The NEX-7 is the Sony interchangeable lens mirrorless for folks who’d like to shoot with a DSLR but don’t want the size and weight penalties associated with that sort of platform. Just to make sure they didn’t limit their audience, Sony included typical point-and-shoot features such as a smile shutter, face detection and registration, automatic and scene shooting modes. But they also included a boatload of enthusiast level hardware and performance features that clearly move this camera toward the DSLR end of the performance spectrum and audience.
The NEX-7 boasts a terrific viewfinder and minimal shutter lag. The built-in flash drops from a 7 to a 6 guide number, but recycle times are dramatically improved. Auto focus performance in good conditions is quick. A peaking feature assists users with manual focus. A new user interface and control layout is designed to give advanced shooters quick control over many settings affecting image quality and capture. Power up time, while not DSLR quick, is still pretty fast. Single shot-to-shot times are dramatically improved over the first-generation NEX-5, approaching DSLR quick. Near-DSLR performance in many categories doesn’t come cheap – it will take a DSLR-sized payment to put an NEX-7 under your Christmas tree, if you can find one by then.
I found the location of the lens release button awkward to use and the TRINAVI control and user interface takes some getting used to. I’m not sure what Sony was thinking in cooking up a playback routine that compartmentalizes images by their type and requires menu access to playback anything but the last image type you captured. The automatic viewfinder/monitor switching system has the potential to dramatically shorten battery life if users are not careful.
Were I in the market for a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and Nikon had not produced the V1, my order for an NEX-7 would go in immediately. Heck, I may get one anyway – it’s a fine camera. The main thing stopping me is that 2.7x crop factor on the V1 that turns my 600mm Nikon telephoto into a 1620mm… for all the rest of you, if you’re in line for an NEX-7 stay the course and you won’t be sorry. The cameras will get here one of these days and you’ll be happy you chose to wait.
- Good image quality
- Good video quality
- Good shutter lag and AF acquisition time
- Excellent viewfinder
- Awkward playback regimen
- Monitor/viewfinder interface can impact battery life