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Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/03/2012 13:50:14 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/03/2012 14:51:08 MST Print View

Thanks Ryan. That was one interesting read, and I am looking forward to the 24 Episode and the next parts of this "living review" =)

One question: How loud is the shutter on the NEX-7? On the NEX-5N I find it rather loud, and I wonder if it is similar on the NEX-7.

Edited by skullmonkey on 01/03/2012 15:15:15 MST.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/03/2012 15:20:31 MST Print View

Shutter noise is no better on the NEX-5. Hopefully they've fixed this issue in the NEX-7 or have plans to do so. I would imagine that it's a firmware issue as there is no mirror, correct?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/03/2012 17:38:51 MST Print View

The shutter on the NEX-7 isn't so loud that you don't need earplugs. Maybe it would work as a bear deterrent?

Yes, it's loud.

No mirror, but you have double the actuations of an SLR: close > open > close > open and a fast frame rate in continuous mode that requires a more robust shutter, maybe? I'm not convinced it's firmware.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/04/2012 00:07:43 MST Print View

Very thorough review. Nicely done.

BTW, any chance you can get me one of Roger's tents?

Mark Roberts
(redwedge) - MLife

Locale: Lapland
Re: Nex-7 on 01/04/2012 01:13:50 MST Print View

Interesting contextual review, Ryan. Looking forward to the rest. I'd be interested in some comparisons though to the other cameras on the market rather than just picking one. The Panasonic GF cameras, and the soon-to-be-released GX range in particular are, I think, well suited to photogrpahers wishing to lighten up, and can also use legacy lenses with adaptors.

The thing that put me off the NEX-7 was the lack of dedicated controls - those two assignable wheels are nice but, as you point out, dedicated buttons/wheels are preferable. At least, in my experience, I can never remember what function is assigned to the buttons, and end up pressing them all to find the one I want.

Another thing with the micro 4/3 format is the dynamic range of the sensor: as you'd expect, it's way better than a compact, but the smaller sensor still falls short of a full-frame DSLR (this is most noticeable in twilight/night shots). Nonetheless, I generally pick up my GF1 over my D300 when heading out. It's lighter, smaller, and for about 80% of the time the results are comparable to a DSLR.

Edited by redwedge on 01/04/2012 01:16:29 MST.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/04/2012 10:41:14 MST Print View

Great article, but your introduction failed to mention film cameras. A small film camera can provide SLR quality pictures at a much smaller weight than even this camera. Assuming you can get the film processed, it is probably the best option. It is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, of course. If your intent is to display the pictures on a digital monitor, then a digital camera makes sense. If your intent is to display a slide show, then film makes sense. For glossy pictures, either will do.

Tom Andrews
(TomAndrews) - M
Re: Sony Nex7 on 01/04/2012 12:31:23 MST Print View

Hi Ryan, Thanks for the useful review. I have been following this and other cameras on a variety of photography sites and they all agree that the Sony Nex7 is a great camera. However, for my planned uses it will not be the camera I am about to buy, which will be a Panasonic GH2 with their 14-140mm lens. I am a professional fine art photographer ( who wants to add video to my mix, especially wildlife video. I am also an ultralight backpacker and will spend this coming August in Yellowstone backpacking with my video rig (the GH2 with tripod).

The GH2 has an extra ability not found on the Nex7 of selecting just the 1920x1080 pixels at the center of the micro 4/3 sensor and thus giving an extra tele zoom capability of 2.6. So the 35 mm equivialent on the 140mm end of the lens is 140x2x2.6 = 728mm, with which I hope to film wolves. Just as on the Nex7, the GH2 has full HD 1080P video and an excellent electronic viewfinder. The sensor is a bit smaller but the reviews in dPreview and Luminous Landscape (excellent websites for photographers) and elsewhere show that the image quality is superb and easily comparible to APS-C sensors on digital SLRs. So I will get a tad bit more low light/high ISO noise compared with the Nex7 but gain an essential extra telephoto capability for my wildlife video needs. With the excellent 14-140 lens the GH2 weighs a bit less than 2 lbs and will replace my Canon Rebel which I carried on a full John Muir Trail backpack two years ago and on Wind Rivers, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Glacier National Park, and other backpacking trips in recent years. I wear the camera over my shoulder at all times and hardly notice the weight. I can't seem to get my backpacking baseweight below 14 lbs (my skinny 68 year old frame gets cold easily), but have used BackPackingLight over the years to give me the advice and reviews I need to keep me going. Many thanks!! Tom

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/04/2012 12:58:03 MST Print View


Great article and timely for me as I am considering buying the NEX5n, which is more of the auto "idiot" camera, to replace my Canon 880IS Digital Elph pocket camera.

I am interested more in documenting my trips, but would like to have the better sensor to capture "better" looking photos without too much complication beyond point and shoot.

Anyway, questions for you....What case were you using for the NEX7?

Wondering if you have one that is lighter than the Sony case that is sold by Sony for the NEX line of cameras.

Looking forward to future articles on this camera.



Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review on 01/04/2012 13:10:43 MST Print View

Excellent, Ryan. I'm looking forward to the entire review as I have only had limited contact with the 7.

I've been putting together something similar focusing on the NEX 5N, and the kit that I'm using now.

I'm especially interested which RF lenses you have used on it, and how you find them compared to the 5N.

Edited by JacobD on 01/04/2012 13:11:29 MST.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
4/3 on 01/04/2012 13:46:11 MST Print View

IMO micro 4/3 has a big advantage over these compact APS-C cameras. The slightly smaller image circle combined with an ultra-close sensor distance means a big difference to one major factor not really mentioned in this article: weight of the lenses.

Old manual lenses are great, but they are heavy metallic things, and this is the area where the most weight stands to be lost. But if you must, they can also be used very easily on most u4/3 cams with an appropriate adapter. I do this all the time on my GH1 and focus/exposure are both totally painless and nearly instant with a bit of practice.

For native micro 4/3, lenses can be designed *far* smaller and lighter, especially on the wide-angle side of things, and actually need fewer glass elements because of the closeness of the sensor. Both Olympus and Panasonic are making some truly revolutionary lenses right now, many of which are either pancakes or collapse down to pancake size when not shooting, and most have spectacular optics. The Panasonic 7-14mm is simultaneously the lightest, the widest, and one of the sharpest pro-level ultra-ultra-wides around.
Sony seems to be getting kinda close with a few NEX lenses, but still suffers from a larger image circle (heavier) and the optics don't seem to be as good in general. The selection of really good native lenses for NEX is much poorer than that of u4/3.

Anyway, great article, it's just that I think the hypothesis of "higher image quality for less weight" could use a bit of scrutiny when the whole package is looked at. This is especially true when it comes to native, autofocus lenses, which the majority will desire.

Olympus cameras and the GF series aren't using the best sensors of u4/3, yet, which is maybe where the "substandard image quality" argument comes from, but others (like the GH2) are using really nice sensors which compete really well with APS-C... especially under conditions you're probably shooting in while backpacking! The GH cams are barely heavier and much nicer to use than the smaller cams, plus you get the best possible video.

Edit: the new, smaller and viewfinder-less GX1 seems to now have a better sensor, so the best of both worlds. Have you checked it out at all, Ryan?

Edited by dasbin on 01/04/2012 13:55:57 MST.

Duane Pandorf
(dpandorf) - F
Ricoh GXR & M mount module on 01/04/2012 14:08:24 MST Print View

You didn't specifically mention whether you've experimented with Ricoh's M mount module that's designed for the Leica M mount lenses. If so, I'm curious as to why, if you have, why you disliked it.

I assume one of the reasons is tat it does not offer the HD benefits the NEX7 offers but it does have the APS-C sensor withou an AA filter. I have read that the NEX7 has some of the same issues the Leica M9 has with the wider angle lenses too.


Duane Pandorf

Michael Byrne
(mikerbyrne) - F

Locale: New York
NEX-5n as an alternative on 01/04/2012 16:15:35 MST Print View

Personally I'm loving my NEX-5n for travel and backpacking photography.
Very light and small and beats my olympus m4/3 as far as image quality.
Low light quality is the best in this price range.

Hoping to get a scuba housing for my trip later in the year.
Happy new year guys.

Frank Rossi
(rossifp) - MLife
Voigtlander M-mount lenses on 01/04/2012 17:01:47 MST Print View

The use of Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 lens with the Voigtlander VM adapter ($179) is interesting. The Leica lens weights 6.8-oz and cost $2195. Too expensive for my budget.

Voigtlander has far less expensive M-mount manual focus lenses.
12mm f/5.6 $749; 15mm f/4.5 5.5-oz $599; 21mm f/4 4.8-oz $419; 25mm f/4 5.1-oz $419; 35mm f/1.4 7.1-oz $629; 35mm f/2.5 4.7-oz $409; 40mm f/1.4 6.2-oz $529.
These lenses are imported by and also sold by and

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Sony NEX-7 Comments on 01/04/2012 17:15:35 MST Print View

@Ross - I'm with you on film. I still own a Contax T3 and I'd be awfully hesitant to say that it cannot capture better images with Velvia 50 than any digital on the market that is twice its weight or lighter…just didn't feel the need to open that Pandora's box up on this review ;)

@Tom - The GH2 just might be my pick if my primary focus was videography instead of still photography. My primary focus remains in shooting stills, for now. It's a super camera (the GH2) for video, and the tele zoom feature pioneered on it was brilliant. It's bulkier than the NEX7. Photo quality is a toss up for routine, low-contrast photos. At the "fringes" of contrast or for low light (long exposures at low ISO), the NEX-7 captures a noticeably cleaner image with better dynamic range - not a "lot" by web viewing standards, but meaningful nonetheless - to me at least.

@Tony - the case I'm using is the Lowepro Edit 100. A fine case. It doesn't have a rain cover though, so I use a shower cap (one for the case, one for the camera when shooting in the rain. I'm looking for a lighter case, yes (I may just make one), the Edit 100 is just what I have now, and it fits the NEX7 with a lens very well.

@Jacob - I don't plan on doing a side-by-side comparison with RF lenses on the 5N vs. the 7, so can't comment on that.

@Bradley - regarding the image circle on MFT sensors = smaller, lighter lenses - you are correct. This remains true as you continue to go down in sensor size. (Check out the lenses on the new small sensor interchangeable lens Nikons, the V1/J1. The lenses are tiny.) For example, the Olympus and Panny 14-42 zooms are 3.4 (the "X" << very cool lens) to 6.9 oz. The Sony 18-55 is 6.9 oz. I've used my Leica lenses on both Oly and Panny MFT bodies, all the way back to the EP1 and GF1. You are right in that it becomes easy enough in practice. Manual focusing on the NEX7 takes it to another level of joy, though. Finally, my "higher image quality for less weight" should really be taken in context with DSLR systems rather than other mirror less systems. The GX1 is also a super little camera, but gives up some nice features like dial controls (it does still have one dial) and a VF. I love how the GX1 feels in the hand with that new 14-42 lens, though.

@Duane - I love Ricoh cameras. I shot with a GRD for years, and may pull the trigger on its next iteration. The GXR has the a great UI, but no built in VF, and no vid, which for me is a deal killer. Yes, the NEX7 suffers from color fringing with retrofocus lenses like the Elmarit-M 28/2.8, but it's easily corrected. I use Cornerfix.

@Frank - buy used Leica lenses and shop around. You can get some great deals on them (not on eBay - seek out used dealers). The Voigtlander 15/4.5 is a KILLER lens, by the way, and a steal for that price.

Edited by ryan on 01/04/2012 17:18:24 MST.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Tripod on 01/04/2012 17:32:59 MST Print View

Just curious what usage you find to justify adding a 1.9 pound tripod into the mix.
It's been hard for me to find many situations where either a monopod (just my trekking pole with a little adapter) or a mini-pod didn't do the trick. This includes astrophotgraphy.

I also figured out a good trick when hiking with a partner, when you have 3 trekking poles available - you can lash the legs of a mini-pod onto the tops of the 3 trekking poles and create a makeshift tripod. If you want stability, hang something heavy (ie backpack) from the center.
But I've rarely needed that - only when there's nothing around high enough to put a mini-pod on and I want to do a self-portrait... which admittedly is very rarely anyway, as I'm not so keen on looking at pictures of myself.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
tripod on 01/04/2012 17:37:01 MST Print View

Bradley - the main reason is that I just don't like fooling around with "building" a makeshift tripod, I like something tall enough to get me above grasses, and I like enough stability to deal with a little bit of wind. That said, my 0531 was the 'pod I paired with my D7000. I do think my requirements for the NEX-7 will go down, so I'm shopping around for something lighter.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Carrying on 01/04/2012 17:38:15 MST Print View

Also just FYI if anyone's interested - I made a neat little solution for quick-access carrying (in good weather). Just bent some coat hanger wire to the contours of my camera, and it hangs on my sternum strap. The camera rests inside, lens-down. I can pick it up and snap quickly in one motion with one hand.

Wrapped the coat hanger wire in some foam tape so nothing gets scratched. Weighs about an ounce, maybe less.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Re: tripod on 01/04/2012 17:40:02 MST Print View

Fair enough for sure - there's something to be said for adding a little weight if it makes something you commonly do a lot easier.
Sometimes I think we should be deciding what to bring based not just on weight, but on the caloric expenditure of carrying the weight vs. the extra caloric expenditure of a DIY (but weightless) field solution. Even from just this objective standpoint, we might be expending more energy overall by going too light on certain things.

Edited by dasbin on 01/04/2012 17:43:06 MST.

Robert Brookshire
Re: Re: Nex-7 on 01/05/2012 11:13:50 MST Print View

@Mark Roberts: This is probably what you meant to say, so I apologize for nit-picking, but I wanted to make the distinction that a Nikon D300 has an APS-C sensor and not a 35mm "full-frame". This is important if we are comparing 4/3rds sensors with DSLR's, most of which have APS-C sensors. Full frame sensors are a whole different category, though today even most professionals carry at least one APS-C body.

Modern APS-C sensors are superb and I suspect that 4/3rds could be a lot more comparable if one of the Big 3 had ignored their strategy experts enough produce (micro)4/3rds cameras and thus help develop leading-edge sensors. 4/3rds sensors seem to trail the state-of-the-art by at least a year and probably more. "Boo" to Nikon for building the new "1" system around a unique CX sensor. Just think what a company like Nikon could do with 4/3rds...

Edited by brookshire on 01/05/2012 11:18:10 MST.