Sony NEX-7 digital camera
Sony’s newest NEX camera is technically brilliant, but its controls and menus need some refinement
- Excellent image quality
- Extremely solid build quality
- Clear and sharp electronic viewfinder
- Dial-and-wheel interface can be confusing
- Menu system is unnecessarily complicated
- Auto ISO artificially limited, hampering low-light shots
The next step in Sony's evolution of its NEX interchangeable-lens-but-no-bulky-internal-mirror camera system is technically brilliant: an amazingly detailed and clean image sensor shoehorned into a reasonably compact camera body that's incredibly well built and full of features (an excellent electronic viewfinder, tilting screen, plenty of dials for manual control). Using the camera in either its automatic or manual modes isn't as effortless as it should be, though, with some annoying quirks that hamper easy usage. We think they'd mostly be easy to address in a future firmware update, though.
Price$ 1,699.00 (AUD)
The Sony NEX-7 has an interesting lineage: it’s the top model in the second generation of Sony’s NEX interchangeable lens camera system, a group of cameras focused on good image quality without the bulky controls and steep learning curve of a digital SLR. The NEX-7 has eschewed the light-on-buttons mentality of the previous NEX-5 and NEX-3 models, though, with three multipurpose control dials and a range of dedicated buttons. We think the controls theoretically make the NEX-7 easier to use in manual mode than older models, but the coming-together of the camera’s interface and hands-on controls needs some more work.
Sony NEX-7: Design and features
The NEX-7 is very roughly a ‘rangefinder’-style camera, with an optical viewfinder that is offset from the camera lens mount. Since it’s an electronic viewfinder, there’s no need for a bulky mirror box and optical prism of the kind you’d find in a digital SLR. The body of the camera is extremely well constructed, easily on par with a semi-professional digital SLR like the Nikon D7000: it’s milled from solid aluminium for the most part, and the rubber and plastic inserts are of high quality.
The vaguely rectangular shape of the NEX-7’s rear panel lends itself to an easily recognisable layout of controls. Below the viewfinder is the NEX-7’s tilting 3.0in LCD screen, which can pivot up and down to allow shooting from the hip or with the camera in the air. Look right from the viewfinder and you’ll see a flash pop-up button, playback button and auto-exposure/autofocus switch-button combo, with a dedicated movie button on the camera’s thumb grip. Down from there are two context-sensitive buttons, and a scroll wheel with a central button and four-way directional pad built in.
The top of the camera is where innovation is hidden away. A multipurpose hot-shoe and pop-up flash sit next to two knurled aluminium dials extending from the top rear of the camera — these are the crucial components in the Sony NEX-7’s manual control layout. The power switch is built around the shutter button, and there’s a third multipurpose button alongside it.
The electronic viewfinder in the Sony NEX-7 is excellent. It’s by far the closest approximation we’ve seen to a full-size SLR optical viewfinder, and being an OLED panel it suffers from few of the frustrating inadequacies of the LCD-based electronic viewfinders found in the Panasonic G3, Sony Alpha A35, Samsung NX11 and similar cameras. Its clarity and detail levels are excellent with a 2,359,296 dot resolution — count ‘em — and there’s little to no loss of detail in dark or bright areas in the majority of shooting.
There’s a sensor that switches to the EVF once you raise it to your eye, making the experience almost seamless — we only found it an issue when we accidentally covered it with a thumb during browsing images on the rear screen, blacking out the LCD temporarily until we realised. It’s also important to note that the eye-cup around the electronic viewfinder is quite large — larger than the Sony product photos make it out to be — and it extends some way from the rear of the camera. We found that if the diopter setting was correctly adjusted, we preferred to shoot the camera with the eye-cup detached.
Sony NEX-7: Control layout and menu usage
The extra controls on the NEX-7 over previous models go a long way to make the camera easier to use in manual shooting modes. The two top-mounted multipurpose dials are best used for independently adjusting shutter speeds and aperture values in Manual mode, but will both work if you’re browsing through stored photos or if you’re in a more automatic shooting mode.
Next page: Image quality and performance
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Smart LED Bulb LB130
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® Portable SSD
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Surface Pro 4
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung's UHD Monitor covers 99.5 per cent of Adobe colour spectrum
- HP settles cases with inkjet cartridge vendors
- Study predicts PS3 will win the console war
- Samsung wave makes a splash at Mobile World Congress
- Sony finally back in the black (but not thanks to PlayStation)
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTJunior / Entry Level IT role - Recent IT TAFE GraduateNSW
- FTHR Payroll ConsultantQLD
- CCSenior Technical SpecialistNSW
- TPMicrosoft Analyst ProgrammerSA
- FTNV1 Cleared Software Engineer (Mid level) - Defence Projects - North Ryde areaNSW
- CCTransport Planner - GIS SpecialistNSW
- CCSQL Database Administrator (DBA)NSW
- FTMonitoring Tools Support l NimSoft , SMARTS, ehealth, TivoliNSW
- FTSenior Java EngineerACT
- FTProject Manager (Software product development)VIC
- FTMid-Level Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)ACT
- FTPre- Sales Solution ArchitectVIC
- CCLevel 2 IT Service Desk OfficerQLD
- FT.Net DeveloperVIC
- CCNetwork ArchitectWA
- CCSenior Infrastructure EngineerNSW
- TPBusiness Analyst - HealthQLD
- TPSenior Business AnalystQLD
- CCSenior Systems EngineerNSW
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Positive Vetting, NV2 or NV1 required!!!!SA
- TPProject Coordinator/Junior Project ManagerVIC
- FT.Net DeveloperNSW
- CCCyber Security Strategy AnalystACT
- CCFront-End DeveloperQLD
- FTSenior Java Developers (Several positions available)QLD