Sony NEX-7 review
All the usual NEX traits: outstanding image and video quality, lethargic autofocus, iffy focus from the kit lens. Sumptuous ergonomics only just help it to justify the high price
Review Date: 31 Jan 2012
Price when reviewed: £1,129
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
Its photos aren't too shabby either. Automatic exposures were reliably attractive, and while we wish that the Auto ISO mode wasn't capped at 1600, anyone spending this much money will probably be happy to adjust settings as required.
The 24-megapixel sensor is extremely impressive. It couldn't quite match the 16-megapixel NEX-5N and NEX-C3 for low noise at ISO 6400 and 12800, but it was still significantly cleaner and more detailed than any other CSC. Photos at ISO 3200 were broadly on a par with the NEX-5N, and at slower ISO speeds the NEX-7 took the lead with its extra detail. Noise reduction was fairly heavy-handed, but those who want to squeeze every ounce of detail out of photos are likely to want to shoot in RAW mode anyway.
That won't get around the limitations of the NEX-7's 18-55mm kit lens, though. Sharpness at the focus point was excellent but it deteriorated towards the edges of frames at wide apertures. This is the same lens that comes with other NEX cameras, but the NEX-7's higher resolution makes the lens's shortcomings more apparent.
It's not necessarily a disaster. It's arguably desirable for portraits, and it's avoidable by closing the aperture. However, it proved frustrating in landscape and group portrait shots where there wasn't enough light for a small aperture. This isn't the only E-Mount lens, of course – there are six others available or coming soon, including four primes. However, the only other one we've had a chance to test is the 16mm f/2.8 pancake, and it's not any better for corner-to-corner focus at wide apertures.
No camera is perfect, but when one costs over £1,000 it needs to come pretty close. In some respects the NEX-7 lives up to the price – and the hype. The design is gorgeous, the viewfinder is a real treat and, after some initial reservations, we came to really like the controls. Autofocus speed is disappointing, though, and the E-Mount lens range is yet to prove itself. The 24-megapixel sensor is mightily impressive, but because it exhibits both more detail and more noise than the NEX-5N's sensor, it doesn't constitute a massive upgrade in practical terms.
We'd probably like the NEX-7 even more if the Sony NEX-5N didn't exist. It's a fantastic camera – and the best CSC we've seen – but it's not worth twice as much as the NEX-5N. Still, its gorgeous design means we can imagine many photographers choosing with their hearts rather than their heads.
A little unfair - worth 5 stars in my book
As photography tool, this blows the NEX 5N out of the water. The only way I could see any low light difference was by pixel peeping. The AF is much better described than in the review, at least as good as a recent Olympus PEN I tested in low light. It isn't as good as aDSLR at AF but it isn't competing with them. I disagree that noise is a problem, in 99% of conditions I shoot in this produces higher quality results than the 5n (particularly with the Zeiss 24mm lens).
The only downsides for me (I saw the lack of a touch screen as a real plus) were the position of the video button and the NEX refusal to implement a mode dial.
Having said that, 3 control wheels puts it up with the X100 for ease of use for photographers who shoot mainly (or delve into) in A, S, and M modes.
The TRI NAVI controls, improved image quality (over the already excellent nex 5n) and EVF easily make this worth twice the NEX 5n.
By Sgoldswo on 2 Feb 2012
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