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 newsletter!
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Apple iMac Pro
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Ballistix Sport AT
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Toys for Boys
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Tivoli PAL BT
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
ESET Internet Security
ESET Smart Security Premium
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R17 Pro review: Oppo's thriftiest flagship yet drives a hard bargain
- 2 Google Home Hub review: A different kind of smart TV
- 3 Nokia 7.1 review: A modest and modern mid-tier option
- 4 Tenda Nova MW6 review: A gateway drug for mesh Wi-Fi
- 5 Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Expensive, but probably the best phone you can buy right now
Latest News Articles
- Dell launches its Rugged range
- Sony launches three new 4K HDR Home Cinema Projectors
- HP launches Omen by HP Challenger Series Tournament
- Samsung Australia announces breakthrough demand for Galaxy Note9 pre-sales
- HP Omen laptops include a first: Nvidia Max-Q graphics technology
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- PC World 2018 Editor's Choice Awards
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?