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Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review
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Chris Joseph
Question on the review on 01/05/2012 11:29:49 MST Print View

I may have missed this, but when will subsequent parts of this review be completed?

Ayumi Obinata
(plassy) - F
mirrorless camera on 01/05/2012 16:58:54 MST Print View

I love mirrorless cameras. My last trip, I brought Panasonic GF1 M4/3 with Olympus ultra wide zoom 9-18mm (18-36mm equivalent). NEX-7 is a very interesting camera indeed, but NEX's current lens line up is poor and lacks ultra wide option. I wish Sony releases more NEX format lenses this year.

Edited by plassy on 01/22/2012 21:40:13 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: mirrorless camera on 01/05/2012 17:44:19 MST Print View

The Voigtlander 12mm (with an adapter) works pretty well on the NEX-7 (as long as color fringing is corrected in Cornerfix, etc.), which gives you 18mm equivalent.

Currently, for autofocus, the E mount AF 16/2.8 (24mm equivalent) is your widest option.

The E mount is a much younger system. I'm sure we'll see quite a variety of lenses for it in coming years. Recall that MFT lenses were pretty slow to build critical mass as well. Now we're flooded with options.

Nikolas Andersen
(nsandersen) - MLife
Great camera, but no good dedicated lenses on 01/06/2012 15:30:13 MST Print View

I think the NEX-7 is the best of the csc cameras, but I ended up getting the Panasonic G3. Two problems I had with the Sony were the price - over 2.5 times more expensive, and no dedicated lenses I would want, let alone any taking full advantage of the camera.

I can focus manually, and that's fine for landscapes, but for that price it needs to do other things too.

The 16mm sounded good (as the only Sony one), but in the sample pictures I saw the corner sharpness could not even be described as such. That was the final blow.

How do people find the 16mm pancake lens?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Sony 16/2.8 Lens on 01/06/2012 22:56:02 MST Print View

I'll put details up in the review when I'm done with this lens, but after using a lens like the Leica Elmarit, and then going to the Sony 16/2.8 - you can't help but be disappointed.

So I approached my perspective with this lens from a different angle, and instead compared IQ to the kit 18-55/3.5-5.6 lens. The latter offers *noticeably* higher IQ throughout its aperture and zoom range, relative to the 16/2.8.

The 16/2.8 makes the ergonomics of this camera fantastic. It's such a light and small lens, autofocuses fast and well, and - at f/8 delivers very nice images. At low apertures, it turns the NEX-7 into a crippled heap of expensive and heavier-than-in-needs-to-be-junk. The lens is OK enough for Youtube videos and smallish web images, though.

Nate Lee
(nathan52) - MLife
Thanks on 01/09/2012 18:13:28 MST Print View

This was a nice article. Thanks for shining a light on this.

Ross Marriner
(rossnm) - MLife
Re Sony NEX-7 review on 01/18/2012 20:23:40 MST Print View


thanks for the great report. I look forward to the upcoming reports and how well it goes in the field testing. I am keen to know of any super wide lenses (manual or auto ) that can be used with this camera. Any recomendations?? I really like the idea of having a view finder and being able to use quality manual lenses where it is easy to control depth of focus for those stunning landscape shots.

Keep up the good work


Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
SONY NEX-7 Rolling Review Update: Part 3 Now Online on 07/06/2012 10:49:55 MDT Print View


James Parker
(dakotakid_parker) - M

Locale: United States
Good review on 07/11/2012 11:04:40 MDT Print View

Ryan, thanks for the commentary and insights. I recently took a NEX-7 with it's three standard lens (16, 18-55 and 55-210) on an five-day trip into the Sawtooth Range in Idaho, and put the camera through it's paces. I particularly appreciate your comments on using the manual focus lenses rather than the slow kit lenses.

I found that I rarely used the long zoom. The 16 is useful, and after a quick run-through of the images, your comments are spot on. I used the kit lens the most, and found it adequate, for the weight. As a Canon 5D user, it's really refreshing to carry such a light rig! I didn't carry a full-size tripod, relying on a GorillaPod, and the built-in OSS of the camera itself.

I'm at the point where I really don't want to lug a ton of weight into the backcountry anymore. I did acquire a very small Benro tripod with a ball head, with a corresponding weight of about 1.9 pounds, but ended up leaving it behind. I carried six batteries and four 16Gb card. I carry the system in a little LowePro 110 bag attached to the hip strap on my pack, which is secure. One advantage to that pack is that it does have a built-in rain cover. It will not hold both zooms and the camera at the same time, however.

I also carried the Sony remote, which has way too many functions when all you want to do is trigger the shutter. A simple remote would be great. I found myself wishing I had carried a small macro lens, either, the Sigma 30 or Sony's offering rather than the long zoom.

Thanks again for your excellent review. I'm still on the fence with the Leica/Zeiss lenses, and your thoughts are certainly timely as I want to push the limits of this particular style of shooting in the woods.

Jim Parker

Ronald Bishop
(Compass) - MLife

Locale: Ontario
NEX-7 Review on 07/12/2012 08:07:46 MDT Print View

Very interesting article, Ryan. It's an added bonus that you're also an accomplished photographer.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Great Review! on 08/06/2012 18:32:21 MDT Print View

Great review Ryan! I'm very much looking forward to Parts 4, 5 & 6 as well. It was your review that first brought this camera to my attention, and after doing a bit of further research I finally pulled the trigger on one back in May. Glad I did, it's a great camera! So far I've accumulated most of the prime lenses available, as well as the kit 18-55mm, and the 55-210mm. The standouts certainly are the Zeiss 24mm, the 50mm f/1.8, the 55-210mm, and both the Sigma primes. There may be some sample variation in the 16mm, I find mine to be quite good, at least in the f/5.6-f/8 range where I normally use it. At those apertures I find it to actually be a bit better than the kit zoom, which also isn't a bad optic.

I haven't done much hiking with this camera yet, but I fully expect it to perform very well for landscape work. So far I've mostly used it for street photography, and for that purpose it excels. I think the NEX-7 image quality is quite comparable to my full-frame Nikon D700, and it is significantly better than either of the m4/3 cameras I've owned (the Oly E-P1 and the Panny GH1).

If anyone's interested, I have a gallery of my better NEX-7 shots here.

And here's a gallery of test shots for pixel peepers that compares the kit zoom to all the primes I own.

Thanks again for the great review!


Edited by swearingen on 08/06/2012 18:34:28 MDT.

Tom Andrews
(TomAndrews) - M
Other Cameras on 10/20/2012 11:46:32 MDT Print View

Hi Ryan,

I am trying to find another camera that is lighter than my Panasonic GH2, which is probably the relatively light weight digital camera of choice for wildlife video. Your review of the NEX-7 is excellent. When you compare it to other cameras, I would suggest adding the Sony RX100 and the Sigma DP-2M and DP-1M. These are high on my list of possible cameras which includes the NEX-7, or more likely the NEX-6, which is a tad lighter and less expensive than the NEX-7.

First the RX100. This camera only weighs 8.5 oz, costs $650, yet has a 20.9 MP sensor over twice the size of any comparable weight camera (though 1/3 the size of the NEX-7). It has an excellent non-interchangeable zoom lens, produces very high quality RAW images for its sensor size and shoots full 1080P60 HD video. Based on current reviews, it seems to be the camera of choice for a truly small, very light weight camera, particularly for the ultralight backpacker who primarily wants to show their work on the web or via email or only wants prints up to perhaps 11x14, which includes most backpackers who want to carry a camera.

Now for the Sigma cameras. These are very serious cameras. The DP-2M and DP-1M are fixed focal length, non-interchangeable lens cameras with a 45 and 28 mm lenses respectively (35 mm equivalent). They weigh only 12.5oz each yet the reviews (Luminous Landscape and dPreview) show that with their foveon sensors they have a 48 MP equivalency and produce images that are superior to most if not all full frame DSLR cameras, even approaching medium format $30,000+ digital cameras, in image quality. They also cost ~$1000 each which is considerably less than the NEX-7 with Leica or Zeiss fixed focal length lenses. For the serious photographer who really wants to make large prints and can accustom his/her eye to composing with a fixed focal length lens, these cameras can't be beat and are very backpackable.

I may have just talked myself into buying both an RX100 for that carry everywhere camera and the DP-2M or DP-1M for my more serious backpacking photography or perhaps the NEX-6 as a compromise between the two. I just posted a gallery of 61 photographs from Zion National Park taken with an old 10 MP Canon Rebel DSLR (and run carefully through Adobe Camera RAW and then Photoshop) on my website, I think they show that almost any of these kinds of lightweight digital cameras under discussion are capable of producing very high quality web images. Thanks again for your thorough and very knowledgeable review.

Tom Andrews

Kyle Meyer

Locale: Portland, OR
NEX-6 on 11/24/2012 21:38:14 MST Print View

I just picked up a Sony NEX 6 after a rather exhaustive look into the state of the market. I care about bulk, low light performance, autofocus speed, image quality, and weight not necessarily in that order. I have a Fuji X100 and it takes absolutely stunning photos in a tiny package, but I want to take quality video and be able to switch out lenses in the backcountry. I narrowed down my comparison shopping to buying a body and a standard prime lens with a large aperture. Here were the contenders from my research:

1. Olympus OM-D EM-5 with Panasonic 20mm ƒ/1.7. It's compact, very light, and with inbody 4 stop image stabilization, it'd be a very serious low-light shooter and good for video. The camera body is weather sealed too! Unfortunately while it may be weather sealed, none of the lenses are, and the electronic viewfinder is passable but not great. Ultimately, I couldn't settle for a m4/3 sensor and the resultant image quality. $1300 for camera and lens.

2. Fuji X-E1 with Fuji 35mm ƒ/1.4. It oozes old-school style, takes the best photos of any mirrorless camera currently on the market, and the lenses are fantastic, if expensive. It also has the best low light performance of any mirrorless on the market. Unfortunately, it auto focuses slowly, it doesn't have optical image stabilization, and the video is fully automatic (non adjustable). It's also expensive. $1600 for camera and lens.

3. Sony NEX-6 with Sony 35mm ƒ/1.8 OSS. This is what I ultimately settled on. Technically, the 35mm lens isn't out until the end of December, but it's an optical image stabilized large aperture standard prime lens with super fast autofocus—it sounds almost too good to be true. Preliminary reviews have found the lens is sharp and the bokeh is pleasing. The NEX has excellent image quality, excellent video, almost equivalent low-light performance to the Fuji, and (as this article stated) focus peaking! I bought a Canon FD 50mm ƒ/1.8 for $40 today from a local camera store and mounted it to the NEX-6 with a $20 adapter. For $60, I have an excellent portrait lens that's quick enough to focus that's it not even a bother thanks to the NEX. This feature alone is worth buying into the NEX system. $1300 for camera and lens.

I hemmed and hawed for a long time, but the ability to painlessly use manual focus lenses of yesteryear make the NEX system gold. I feel like I can invest in my standard lens that will be on the camera 95% of the time, and then pick up inexpensive (but still quality) manual focus lenses for telephoto or wide angle. Wide angle lenses made for the FD mount may be slightly heavier and more bulky, but they don't fringe purple like the photos Ryan illustrated and are significantly cheaper than even the Voigtlanders (the crappiest of the M mount lenses).

Aaron Ledbetter
(l3db3tt3r) - MLife
NEX6 on 05/01/2013 16:25:22 MDT Print View

I have the Nex 6. I am very pleased with its portability, and the compact lenses. I just ordered the LowePro Sport 100 as a case, if anyone is interested in knowing how it works out...

What sold me on purchasing the nex6 however was getting the Metabones Speed Booster, so I could use my Canon EF lenses with the added benefit of an increase of maximum aperture by 1 stop, and it makes the lens 0.7x wider (near full frame). I would highly recommend checking it out. Also, Metabones is readying to release similar products for other camera makes, and also for the micro 4/3 sized sensor (effectively adding 2 stops?!?)

I hope I put something exciting on your radar.

Ben Pearre
(fugue137) - MLife
Thanks... also, that paddle? on 11/24/2013 18:23:47 MST Print View

Timely! Many thanks!

I'm looking forward to upgrading to a system somewhat like the one that you describe, although for candids (and wildlife, on occasion) I really do want autofocus and I miss shots when I change lenses. Fun though it would be, a new camera like this would save me about 0.3 grams per dollar, whereas there are several upgrades in my list that would save me > 2 grams per dollar, and one (backpack) that runs 5 g/$. So it'll be a while. If these cameras could do anything better than my current rig, that would skew the math. Faster lenses are compelling, but compelling enough for me?

I carry a Nikon D5100 and usually bring the kit lens (18-55mm VR), and carry it in a Dana Dry Rib that I lined with thin foam (yeah, could cut 50g for cheap). Total weight (including polarising filter, cleaning cloth, lens pen, and IR remote): 974 grams with 1 battery, which is good for about 800 shots (fewer if I do night photography). It's a good rig: even the kit lens with its crappy motor focuses fast due to solid phase detect AF, and even does a credible job with microphotography. Of course I wish the kit lens had a faster aperature and a faster AF motor, and that the polarising filter were attached to the body rather than to the moving objective lens carrier out front... still, AFAICT an SLR has fewer weird quirks than Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens (EVIL) cameras such as the Sony, although I expect that that will change eventually.

Also note that Canon now has "the lightest SLR ever" at 400g for body+battery+card (Nikon's D3200 trails at 500g, and my D5100 is 550g). And if Canon is competing on weight, others will follow...

How are those lenses in the cold? Ken Rockwell did some tests of a few of his favourites. Do you notice any problems with your lens choices, or with the camera? Is it easy to operate with gloves on?


In your photo of the canoe, what is that paddle? It looks like a composite and probably ultralight Greenland-style double paddle, in this style: Where does it come from?