The Sony NEX-7 is the company’s latest attempt at taking on the Micro Four Thirds cameras from the likes of Olympus and Panasonic. It’s not on sale until the end of the year, but we got some hands on time with it today and took it for a spin. Check out our thoughts after the break.
Sony launched its NEX range of interchangeable lens cameras 18 months ago, intending it as a means to get compact camera owners interested in DSLR – at a smaller size and price.
But things didn’t play out entirely as Sony expected: the NEX-5 flagship model was embraced by the pro-photographer community, in part due to the compatibility with Sony Alpha DLSR lenses.
“We intended NEX to be a model that provided progression from compact to SLR, with simplicity and portability,” Sony technical field sales manager Paul Genge tells Electricpig.
“The customer sometimes comes at it from another perspective, and we had SLR photographers who wanted that…this is a purpose made camera for photographers.”
The result? The Sony NEX-7, which packs the 24.4 megapixel sensor of Sony’s latest Alpha DSLR cameras, 1080p HD video recording and an ISO range that stretches up to 16,000.
Physically, it”s certainly more imposing than the original NEX-5, with a more vintage black metal and plastic feel to it than the strange, mottled and futuristic chassis of last year’s model (it also houses a flash internally). On the back is a 3-inch LCD, but it’s the dials on the top that are most striking: they don’t have any labels on at all.
These two dials are contextual, and actually allow you to adjust different settings depending on the mode, and what option you have selected with the main dial by the side of the screen. Genge explains: “We are minimising tthe camera – in so doing you lose surface area…(but) by not labelling the buttons they get more versatility.”
It’s certainly true, and being able to map your own controls to them may prove to be a blessing for serious snappers – it does mean a learning curve however.
Also of note is the electronics OLED viewfinder, which has caused some ruckus online. It gives 100 percent frame coverage, and honestly, we couldn’t notice any difference – other than the text that overlays in its place, and we think most users will be pretty chuffed with it.
Lastly, Sony showed off the second generation lens mount, which allows you to attach Alpha lenses, including enormous telescopic ones, onto the front of the NEX-7. It uses Sony’s translucent mirror tech, and phase detection to improve auto focus, handy when you’re shooting video. Genge also revealed that native E-mount lenses are on the way from Carl Zeiss, Cosina, Sigma and Tamron, so look out for those
Unfortunately, we aren’t able to publish the images taken with the Sony NEX-7 as this is a pre-production sample. Nevertheless, we were impressed with what we saw: on a grey, dreary day in London, images shot over the Thames came out crisp, detailed and noise-free, and video was smooth. For pros tired of lugging around enormous camera bodies, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.
The Sony NEX-7 is out in November.
Out November | £TBC | Sony