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Sony Alpha NEX-7 Digital Camera Review$1,349.99
The Sony NEX-7 not only offers an abundance of frame rate options for recording video, but it also captured motion extremely well in our tests. The camcorder's 1080/60p record mode is definitely its best—it produced crystal-clear video that looked smooth and fluid throughout our test. We did notice a tad more artifacting when shooting with the NEX-7's 1080/60i mode, and the camera had its worst performance using its MPEG-4 video recording option.
Having all these recording options is great for compatibility, as well as improving the versatility of the camera. Sony's 24p mode produced a very good film-like aesthetic that some users may want to use, while the 60p setting is better for recording fast-paced motion sequences. Overall, the NEX-7 did a tad better than the Sony NEX-5N in this test, but the differences were barely noticeable with the kit lens.
One thing we did notice was a tendency for the camera to overheat when used for recording video over slightly longer periods of time. While this showed up in a single video after around 20 minutes, it also happened when recording several shorter clips in succession over the same period. The camera itself wasn't hot to the touch, but we started seeing overheating warnings and performance issues with the rear LCD after just fifteen minutes in a climate-controlled (68 degrees) setting. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.
Video we shot with the Sony NEX-7 was very sharp, but the camera (with its kit lens) wasn't quite able to match the sharpness results we've seen from some of the best consumer camcorders we've tested. Still, it did a very good job in this test, registering a horizontal and vertical sharpness of 700 lw/ph in its 1080/60p record mode. Sharpness levels were a bit lower when we recorded using the NEX-7's 60i record mode, but they wren't hugely different than the top-notch 60p setting.
In low light, the camera took a bit of a hit with sharpness, but the results were still surprisingly good. With the 60p mode, the NEX-7's video had a horizontal sharpness of 600 lw/ph and a vertical sharpness of 650 lw/ph. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.
Low Light Sensitivity
Low light sensitivity was the only video test where the NEX-7 didn't excel. The camera required 17 lux to produce an image that is considered bright enough for television broadcast. This isn't a great showing compared to the NIkon D5100, but the NEX-7 is on par with the Olympus E-P3 in this category.
Shooting with the camera's 24p record mode does give it a boost in low light situations. The camera needed just 13 lux of light to reach the same brightness levels at 24p than it needed for 60i and 60p (both at 17 lux). Also, keep in mind that the type of lens used with the camera can make a huge difference in low light sensitivity. A faster lens with a wider aperture setting should be better than Sony's kit lens for recording low light video.