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

31 Jan 2012
Our Rating 
4/5
Price when reviewed 
1,129
inc VAT

Page 3 of 3Sony NEX-7 review

Specifications

23.5x15.6mm 24.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 544g

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.

Sony NEX-7 sample

The NEX-5N may be even better at ISO 6400 but this is still a superb camera for low-light shooting - click to enlarge

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.

Sony NEX-7 sample

Focus is inconsistent across the frame at wide apertures, as this comparison between the centre and edge of the frame shows - click to enlarge

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.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 24.0 megapixels
CCD size 23.5x15.6mm
Viewfinder electronic, 2.4 megapixels
Viewfinder magnification, coverage 1.07x, 100%
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 921,600 pixels
Articulated screen Yes
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 27-82.5mm
Image stabilisation optical, in kit lens
Maximum image resolution 6,000x4,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920x1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 50fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; AVCHD, MPEG-4

Physical

Memory slot SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 335 shots
Connectivity USB, mini HDMI, microphone, hotshoe
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material magnesium alloy
Lens mount Sony E mount
Focal length multiplier 1.5x
Kit lens model name Sony SEL-1855
Accessories USB cable, lens hood
Weight 544g
Size 66x119x106mm

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £1,129
Supplier http://www.jessops.com
Details www.sony.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-32 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 16000
Exposure compensation +/-5 EV
White balance auto, 9 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction, dynamic range optimisation, lens compensation (peripheral shading, chromatic aberration, distortion), AF micro adjust
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 25cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, smile detect, HDR, panorama, 3D panorama

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