Sony Alpha NEX-7 review: Sony Alpha NEX-7

  Fujifilm X-Pro 1 Olympus E-P3 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony Alpha NEX-7
Sensor (effective resolution) 16.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS
n/a
12.3-megapixel Live MOS
12 bit
16.1-megapixel Live MOS
12 bit
16.1-megapixel Exmor HD CMOS 24.3-megapixel Exmor HD CMOS
12 bit
23.6mm x 15.6mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 23.5mm x 15.6mm 23.5mm x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.5x 2.0x 2.0x 1.5x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (expanded)/200 - ISO 6400/25600 (expanded) ISO 200 - ISO 12800 ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 25,600 ISO 100 - ISO 16000
Continuous shooting 6fps
approx 15
3fps
unlimited (LN) JPEG/17 raw
9fps
17 JPEG/11 raw
3 fps
10 JPEG/6 raw
(10fps with fixed exposure)
3fps
unlimited JPEG/6 raw
(10fps with fixed exposure)
Viewfinder
magnification/ effective magnification
Optical
90 percent coverage/
EVF
0.47-inch
1.44 million dots variable
n/a
Optional EVF
n/a-inch
1.44 million dots
100% coverage
1.15x/0.58x
Optional EVF
0.5-inch
2.4-million dots
100% coverage
1.09x/0.73x
Autofocus 49-area
Contrast AF
35-area contrast AF 35-area contrast AF 25-area contrast AF 25-area contrast AF
Shutter speed 30-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes; 1/4,000 FP sync 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 8 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync (flash-dependent) 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync
Metering 256 zones 324 area 324 area 1,200 zones 1,200 zones
Flash No Yes Included add-on Included optional Yes
Image stabilization Optical Sensor shift Sensor shift Optical Optical
Video 1080/24p H.264 1080/60i AVCHD @ 20, 17Mbps; 720/60p @ 13Mbps 1080/60i QuickTime MOV @ 20, 17Mbps AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/30p @ 12Mbps AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/30p @ 12Mbps
Audio Stereo Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input
LCD size 3-inch fixed
1,230,000 dots
3-inch fixed OLED
614,000 dots
3-inch tilting touch screen OLED
614,000 dots
3-inch tilting
921,600 dots
3-inch tilting
921,600 dots
Battery life (CIPA rating) 300 shots 330 shots n/a 430 shots 350 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 5.5 x 3.2 x 1.7 4.8 x 2.7 x 1.4 4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.6 4.8 x 2.8 x 1.7
Body operating weight (ounces) 15.9 13 15 (est) 9.3 (without flash) 12.4
Mfr. price $1,699.95 (body only) n/a $999.99 (body only) $599.99 (body only) $1,199.99 (body only)
n/a $899.99 (with 14-42mm lens) $1,299.99 (with 12-50mm lens) $699.99 (with 18-55mm lens) $1,349.00 (with 18-55mm lens)
n/a $899.99 (with 17mm f2.8 lens) $1,099.99 (with 14-42mm lens) n/a n/a
Ship date February 2012 August 2011 April 2012 September 2011 November 2011

I really enjoy shooting with the NEX-7, partly because it's a perfect size with a comfortable grip--not so small that it gets overwhelmed by the lenses, as smaller NEX models do, but small enough to be less conspicuous than a dSLR for street photography--and partly because Sony has fixed most of the things I have historically disliked about the NEX interface, generally because it has enough buttons to allow you to program away the interface.

It's got two context-sensitive thumb-operated dials and three remappable buttons, one of which can cover three functions. I like the switch-plus-button that allows you to toggle between AF/MF settings and autoexposure lock. Although some of the top and back buttons are hard to find by feel when you're looking through the viewfinder, overall everything can be customized for the most streamlined personal shooting experience possible.

The viewfinder and the flash stand out as well. The OLED EVF is large, bright, high-resolution enough for manual focusing, and refreshes quickly. Like some of Panasonic's ILCs', the NEX-7's pop-up flash can be tilted back for bounce or effect.

The enjoyment comes to a dead stop when you have to go into the menu system to change something that you don't use on a regular basis, however. The neatly organized top-level icons belie the unsorted anarchy below. I swear some of the options move when I'm not looking. In part, that's because Sony throws everything that doesn't fit into one of the other five categories into Setup.

There are no particularly whizzy or novel software capabilities in the NEX-7, just the usual essentials and Sony standbys. These include options like full manual controls in video mode and peaking for manual focus, as well as 2D and 3D Sweep Panorama. In fact, it's missing a couple of features I'd expect from a camera in its class, including options for resolution-reduced raw files and the ability to save groups of custom settings.

Conclusion
An excellent camera for advanced photographers that's fun and fluid to shoot with, the Sony Alpha NEX-7's few flaws don't seriously detract from an otherwise winning package.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
JPEG shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim light)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Sony Alpha NEX-7
0.9 
0.9 
0.6 
0.5 
0.2 
Canon EOS 60D
0.2 
0.6 
0.5 
0.5 
0.3 
Sony Alpha SLT-A77V
0.5 
0.6 
0.6 
0.6 
0.3 
Olympus PEN E-P3
0.6 
0.8 
0.7 
0.6 
0.3 
Sony Alpha NEX-5N
1.2 
1.1 
1 
0.6 
0.3 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Sony Alpha NEX-7
3.5 

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Sony Alpha NEX-7 (with 18-55mm lens)

Part Number: NEX-7K/B Released: Mar 1, 2012
MSRP: $1,349.99 Low Price: $1,211.29 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Mar 1, 2012
  • Optical Zoom 3 x
  • Optical Sensor Type Exmor APS HD CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 24.3 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (Steady Shot)
  • Lens 27 - 82.5mm F/3.5
  • Optical Sensor Size 15.6 x 23.5mm