Actually Jason I didn't miss your point, in fact I'm in total agreement with you. What I did miss was Barrie Smith's "pocketable it wasn't" comment. I've seen it so often in reference to this camera that I guess I skipped over it. This omission on my part is forgivable due in part to all of the very good points that you have stated. And, more to the point, Sony never mentions the term in it's advertising. However, given the very nature of any "reviewer's" style sheet, I don't think we will ever see the term fall out of favor. They gotta find something wrong with it.

    Overall though, it was a pretty decent review when compared to the plethora of review's that we are seeing regarding this amazing instrument. It seems that each and every one of them wants to make an issue of the remarkable, ergonomically astute size of this camera. My point is : Where in the hell can I get a NEX 7? Good shooting to you Jason - Jay Jenkins

  • Jason January 29, 2012 12:53 am

    Jay, You missed my point. As an NEX owner, I am very aware of the amazing features of this camera. I bought mine not only because it was a very capable camera and I wanted something which would perform better in low-light shooting than my current DSLR. The size is much smaller than my current DSLR as well. My point was that the opening lines of this review along with the "Cons" listed for this camera both stated "Not pocketable" which I see is a ridiculous reason mention since most people who0 want a quality piece of gear are more interested in IQ and build rather than sheer size alone. Though no previous comments mention this does not make my point any less valid and reading other reviews and comments on other forums, seeing this concern about "pocketablilty" makes me wonder why people dont just consider a smaller camera if their top priority is why simply fits into a pocket.

  • Jay Jenkins January 29, 2012 12:28 am

    Rather odd that the term "pocketability" should pop up in reference to the Sony NEX cameras Jason. I don't seem to recall seeing the term used in any of the comments made here. People who own this camera suffer no illusions in this respect. It would be obvious, even to an uninformed person . . . . that the capabilities of the NEX cameras (low light espically) are why astute photographers are flocking to the Sony units. If I want a pockatability (maybe the term "portability" will satisfy those who are hung up on semantics) I choose my Canon S100 or my LUMIX LX5. However, if I have really really large pockets, I will choose my Canon 7D or my Canon 60D. Discreet and dimunitive are not their strong points either. Semantics aside, those who can afford high end DSLR's, will discover that size isn't everything. Jay Jenkins

  • Jason January 28, 2012 08:48 pm

    Why are so many people hung up on what is "pocketable"?? If you want pocketable, go out and buy a tiny camera. If you want quality and amazing IQ, buy the correct sized camera. Enough of this worn out cliche already.

  • GinaNYC January 27, 2012 11:45 am

    In Reply to Jay Jenkins, I know what you mean, I am so scared that my Canons are going to become obsolete. What lens are you using on the NEX 5N? I need lenses that are the same quality as my canon L series lenses,

  • GinaNYC January 27, 2012 11:43 am

    I just got the NEX 5N, we love it. I also have my canons and L series Lenses but I am amazed at the low light capability on the NEX 5N. I am hearing the 5N is better in Low Light than the NEX 7, is this accurate info?

  • Jay Jenkins January 27, 2012 11:11 am

    When will it be available..? I have been using a NEX 5N for the past few months and I am totally amazed by what it can do. My Canon 7D and 60D have scarcely seen the light of day since I got it and I can't imagine that there is a another camera that will do what the 5N does. I want a NEX 7 in the worst way . . . . When? When? will it become available? Money is not an object!