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- Sony Alpha NEX-7
- It's pretty clear from our testing: the NEX-7 is the best mirrorless camera release to date.
Sony Alpha NEX-7 Digital Camera Review$1,349.99
The Sony NEX-7 offers the ability to record in AVCHD 2.0 1080/60p (28 Mbps) with 60i options at lower bitrates. You can also record at 24p in either 24Mbps (AVCHD) or 17Mbps (.MP4, for convenience). The NEX-7 also provides a 1440x1080/30p option at a smaller 12Mbps bitrate, which will give you a 4:3 ratio for fitting video on certain displays; retroproofing, if you will. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content
Since the NEX-7 lacks a dedicated video shooting mode, you're left pressing the camera's dedicated video record button, which is integrated into the thumbrest on the back of the camera. This inherits the exposure settings that you have the camera currently set to, with the exception of shutter speeds being limited to 1/30th of a second and faster. This means that in manual mode you are able to fully control aperture, shutter speed, and ISO when recording video, just as on the Sony NEX-5N. You can also adjust these settings while a recording is being taken, letting you quickly slow the shutter speed per frame down if you wish to blur action, for example.
Since the NEX-7 inherits exposure settings whenever you begin a recording, that means that you can just as easily pop the camera into its intelligent automatic mode, press record, and it will automatically adjust the picture for you. This also lets you get creative, applying the camera's digital effects and creative style color modes to adjust sharpness, tone, contrast, and saturation the same way you would for still images.
Zoom on the Sony NEX-7 is entirely manual, as you have to turn the focal ring on the lens to adjust your field of view. This means you can zoom while recording video the same way you would when shooting stills. As of this writing there are no powered zoom lenses for Sony's E-mount system, though that may change in the future should similar powered zooms for other lens families take off for mirrorless cameras. This means it can be difficult to get a smooth zoom pull without a very steady hand.
Focus while recording video is limited to contrast detection (as is focus throughout the camera's operation), which can be quite slow in low light settings. You can focus while recording video, which slows down the focusing action slightly, to present a smoother transition from one subject to another. This unfortunately doesn't offer much control, and the shallow depth of field provided by the camera makes these focusing mistakes much more apparent.
Exposure, aperture, and shutter speed are all able to be controlled manually when shooting video with the NEX-7. In any shooting mode where you have control over these settings you also can control them for video, both prior to and during a recording. If you're in a fully automatic mode, the exposure compensation value will also be inherited, adjusting the camera's metered exposure to suit your preferences.
The Sony NEX-7 features a built-in stereo mic as well as a dedicated 3.5mm mic port on the left side of the body, though it lacks on-screen level indicators and much in the way of audio control. While the mic port is a welcome feature for those looking to record high-quality audio on the NEX-7, the lack of control inhibits the utility of this feature for all but amateur video productions.