In terms of performance the NEX-7 is a bit of a mixed bag. The large sensor and Sony’s latest Bionz processor offer unprecedented speed in a camera of this class. Switching on is virtually instant, shutter lag is a mere 0.2 seconds and the camera has continuous shooting speed of up to 10 frames per second. In operation the NEX-7 is as fast as it comes and it gives you the feeling of shooting with a DSLR, and a fast one at that.
No fiddly clip-on flash to lose – this pop-up one is built-in
Things fall apart with the 25-point autofocus system that remains very compact-like. The contrast detection system works fast and accurately in good lighting conditions but it does struggle a lot in dim light and in tracking fast moving subjects. On the positive side though the NEX-7 is one of the few compacts that offer a good and easy to operate manual focus with useful aides such as the Peaking function, which highlights the edges of your focusing target to ensure razor sharp focus exactly where you need it. A great tool for portraits and macro photography.
Another area where the NEX-7 asserts its supremacy is video performance. Video capture is just brilliant. Smooth, totally silent focusing and with full manual control the NEX-7’s video mode lets you record full HD footage – 1080p at up to 50fps in AVCHD formats – producing some of the best video results I’ve seen. MP4 at 1440 x 1080 is available too and the frame rates depend on territory with 60fps in the US.
Smaller than you think and pricier too
The NEX-7 also features a pop-up flash unit with a guide number of 6 as well as a number of creative effects and 3 different panorama modes, including a 3D one. As these are the same as the NEX-5N I won’t repeat myself here. Likewise, I also covered a number of available accessories, such as the LA-EA2 lens adaptor. Battery has a life of 350 shots when shooting using the EVF and 430 when using the LCD.
The NEX-7 is certainly a great little compact system camera and one that comes closest to the performance and features of a DSLR – something I am quite sure endear it to many advanced and enthusiast photographers. Certainly the electronic viewfinder and the three dial system alone merit all the credit they can get.
The camera is not flawless but is commendable, as it arguably delivers the best image and video quality of its class. But this comes at a price and in this respect I’m unconvinced that is particularly good value for money, especially when up against its stablemate, the NEX-5N – an alternative for users that can live without the EVF and the smooth manual operation of the NEX-7. Yet for creative, advanced photographers that want a flexible, powerful and intelligent CSC, its features will be of greater value and likely worth every penny. ®
Catherine Monfils is a professional photographer specialising in portraiture, lifestyle and fashion.
More Compact System Camera Reviews…
Sony NEX-7 24.3Mp APS-C compact system camera
It looks like the kind of rangefinder design that professional photographers used to use in the days of film when Leica was the rangefinder of choice. It looks ideal for reportage and discreet shooting being smaller and easier to handle than a DSLR. Stunning design, I have to say.
Jim - is that an educated response or one based on "This is a compact therefore any D-SLR is better"?
Numerous reviews by extremely experienced photographers have stated that the NEX-& is a superior camera to most, if not all, budget D-SLRs and the equal to many of the semi-pro ones available. (The ones it's not the equal of, it generally surpasses).
I'm interested in the NEX-7 myself to replace my LX-3 and to partner my 1Ds II and I'd be interested to hear your reasons why the NEX7 is lacking.
I must admit to strongly suspecting that you are not fully aware of the critical acclaim the NEX-7 has been receiving...
There's a huge amount of snobbishness surrounding Sony cameras.
I have a Sony SLT-A35 and it blows my previous Lumix out of the water, and pisses on my brother's Canon 110D for image quality.
So, Sony aren't a traditional camera company with a long standing history of film camera manufacturer, but Minolta were a traditional camera company with a long standing history of film camera manufacture, and underneath the Sony housing beats the heart of a Minolta...
Re: Sony NEVER learn
Agreed if "the frame rates depend on territory with 60fps in the US" is true its a needless fail. No technical reason I know of that 50/60 Hz should not be a user option and plenty of good reasons why we may want to shoot to 60Hz, not only when we are visiting North America.
@Sony NEVER learn
Surely the frame rate of 50fps in the UK and 60 in the US is less that they hate us pikey Brits and more about flickering seen when videoing under lights that flicker at the countries respective mains power frequencies??