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

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 

Editors' Top PicksSee All

  • Canon PowerShot SX600 HS

    Starting at: $179.99
    3.5 stars

    With its 18x zoom lens, simple straightforward automatic shooting, and built-in Wi-Fi,...

  • Nikon D3300

    Starting at: $429.99
    3.5 stars

    The company's latest entry-level model delivers the speed and photo quality you expect...

  • Samsung NX1

    Starting at: $1,299.00
    4 stars

    Fast, sturdy, well-designed and with excellent photo quality, the Samsung NX1 hits all...

  • Nikon D750

    Starting at: $1,579.99
    4 stars

    With an almost perfect combination of photo quality, features and performance for the...

 

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

Conversation powered by Livefyre