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Sony NEX-7 review

Does Sony's new CSC hit the NEX level?

Our Verdict

For

  • Excellent image quality
  • Very good dynamic range
  • Intuitive control layout
  • OLED electronic viewfinder

Against

  • AF struggles in low light
  • Limited range of E-mount lenses available
  • Setting up customisable controls may take a while to get exactly right

Just as many thought the race to squeeze more pixels onto camera sensors had ended, Sony announced a new flagship model for its NEX line of mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras in August 2011, with a 24.3Mp rear-illuminated CMOS sensor.

The Sony Alpha NEX-7 now sits right at the top of the company's compact system camera (CSC) range and is currently one of the most expensive CSCs available, costing around £1,000 for the body only, or around £1,130 with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

The NEX-7 appears to be aimed at demanding users who like the idea of a more compact camera, but don't wish to compromise on image quality or exposure control. Videographers may also look at this new Sony with interest because it's capable of recording Full HD movies with AF tracking and manual exposure control.

Although the cameras in the NEX series are certainly smaller and lighter than equivalent SLRs, this camera couldn't really ever be classed as pocketable – unless you have very large pockets. The lightweight magnesium alloy body on it's own weighs a svelte 291g, but because the camera uses a relatively large APS-C-sized sensor, the lenses are on the large side.

Using a large sensor has its benefits. The larger surface area allows larger photosites, which should improve the signal-to-noise ratio and the quality of images shot in low light.

A growing selection of E-mount lenses are available for the NEX series, covering focal lengths from 16mm to 210mm. A range of primes optics, including a 16mm f/2.8 pancake, are also on offer, which are ideal for those wishing to travel a bit lighter.

The NEX-7 lens mount differs from the A-mount found on Sony's Alpha range of SLR and SLT cameras, so an adapter is necessary to mount A lenses on a NEX body. This could be of interest to those who already own a collection of Sony or Minolta lenses, although only SSM or SAM lenses will autofocus using the adapter.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution24.3 Megapixel
USBYes
PictBridgeNo
Product Familyalpha NEX
ColourBlack
Digital Zoom10x
Brand NameSony
FeaturesFace Detection, Smile Detection, Self-timer, Continuous Shooting Mode, Manual Control
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4, AVCHD
Viewfinder TypeElectronic
Weight (Approximate)291 g
Maximum Image Resolution6000 x 4000
Maximum Frame Rate60 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeCMOS
Total Camera Resolution24.7 Megapixel
HDMIYes
Camera AssemblyBody Only
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
Height66.9 mm
Width119.9 mm
Depth42.6 mm
Autofocus Points25
Product SeriesNEX
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Audio FormatsAAC
Flash ModesAuto Flash, Flash OFF, Flash ON, Slow Sync, Rear Curtain Sync, High Speed Sync
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelNEX-7
Product Namealpha NEX-7 Mirrorless Camera
Product Linealpha
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberNEX7/B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Follow your creative passion wherever it leads you. Capture stunning images with the versatility of interchangeable lenses - all without the size and weight of a DSLR. Don't compromise with ultra-desirable styling and serious photo features.

Battery Life335 Shot
Display Resolution921600 Pixel
Built-in DevicesMicrophone, Speaker