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Sony Alpha NEX-7 Digital Camera Review$1,349.99
Kit Lens & Mount
The Sony NEX-7 is available body-only or with the 18-55mm kit lens (with which we conducted the majority of our tests). The kit lens features a maximum aperture range of f/3.5-5.6 and is typical of most kit lenses, with decent center sharpness that falls off dramatically at the edges except for the middle aperture ranges around f/8. The lens itself operates smoothly, with a metal construction lending it a durability that escapes most kit lenses.
The NEX-7 makes use of Sony's mirrorless E-mount, same as their other NEX camera models. The lens family has advanced quite a bit since its debut, with an expansive array of filters available and third-party lenses (mostly by Sigma) starting to trickle out. That offers you no shortage of options to attach all sorts of lenses to the NEX-7, letting you create some pretty amazing combinations. The physical mount itself is metal, as well, sticking out from the thin body of the camera with a rounded silver protrusion that matches up aesthetically with the basic silver E-mount lenses.
The image sensor on the NEX-7 is the same APS-C 24.3-megapixel EXMOR sensor as found in the Sony Alpha A77. It offers superlative resolution that is approached only by the Samsung NX-series cameras. That level of resolution is difficult to live up to, however, and you'll want the best lenses to take advantage of it. The sensor also offers superior dynamic range by our tests, in line with what we've seen from previous large Sony EXMOR sensors. Add it all up and you have a truly impressive piece of imaging technology.
Convergence areas of different sensor sizes compared
The viewfinder on the Sony NEX-7 is a 0.5-inch XGA OLED monitor with a resolution of 2359k dots. While that resolution seems massive, the monitor does not go far beyond what other electronic viewfinders have accomplished, certainly not quite up to the standards of an optical finder in a prosumer body. Still, given the design constraints of a compact mirrorless body, it's perfectly acceptable and unlike most viewfinders it doesn't interrupt the shape of the body, just as Fuji has done on their X-Pro 1 and X100 bodies.
We did notice some performance hiccups with the viewfinder, with the image sometimes flickering and stuttering when panning in any direction. It's more annoyance than anything, and it seems to go away once focus and exposure are locked in.
While the camera does have an electronic viewfinder, it also sports a 3-inch tilting LCD with a 921k-dot resolution. The monitor easily matches the displays of most prosumer bodies, and slots in flush with its compartment on the back of the camera. The monitor is not touch-enabled, leaving that functionality to the sub-$1000 NEX-5N body. The LCD hinges only vertically, with a viewing angle that allows you to view the screen at nearly any angle above or below the camera.
The Sony NEX-7 includes both a full hot shoe and a dedicated built-in flash. The flash features a guide number of just 6, providing just a bit of fill flash when necessary. It pops up from the top plate of the body with a mechanical switch, meaning it can pop up even when the camera is turned off (such as inside your camera bag). The camera allows for a flash compensation of +/- 3 stops, whether using the built-in flash or a dedicated flash gun.
The NEX-7 includes a built-in mini-HDMI port, as well as a mini-USB and 3.5mm microphone port. These are both hidden behind rigid plastic doors that flip open to reveal the ports. The NEX-7 does not feature a wired shutter release port, but it does have an infrared remote window that is angled just slightly upward on the grip, allowing for a variety of workarounds for this missing feature.