788 of 804 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great in a lot of ways but not perfect. Worth the spend
A little background to give you perspective on the review. I'm an advanced amateur shooting for about 10 years. I also own a Canon 5D Mark II with some L Zoom lenses (24-70 F2.8 and the 70-200 F2.8) and the very good 50mm 1.8 prime and a Fuji X100.
I spent a lot of time (probably over 40 hours) researching this camera, reading reviews etc. before buying it on...
Published 23 months ago by Peter Singh
228 of 276 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superb images, flawed interface. NEX 5n is a better choice.
This is a review of my new NEX-7, a lovely, precision made piece of pocket magic. I hope Amazon readers will indulge me if I first make a few observations about the great Sony Corporation, and then some thoughts about the future of of digital cameras in the age of the iPhone.
I have a longtime fondness for Sony dating from the 1970's when my job required...
Published 21 months ago by Doctor.Generosity
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788 of 804 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great in a lot of ways but not perfect. Worth the spend,
I spent a lot of time (probably over 40 hours) researching this camera, reading reviews etc. before buying it on Amazon from a third party seller. I've had it about a week now and shooting with with the Sony 18-200 Zoom Lens (SEL18200). Below are my observations:
1. Very small camera body, smaller than my X100 and feels a lot like my old S90 compact in terms of size (this is of course without the lens). With the 18-200 lens its no longer pocketable but still small and very manageable compared to a SLR.
2. Great build quality, tough body, I like the styling and I love the handgrip. Just the right size.
3. Probably the fastest shutter I have ever used, very little shutter lag.
4. Easy to use menus/interface etc. Lots of options and things like sweep panorama and other "gadget" type things work well although unlikely that I will use them much.
5. Good battery life. I'm easily getting the 400 or so shots per charge its rated for.
6. Electronic viewfinder - The good part is that it works really well, focus is fast even in low light, for the not so good part relating to the viewfinder see below.
Not so good
1. The electronic viewfinder that gets rave reviews is simply not as good to my eyes as looking through glass. Its a far cry from an optical viewfinder and I find the little "noise/dots" in low light distracting. Images even when blown up don't seem to show the same noise so this is definitely a viewfinder issue. To give you context even with a lens cap on when the LCD is completely black the viewfinder has tiny dots dancing on it sort of like static on a TV screen, this doesn't go away.
2. Internal Flash design needs work. When used with the SEL18200 lens there is noticeable shadow in images due to the lens blocking some of the light, to the point where I am currently not using the flash at all and will eventually invest in an external or wireless flash. Just simply providing the ability to bounce this off the ceiling would have helped. UPDATE: Someone in comments just pointed out and I verified that you can manually tilt the flash while shooting. Solves my issue with the SEL18200, thanks.
In the end what I really care about though is image quality. In this the camera does not disappoint. It does indoors just about as well as my Fuji X100 which to me is the best low light, auto WB adjustment under any kind of light shooter I have ever used and for landscapes and nature its almost as good as my 5D particularly in good light. I suspect with a better lens I would be hard pressed to see the difference, right now while the 18-200 f3.5 is very versatile my Canon glass is definitely a little sharper, but at its size and lightweight appeal by guess is that the Sony will get a lot more at bats than the Canon. Even when blown up to the size of a modern day LCD TV pictures look great and the zoom lens is great at bringing far away details closer. The 24MP señsor does capture a lot of detail and does well in low light situations as well. I'm not really a high ISO shooter preferring flash or faster lenses where this becomes required but up to ISO 1600 have not noticed any issues with the picture quality even on a 63" screen.
All in all I am very happy with my purchase and look forward to many years of shooting with it. I'd recommend it along with the SEL-18200 lens for anyone looking for a second camera as a go anywhere alternative to a SLR and lenses or as a very significant upgrade from a compact. This could also very easily become the only camera for an enthusiast/advanced amateur type who would be willing to trade in the bulky DSLR. I definitely hope they make more high quality lenses for it as time goes by. I was also looking at the 24mm F1.8 Carl Zeiss prime (36mm equivalent) but in the end opted for the versatility of the zoom particularly since my X100 gives me a dedicated 35mm point of view for about the same price but with camera body attached.
Update - I did some more comparisons to my X100 and liked the Nex 7 enough to sell the Fuji. I used the proceeds to purchase the Carl Zeiss Sonnar 24mm F1.8 e mount lens. I'm finding this lens to mitigate some of my viewfinder issues since its bright enough and the little dancing dots seem at bay but not totally gone. Also finding this lens to be of very high quality, auto-focus is very quick and indoor low light shooting a breeze. Portraits are sharp and background is pleasantly de-focused, even in dimly lit rooms I am not using flash or high ISOs and outdoors or in good light its beautiful.
Update 2 - I have now been using the Nex 7 for almost three months. I have to say I love it even more. Its become my go to camera for a lot of different occasions and I recently travelled internationally with this and the Zeiss F1.8 lens as my only camera. Pictures of the trip came out beautiful, although I'm not much of a dedicated 35mm shooter I found that there was enough there to make me very happy and in some cases crops etc. taking advantage of the ample resolution the Nex offers strengthened particular images. I have also added the HVL20 flash to my collection and find it to be useful in low light, indoor types of situations and pretty compact still and recently added the Tamron 18-200 lens which I am liking a little more than the Sony SEL18200 since its a little smaller, lighter and produces about the same image quality. Vain I know but I actually like the black of the Tamron lens more.
I have been doing some tests also of portraits compared to my 5D Mark II and for me at least the Full Frame bokeh of the 5D can't be beat. I don't have a great portrait lens for the Nex yet so will reserve final judgement until I acquire one (50mm F1.8 on pre-order) but at near identical focal lengths and apertures the Canon 5D images have the 3D like pop to them that the Nex is missing ONLY when compared side by side, i.e. the Nex does render a little more detail in the background. Outside of this extreme bit of detective work that likely has very little value in actual use I am extremely happy with Nex for portraits and for all others types of shooting including landscape with the Zeiss lens.
126 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The almost perfect Nex 7,
Anyway, this time, I got my wife the Nex 3c for Christmas because it shares the same 16 mp processor that is in the Nikon D7000. To put an APS-c processor in such an inexpensive camera, I thought, would open the world of natural light photography to my wife with a sensor that's a proven winner in a small, convenient camera with interface designed for point and shoot photographers.
When I got home, my wife had our six month old daughter dressed in a Santa outfit... Break out the camera...Out of the box in five minutes the most incredible, clear, good color gorgeous detailed photos, all in natural light...we were so excited we rushed to print a Christmas card. That simple incident has caused my wife to finally get interested in a camera more rewarding than her Casio Ex Slim.
Reading more, I decided to get myself the 5n. Same processor but with more capabilities and controls. I got many wonderful photos with the kit 18-55 but not as good as my D7000. But then I bought the Sony 18-200 lens for the 5n. The photos and detail with this lens knocked my socks off and was every bit the quality I was getting from the D7000 for which I have an equivalent lens.
It was this experience that made me interested in the 24 mp Nex 7. I read a few reviews of the Nex 7. I read of many features, but mainly stunning image quality. Some commentators think that 24 mp is about the equivalent of the detail you can achieve with a film camera. I was interested.
But the one think this excercise has brought home to me, if you're seeking detail, then there's alot of other things that go into image clarity than just the sensor. And the other things get more and more evident as the megapixels are pushed. First on this list is whether you have a lens that will deliver enough detail to take advantage of the megapixels. I did crave the detail, I had the lens. So I bought the camera.
The Sony Nex 7 takes some getting used to. Its three dial system is ingenious and provides easy quick access to an functions including by example, creativity settings, saturation and sharpness, settings to expand dynamic range, aperture, speed and iso, so that with practice you can reset all of these for every shot almost instantly. There are many other great features also.
But mainly, when I got the settings right, the quality of the pictures was just something I never saw before from any camera.
There are things that could be done a little better, as there always are. The flash unit is incredibly cheesy. The movie button is placed so that I have taken many movies I did not intend. Good thing they can be erased. And there is no case that fits this incredible little camera. And it is almost shocking that with all the settings available, there is no way to save a custom profile once you have everything just the way you want it. There are other things as well. But overall, it delivers an incredible array of capabilities and unequaled image quality for an APS-C sensor that has to be seen to be believed. With good lenses, that can translate into superior photos in most conditions.
How does it compare to the 5n? Honestly for people shots, and especially for shots indoors at night in natural light, the 5n is just as good or better.(My favorite professional reviewers are DPreview.com. Their tests showed that the 5n is better in low light, but if they resampled the 5n image up to 24 mp then the images were equal. This is stupid. They had to downgrade the 5n image to make it equal the 7.) The extra pixels are just not needed and they do reduce low light sensitivity. But in low light both are better than my Nikon D7000 which honestly, I still love and will also use. (The nikon has a quality usable flash.)
At half the price for the camera plus the kit lens, the 5n is definitely a better value than the Nex 7 for all but the true enthusiast. Only with the purchase of expensive extra glass, and a lot of testing and practice, will the potential better photo qualities emerge. But when they do the results are stunning to a discerning eye.
Now after two months, I would add the following: This camera is even better than I thought, I think in part due to the 18-200 lens being just superb. All my shots are better than all my shots were before. After figuring out the three wheel system and using it, it is fast and convenient. Need to be careful not to bump a wheel and change a setting by mistake. One nice feature. When you set the camera the way you want it in program and aperture modes, then turn it off, the settings are the same when you turn it back on.
I am not using my Nikon D7000 at all. I keep trying to find comparable shots where the Nikon will equal this camera. No can do. In daylight, same picture, the Sony Nex 7 produces considerably better pictures. The detail is sharper, and when you learn to use the dynamic range settings they are incredibly better so you get better detail in the light and in the shadows. The depth of field is greater than with the Nikon. The distortion controls are wonderful and are making my pictures better. The articulating screen makes it easy to compose your shot from low and high angles. With zoom and so many pixels it's easy to let camera movement destroy a shot. So finding something to rest the camera against to take a shot always helps, and depending on the height of the object you use, the articulating screen makes it easier to compose your shot.
I just love this camera and I believe it is making my photographs better than they ever were.
117 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight to use,
This review is from: Sony NEX-7 24.3 MP Compact Interchangeable Lens Camera with 18-55mm Lens (Camera)I managed to get my hands on one of these in Jan 2012, and believe me it was difficult.
The body weighs very little without the battery or lens, which is as it should be. Put the weight into a great set of lenses. Place one of those great lenses on this camera, and I've tried the 18-55, 55-210 and zeiss 24, and the results are wonderful. Yes you can argue that at not so low iso ratings the 24 MP is noisy, but dial down the noise in post image processing (I shoot in raw format) and the results are superb.
I find the viewfinder to be remarkably good, better than optical viewfinders as I really see what I will get, and every time I look through it I am stunned at the fidelity. After a great shot the result can look almost 3d, if you have preview one. No dancing dots have crossed my eye's path.
I upgraded from the 5n, which lacked the viewfinder in particular. The difference in ergonomics and quality is worthwhile. Also worthwhile is the expensive Zeiss 24 lens, and the 55-210. Both deliver excellent results.
This range will keep building over time, so any lenses you buy will still be valuable for years. However lenses are also difficult to find these days, as are older Leica lenses which many have had success with.
The best camera I've ever owned, and a delight to pick up, to carry on long treks and to use.
103 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top of the line, for now.,
Update: I recently got hold of a Minolta 3600HS(D) flash for dirt cheap ($50 shipped) and it works wonderfully with the NEX-7. Metering TTL is perfect and my indoor photos look great with bounce flash. Of course, it's a bit big and will add some weight to your camera, but well worth it.
An average review from an average Joe using a not-so-average camera.
The build is sexy. It screams quality. Magnesium alloy body makes it heavier and bigger than the previous NEXes, as expected, but it's a welcomed extra weight. I don't have small hands and always thought the NEX-5/5N, as nice as the form is, felt a little bit like a toy. So I definitely appreciate the NEX-7's new size and weight, something I can really wrap my fingers around.
I think Sony have a pretty perfect layout, or at least one that really works. I'm sure you've heard all about the latest-and-greatest Electronic Viewfinder with its amazing high resolution, and the intuitive TriNavi 3-dial control. Yes, they work. I'm a big fan of the bright and sharp 3" tiltable LCD screen, but I've always wanted a nice VF on my camera to better compose my shots and avoid the nasty glare out in the sunlight. This is my first time using an EVF, and it's a good first impression. The view is quite large, giving lots of room to include all the necessary info. There's a diopter for those with bad eyesight. The eyepiece is not exactly glass-friendly, and is actually the one annoyance I have with the camera. I just can't seem to get it to comfortable situated in my eye socket. But maybe I just have to get used to a VF.
The TriNavi is also very good (though i wish we can really customize the wheels). I mainly shoot with Aperture-priority mode so one dial is for aperture and one is for Exposure Value compensation. This does work very well, if you use a native E-mount lens. However, if you're like me and shoot using legacy lenses, you'll find that the Aperture dial is basically useless. I'd love to be able to customize the dials to my liking instead of the given presets. It's definitely not a problem, but I just feel that it's wasteful. Same with other manual modes.
Oh, hey, there's a built-in flash and a Sony/Minolta hot-shoe as well if you're into that sort of things ;)
24MP on an APS-C sensor is pretty impressive. It has been pitted against the 16MP sensor time and time again, and proven to be slightly, VERY VERY slightly, inferior at high ISO settings so I won't bore you with that. But what does it mean for us average Joes? It means that you don't have to worry about anything. The 24MP sensor can hold its own. Image quality from ISO100-800 is pretty awesome. Noise at a minimal level and you can go right ahead with those huge prints. Noise level increases as you go past ISO 1600, but even up till ISO 3200, photos are still very much usable. I shoot a lot of indoor shots without flash and I like what I see. But of course, stick to lower ISO and/or use flash to get the best quality.
24MP is also 6MP more than the cheaper NEX models. Will those extra pixels make a difference? I say definitely. a) Holy crop! So much headroom to spare, you can crop to your heart's content and still have a high-res result. b) Details. The 24MP sensor can probably (probably?) out-resolve any lens you have. I feel (placebo?) like my shots have that extra POP it didn't with the NEX-5, using the same lens.
The NEX system is young, and far from developed. There's a lack of lenses (but an abundance in whining users...). Sony have done a decent job at covering all the focal ranges. We have the 16mm, 18-55mm, 30mm macro, 50mm, 55-210mm, 18-200mm (so good we get it TWICE!). Yet, we're still missing those fast and good lenses. SOme people say we need pancake primes. I say we just need primes. What's the obsession with pancakes anyway? The only good thing about them is the syrup.
Also, you can't use the built-in flash as a wireless flash commander. What's up with that Sony? The A77 can do it. However, you can tilt the built-in flash upwards to bounce the light. Very convenient.
Buy this camera if you can afford it and find it. It's a great performer in a small body despite the minor flaws. I think Sony have another winner.
228 of 276 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superb images, flawed interface. NEX 5n is a better choice.,
I have a longtime fondness for Sony dating from the 1970's when my job required constant international travel. This was before personal computers and the internet; I depended on my Sony Walkman, my Sony microcassette recorder, my Sony shortwave radios, and all the other jewels of miniature electronics Sony produced in those days with imagination and precision. Trinitron. The U-Matic 3/4" video players we used for education and training before Betamax and VHS. Unfortunately in recent decades Sony has not stayed on the leading edge of consumer electronics. The company grew large and subdivided, replacing a strong sense of design coherence led by Akio Morita, with management by committee. The secret of Apple, and the reason Apple surpassed Sony, is mainly that one individual, Steve Jobs, maintained a coherent personal vision of product rightness over a long period of time and a variety of platforms. Sony on the other hand divided into a conglomerate of disconnected businesses. For example, unlike Apple, Sony's foray into the content industry (movies, music) did not really feed back to enhance their hardware products. There is not one Sony company but several; the people who make the new Sony Tablet P or the Bloggie MP4 recorders probably have never met the camera team. The CEO of Sony in recent years, Howard Stringer, was not a digital visionary but a clueless corporate "Mister Businessman." As I write this Sony has lost billions for eight years and has just announced 10,000 more layoffs. The new CEO says his focus will be "One Sony." I hope so because the disconnects within the Sony group are evident in this NEX 7; it is excellent photographically but lacks integration in other important ways.
Sony was an early player in digital cameras and has remained strong, unlike their losing battle to stay in the television market or the MP3 market. In 2006 they committed to full-on competition with Canon and Nikon by buying out the Konica-Minolta line. Their DSLRs are first rate and they are the first to offer translucent non-moving mirror SLR's. Now with the NEX line of mirrorless, large sensor cameras, Sony has a hit and is hoping to lead the next phase of consumer photography. Or rather I should say, of ENTHUSIAST photography since as we all know, mass market photography today is increasingly dominated by the smartphone / iPhone with a vast array of third party software apps. More about that later. However, design by committee is evident in the Sony NEX 7; it gives the feeling that the features marked for incorporation came from a show of hands in a giant meeting rather than a unified concept. In sensors, Sony is pretty much the best in the world. Ditto for their marvelous manufacturing. But in user interface, in image processing and compression, in viewfinders, in lenses, in connectivity, wireless, software, in overall system architecture - they are uneven. Moreover, the camera group seems stuck in a past where cameras were in a silo by themselves. How sad that they seem unable to pull together Sony's amazing range of corporate skills in wireless, computers, etc., to focus them all on any one product.
OK, that's my history essay. Thanks for reading. Now on to testing the NEX 7. After having mine on backorder at Amazon for EIGHT MONTHS, it finally arrived a few days ago. I was also fortunate to capture one of the Zeiss 24mm NEX E-mount lenses, a gem (except it is overpriced and lacks image stabilization). I made a direct comparison with my Nikon D7000 for basic image quality and evaluated the other features as best I could, without yet having read every page of the 211 page (!) manual. There are three basics of digital photography: 1) image quality including JPEG efficiency, 2) handling quality including size, weight, speed, and ease of use and 3) connectivity, networking, and special techniques. I am leaving out cost; if that is your metric, I can tell you right now that you can buy a very good digital camera which will produce excellent photos for about one seventh what I spent for this baby with the Zeiss lens.
1. Image quality. I compared indoor both RAW and JPEG images from the NEX 7, 24 MP with my Nikon D7000, 16 MP. They certainly should be comparable since Nikon in fact uses a Sony sensor similar to that in the NEX 5n. I did this at ISO 100, 800 and 3200, trying to match the lenses between the two as comparably as I could, prime for prime, zoom for zoom. The results were mixed. With RAW images, the Nikon D7000 had a slight but definite edge, with more contrast and smoothness, especially in the shadows. (This implies the NEX 5n sensor may also be better than 7 at high ISO.) But with JPEGs it was the other way; at both high and low ISO, the NEX-7 images were distinctly superior to the Nikon in clarity and punch. The difference was greatest at ISO 3200. So it seems when JPEG compression is brought in, the Sony boys have a slight edge in the fine details of their algorithm for image compression. The differences are subtle; let's call it even. The NEX 7 produces beautiful, sharp, dynamic photos, really nice, and every bit as good as the best half-frame DSLR. So far so good.
2. Handling. So if the image quality is top grade, and the slim NEX 7 is so much lighter and smaller than my top of the line Nikon half-frame DSLR, and I am much more likely to take it with me when I travel, does it mean I'm ready to switch over completely? No, I'm not. For one thing, I have been shooting Nikon SLR's since John F. Kennedy was president. Nothing feels as comfortable and natural to me as having that funny clacking box held up to my eye, allowing me to see exactly what the lens will see. The NEX 7 comes with an EVF (electronic viewfinder) which means a little television you squint at through a lens as if it were a real viewfinder. This has been touted as a great advance but I find I don't like it. For one thing, the EVF display - in spite of being a state of the art 2.4MP OLED - is rough compared to a real life image. The picture has sparklies and the colors are off, and the proximity feature (viewfinder doesn't turn itself on until your eye is near the camera, to save battery) is disconcerting. And the information there is simply a duplicate of what can be seen on the much nicer, big LCD on the back, which has a handy tilt mount. With the LCD one can watch as the exposure is adjusted and see the changes in real time, which doesn't work so well using the EVF. The big display also helps more with focus; there is a digital zoom and a Sony feature called "focus peaking," visible color marking of the in-focus area that allows fine manual focus. This is my favorite feature and makes it much easier to use manual lenses from Pentax / Leica / Canon. This electronic assist for manual focus, which is also on the 5n, is one of the best reasons for buying a NEX.
3. Features and connectivity. The NEX 7 offers approximately 50 settings, ranging from gimmicks I am unlikely to ever use (camera fires the shutter when it detects a smile - will this work with my dog?) to those I use constantly (exposure comp, ISO, white balance) to those which sound intriguing but will need trying out to see if they really work (HDR, dynamic range). This all could have been organized more simply and some of the choices are head scratchers. For example: white balance and meter mode appear under the Brightness/Color menu, not the Camera menu nor the Settings menu. There are many such illogical, confusing choices. For example, there are an interesting set of "picture effects" which can emphasize one color, etc. These effects are fun to play with; I have uploaded a sample on the product page which picks out the reds in my neighbor's barn. But if I next want to try picking out the yellows in the scene rather than the reds, I must push or twist no fewer than six buttons and wheels, going back through the menus tediously to start over again with the next Picture Effect. Also, since there is no way to go backwards on these effects to the unaltered image, skilled photographers (the ones who would buy the NEX 7 in the first place) will prefer to apply effects like these in postprocessing rather than in the camera. So this entire feature set is more gimmick than useful. In general, the user definable wheels and buttons on the NEX only whetted my appetite for even more programmability. It would be much better if the camera would allow me to set up ALL my own menus the way that makes sense to me - for example gathering all the rarely used items in one menu so as to reduce clutter, and then another menu with a short list of items I use frequently. Instead, I'm left trying to figure out the obscure choices made for me by a Sony engineer sitting in a cubicle in Tokyo. Also, it is evident Sony did not try out the prototype on enough users before freezing the design. For example, a dedicated movie shutter button is placed where it is vulnerable to being pushed by accident, resulting in frequent unintended movie recordings, which must then be reversed through a nest of menus. This may sound minor but in fact is so irritating I may have to tape a piece of cardboard over the button. Numerous other reviewers have complained about this; it is a mistake and should have been caught before product release. And why do we need a separate shutter button for movies anyway? Other notes: Battery life is short compared to pocket cameras, especially when the EVF is on. Autofocus is a bit slow. Connectivity should have been higher on the list. No wireless, no GPS, and no ability to communicate with computer or phone except by ordinary USB download. Finally, there is a huge missing feature; after setting the 50 options, there is no way to SAVE the configuration. If you are not sure you remember what you set, your only choices are to go through all the menus again, which is tedious, or else 'reset all' in which case you must start from scratch next time.
Lens choices are an issue for such an expensive "pro quality" body. Available e-mount Sony lenses are mostly not up to the body in quality. The 18-55mm kit lens has a plastic lens barrel. It is also hard to understand why Sony chose to develop a new e-mount at all instead of simply using their established alpha-mount with its large existing lens portfolio. Apparently this was for lens compatibility with their video camcorders, but that has no relevance for me. There will be more lenses to come; Sony appears to have been somewhat taken aback by the success of the NEX series and is scrambling to catch up. In the meantime, it's a significant plus that numerous accessory mount adapters are available for non-Sony lenses, even old manual lenses from the 1970's - many photographers are buying NEX 3, 5 or 7 for this reason alone.
Summary: I am having a delightful time playing with the NEX 7 - but then I'm a gadget lover as well as a photographer. I enjoy the soft snickety-snick of the focal plane shutter. It's a sweet, complex toy and lots of fun, and a worthy successor to the Sony marvels of decades past. Build quality, an area where Sony is unsurpassed, is refined and precise. It produces images as least as good and in some cases better than my big, heavy Nikon DSLR, but is much lighter and smaller. It does not feel as natural to hold as an SLR, but it's going to be around my neck more of the time, and you can't take a picture unless you have your camera. The problem with the NEX is that the architecture does not feel as if it came from the mind of a single inspired designer. Rather there is a "pile of features," some brilliant and some gimmicky. I don't think the new wave of NEX type mirrorless cameras make DSLR's obsolete quite yet. Perhaps we would one days see a full frame camera similar to the NEX? One which would be designed from the get-go to make full use of the tens of millions of legacy full frame Nikon / Canon / Pentax / Leica lenses out there?
Overall, I'm a bit disappointed in Sony. I wish the NEX 7 could have been a breakthrough in user programmability, wireless connectivity, and interface design to go along with the innovative mirrorless mechanicals - but it is not. It adds more photographic capability only in conventional terms; bigger sensor, more pixels, smaller box, more features. Yes, there are more user choices for the buttons and wheels than usual but for the most part, the interface is like other cameras, only more so. And there are too many details to learn. The very fact of needing a 211 page manual shows it is too complicated. At this point in photographic history, conventional digital cameras are hitting a wall. As smartphones come with better and better internal cameras (the 8MP sensor on my iPhone 4S is as good as my digicam from a few years ago), the devices identified primarily as cameras need to meet them from the other direction, becoming more like cell phones. All portable devices these days should have wireless connectivity, it's a no-brainer. And what if the NEX 7 allowed for third party apps? The first brand to break out of the 'camera' silo and offer a programmable high end photography solution will be a true breakthrough. NEX 7, for all its niceness and precision, is not that breakthrough.
Conclusion: It is difficult to recommend the NEX 7 given its slightly uneven design, flaws in the interface, expanded size, high price and paucity of quality lenses. Its big feature is the EVF which I did not find to my liking. It seems to me the Sony NEX 5n is the sweet spot of the NEX line. It has most of the best features of the NEX 7 for about half the price. The EVF is optional as an accessory for the 5n. And it's smaller and lighter weight and has slightly less digital noise than the 7 at high ISO due to fewer megapixels. The touch screen on the 5n is also useful. And you may not need to use your whole vacation to read the 5n manual - it only has 82 pages.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nex-7 with the Zeiss 24mm: A joy to use & Marvelous image quality,
Now let's go into a' little bit more detail. The tri-navi works really well and makes it very easy to shoot manual. The menu system is a little poorly designed but this won't be an issue cause if you spend some time configuring the extra buttons on the camera then you won't have to go into the menu 99% of the time. One complaint from other users for the Nex 7 is the lack of good quality lenses. I got the Nex-7 with the kit lens. On top of it I got the Zeiss 24mm and 50mm (f1.8). I got the kit lens because I never shot with a prime before and I was scared that using a prime might be too challenging to shoot a toddler since they move around a'lot. But I was wrong. I totally love both of these primes. I love them so much that I have not even attached the kit lens even for testing yet. I use the 24mm as a walk-around lens. It's on my Nex 90% of the time. And when I want to shoot close-up portrait shots I switch to the 50mm prime. Both of them are really top quality primes. For the way I shoot these two primes are enough for 90% of my needs. And also if you check the Sony lens roadmap there is an E-Mount G series (high performance) zoom coming toward the end of the year. So, those of you who are hesitant cause there isn't a good quality high performance zoom should not be discouraged from buying this camera cause Sony will be coming out with one sometime this year. I read that auto-focus is fast during normal light but a' little slow or average in low light. This may be true for the kit lens (I haven't tested it yet so I can't confirm) but from my experience it is not true for the Zeiss. Stepped down to 1.8 and ISO up to 1600 the camera takes really good pictures in low light and for me the auto-focus did not struggle. I was able to take very clean in-door night (low light) shots of my toddler with the Zeiss lens (f set to 1.8 and ISO 1600 and no flash). The shots at these settings were very clean. If a camera can catch a toddler with low in-door lighting during night then it can catch anything :) I totally did not need any flash and auto-focus was fast enough for my low-light needs.
Overall I would highly recommend this camera. Sony's managed to come up with a game-changer with the Nex-7. It is a revolutionary camera just like how the 5d was for Canon. Image quality is very good but most importantly it is just a very fun camera to use and handle.
39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sports and General Photography with the NEX-7 (Rolling Review Style),
Let me start out by saying I'm new to photography. Not new in the sense that I don't know how to generally operate a camera, but concepts such as equalizing the exposure pyramid, composition, and "seeing the focal length" are areas that I have really just delved into. Just for a bit of scope, before getting this camera, I was shooting a Nikon d300 with the glass talked about in detail below, for only 2 months. Before that, point-and-shoots. A very big leap in equipment from basic consumer to enthusiast. So why did I get into this so fast?
My college's sports department needed a cheaper alternative for season games to get action shots, as they couldn't afford the resident pro photographer for every game. At the time, I was shooting a borrowed Nikon d40 for our newspaper. I wanted to give it a shot, and very quickly found that it wouldn't cut it for a sports camera, especially for indoor basketball games. After trying a couple different old lenses that my father no longer needed, such as the Tokina 80-200 f/2.8 AT-X, I ended up loaning out his trusty d300. It got the job done, but was limited by my complete lack of large aperture autofocus lenses, as the simple focus confirmation dot paired with the optical viewfinder weren't accurate enough for reliable results.
After what seemed like enough research to write a dissertation, I came to the conclusion that I'd be better off actually investing in a body to use the glass I already had, rather than get better glass for a still great, but 5 year old camera. This fell onto the camera up for review today, and after falling victim to the same shortage many other photographers had to wait through, I have finally had a chance to see what the hype is all about.
Luckily for me, my Nikon F mount to E mount adapter came in the same day as the camera, and after the very long, 5-hour, initial battery charge...ran out of usable light outside to take any usable photos.
I did, however, have ample time to take a few pictures with the main lenses I use with it, as well as a size comparison between the d300 and a point-and-shoot. You can see these in the product pictures.
Spoiler ahead: the size comparison picture I have attached demonstrates the point that Sony got it right and managed to pack in almost every single feature a DSLR has, remove the reflex mirror, and keep the whole package about the size of a normal compact camera. This is no small feat.
As far as first impressions about the camera itself, it just /feels/ right. Great rubberized grip, great weight, solid all metal build, and everything has a defined edge "cut" that really makes the design of this stand out when in the hand.
So, enter again a couple days later, after I've really gotten a chance to mess around with the camera, and my first impressions about the general feel were backed up by the image quality. Outstanding. Rich. Detailed. Those are the three words that come to mind every time I ask myself how to feel about the NEX-7's RAW files (I strive to only shoot RAW for maximum post processing flexibility) at low ISO's. Seeing as it is March, the flowers are out, so take a quick look at my boring flower shot and get back here. Good? Now check out the one with the robin taken with the 300mm f/2.8. Alright? Awesome, we can move on.
So one thing I really wanted to test with this camera that is a hard quality to quantify is the usability, how it shoots, how it operates, and how it just feels as a quality piece of kit. Well there's good news, and bad news. Good news is, its highly customizable and modular control interface allows me to have complete and total control over my exposures. With the live exposure feedback on both the LCD screen and EVF, I know exactly what the picture will look like /before/ I take it, (constant DoF preview, for instance), something an optical viewfinder can never do. The bad news, however, which is really just niggling here, is that in order to get your preferred settings where you want, you have to play with the camera for a good few hours straight, wading through the honestly awful menu structure. I won't lie, it is disorganized and laid out terribly. That said, with the exception of formatting the memory card, I have assigned all the settings I ever need to on-body (and out of menu) controls, so my trips to the menu will be very few and far in between. If you worry about this point, rest easy, once you fiddle around and get everything assigned to the button of your choice, you'll be good to go.
A quick praise and redux of the EVF/LCD screen with peaking and manual focus assist: for still subjects, the combination of the two leads to extremely precise focusing that is amazingly useful for lenses, such as the two I use, that have a large maximum aperture. When you start focusing, you can actually see a band of color (can choose from Red, Yellow, or White, I use yellow on high intensity) move along so you know when and where the focus will hit. Then, after your area is in "color", you use manual focus assist (I assigned it to the AF/MF-AEL button) to get even more precise focus. Now on moving subjects, just stick to peaking and hope for the best. Again, if you are using a large aperture (f/2.8 or larger), then typically what flashes in your peaking color will be in focus. Of course, if you have any prior experience with manual focusing, you'll be right at home here. In my case, these lenses are easier to use on the NEX-7 than they ever would on the d300. One thing to note about the EVF though, in moderately low to good light, it has very fast response, so much so that it is essentially real time, with no screen tearing like I was expecting. In low light, in order to show a decent image on screen, it has to turn the refresh rate down, so it lags a tad. Just keep that in mind.
I really wanted to put this camera through its paces today and went on a photo trip of sorts out to a local covered bridge. I wanted to find out more strengths, and possible new weaknesses. To keep it short and sweet, take a look at the "one-shot HDR" picture from inside the bridge and come back. Looking good, no? Anyways, onto a few quick strengths, with a light prime attached, this camera is just a piece of cake to carry around, angle, and shoot. Held mine for 2 hours straight without a neck strap (one of the weaknesses of this camera is that the included neck strap is truly awful) and simply changing hands when carrying it was the only remedy needed for taking the weight off. The tilting LCD helps you get up and close to focus without having to bend or crouch too much, and is bright enough to see in all but direct mid-day sunlight. One note about the EVF, though, the eyecup isn't quite deep enough to block out ALL outside light, but the chances of outside light creeping in is pretty small, and once you know where it's coming from, you can press the camera up to your eye in whatever angle you need to get it to be a complete seal.
So, fourth day impressions? Getting more and more comfortable with it, but take note, this is a camera that DEMANDS that you take it with you and shoot, as memorizing what your settings and buttons do takes a bit of time. For me, I'm already starting to intrinsically get this process down, and am starting to see what all the hype is about the controls. One side note, all I have with me is a slow class 4 card. When writing RAW files each file takes about 3 seconds, when I do a 3-4 shot burst, that time gets compounded. I have a fast (Sandisk UHS-1 95MB/s) card coming in hopefully tomorrow, and although the camera doesn't support it the UHS-1 class speed, it'll be a good, fast class 10 card to have if I ever get another future NEX that has UHS-1 support, OR a USB 3.0 card reader.
First week round-up:
I have now had the chance to really get to know this camera over the past week. Here's just a quick roundup of pros and cons that I find relevant to shooting, some of which are mentioned above.
1. 24MP sensor strikes the perfect balance between high resolution, ISO noise, file size, and dynamic range. Any camera I get from this point on needs to have at least this many megapixels, as the cropping flexibility is tremendous.
2. Body design and function is great. The "L" shape creates a very secure grip, and the fact that it is rubberized just makes it grip that much more. Everything, save for the buttons and screen, is metal. There is nothing like the feeling of picking up a camera after a few hours to be greeted by a cold, hard, magnesium alloy body. Though it's not weather sealed, I'm sure this camera can take some punishment.
3. The EVF has changed the way I shoot, coming from an OVF. Being able to "see what the sensor sees" is a true game changer. I will never go back to an OVF. It's not all peachy though, see cons.
4. The peaking and focus magnification functions, combined with the bright tilt screen, have made getting numerous shots that I couldn't get with a DSLR (with manual lenses), possible. It's just amazing to zoom into 100% to get tack-sharp accurate focus in real time, even with large aperture lenses. It's even more fun to see the "band" of the depth of field get closer and further away as you play with the focus ring. :)
5. Though I haven't done much video yet, the few little clips I have tried out are great. Seeing as I got this camera for PICTURES, the fact that it does any sort of video at all (let alone 1080/60p at 28 Mbps!!!) is like icing on top of red velvet cake. On a similar note, I have not once accidentally pushed the video record button, as many others complain about. Maybe I'm just lucky with the curvature of my thumb?
6. With a fast card (in my case, a SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB, SDHC, UHS-1 Flash Memory Card SDSDXPA-032G-X46,Black), camera operation is great. RAW files write fast, even after a large burst of 6-10 photos, and scrolling through photos and magnifying to check focus is a lot faster than a class 4 or 6 card.
1. Though pixel-level detail with 24MP at ISO 100 in RAW is flat out amazing, viewing anything higher than ISO 400 reveals pixel-level noise. Not great if you're a pixel peeper. That said, at an IMAGE level, noise only really shows up at 3200, and is easily removable in post processing. Also, since I try to always use a large aperture prime, I can afford to always stay within ISO 100-400. No big deal here.
2. The EVF struggles in high contrast situations to accurately show highlights and shadows, meaning it clips both of them. However, this doesn't affect the image upon immediate playback, and if you shoot in RAW, you really just need to make sure your subject is generally exposed right and you can mess with all the highlights and shadows quickly and easily in post. Also, though the refresh rate is truly real-time in moderately low to good light, when it gets really low, the screen rate is something like 10-15 fps, which is because the sensor needs to lower the "virtual" shutter rate so it can show a properly exposed viewfinder image. This is the case with ANY mirrorless camera.
3. 24MP RAW files will quickly fill your hard drive. You better bet on getting a large external hard drive on down the road.
4. The only native lens that outresolves the sensor is the Zeiss 24mm f/1.8. However, I have seen many amazing shots already from the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS, despite it technically not being up to snuff. That said, there are some great lenses in e-mount on Sony's roadmap for this year, and until then, if you are using any good manual full-frame lenses (such as mine, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AI-s E-series which is replacing the 50mm f/2 AI pictured in the product images, and the 300mm f/2.8 AI-s ED) they outresolve the sensor very well.
Last installment of the rolling review, queue paid sports photography:
If you have read this far, kudos to you. This will be the final post regarding the fast action performance of this camera.
First, see the baseball and softball pictures posted in the product images. Now get back here! Can you tell those were caught with a manual focus lens?
I didn't think so. There are 5 big things that this camera has over any other DSLR or mirrorless (in the same price range) in regards to sports photography (granted that you already have some proficiency with manual focus lenses). Let me explain:
1. 10 fps full resolution with a 17 file (in RAW!!!) buffer depth. Though fps can never be high enough (even the D4's 12 fps would miss some of the action in baseball), I have never once locked myself up while shooting, being able to consistently fire off 3-7 shot bursts and go right to shooting another. Cameras like the Samsung NX200, for instance, have a fast burst mode, but a poor buffer depth, locking up often. When paired with a fast card (I was redundant as mentioned before and got the 32gb Sandisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s, maxing out probably at 25MB/s), this camera doesn't disappoint in pure operational speed.
2. 24MP is absolutely huge. I've also said this before, but in this sort of situation what the resolution allows me to do is shoot first, compose later (in PP), and still maintain perfect amounts of detail. Going to around 50% crop? No problem! This sort of advantage gives me more time to get focus, instead of thinking of tightly framing a shot.
3. Peaking and manual focus assist. For people running, and quick acquisition, use peaking. If you look where you should (the ground, not the players), just wait until the band of the depth of field gets to them, and snap away. You may not hit critical focus (especially at f/2.8!), but for a generally good shot, this works very well. When you have time to prefocus, such as on the player at bat, the pitcher, or various bases waiting for someone to steal, THAT'S where the genius of manual focus assist comes in, just zoom straight in with the press of a button and turn the ring until you see the fine sand detail. Using these in combination feels like it gets me to about 75% autofocus performance (not including the stupid fast sonic wave focus lenses), and frankly, that's great.
4. Weight (lack-thereof). Though having a big lens attached to any camera makes a heavy set-up, in cases like this, with a 5.6 pound lens on a monopod, literally all the weight is in the lens, the camera is just an add-on. This has its own advantages. You can get by with a cheaper tripod built to hold less (I'm using a cheapo 14 clam Vivitar monopod, and no worries about it collapsing on me), and when carrying it around the field, the overall weight is negligible (after you take into account what you are carrying!).
5. Price/Performance. This is the biggest point of them all. What all these factors combine to do, for the money, is staggering. To get the same quality of pictures with autofocus, would need a d400 (doesn't exist yet, but will probably have the same sensor as this camera) and the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AF-S VR ED. I would probably have to get a better monopod for the extra weight as well. All in all an outfit like that would cost about $7000-$8000, that's not including any other accessories like a vertical grip, extra batteries, or even a capable memory card. My set-up? NEX-7+Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AI-s ED+Vivitar Monopod+Fotodiox Adapter+32gb SanDisk Extreme Pro? $1800. Is autofocus really worth $5000? For me, even if I had the money, and after seeing what my combination can do, I say no.
So final thoughts? You can already see what my argument would be based on the major points above. There are so many more valid points I could make about the system to back up my claim, but I feel those are all I need.
I'll say it right here and now, if you have any proficiency, or plan to acquire proficiency, with manual focus lenses, the NEX-7 with a capable ED telephoto Nikon or Canon lens is currently the best choice for a rising sports shooter on a limited budget. You'll mis-focus here and there with really fast moving targets, and will need a lot of practice to keep up with sports such as soccer and football (which I firmly believe will be doable), but there is no other camera/lens combination out there that gives a photographer this much performance for this little cost. Let your photos speak for you and get the jobs, not what your camera outfit looks like (I get nothing but stares when walking around with this thing). I showed my employer my pictures before I presented the camera, and got the job BECAUSE OF THE PICTURES.
Now that I've written this, go ahead and get yourself an ED telephoto before the prices skyrocket too much on eBay if you have a NEX. :)
This concludes my rolling review. I may on down the road in a few months update it. We'll see. My initial impression of a 5-star camera still stands extremely well. Comments and ratings are welcome!
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best camera I ever bought,
This review is from: Sony NEX-7 24.3 MP Compact Interchangeable Lens Camera with 18-55mm Lens (Camera)I had Canon DSLRs with expensive L lenses. I am an extreme pixel-peeper. When focus was perfect, 7D + L-lenses created some stunning images but perfect focusing (to my satisfaction) was rarely achieved, less than 5% at best. It was about the same with Nikon. The problem is phase focus scheme in those DSLRs. Because light travels in 2 different paths, one to focus sensor and one to image sensor, a perfectly focused image as seen by the focus sensor does not necessarily fall on the image sensor perfectly focused. Color temperature of the light and chromatic aberration contributes greatly to this error.
I admit, most people will not be bothered by this but it bothered me. I want to see that perfectly focused pixel level sharpness when viewed at 100%. The only way to achieve this is to let the image sensor control lens focusing, i.e. contrast focus as implemented in mirror-less designs.
After selling off all my expensive DSLR gear, I now have Sony NEX-7 with Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.8. The picture quality is just jaw-dropping as others have reported. What I am most happy about is near 100% focus accuracy. It's so consistently great. Ok, it's not ideal for shooting fast moving objects but for portraits and shooting stationary objects, I have never used anything better.
The Zeiss 24 is over-priced but it is certainly more than good enough to be mated to the NEX-7. The 50mm f/1.8 is also amazingly sharp and will please all the pixel peepers out there. The menu structure, the lack of custom setting storage, and that video record button that everyone hits unintentionally, are the only bad things I can think of. After years of frustration with Canon/Nikon DSLRs, I am finally happy. All I need is a long telephoto lens (300mm, f/2.8) and that means manual focusing at this time.
52 of 64 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overheats and shuts down while shooting video,
No warning. It re-booted, and was functioning about 30 seconds later, but I'll never get that moment back.
What burns me is that I hadn't been recording all that long -- I'd done about 6 minutes of their first song, and we were about 4 minutes into the second song, when it shut down.
I went to Sony's website, ready to pen an angry email demanding they address this obvious defect. But then I discovered that this is not a defect, according to Sony. It's simply life with your NEX-7.
I discovered a document on their website under the title "The camera turns off by itself after recording movies for a short amount of time." It says that recording hi-def movies with an APS-C size image sensor requires a large amount of power, which can cause the internal temperature to rise to the point that the camera shuts down.
1) avoid exposing the camera to direct sunlight
2) turn off the power when the camera is not in use
3) use a tripod if possible, and set SteadyShot to Off.
I really wish I had known all this before I spent a lot of money on my NEX-7 and two expensive lenses from Sony.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Technology to come. . .,
I had rented it from our local camera shop [with the kit 18-55mm] to try it out. At first I was totally unimpressed and brought it back. The clerk offered me the Zeiss F1.8 to try with the NEX-7. What a night & day difference! YES! to take advantage of the Sony sensor you NEED quality glass to compliment it. So I bought the body only and purchased the Zeiss F1.8 & a Tamron Zoom lens [for traveling]. My passion for photography is ignited again and I'm excited to build a system about the NEX. Yes, there are limitations right now because there are not a lot of accessories and lenses for the NEX system. Sony has always been slow in that regard. But, I also purchased an adaptor to use my older Canon lenses [unfortunately, manual F-stop and focus] and am able to get those shots I so desire. OK, so pros & cons for me:
1) Compact body LOADED with features.
2) Electronic View Finder [EVF] is a big game changer enabling me to "see" what the sensor sees.
3) Tilt-screen lets me get those overhead shots or low to the ground POV scenes that I like for street photography.
4) With fast SD cards I can get action shots in RAW at about 4 to 7fps depending on the scene. I get 10 to 12fps with JPG.
5) "Peeking" focus assist helps with the telephoto shots
6) FAST startup and responsive controls. You hardly ever miss any shots you want to take.
7) LIVE VIEW mode is maintained through continuous shooting up to about 5fps
8) All the data overlays on the live view screen helps set up shots.
9) Low light shots are/at equal to the DSLR 'cousins'.
10) and, of course, the Image Quality is the best! [with good glass!]. Pixel peepers may even find it hard to fault the images.
1) There is no way at this time [firmware?] to save different shoot settings like the way DSLRs cans save 2 or 3 settings. So unless you are in iA mode you have to think about every shot you do. This is one reason why point-n-shoot upgraders WILL get frustrated with this camera.
2) Auto ISO is only limited to 1600 max.
3) Auto Bracketing is limited [+/- 0.7 is not a lot to work with]
*note firmware 1.01 now adds ev +3 or -3 with 3 shots auto.
4) Battery life sucks so I have auto off feature ON and I carry a spare battery. With the fast startup I won't miss much.
5) The hot-shoe is Sony proprietary so unless you have an adaptor it uses only Sony flashes and accessories.
6) Pop-up flash will cast shadows on zoom lenses
7) Not many good E-Lenses. . . YET!
8) In low light the EV is VERY grainy. Hard to compose shots. Switching to the Live View glows on your face too much.
9) Sometimes it takes time for the NEX to track in low light. [Uses Contrast AF. Wish it was Phase like the Sony DSLRs]
[FYI if you want to see what I use this with you are free to take a look at some of my pics: [...]]
Movie Mode: I admit I have not used this feature a lot since I am mostly a stills photographer. But it works well enough. I did not take many movies with it, but I was impressed at the high-quality, the autofocusing, and the overall ease.
Overall this is an amazing piece of technology coming from a film background. It does take some getting used to handling and using. I took the time to learn and found this easy to setup. Not as easy as it's bigger DSLR cousins, but easy enough for what it does. Sony has got a winner with the NEX. Can't wait to see what else is coming!
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