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.
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.
(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)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)