The Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review by Steve Huff

Sony NEX-7

Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review

By Steve Huff  

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Buy the NEX-7 at B&H Photo HERE!

I will start off this review of the long awaited Sony NEX-7 by saying that this is probably the hottest and most anticipated “Enthusiast” camera to be announced in a long time. No scratch that… IT IS the most anticipated camera to come along to us camera and gear nuts… well, probably EVER and for so many reasons. As I said before in a much viewed post, SONY GREW SOME BALLS and produced a camera that so many of us wanted to be made! Yes, the NEX-7 is HOT. Even more so than the super hot and hyped Fuji X100 (which I am still in love with by the way). So lucky me…I have been fortunate enough to have been shooting with the final production version of the NEX-7 for the last two weeks and have learned its ins and outs as well as its strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been studying it, shooting with it, and even waking up at night from nightmares of a NEX-7 floating above my bed. No joke! Guess I really get into my job and my passion huh?

I know many have been waiting for this and I am going to say it like it is in this real world use write up/review. I also want to say thanks to Sony for flying to my home to hand deliver this review unit to me along with the Zeiss 24 1.8 and Sony 50 1.8 lenses! THANK YOU SONY!

(NOTE – Due to the devastating floods in Thailand, this camera MAY be delayed in the USA but also MAY NOT BE. I spoke with Sony and they said they are still investigating if there will be a USA delay, so there might not be one. Still,  a camera release means nothing in comparison to what so many have lost in Thailand. My heart goes out to all who were affected by the flood.)

Me with the Sony NEX-7 and Zeiss 24 1.8 in my hotel in Chicago – White balance was way off in the original and still a bit off here. To be fair, the X100 had the same issue with AWB in this room.

Sony NEX-7 with Zeiss 24 1.8 Self Portrait -

The Myth, The Hype..the NEX-7!

There has been a lot of suspense about this camera and wether it is even possible to live up to the hype that has been spread like wildfire online. Of course on paper it looks amazing. The build, the design, the features, the video capability, the new sensor, the built in OLED EVF (which is super duper uber FANTASTIC), and the tri-navi controls are everything the enthusiast market has ever wanted in a small take anywhere camera. Hell, I suspect the NEX-7 may even create more of us crazy gear heads because even when Uncle Joe sees this camera he is going to want one. It has a way of making people wonder what the hell you are shooting with, and when they learn about it they seem to want to own one for themselves. This has happened to me three times while out and about shooting with the NEX-7. BUT the real question for me while shooting was to determine if it did indeed live up to the hype and was worth shelling out $1200 for the body alone, which to be fair is $6800 less than a Leica M9-P and you can still mount your favorite Leica, Zeiss ZM and Voigtlander M mount glass on to! Hell, you can mount just about any glass to this NEX-7, which makes it pretty damn special right there.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy reading my flowing thoughts on this camera in 9,000 words. As I write I am just basically talking and spewing my thoughts about what I feel and what I have experienced while using the camera and lenses. My reviews (as most of you know) are non technical and always have been. I just write about the real world use of the camera. Its feel, its usability factor, its image quality, ease of use and speed. Also its versatility. I test what I can with what I have so what you see in this review is the result of my passion, my excitement, and my love for photography. I also am a HUGE believer in actually showing REAL photos in my reviews. It’s not always easy to go out an find new things to shoot when I am always reviewing gear but I do my best. I feel seeing real photos instead of photos of walls and newspaper is a much better test of a camera.

The mirror less camera market has been interesting recently and most releases to date have been really good but lacking in one way or another. Could the NEX-7 be the “One”? Hmmmm, you never know.

Keep in mind that I will be adding to this review over the next 1-2 weeks as I shoot more with the camera. This review should be final by the end of October or 1st week of November. BTW, this camera is scheduled to ship by mid November.

Also keep in mind that most images in this review were shot as JPEGS because RAW processing is not available in lightroom, aperture, or photoshop yet. I did get a copy of the Sony software but found it painfully slow and lethargic on my iMac so I ended up using Capture One on a few samples. Capture One is supporting the NEX-7 in its latest release and it did great, even better than Sonys own software. Go figure.

First things firstA Video Overview

Below is a video showing the menu system, build, and controls. It is 18 minutes but goes over many of the features of the camera. Yes, you should watch it!


So as you can see, the NEX-7 is jam packed with all kinds of goodies and features that just over a year ago would have had most of us drooling. The only thing lacking in this camera body in my opinion is IN BODY image stabilization. If it had included that, from a design, control and functional standpoint it would be perfect. As it stands now, in those three areas it is just about perfect. No complaints. So far so good, so let’s get deeper into this camera.

Below:  Shot with the Sony 50 1.8 AT 1.8!! I dialed in -1 Exposure Comp using the easy Tri Navi dial system and brought out the richness of the scene. I shot this from my car on the road (was not moving). This was converted from RAW using the Sony Software (which is PAINFULLY SLOW)! But when you click on the image to see the larger version you can see some nice detail and again, this was shot at f/1.8 with the new Sony $299 50mm.

The Sony NEX-7 and Zeiss 24 1.8 Tests

Below: NEX-7 with the 24 1.8 at f/2, ISO 100, JPEG. This lady called herself  “Mrs. State Fair”. 

Zeiss 24 1.8 Sony E Mount on the NEX-7


For those who may not be aware, the NEX-7 evolved from a line of cameras Sony introduced just over a year ago. The NEX series of cameras were brought out to market to compete with cameras like the Olympus E-P2/E-P3 and the Panasonic series of micro 4/3 cameras. Also, cameras like the Fuji X100 and Leica X1 are in the same kind of category due to the larger sensor and small bodies.But the Fuji and Leica, while being FANTASTIC picture taking machines do not have the ability to change lenses, and they are sort of slow with the auto focus so shooting your moving kids will be pretty tough, especially for the Leica X1. The Sony NEX line all had pretty fast AF and interchangeable lens capability, which is what MANY of the photographer hobbyists want.

Son one day, Sony decided to design and create the worlds smallest interchangeable lens camera system with a larger APS-C size sensor. They did this with the original  NEX-3 and NEX-5, I remember reading about them and then seeing them in a Sony Store in Las Vegas. I immediately bought a NEX-3 and 5.

These were pretty amazing cameras in many ways but mainly because they were the 1st TINY bodies with large sensors that also had incredible high ISO capability. Problem was… I had a love-hate relationship with the original NEX-5 due to the fact that the only lenses out for it were the 16mm pancake and the 18-55 Kit zoom. The 16mm was good but nothing to rave about and the 18-55 was large and had quite a bit of distortion. So early on with the NEX system, while super cool suffered from lack of lenses, a bad control system, and an odd menu system. The potential was there but it would take Sony a while to straighten out all of the quirks, which they soon did with firmware updates that added button customization, focus peaking, and eventually by releasing the Sony NEX-5n. The 5n brought us one step closer to an enthusiast camera but for us crazy camera nuts it wasn’t enough. Good for most but for someone like me..I still wanted more control and a built in EVF. But the NEX-5n is a fantastic little MONSTER OF A CAMERA!

The NEX-7 at F/4 from outside my car window. OOC JPEG, ISO 100

Zeiss 24 1.8 Sony E Mount on the NEX-7

The Zeiss 24 makes for great up close portraits

Below – ISO 160 at 1.8 with the 24 to show Bokeh

Below – 24 1.8 at F/2 and ISO 100

Zeiss 24 1.8 E Mount Bokeh


When the NEX-5n was made available I reviewed it immediately and that review became one of my most popular reviews ever with almost 100,000 views on its first day. This told me that not only enthusiasts are interested in these small “do it all” cameras but everyday consumers are as well. The NEX line is coming into its own and with these latest updates Sony has taken one step closer to creating the “Perfect” walk around camera system. The 5n is superb with amazing high ISO capability and a TINY body that can take great photos AND video. The only negative with that camera is the size may be a but TOO small, and the controls are not the best due to the lack of buttons. There are also the lenses, which are huge when compared to the size of the body and this seems to be a big complaint among many readers here. On the 5/5n the lenses do seem large.

So Sony decided to listen to photographers who wanted a solid body with manual control dials and a built in EVF. When Sony designed the “7” they designed it for you, me and all of us who enjoy not only photography but also quality and capable equipment. We are “The Enthusiast” and the NEX-7 is sort of like the “Bionic NEX” – they made  the 5n better, faster and stronger 🙂

After just over a year of pumping out the NEX line, Sony now has announced the NEX-7 and there are currently 7 lenses available for the system. They now have the 16 2.8, 18-55 Zoom, Zeiss 24 1.8, 30 Macro, 50 1.8, 18-200 and 55-210 zoom lens. With past complaints about lack of lenses, I think those worries can start to fade because the new 24 1.8 and 50 1.8 are REALLY REALLY good lenses. Also, this camera can mount almost any lens via adapters and when using old manual glass the focus peaking feature kicks some serious booty! The lens size issue has not been addressed but I was told by Sony they are WELL AWARE of this and also told me it is not really possible to create small tiny lenses for a sensor of this size, but they are working on it and trying. Not sure how Fuji did it with the X100, but to be fair, the X100 lens is a bit soft wide open so maybe the Zeiss 24 1.8 is better? Also, Fuji only had to concentrate on ONE Lens for the X100 as it did not need to be compatible with other lenses and to be fair, the X100 lens is just as fat as the Zeiss 24 but the Zeiss is longer, and also a little faster at 1.8 vs 2.

The Zeiss 24 1.8 QUICKLY became my favorite lens on the NEX-7. While it is not clinicaly  sharp, it has character… and to me, that is way more important that hyper sharpness. Remember, click images for larger and better versions. The Zeiss Sonnar has a “smooth” character.

Sony NEX-7 Black and White

NEX-7 and Zeiss

So what are the main features of the NEX-7?

The “7” is jam packed full of features and no one in their right mind could complain about everything Sony packs in this little body. Take a look at all of the good stuff below:

DSLR Quality in Your Pocket (It would NOT fit in your pocket with a lens attached)
Here’s the same APS-C sensor size as a DSLR, with higher resolution than most DSLRs and the interchangeable lenses that make DSLRs so attractive. Yet the camera is about half the size and weight of a typical DSLR camera. Removing the conventional mirror box and viewfinder makes it possible
24.3Mp Resolution
You get incredible detail and gorgeous enlargements thanks to a 24.3 megapixel sensor. It’s the highest resolution among pocket cameras as of August 2011
World’s First OLED Viewfinder
There’s never been anything quite like the Tru-Finder OLED electronic viewfinder. For size, speed and brightness even after sunset, this is a gem. This eye-level, through-the-lens, viewfinder begins with 2359K dots for amazing resolution and high contrast ratio for incredible depth. OLED reduces motion blur to a bare minimum. You can also see the results of camera adjustments in real time with superb color and detail
Up to 10 Frames Per Second Shooting
Capture the decisive moment in sports and get the ideal baby photo. Up to 10 fps continuous shooting at full 24.3Mp resolution with exposure and focus fixed at the first frame. Standard continuous shooting at up to 2.5 fps
DSLR-Class APS-C Image Sensor
Sensor size is the key to picture quality. The APS-C class sensor provides gorgeous imaging with 58% more area than Micro Four-Thirds sensors and an amazing 13 times the area of a point & shoot image sensor
Full HD Movies at 60p/60i/24p
Capture HD Movies in your choice of super-smooth 60p, standard 60i or cinematic 24p, all at Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. AVCHD codec delivers stunning picture quality. MP4 codec offers smaller files for easier upload to the web
HD Movies with Full Manual Control
Now you don’t need to surrender control when you shoot HD movies. Enjoy the full expressive potential of Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority or Manual (P/A/S/M) control in HD movie mode
Tri-Navi Manual Control
Perfect for experienced shooters, Tri-Navi control gives you three separate control dials for direct, hands-on access to three settings at a time. As just one example, the dials can set aperture, exposure compensation and ISO
Built-In Pop-Up Flash
Enjoy the convenience of flash photography everywhere you go. Guide Number 6
Hotshoe for Alpha System Flashes
Take your photography even further with access to the entire range of Sony Alpha system flashes and flash accessories
Accepts A Mount Lenses Via Adapters
Both the LA-EA1 and EA2 adapters (sold separately) allow you to attach the full range of Sony A mount lenses
Phase Detect AF with Adapter
The LA-EA2 lens mount adaptor (sold separately) is the world’s first with Sony’s award-winning Translucent Mirror Technology. This provides super-fast and accurate Phase Detection AF when used with Sony A mount lenses
Tiltable 3.0″ LCD
Sony’s 3.0″ Xtra Fine LCD monitor has 921K dots for superb resolution. The TruBlack screen includes a special resin layer to suppress internal reflections, increasing contrast compared to conventional LCDs. Sunny Weather mode boosts visibility even further. Tilts down 45° and up 80° to frame high- and low-angle shots that would otherwise be hit-or-miss
Object Tracking AF
Locks onto a specified object and maintains focus even as the subject moves. Unpredictable subjects stay in focus even while zooming. You can concentrate on composition without worrying about focus
World’s Shortest Release Time Lag
Helps ensure that the image you want is the image you get. Once auto focus occurs, release time lag is the delay between fully pressing the shutter release and when the camera actually starts taking the picture. Long lag makes it harder to capture fast-moving objects. The Sony NEX-7 boasts the shortest release time in the world (as of August 2011) at only 0.02 seconds
Accepts Sony E-Mount Lenses
Compatible with Sony’s expanded line of E Mount lenses. These smaller, lighter lenses are specifically designed for Alpha compact interchangeable lens cameras. Opens up a world of creative options
Peaking Function
Manual focus becomes much easier because peaking highlights the edges that are in focus in your choice of three colors (white, red, or yellow). This is especially helpful during macro or portrait photography where your focus setting can make or break your shot
3D Sweep Panorama Mode
Capture vast scenic vistas and 16:9 shots in spectacular 3D. As you sweep across the panorama, the camera records separate right-eye and left-eye images that make landscapes come alive on your 3D television7. Records both JPEG and MPO file formats
Sweep Panorama Mode
Capture expansive landscapes automatically. Press the shutter, sweep vertically or horizontally. The camera does the rest, continuously shooting images and stitching them together
6-Image Layering
Leverages the fast BIONZ processor to capture six images in a fraction of a second, and then combine the data. The result is an incredible single image that controls blur in Anti-Motion Blur mode or gets cleaner, sharper nighttime pictures in Hand-held Twilight mode
Auto HDR
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography captures more scene contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining the best highlight detail from one shot and the best shadow detail from another for one incredible shot
P/A/S/M Modes for Video and Stills
Enjoy a full range of controls for video and still shooting from the beginner’s iAUTO mode to P/A/S/M: Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual. On-screen prompts help you refine your skills, build your confidence and exercise greater creative control
Intelligent Auto Focus
Pre-focuses as you compose the shot, further reducing focusing time to a bare minimum
iAUTO Mode
Unifies and simplifies Sony intelligent technologies. Takes advantage of Intelligent Scene Recognition, Face Detection technology, and Optical SteadyShot image stabilization without leaving auto mode so you always get the best shot
BIONZ Image Processor
The brain of the camera is a Sony’s BIONZ image processor substantially upgraded for the demands of 24.3 megapixel photography. Chroma noise reduction delivers high-resolution, low-noise photos even at ISO 16000 sensitivity. Also enables fast processing for up to 10 fps continuous shooting of data-intensive 24.3Mp images, 2D/3D Sweep Panorama modes and 6-image layering
Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO)
Improves results with backlit subjects and recovers details hidden in shadows. Settings include Auto, Level with a choice of five operating levels and Off
Accepts Non-Sony Lenses Via Adapter
You can use the camera with a universe of lenses from Canon, Nikon, Leica, Olympus and others. The success of Sony’s NEX series, combined with the ultra-short 18mm flange back distance has inspired third-party manufacturers to provide lens adaptors. In addition, Sony has disclosed the E Mount specification to Carl Zeiss, Cosina, Sigma and Tamron
25-Point Auto Focus
25 sensors cover a very wide area of the scene, for accurate focusing even when the subject is far from the center of the frame
HDMI Output
Enjoy HD movies and stunning still images on a compatible HDTV. The camera includes an HDMI output
Stamina Battery Power for Up to 400 Shots
Take up to 400 shots on a single charge with Sony lithium ion Stamina battery power (using LCD monitor). Sony’s InfoLITHIUM battery system enables you to see the percent of power remaining, so you can keep shooting in confidence
Sony Exmor CMOS Sensor
Sony Exmor technology uses column-parallel A/D converters for high resolution and high frame rates. Double noise reduction minimizes image noise, even in low light
11 Picture Effect Modes
Discover innovative ways to make your images and videos pop. These include Posterization, Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color, Soft High-key, High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Monochrome, and Miniature
Ultrasonic Anti-Dust System
Dust on the image sensor leads to blemishes in the picture. To protect the sensor, Sony incorporates an advanced ultrasonic system, which effectively shakes dust off the sensor surface

The Zeiss 24 at 1.8, OOC JPEG, 1/60s, +.3 EC – Window light in a dark room.

Sony NEX-7 JPEG portrait

The GREAT things about the NEX-7  – Shooting with the NEX-7 – The build, feel, and usability factor..and best features.

The Sony NEX-7 and Zeiss 24 1.8 Tests

Many of you have been waiting and waiting for the release of this camera because on paper it seems just about perfect for so many of us. The Size, the build, the sensor, etc. On paper I have to say that the NEX-7 and Zeiss 24 1.8 actually is the PERFECT camera for taking with you wherever you go. When I got a hold of it I was crazy excited and I told myself I would be shooting with it every day for two weeks to learn it and to shoot as much as I can with it.

When I hold the camera it feels REALLY good in the hand. The nice grip protrudes perfectly for my hands and the Tri-Navi dials are incredible in real life use. The Tri-Navi system consists of three dials. The top of the camera has two dials and the dial to the left controls my Aperture and the right dial controls the Exposure Compensation (when I am shooting in “A” mode), which you can see the effect of in real time on the LCD of OLED EVF. The control wheel on the rear, which is the 3rd control in the Tri-Navi system controls ISO. Just a quick flick of the wheel at any time and you can change the ISO as easy as you change your socks. Well, even easier actually. The Tri-Navi control system make all the difference in the world and is reason enough to buy the 7 over the 5n if you have the budget. It is that good. There is a demo of this in the video above if you did not watch it yet.

The beautiful EVF!  The OLED masterpiece of an electronic viewfinder that is in this camera is splendid! The clarity, the color, and the contrast is all TOP NOTCH and makes the Olympus VF-3 or Ricoh EVF look like an old 70’s TV playing a VHS tape. The OLED in the NEX-7 is more like a modern HDTV and that is a good thing. In fact, it is so good I think I am done with cameras that do not have a built in VF. Shooting the Fuji X100 and now the NEX-7 made me feel that way and there is no excuse for Olympus to NOT have a built in EVF. It just makes shooting so much more natural sometimes AND when there is bright full sun, it makes it MUCH easier to see what you are shooting. This EVF to me is the best I have ever shot with. Period. It is the same as the one in the external EVF they sell for the 5N but feels great being built in to the body. There is no swivel feature like the external but it works well.

The 3″ 920k  swivel LCD on the back is big and looks great. Its swivel mechanism is a bit different than the one on the NEX-5n and is super easy to swivel out and up and down. The shutter button and on off switch is perfectly placed and the shutter SOUND is MUCH better than the old “5”. The 7 sounds much like  the new 5n due to it’s new Electronic First Curtain Shutter. Only one shutter movement is required now so instead of a click and thunk, we here a smooth and quick “snick”. Much improved but if you like the old snick and clunk you can always turn it back on in the camera settings menu, LOL. I demo this in the video at the top of the page.

Also, this camera has the WORLDS SHORTEST SHUTTER LAG, and this is AMAZINGLY cool. When you press the shutter on the NEX-7, it is going to fire instantly and you will not miss your shot. Many cams have longer shutter lag which means if you are shooting something coming into the frame, and it is fast, you may miss it with other cams due to the lag (time difference between when you press the shutter and when the picture is actually taken). The NEX-7 is excellent in this area at only 0.02 seconds!

The weight. Even with the Zeiss 24 1.8 mounted the camera was still pretty light but at the same time it felt solid. The 24 is about the same size as the kit 18-55 zoom lens but maybe a tad lighter. So overall, in the build, handling, and usability department this camera gets a super high score and if I were doing a 1-10 kind of deal, it would get an 9 in this area. Usability and control is MUCH improved over the 5n. So much so, it is like a totally different animal (and it is). Even the HD video is amazing and I found no clicking noises while testing the video recording. If I had to say something I would say that the Zeiss would have been great if it were a bit smaller but overall it has a nice feel and balance on the camera. Does not feel awkward at all.

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The Zeiss 24 wide open (1st pic) and at 2.2 (2nd pic) – from JPEG – May have been set to VIVID

Zeiss 24 1.8 Sony E Mount on the NEX-7

The GOOD things – AF speed & HIGH ISO Noise levels & My thoughts on the color and sensor

HIGH ISO NOISE. The big worry from many of you who were waiting for this camera is the high ISO capabilities and noise. Many feared that with so many megapixels (24) being squeezed on to the sensor that the low light/high ISO noise would be worse than that of the NEX-5n. Well, after shooting at all ISO’s with this camera I can say that it is a little worse at high ISO when in low light than the 5n. This is to be expected but at the same time, shooting at up to 1600 in low light is acceptable and ISO 3200 is easily usable. I was using the camera with Noise Reduction set to WEAK as I hate when the NR is high and smears the details. Overall, the 7 is just about what I expected when it came to high ISO noise performance. Still excellent but not as good as the 5n. But  me, I have been happy with the M9 high ISO of 2500 and feel most of us top out at 1600 anyway. In this regard the NEX-7 is great.

Keep in mind that with ANY camera when you shoot at high ISO in LOW light you will get much more noise than if you shot it in decent or good light at the same ISO. The next there samples below were indoors with no lights on in the room and using the 24 1.8 at 1.8 and ISO 1600.

The following two photos were shot indoor in low light at ISO 1600 and shot as JPEGS. Do you see noise? Yes… but remember, there were no lights on and the curtains were closed so you will see noise even with the 5n or most other cameras at 1600. 

Super High ISO – Is it even usable? 

The NEX-7 is a camera that can go as high as ISO 16,000 but for the most part, when cameras include these crazy ISO’s they are useless. The only camera I have shot with that had usable ISO past 6400 is the Nikon D3s, and I am still not sure how they did it as no one else has matched them to date. I went out to my front yard one late night and set the NEX-7 to ISO 16,000 and snapped a pic of a tree. You can click the image below to see a larger version with a 100% crop embedded. Now keep in mind, this was NIGHT time and the only light was the two light bulbs on my garage. So, it actually did better than I thought and if you were in a pinch and needed ISO 16,000 you COULD use it if your end result was the web or a small print.

Click the image below to see a larger version and a 100% crop from this ISO 16,000 image…

…and what review would be complete without some high ISO crops? The 1st image was shot at 1600.

So the NEX-7 may not be as clean as the NEX-5n at higher ISO (you can see my high ISO 5n tests HERE) but it is still as good as most will ever need. It could have been better if Sony stuck with the 5n sensor, but again, I have no complaints on the high ISO as I rarely go above 1600, and 3200 if needed. Both of which is acceptable for web or print from the NEX-7. See a 6400 ISO shot below resized  to 1200 pixels wide. Not bad, and there was no light source. This was in my office with a window ABOVE the boxes and the blinds were closed. No lights were on in the room.

Here is the ISO 6400 shot resized to 1200 pixels wide, JPEG, NR set to WEAK.

More….ISO 3200 processed from RAW using Capture One

And two of the same fish – One with the NEX-7 and Kit Zoom at ISO 1600, the 2nd with the Olympus E-P3 and SLR Magic 12mm at ISO 1600

1st – NEX-7, 18-55 at ISO 1600 – Click for larger

and the Olympus E-P3 at ISO 1600 with the 12mm SLR Magic lens…

As you can see, when resized to 1800 pixels wide the Oly and NEX-7 seem almost neck and neck at high ISO quality. The Olympus pops more due to the 12mm 1.6 aperture lens. Both cams are very useful at 1600.

HIGH ISO – NEX-7 vs the NEX-5n

Ok here you go! I had a ton of requests for this so I decided to add this to the review. A high ISO test of the NEX-7 vs the NEX-5n.


I shot the scene with both cameras using the Zeiss 24 at f/5.6. I shot one at ISO 100, then followed  that with 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, and 12,800. I processed each file from RAW using Capture One which is supporting BOTH cameras. I left everything at default but turned off Noise Reduction so this was at 0 for each file. I wanted to show the RAW performance of each sensor not the JPEG Noise Reduction performance.

ALSO, I did NOT match shutter speeds. I shot these at f/5.6. Same lens as stated above. I did NOT match shutter speeds as I prefer to test a camera for real world use. In other words, if camera “A” chooses one exposure and camera “B” chooses a slightly different exposure then that is what you can expect from each camera. Matching shutter speeds when and if a camera chooses one slightly different is not showing what you will get from the camera when out shooting with it, and to me, this is the ONLY way one should test a camera. REAL WORLD as I have said from day one. Not “Scientific” as “Scientific” is not how we shoot.

I made 100% crops of each at full resolution. 24 megapixels of the 7 and the 16 of the 5n. I then resized  the NEX-7 files to the same size of the 5n files to see how they stacked up in this way. Below are the results, let me know what you think!

First a web resize to 1800 pixels wide (click for that size). The NEX-7 at ISO 3200

and the same image with the 5n, resized to 1800 pixels wide – ISO 3200

and now the 100% crops from the NEX-7 and 5n at all ISO’s tested and at the native resolution of each camera

and finally, the 100% crops with the NEX-7 files resized to the same size as  the 5n. 

It is no question that the 5n does a bit better at high ISO. The NEX-7 is using the same size sensor but crammed way more pixels on to it. This will cause more noise which is why I am a big believer in large sensors and less pixels 🙂 But overall, they are not really THAT far off. Up to you to decide how important higher ISO shooting is. The files above were all straight RAW conversions and again, with ZERO noise reduction. Hope this helped some of you who were looking for this test!

AUTO FOCUS SPEED – Not the fastest in the world 🙂

As for Auto Focus speed, I am happy with it but not THRILLED. The Micro 4/3 format Olympus E-P3 beats the NEX-7 for AF speed but it should! Olympus boasts the fastest AF in the world on the E-P3 and their pro E-5. The NEX-7 is good, but not blazing. In low light it hunts a teeny bit but that seems to be an issue with most contrast focus cameras. I also had a few “misses” in low light with the “7” which tells me the AF could have been improved a bit. Now do not get me wrong!! The AF is fast… much faster than the Leica X1 or Fuji X100, but not as fast and accurate as the E-P3’s AF. I set the review sample to the center point which is how I ALWAYS shoot with ANY camera and sometimes it still wanted to focus on what was BEHIND my subject. For me, the E-P3 remains the contrast detect focus champion in regards to AF speed and accuracy. The NEX-7 is about the same as the NEX-5n, so it is fast, just not BLAZING.

The NEX-7 and the Sony 50 1.8. At $299 this lens is a must own for any NEX owner. This shot was taken at f/4 but the lens focus quickly and accurately. 

Shot with the Zeiss 24 at 1.8 – processed from RAW with Phase One’s Capture One

Sony NEX-7 and Zeiss 24

and another with the 24 1.8 at 1.8 using the JPEG High Contrast B&W setting

THE NEW 24 MP SENSOR – My Thoughts on it and the NEX-7  JPEG output

I am in the camp that says Sony probably should have stayed with the same sensor they used in the NEX-5n. The 5n sensor seems to be a perfect medium of resolution, ISO noise performance and file size. The 24MP sensor in this NEX-7 means more pixels on the same size sensor and this means more noise and sometimes more issues. I know some manufacturers try to wow us with super high Megapixels but it is not needed. I am hoping Leica sticks with under 20MP for their M10 and they concentrate on noise, but I have a feeling they will pull a 30+MP sensor out and wow everyone with super high res stats. For the majority of us, 12MP of resolution is PLENTY! Even the old Nikon D2h had a measly 4MP but those were some GREAT Megapixels! Big and fat which provided super color and a unique feel to the photos. I also printed many 20X30’s with that camera that were beautiful. While this sensor is VERY good in its performance, I just feel like my 3 year old iMac is getting bogged down when I process these RAW files. But I guess I can not complain, the sensor puts a good quality image and that is all that matters at the end of the day when it comes to sensor technology. With that said, Canons new pro DSLR, the 1d-x has only 18MP and shoots 14FPS. Seems Canon may know that the MP race was starting to get out of hand. Damn, I remember when 2 Megapixels was a BIG deal and considered “pro”.

With that said, the JPEGs out of the NEX-7 are really good but I know it will get even better with fully supported RAW conversions. Most of us will be shooting RAW as soon as Adobe and Apple release compatibility for the 7 but the JPEGS have been great so far. As already mentioned, some of the images in this review were RAW’s converted with Capture One which does support the NEX-7 files somewhat. It worked GREAT and better than the Sony software. They have a free demo here if you want to give it a shot with your NEX files.

But with that said, the three shots below are from camera JPEGS!

The HD Video Performance of the NEX-7 – Two samples

The HD capabilities of this camera are pretty astonishing. The NEX-7, like the 5n has a plethora of options when it comes to shooting video and you are only limited by your imagination and lens you attach. The NEX-7 provides much better video quality than the Olympus E-P3 mainly because it not suffer from the nasty Jello effect that plagues many other digital cameras and this made me very happy. With the E-P3 you can not even shoot video unless you use a tripod due to the Jello effect where the video gets wavy and unstable. No issues here and the video looks great in low light as well. It’s pretty amazing because I used to be big into video and remember the old video cameras would always choke at night with horrible grain and bad color. I remember paying $1600 for a video camera back in 1990 that was AWFUL in low light and just OK in good light. Today we have a camera like the NEX-7 that costs $1200 and provides amazing HD video in any HD format you desire and does amazingly well even at night. Technology is good. No complaints here. Want to shoot at 24P? No problem! 60P? No problem! 60i? Go for it! 1080 resolution? Of course! Sony obviously knows video and it shows in this camera.

The video may not be as rich as what you get from a full frame camera like the Canon 5DII or the upcoming Leica M10 (Hmmmmm) but for the cost and what it is, this makes the NEX-7 worth it just for the video! The 18-55 kit lens and 50 1.8 also have Optical Steady Shot. The Zeiss 24 does not even though the video below was shot 100% hand held with the Zeiss 24 at 1.8.

UPDATE: After obtaining my own NEX-7 I have come to realize that the camera will overheat and shut down after just 3 minutes of continuous video. NOT good. So much for making the NEX-7 the official youtube video camera 🙂

Sample 1: Hand Held but static shots – Here is a sample video shot at 24p at night, various ISO’s from 100-1600

Sample 2: Handheld with some movement – LOW light and HIGH ISo, no JELLO effect. All KIT Zoom Lens!

*Shooting Leica Lenses on the NEX-7 – Yea it’s GOOD!

The Leica 50 Summitar is one of those classic lenses I just love. I’m shooting only classic Leica glass right now and love it. So does my bank account. The shot below was converted from RAW with Capture One.

Sony NEX-7 with Leica 50 Summitar at f/2

Below: The SLR Magic Hyperprime T0.95 Leica Mount

This review could not be written without at least SOME shots taken with Leica glass. I have had about 50 e-mails asking for requests to shoot the NEX-7 with every Leica lens under the sun. Sadly, I am not rich, I am poor. SO, I do not own any wide angle Leica lenses. 🙂 Contrary to popular belief I do not have a room loaded with Leica cameras and glass. The good news is that LENSRENTALS.COM sent me out a few wide angle Leica lenses at no charge just so I could test them here. SO THANK YOU LENSRENTALS! If you ever need to rent a camera body or lens, you must check out their site.

As most of you have seen I have been shooting with the Ricoh GXR A12 M mount module as well and because of this I was able to decide which camera I liked better for shooting old manual Leica glass with. Read on…

I can say RIGHT NOW with 100% CERTAINTY that the NEX-7 is a DREAM to use with manual focus Leica glass, or any manual focus glass for that matter. The combination of FOCUS PEAKING and the gorgeous built in EVF seals the deal. It just feels amazing with a Leica lens attached. As I have stated, I did compare SIDE BY SIDE with the Ricoh GXR A12 M mount module and I took both of these cameras out on three occasions and each time had the same conclusion. The NEX-7 won every time in the usability department, this was NO CONTEST. Now the NEX did not only win in usability but I also preferred the IQ from the NEX-7 most of the time when shot with a 35mm or longer lens. Check out some shots below as well as a side by side FROM RAW. Some may prefer the output of the GXR but I am telling ya, usability is amazing on the NEX-7.

1st the NEX-7 shot at f/4, then the GXR at f/4 – BOTH from RAW conversions – NO PP – You must click the images for the larger versions and TRUE 100% crops.

I had a blast shooting in this way and the NEX-7 made it so easy and foolproof. Their focus peaking just works, a big thumbs up. BUT all is not perfect! When you shoot a Leica lens 21mm and wider be prepared for the magenta color shift issue. Yep, it is here on the NEX-7 but it is NOT on the GXR (or the 5n)! So if you plan on shooting wide angle Leica glass and are looking for a small body to do so, I would suggest the Ricoh or the Sony NEX-5n. If you want a body for longer than 35mm lenses, the NEX-7 would do the job nicely.

The magenta color shift is here when using Leica mount wide angle lenses 21 and wider. See it here on the 15mm

NEX-5n with Voigtlander 15 – No color shift.

Two more shots with the Leica/Nex combo with the 50mm and 35mm Summilux ASPH – more are at the end of this review.

with the 35 Summilux ASPH

The Sony/Zeiss Lenses – The Zeiss 24 1.8 and Sony 50 1.8

As you can see from all of the photos in this review, I have shot with the Zeiss 24 1.8 quite a bit, and I like the lens a lot. It has a very smooth classic character with good color and contrast. It is not a cheap lens but I feel that anyone who is going to buy a NEX-7, and NOT use it with Leica glass or other manual focus good glass, well, the Zeiss is mandatory. It just goes with the camera so well. It’s not perfect and it did not really WOW me at 1st but the more I used it the more I appreciated it. Same with the NEX-7 itself. It is not a beginner camera! It took me about a week or so to really get a feel for what it can do and how to use it properly. But the Zeiss lens is fantastic and from what I am told even comes with snazzy packaging, a lens hood and nice pouch. You can order the lens at B&H Photo or Amazon and the cost is $999. But hey, It’s a Zeiss 🙂 I HAVE A FEELING this will be one of those “Very hard to find lenses” for a while. I pre-ordered mine on day one of the Amazon Pre-Orders so I hope to get one in December when it is released, just in time for Christmas! Below you will see a wide open 1.8 shot and I will be adding some f/8 and f/11 tripod shots soon to this section.

Wide open indoors at 1.8 – OOC JPEG

The Sony 50 1.8 lens is $299 and IMO a MUST own if you are buying a NEX-5n or NEX-7. It’s priced right and puts out gorgeous results with color that pops, contrast that pops and it’s sharp even wide open. You can order this lens at B&H Photo. Here are a few more from the 50…

Shot at f/4 with the Sony 50 1.8 during the “Golden Hour” – click for larger – This is an OOC JPEG

This one was shot at 1.8 as I got the stare down from this dog in the street…JPEG

and check this one out at f/2.8 with 100% crop – JPEG

Accessories for  the NEX-7

As of this writing there are not many accessories for the NEX-7 but I predict that this camera will be THE MOST POPULAR OF ANY SONY CAMERA MODEL IN 2012. PERIOD. I expect many accessories and I was already sent a prototype tripod bracket by J-Tec who made some awesome cool accessories for the NEX-5 and they are getting ready to launch some cool things for the 7 as well. So keep an eye on their site and this site as when they are released I will write about them. One accessory you will want to buy for the NEX-7 or even the 5n if you plan on shooting Leica glass with it is the BEST Leica lens adapter available. It’s not cheap but as I said in my 5n review, I have had three cheapie Leica adapters that I picked up on Amazon and over time they became loose, and that affects performance. The only adapter that has withstood the abuse and test of time has been THIS ONE by Novoflex. If you want a cheapie you can buy this one at Amazon. My thought on this is that if you are using LEICA glass, you want a good adapter. Makes sense.

As for other things for  the NEX-7, you will want a good SD card and I recommend THESE LEXAR PRO cards if you do not want to spend a fortune or if you want the super fast bad ass cards, this one is FAST. The NEX-7 puts out some big files when shooting RAW!

Compared to…all the others 

Here we go. I will get the question! I always do. WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY? Well, as always, I can not answer that question! It is all personal preference. Do you want an interchangeable lens system? Would you prefer smaller? What features do you need? Ask yourself if THIS camera will FILL ALL YOUR NEEDS. If so, then it may be for you. Look at the features, the size and the sample photos above and then decide if the NEX-7 could be the “one” for the long haul. If that doesn’t work…

Look below for a QUICK written comparison against the usual suspects.

NEX-7 vs The Olympus E-P3 – The E-P3 focuses faser, has better lenses available, and has a cool retro design. In silver it’s simply beautiful. But it still has the same 12 MP sensor as the E-P1. The ISO noise is not far behind the NEX-7 at 1600 but the E-P3 does not have a built in EVF or a tilt able LCD. The 7 has a larger APS-C sensor, the E-P3 has a smaller 4/3 sensor. In all fairness the E-P3 is more fun to shoot and provides results that you just can not complain about. It has a cool factor and some serious mojo even with its limitations and I own it and am keeping it. BUT the NEX-7 is more serious with more potential. NEX has to win this if we are taking body to body. Lenses, Oly wins but then again, Leica glass just works better on bigger sensors, and the NEX-7 has the bigger sensor.

NEX-7 vs Fuji X100 – Totally different cameras. The X100 is a fixed lens 35 mm equivalent. You can not change lenses, it is slow and quirky to operate BUT it’s files are gorgeous and I prefer the colors of the Fuji over the NEX-7, NO CONTEST. But usability and versatility go to the NEX-7. Apples and Oranges. Classic vs Modern. If you can live with a 35mm f/2 and slow operation, go for an X100. GREAT camera. If you want versatility, speed and ease of use, go with a NEX.

NEX-7 vs Leica M9 – Again, totally different. The NEX-7 is NOT an M9 killer by any means. You do not get the Leica glow or the feel of a manual rangefinder camera even with the Zeiss lens but mount a good Leica lens to the NEX-7 and you get closer but again, totally different camera, feel, and price point! M9 is full frame and all manual. NEX-7 is APS-C and more like a hand held computer. One is $1199, one is $7-8,000 🙂

NEX-7 vs NEX-5n – This one is important to many readers. The 5n I reviewed was SUPER. BUT….if you are going to invest in the NEX system, and are trying to decide between the two, go for the 7. The body, the controls, the whole package. It IS better in that regard. The high ISO may be a little better on the 5n but that is about it. The built in EVF of the 7 makes all the difference in the world as does the Tri-Navi controls. if you already have a 5n and EVF, you are really only missing the controls and larger body style. In that case, buy yourself the Zeiss 24 and call it a day. 🙂

NEX-7 vs GXR with Leica Mount – If you are looking for a cheaper solution to shoot Leica glass with besides an M9 or are looking for an M9 backup and have been thinking of the NEX-7 or GXR I feel the NEX-7 offers much more in this regard. Ive shot both side by side and the Sony is easier to shoot with and gives just as good results IN MY EXPERIENCE. The OLED EVF in the 7 is large and vibrant and Ricoh’s is small and dull looking in comparison. The Sony will switch to the EVF when raised to the eye, the GXR has to be manually changed via button. Focus peaking on the 7 is better and easier to use than on the Ricoh. Picture quality wise I slightly preferred the Sony files. Again, this is just MY opinion after shooting both. I love Ricoh but have to give credit where credit is due.

NEX-7 vs Leica M8 – Now this is an interesting comparison. A used Leica M8 runs anywhere from $2000-$2600. The NEX-7 is $1199. So almost double for an M8. If you buy an M8 you MUST buy the UV/IR filters for each lens you own, and the tops ISO for that camera is around 640 before it starts getting unsightly. It’s an M though and a joy to own and use. The M8 has a 1.3 crop and the NEX has a 1.5 crop so the M8 will be using more of your lenses than the NEX-7 will. If you are only shooting in light and want an RF, and M8 may be the way to go. If you want to shoot in all lighting situations and use higher ISO, the NEX is the way to go. Again, all personal preference but the M8 will most likely give better image quality if you have light, plus…it’s a Leica!

Pros and Cons of the Sony NEX-7


  • SUPER body, Great control and the new Tri-Navi setup  is a godsend
  • Build is solid but camera is fairly light
  • OLED EVF is best ever (at the time of this writing). Period!
  • Swivel LCD is useful, should be on all digital mirror less cameras
  • Best mirror less body by far (to date) for using Leica lenses (besides a Leica)
  • Customization is amazing with many programmable buttons (see video)
  • The NEX-7 and Zeiss 24 make a great pair, could be one lens on body combo
  • ISO goes up to 16,000, but really usable up to 3200.
  • 24 MP is plenty enough for ANYONE
  • Camera is fast in operation, not sluggish at all with a fast SD card
  • Kit Zoom performs great on the camera
  • Nice presentation box, strap, lens cloth all included.
  • Sony’s new 50 1.8 is exceptional in real world use
  • I feel the cost of this camera makes it a deal.
  • HD video capabilities are wonderful and the video does not suffer from the “Jello Effect”
  • Has a built in sensor dust shaker to keep dust bunnies off your photos
  • This is Sony’s Bionic Camera – Better, Faster, Stronger.
  • High ISO is not as good as it is with the cheaper 5n
  • Sometimes focus hunts in low light and sometimes misses its mark
  • Auto Focus is not as fast as the Olympus E-P3
  • Lenses are bigger than they should be
  • Sometimes the camera would underexpose when using the Zeiss 24
  • Rear LCD not as gorgeous as the one on the E-P3
  • Images do not have much 3D “POP” with the Sony lenses. Leica glass cures this.
  • No in body IS. Boo.
  • When shooting Leica glass with an adapter, lenses wider than 24mm have some magenta color shift issues while the 5n does NOT.

The Bottom Line Conclusion and my full thoughts on the Camera

Ok, so there you have it. I shot with this camera each and every day that I had it. I shot it with the Zeiss 24 1.8 and the new Sony 50 1.8. I even slapped on a Leica lens and did a side by side with the Ricoh GXR.  Sony did in fact “Grow Some Balls” when they decided to design and release the NEX-7. On paper it appeared to be absolutely PERFECT and I ordered one through Amazon the day they started taking orders. In fact I pre-ordered the 24 1.8 and the NEX-7 kit. I just KNEW it had to be amazing. A small body, great build, EVF, fantastic controls and a 24 MP sensor that has Sony tech behind it. I mean, how could the NEX-7 be anything but absolutely GORGEOUS?

Well, when I first started shooting with this camera I was not that wowed or impressed. But I am jaded. I am used to my Leica glass and the M9 putting out stunning 3 dimensional beautiful files and that is what my brain has gotten used to. There has not been any camera that has come close to the M9 IQ until the little Fuji X100 came along, but as wonderful as the Fuji is, it is still tough to shoot with (at certain times) due to its slow speed and clunky interface. Another favorite of mine that I adore is the Olympus E-P3. The new lenses for Micro 4/3 are nothing short of spectacular and helped  to make the E-P3 a daily shooter for me along with it’s super speed and great out of camera color. The one problem I have with the Olympus though is there is no built in EVF or swivel LCD. Once I shot with the Sony for over a week I was spoiled with its best ever OLED EVF and swivel LCD.

So here I am raving on and on about the perfect body of the NEX-7. What about the image quality? Well, judge for  yourself. I posted tons of images in this review with all lenses. I posted out of camera JPEGS, I posted RAW conversions and I posed a couple of comparison shots with a GXR and E-P3. What I noticed with the NEX-7 files during this whole process is that they seem a little bit flat out of the camera, but this is the same look that every NEX camera has had, even the 5n. Nothing that can’t be fixed in a RAW conversion or by using a good old fashioned Leica lens. When I attached a $300 Leica 50 Summitar the 3D pop surfaced.

The NEX-7 is not a camera you will open up and shoot on day 1 and get amazing results with. You have to shoot it, learn it, learn the controls, and learn when to apply Exposure Compensation (which is simple with the Tri Navi controls). Once you dig in and set it up to your liking you will be able to shoot just about anything with this camera. In many ways it is like a computer instead of a camera, but that is Sony for you.


Sony now has 7 lenses for  the NEX system. The 16 2.8, the 18-55, Zeiss 24, the 30 Macro, the 50 1.8, 18-200 and the new 55-210 zoom. The ones to buy in my opinion are the Zeiss and the 50 1.8. I hear that Sony has a new Zeiss lens planned for 2012 as well and I am guessing it will be something like a fast portrait prime. So for those of you who are saying there are no lenses for the NEX system, there are plenty. In addition, this camera can mount hundreds of other lenses using adapters. Mount Nikon, Canon, Leica, Zeiss glass….Just buy the adapters and go to town. This is where this camera really shines…as a body for all of your old glass, well, sort of. Just know that if you want to shoot wide angle lenses that you may get some magenta color shift at the edges of your photo. This is a disappointment because the NEX-5n does NOT have this problem, and it is the cheaper NEX body. Makes me REALLY think now that Sony should have stuck with the 16MP sensor of the 5n for the 7.

With that said, using the camera is a breeze and so enjoyable with the focus peaking and huge and super clear EVF. It really is a joy.


The video on this camera is the best I have shot with in a non full frame camera. The options are a plenty and the quality, even in low light is GREAT. Pop on a lens with IS and you will get smooth and saturated jello free HD video. You can shoot at 24P, 60P, 60i all in 1080 resolution. The video of the stock NEX-7 kit is exceptional and beats most $1000 video cameras.

The things I did not even talk about in this review..

There are a few things I did not even go over in this review mainly because it would have been a rehash of the 5n review. Things like SWEEP PANORAMA and the other cool features built into the NEX-5n are all here in the 7. The way I look at it is that the NEX-7 is an enthusiast camera and most of these gimmicks will not even be used by those who buy this camera. The Sweep Pano is the one I would use but the others not so much. So this camera has everything you can imagine inside. Huge resolution, great HIGH ISO, superb video, amazing body design and usability….the list goes one.

Would I buy one? I already had my pre-order in and am keeping it. It’s not perfect (see my con list) but it’s REALLY good and the lenses being a little big did not bother me at all in real use. The body is bigger than the 5n so it’s a bit more comfortable to shoot with the Sony lenses. Yes, the “7” is here! So as I wind up this 10,000 word review all I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the camera and lenses. It doesn’t compete with the M9 but not much does in my eyes, and besides…it is $5800 cheaper than an M9 body. 🙂

All in all, this is a killer camera system and the NEX line has now matured into a camera that most of us have been asking for over the past 2-3 years. This will be a big one for Sony. Mark my words!

Where to Order/Buy?

UPDATE MARCH 1st 2012Appears B&H just listed the NEX-7 as IN STOCK for the body only. 

Amazon was accepting pre-orders but took them down after news of the flood in Thailand that destroyed the Sony factory there. B&H still has it listed but you can not pre-order at this time. I expect it to pop back up soon for pre-order. AMAZON is still taking Pre-Orders for the Zeiss 24.

UPDATE: I will leave you with a few more images from the NEX-7 and Leica glass, this time with some post processing (which I did not do to any of the images above) – click on them to make them larger and ENJOY!

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  1. I have Sony’s excellent NEX-FS100 Digital Cinema Camera and love the fact that I can use all of the same lenses and adapters on the NEX-7. The 7 also doubles as a second camera if needed for short shots.
    Thanks for your thorough review! (the Nex-7 is just the right size to be able to finally carry a still camera around with my video kit as well, and it sure beats taking pictures with the iPhone I’ve been using for too long 🙂

  2. Hi Steve,

    Very informative review !

    I’m planning to buy the nex-7 soon..but as of what I read the zeiss 24 dont have the image stabilizer unlike the sony 50 1.8, im a bit confused of why that expensive lense don’t have that feature.. whict of the two is the best for the nex7?

  3. hi Steve,
    great review!
    i have a question a bit off the topic but what the hell: which camera is better in low light: nex-7 or nex-6? I already have nex-5 and want to upgrade (hot shoe, viewfinder, more buttons…) but don’t really know if i should spend that much on nex-7 as nex-6 has less mpxs and it should be less noisy. Did i mention wifi?;)
    What do you think?

  4. i have a nex 7 camera. same overheating problem. Today i went into the configurations and set the camera to record at 24p . i`m in Florida and feels like summer. it is 82F outhere. i started to record vidio with low ISO 100 under direct sun light. First time in my life saw the camera completing thos 29:5 minutes and comeback to the menu without shutting down. However… I did see the temp icon showing at 19:45 and continued there until reach 29:5 and boot to menu without going off. I have a micro SD Ultra 30Mbps 32GB.
    This did not fix the issue but it finished the process in a normal operation. i will try to make another test with different SD cards and setup. One more thing in mind, my e mount lens has a jacket that protects the lens from scratches so i did not take the lens jacket to record. Still reach those 29:5 minutes. I just want to share with you all this little test.

    • I am going crazing researching this NEX 7 audio and heating issues…two people on different post indicated that the NEX 7 movie mode works great when using Pro-HG DUO Card. MS-HX32B. Another thread indicted to remove the Battery to cause a
      reboot of the Sensor and the next movie function-file will run full 29 min.

  5. Nice shots. I have had my SONY RX-100 for a couple of weeks and to be truthful I don’t see any difference between it an the 7 in picture quality. Perhaps that will be the interchangeable lens option that makes the camera more attractive? Maybe it will boil down to price.

  6. hello,
    thanks for the review, especially for the update in video section – i think the overheating is a serious fail from sony.
    i dont know what you think about this, but i almost order a nex, because of its video recording, and now, after reading about this problem on forums and in your review : its shocking.
    im wondering, why you do not send back the nex to sony after that problem showing up?
    all specs on sonys website says: 29 min video, 3 min and shut down is definitely not means useful for me…
    (and sorry for my english)

    • I took a 29min video and several shorter video sequences with my NEX-7 without any heating problem so heating is not an issue atevery NEX-7 and I’m wondering what I did right and others do wrong…
      Maybe it’s just a question if you tilt the display or not?

  7. Hi Steve,
    Thanks fotr this review, still going thru it.
    “Sony has disclosed the E Mount specification to Carl Zeiss, Cosina, Sigma and Tamron”

    How come not many companies have yet brought lenses out yet?

    And what are your thoughts about the latest rumours of an NEX6?

  8. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for your review. I own a sony nex 7 and bought a fotodiox adapter to use my old olympus lens. The adapter attached very well to the camera and to the lens but when wanted to remove the adapter from the lens I couldn’t. Wrote to fotodiox but nobody answer yet. Do you know anything about this particular adapter for the nex 7 and why it could get stuck? Do you recommend another to use the old olympus lenses? Thanks.

  9. congratulations, a great review!!!. My question is if a shoot (photo) is posible when you are recording a video (without go to frame mode).}}Thanks }Sergio

  10. excellent. I will consider the Nex7seriously.

    But to say ALL legacy glass can be used is not exactly accurate. Legacy lenses from Leica and Zeiss for 35mm format are made for film. True, they can be mounted on the Nex via an adapter. But the performance of a film lens will not be optimum for a digital imager: this is seen for example by the magenta shift in your photo above; and (not shown) many such lenses will show fringing (CA). The Sony lenses are designed by Zeiss: the 50/1.8 E lens is under $300 and excellent, so why bother with an uber-expensive legacy lens? Other E primes will be also excellent (when has Zeiss ever designed/made a poor lens?), so I’m sure the Nex lineup will be increasingly appealing, to Sony’s great credit.

    I do hope this thing operates as a real camera. With a great lens, I can get a great image out of just about any digital camera. But what I want is a great camera: a real tool that enables photography, not a digital toy that hinders photography. I read the user guide for the Nex, and it is simply a techno-maze of unintelligible menus. So, though your review is encouraging for IQ, I am concerned the actual field-use of the Nex may be yet another frustration in digital experience.


    • I went into detail about 35mm and wider Leica M glass showing purple corners, etc in a dedicated post. The 5n does not have this issue but the 7 does.

    • Hello Al,

      after about 20000 frames on NEX-7 with legacy glass (Leica M from 28 to 135 mm, Leica R from 19 to 280 mm, various Pentax, Schneider and Angenieux retrofocus lenses, some EF-bayonet-Samyang Cine lenses from 14 to 85 mm), I can confidently tell you that the NEX-7 is not “another frustration in digital experience”. Though, a look at the physics dictates to use lenses that are (near) telecentric, and a look at the results suggests NOT to use the out-of-camera JPEGs, but to stay with raw (which fits my workflow better, anyways…).



  11. I am thinking of trading in my Canon 60D for this. The only thing I am concerned with is the image stabilization. I have shaky hands but the Canon has been amazing. What do you think

  12. Thanks for your review steve.
    As a non-camera head it is nice to have something I can somewhat understand.
    I have used my fathers old canon t70 with good results even not knowing anything about how to use it.
    And have only had point and shoot cameras since. (currently lumix dmc t10, again pretty good results)

    But since I had twins I`d like to upgrade and take photos that are not only good memories but can show off my kids with fantastic results. I also do kendo and want to take some fast action shots.
    Before reading this review I thought I`d found my camera, but as you said its not for beginners…
    then I read your review of the olympus omd-em5 and it seems that would be better suited plus it has some art filters that look like they would be great for the kids photos.

    with kids photos and pretty high speed kendo photos my main goal (plus a bit of nature, rural japan)
    what do people/ steve recommend?

    I have always wanted to get into taking photos and with either of these I would be worried about putting time in and learning.

    Only problem is sony gear has no english options in the camera menu and I`d have to import it.

    • “I have always wanted to get into taking photos and with either of these I would be worried about putting time in and learning.”

      I meant to say “wouldn`t be worried”

  13. Hello, is anyone out there experiencing a “creeping in” of a slight magenta hue, predominantly appearing on the top left and top right of a shot. (This is mostly occurring on shots of clouds and sky)? I am using the kit lens & the 18-200 and it is appearing on both.

  14. Hi, Huff, do you have a chance to compare Sony 18-200mm lens with the Tamron version? Thank you. John.

  15. Mr. Huff, Heavily based on your review, I recently purchased the NEX-7 and whatever E-mount lenses I could get (still waiting on the Zeiss – out of stock). What I know about photography is that you push a button and sometimes a cool picture pops out – I am learning. I would like a longer zoom lens for sports and wildlife than what I am getting from the 18-200mm lens. I read about the A-mount 70-400mm lens, but there seems to be a lot of concern about the weight and I did not see any reviews pairing it with the NEX-7. Any advice? Thanks.

  16. Steve,
    I bought an NEX-7 recently because both of my “good” cameras were in sick bay. You did a good job of covering many important points about the NEX-7. However, I ran into one issue that almost caused me to return the camera. I refer to the red button that turns the movie function off and on. It is placed just where my right thumb rests when I hold the camera. As a result I end up taking lots of little, useless video clips that waste a lot of memory.

    I finally fixed the problem by super glueing an O-ring over the button. It is still usable, but I no longer get accidental movies of my feet, etc.

    Basically, I like the Sony, but I’ll keep the D3X and the M9.



  17. Steve,
    I received the NEX-7 a few weeks ago, and have found your review spot-on. Still awaiting the Zeiss 24, which should be arriving in a few days. However, I am concerned that I just spent a lot of money on a lens that is not an appreciable upgrade from the Sony 50 1.8. Would you suggest keeping both of them?

    • I have been using my NEX-5N with the Zeiss for quite a while now, and it is definitely one of the sharper lenses I’ve come across, but a cheaper alternative is the Sigma 30, which according to LensRentals was the sharpest lens in their recent test of wide primes and zooms – better than the Leica they tested at the same time! Second came the Sigma 19, both soon available in E Mount!

      My wife got the Sigma 30 for her OM-D and it is quite amazing, and rivals the Zeiss in many ways!

      I love my Zeiss, but you can get the two Sigma lenses, and change over, for the same amount of money!

  18. Many thanks for your review. I have an early NEX 5 that I enjoy, but the NEX 7 is tempting me. You comment on the quality of Novoflex adapters, and I see that that they make an adapter for Leica R lenses to NEX cameras. I have some R lenses left from when I used R4 bodies, and one of them a rectilinear 19mm
    is probably my favorite lens of all time. What problems would I run into in effecting such a match?

  19. Steve: terrific work! You do us a great service thank you! I would love to buy the 7 But.. I have screw mount Leica 35,50, and 90 (IIIf) lenses.Would they work (with a screw mount to bayonet to 7 adaptor? I also have 35,55,105, and 200 Nikon F manual lenses as well (travels to Japan). What do you think?

    • Hey! Thanks for the kind words. You would just need a Leica Bayonet to M adapter on the lens itself, then put that on an M to NEX adapter. I do that with my 50 Summitar.

  20. Hi Steve,
    Thanks to the great job you have done on reviewing this camera. I am impressed in all those features it possesses and it’s IQ thru’ Leica lenses (Zeiss 24f1.8 is great too). I am however worrying about the magenta color shift problem when using wide angle lenses. Do you know whether this problem has been resolved or not? This may be one of my concerns when deciding to buy this camera. Thanks.

  21. Thanks Steve for a comprehensive and balanced review.

    I’m looking for a digital camera with which I can use the Canon FD lenses I bought in the 1980s for my Canon New F-1. They’ve been sitting in a dry box for some years but I recently learned that it may be possible to use them on a digital camera body with an adapter. Your review has pretty much sold me on the Sony NEX-7 as the body for my Canon lenses.

    However, I would have been interested in a comparison with the Lumix GX-1, which is also on my list of contenders. I suppose you cannot cover them all.

    As for using non-Sony lenses with adapters, I would be interested in a comparison test of the various adapters that are available. Like you, I tend to go for the better quality item even if the purchase price is somewhat higher, so I’ll be checking out the German made unit.

    Thanks again for your excellent work.

  22. Hello,

    Should I get the NEX-7 or the new Olympus OM-D EM-5? The OM-D EM-5 seems awesome, but I like that the NEX-7 has the APS-C sized sensor.

  23. Hi Steve. Good to see you’re so enthousiastic about this Nex7. I presume you’re not a mac owner?
    RAW isnt regonised in Adobe Lightroom, Aperture or Iphoto. The raw converter followed with the camera is “windows” only. Filming in 1080P50 isn’t accepted by Final Cut Pro, so you need a conversion. I hate conversions cause you end up with less quality. But even Clipwrap spits the Sony footage out as “un-regonisable” so your left with the option 1080i only.
    Tried different camera effects. They show up as black empty pictures in all 3 above programs.
    HDR pictures, as mentioned in the manual, takes 3 pictures with different lighting. The camera gives your 3 clicks. But HDR material in above 3 programs shows you 2 pictures only, nearly identical. Bought HYDRA PRO, but the results from this program gets you some results that best can be described as very experimental photo work.
    So no, I’m not very happy with my new camera.

      • Hi Steve, thanks for a quick reply. Just checked, no update for lightroom 4. Did you check the rest of the things i found?

  24. The NEX-7 equipped with the Zeiss lens is a gorgeous combination. Sharp at any aperture up to 11 quick focus very natural colors and details.
    The NEX-7 is easy to use and manual focus works pretty good. Yesterday I discovered that once you switch to manual focus and turn the focus ring you could select the zoomed in area by turning the control dials what I appreciate very much, because you could fix the display window first and then focus with the optical enlargement on the detail you’re mostly interested in without the need to move the camera once again.

    I uploaded some pictures at Flickr:

    Btw when I took the photo of those toads they didn’t move at all maybe because they were also interested in that piece of technology.

    • great photo’s using the hardware… most other comments are without examples.. I find by seeing these i get a better indication of what 1,100 buys you… thanks for including with ur words…

  25. Thank you Steve for your review of the Sony Nex 7, it got me to buy the camera, and can only say that it’s gone in the heart of me. I love the size, and to keep the camera well in my right hand, and even more the fantastic OLED-viewfinder. The camera is easy to work with, and there is not much work in Photoshop afterwards, if anything. The video is just great for me. I also have a Nikon D7000, which also is a good camera, but I prefer at any time to take the Sony Nex 7 with me around to various photo shoots. Why carry heavy equipment, when I can take my Sony Nex 7 with me, and get the same if not better quality. It is simply the kind of camera I’ve been eager for several years, and I believe it is a good companion for me for many years to come.
    Great page you’ve done, Steve ….
    I am a Danish guy with a poor English, but a google-translation.
    Greetings from a happy Sony Nex 7 owner.
    Jess Demant Aggeboe
    Odense, Denmark

  26. Hello Sir

    I too think that the NEX images are rather flat and lack that 3D pop with my kit lens… I desperately need the pop!
    Do you have any suggestions of what lenses I should look for to give my (NEX 5-n) images that quality without breaking the bank? I’m considering 50mm mainly because thats what I used to use on my OM SLR 20 odd years ago 🙂 …i’m a complete novice.
    Cheers anyway, any hint would be hugely appreciated – I can see you are exceedingly busy….not sure how you do it in all honesty :).
    Ta very much

    • On my NEX-5N the Zeiss 1.8/24 shines, while the testers at SLR Gear swear by the 10-30! I have found the 10 to be the best Sony labeled lens, while using a K Mount adapter the Pentax FA43 is pretty amazing – even used Pentax-M 400/5.6 (a very old lens) with good results, even eith a 2X converter on! tord (at) mindless com

  27. Impressive camera by the looks of it although I have always thought the NEX systems look unbalanced. I find the images look rather brown and muddy. The shadows are blocked in and blotchy. The images here seem either underexposed in the main or even overexposed as in the shot looking down on the balloons. Had a Sony a350 as a temporary camera and liked it’s metering and colours but not it’s noise. Less impressed with their lenses. The colouring from the NEX-7 puts me off. Fuji understands that you only need 12Mp for APS- C (X100) but not Sony. Even my 5D has only 12Mp and produces wonderfully detail images in part due to the low strength anti alias filter. My X100 likewise has lovely detail. The NEX-7 detail and sharpness seem impressive but that muddiness? I think there should be a Mp speed limit! 10Mp for small sensor compacts, 16Mp for APS-C and 20Mp for full frame. Any more means problems. The NEX-5N is better at high ISO than the NEX-7. Daft. Compare images from different cameras at

  28. Great review. Started looking at your page not long ago while looking for some reviews of the NEX line. Im a college student so i don’t have that much money to spend so i think id go with the 5n and check your other posts to see one or two lenses i could get.

  29. Thanks for a review that was very both thorough and enjoyable to read. You now have the NEX-7 and have an Olympus OM-D on order. They seem to fill very similar niches — relatively compact, portable, high quality alternatives to a DSLR. If you already had a DSLR and could only afford the NEX-7 or OM-D, which would you chose?

  30. thanks for the review steve. you are the reason i bought my m9 and lenses 2 years ago, and i think you will be the reason forme to buy a nex 7 also. soon. thanks steve

  31. The issue with battery drain may have to do with the eye detector constantly going off in the EVF as the camera is bouncing around when you’re walking around with it. Turning it off may help.

  32. hello Steve,
    when you use a manual lense ( not Sony) is there any specific settings to make on the Nex ?
    Thank you for the test !!!!

  33. hey steve,
    i think this is the best and most informative review you ever written !!! WOW is an understatement steve !!! greatly enjoyed reading it ,hope you continue to write in this fashion !
    im sold on the nex system !!! the only thing left for me to do is get my ass down to bh sometime soon !!!!
    best regards

  34. I have to disagree with Steve’s assessment of the NEX 7 vs. the Ricoh GXR M module. There are a number of comparisons on the web which show a clear IQ advantage for the GXR, even with normal focal length lenses. This is rather impressive, given the fact that the Ricoh is 12MP, and the Sony is 24MP. Even in Steve’s own example with a 50mm Summitar, the NEX 7 has a magenta cast and does not look as natural as the GXR. The only advantage for the NEX is its greater resolution. Sometimes, Steve just gets carried away by his own enthusiasm for whatever camera or lens he happens to be reviewing.

    There is no question that the NEX is superior in terms of EVF and manual focusing, but in the IQ department, it falls short with M lenses. One can only hope that Ricoh will update the GXR body with a better EVF and put a 16MP sensor in the M module.

    • I am very much interested in using legacy glass (Leica, Zeiss, etc) on a mirrorless camera and it appears the best choices are from Ricoh (GXR) and Sony (5N and 7). I have seen first hand the excellent focus peeking of the Sonys; the GXR has not been possible to demo because I do not live near an authorized Ricoh dealer. I have seen reports here and elsewhere describing the focus peeking of the GXR as “different” or not as good. Does anyone here (besides Steve) have real world experience they could share in handling BOTH Sony and Ricoh cameras using manual focus, especially with older lenses. If I can’t accurately focus then “better IQ” is meaningless. I want to love the Ricoh because it seems to be better constructed, but at the end of the day if the tool can’t deliver on the promise I have to choose the alternative.

    • Hannes,

      I use mine with my NEX-5N and have had no issues with it as yet ;-)! Same quality feeling as with the E 18-200, that I occasionally borrow from my wife (she has a NEX, too)! Amazing lenses both, and price-wise similar!

      You will not regret your purchase; I’m pretty confindent that it will be a favourite lens, soon!

      (tord at mindless com)

  35. superb review…
    would like to know if you compared this to the new canon gx1.
    anyway, one comment on your ‘not using hdr’…
    i like yourself do most of my hdr out of camera.. but alot of time i dont want to put effort into merging. the hdr effect is an easy way to get shots with good dynamic range without alot of work. like all those vacation shots of sky and foliage.
    besides, the hdr function in the sony only hits +-.7 which i’m sure will not look like that ‘painterly psychodelic’ hdr processing so many hate…
    i foresee in the future that maybe all cameras will not accept poor point and shoot dynamic range shots. in-camera merge-3-exposures processing will be always there and hidden from the user’s knowledge.

    • Totally different camera than the Canon G1x – The G1x is more of a advanced P&S. The NEX-7 is a total enthusiast camera with larger sensor, IC lenses, etc. Id take a NEX-7 over the Canon any day.

  36. I bought the nex-5n while I’m waiting for my nex-7.
    I’m thrilled with the camera. I work with 20 inch wide prints, (6000 pixels). The 7 will shoot 6000 pixels wide.
    The 5N shoots 4912 pixels wide, and that’s a thrill. I get to 20inches wide with no trouble.

    Just one thing I don’t like, and I’d like Sony to fix it when they do a firmware upgrade.
    The shutter noise sounds like a SLR. It’s a recorded sound, not the sound of the camera. There’s no need of any noise, in my opinion. I don’t want people looking at me when the camera fires.

    I’d like the choice of no shutter noise, also adjustable volume on that.

    Old Leica users used to use 35, 50, 90 and 135mm lenses. I’d like an 18 to 90 zoom lens.

    Steve- How much does a Ziess lens improve quality over a Sony lens?

  37. Very good review Steve. Love your site! Is it just me or did the buzz around the Nex-7 die down very quickly after release? It really was all the rage in photography for quite a while when it was in production but now I rarely hear/read anything about it. The E-P3 still gets lots of attention in magazines and on the internet. What happened? Did it not sell well? I’d love to know if anyone has any stats on sales etc.

    • I think that is because it is not really shipping yet. Sony shipped some but not nearly enough. I think once it gets out there more it may start getting more press.

      • I agree totally with Steve! My normal supplier has nil NEX-7, nor any EVFs for the 5Ns, all due to the Bangkok flooding.

        Thus naturally puts a damper on things! The newest Nikon has just 16MP, but an amazing ISO 204000 (though not in standard swtting)!

    • I’m so happy to be amongst the few lucky guys that already received one. I never had that much fun in taking pictures in my life! Like Steve said, it’s not a perfect camera, but it feels terribly good to shoot with. Realy increadible. And to me that’s absolutely the main thing: to have a good feeling with what you do.

  38. Hi Steve,

    Was much inspired to own a DSLR. But after knowing about the beauty of MILC, by chance came to read about your review on Sony NEX-7. An awesome review I had read till now, crisp, precise, and to the point.
    Thanks a lot for the same. Carving on to order NEX-7 @ the earliest.

    Vignesh Manoharan [INDIA]

  39. Thank you very much for an exhaustive review Steve – I have just ordered myself a nex-7. Besides being a wonderful camera in its own right, as someone who also owns Sony A mount lenses and some Leica M lenses, it will suit me down to the ground. I note that the links which will help you are both located in the US and I cannot buy anything from them without paying heavy custom duty. I am sure you have a number of fans here in the UK and perhaps you might include a link to a couple of UK based sites, for example.

    Good luck and thanks once again.

  40. May I jump in here?

    I have shot with the X100 for two months last summer (had it on loan from a dear friend) and although I think the X100 is a fantastic (and most of all beautiful) cam, I would always go for the NEX-7. It’s much more versatile and the IQ is amazing.

    BTW, now after another day-out with the “7”, I must say that battery drain is not as bad as I initially thought.

  41. Thank you for the review!

    Now that you’ve had both the NEX-7 and X100 for a few months, which one do you find yourself using more often? Or do you use them for different situations? Would love to hear how you’re “juggling” these cameras!

  42. Thanks again for this extensive review!

    Now, that I’ve had the NEX-7 for some days, I must say that it is more fun than any other camera I have recently shot with and that includes some really nice cams: EOS 5D, EOS 40D, Sigma SD9, Sigma SD10, Sigma DP1s, Sony NEX-3 and some compact cams like Leica Digilux 2, Lumix LC5 etc.

    There are only two things that I need to complain about: The NEX-7 drains the batteries too fast and there is no customer-setting. Otherwise it’s a fantastic camera!

    • Hi Carsten,
      Re Battery power.
      I don’t think it’s the fault of NEX 7 that’s draining the battery too fast – in my opinion its just a very poor model battery. The New NEX 7 camera sports the same battery “NPFW50″ as my Sony NEX 5 – to put it mildly, this battery is diabolically weak and takes an age to charge. In my opinion Sony have made a big mistake here. For such a reletively high end camera they should have at the very least, treated us to a decent battery.
      This issue is preventing me from committing to a NEX 7 purchase. I could buy a spare, but why should I continually have to worry about how much power I have left – I don’t
      need to with any of my other cameras.

    • Re Battery power. I don’t think it’s the fault of NEX 7 that’s draining the battery too fast – in my opinion its ust a very poor model battery. The New NEX 7 camera sports the same battery “NPFW50″ as my Sony NEX 5 – to put it mildly, this battery is diabolically weak and takes an age to charge. In my opinion Sony have made a big mistake here. For such a relatively high end camera they should have at the very least, treated us to a decent battery.
      This issue is preventing me from committing to a NEX 7 purchase. I could by a spare, but why should I continually have to worry about how much power I have left – I don’t
      need to with any of my other cameras.

      • Hi, Simon.

        Yeah, you’re probably right. But it’s not too bad with the NEX-7. If battery drain is your only concern that prevents you from buying, you should rethink that. It would be a shame if this “issue” was the reason for you not being able to enjoy that amazing camera.
        Honestly, if you got the money to spend, go for it!

        • Carsten,

          Thanks for your kind response. I guess I should just go for it and buy a spare battery! (Problem is to make sure they are always charged up and ready, something I dont have to worry about too much with my other Nikon SLR)

          It sounds as if you are really enjoying your new NEX7, are you pleased with the quality of the images, how are you finding the results from the NEX7 in low light conditions?

          Best regards to you.


          • Hi, Simon!

            I simply LOVE my NEX-7.
            OK, just for image quality it’s not worth it. The NEX-5N is as good.
            But the NEX-7 offers all those little gadgets that I missed in my NEX-3 – and more!
            High ISO shots are no problem with the NEX-7. ISO1600 is perfectly and up to ISO6400 it’s still usable. The NEX-5 perform better than my EOS 5D.

  43. I received a Sony E 18-200mm lens for my NEX-5 for Christmas. I also have 3 Leica R lenses that I use. In order to afford the NEX-7 I plan to sell a 35mm Leica, a 135mm Leica, and a 70mm macro Leica (with extension tube). I also will sell a Sony HD video recorder. Each should fetch $300 each, enough to pay for the NEX-7. I would keep the NEX-5 as a second body. Or??? Would you suggest I keep the 70mm Leica and sell the NEX-5. I have the two lenses from the original kit.

  44. Hey Steve.. Have you used the hot shoe at all? I was wondering what skin tones/color looked liked under a triggered flash. I wasn’t sure about the Sony lenses for sharpness of focal points either?
    Hope I didn’t ask too much… ?

  45. Got my NEX-7 from the shop today. One of the very first in Belgium. Where the NEX-5 was too small, the 7 feels fantastic in the hand. I mounted my Novoflex adaptor and Zeiss ZM lenses on it (Biogon 2.8/28, Planar 2/50 and Tele-Tessar 4/85) and it just feels wonderfully in balans. The size is simply perfect. Can’t wait to start shooting! I think this will be a perfect match!
    First shots with the Biogon: no magenta color shift what so ever! I asked the dealer to inform me as soon as he has a Zeiss Distagon 4/18 or Biogon 2,8/21 in stock, to test if there will be a color shift with those lenses…

    • Hi Dirk,

      I do hope you enjoy your new NEX 7. Once you have had a good chance to use the NEX7 a few days can you let us know how good the battery life is please.

      Many thanks,


      Please can you let us know

      • Hello Simon. Here’s my first experience with the battery. Sony says one can make 400 shots with one battery life and I believe that to be true. That is, when you do nothing else and when you don’t leave your camera in standby. I have the habbit to always lock my car when leaving it. Same automatism for always switching my camera of. So the standby issue is no point for me.
        Due to the rainy wether here in Belgium the last days, I didn’t really go out to take pictures yet. First day I just went through the menues to try everything out for a couple of hours, and took just a few shots indoors. It took me half of the battery. On the second day (New Year’s Eve) and third day, I took about a hundred shots and again did quite some exploring of the menues. Also I did a lot of downloading to the computer (every few shots), since all the shots were taken at my home. All this lowered the battery to 10%.
        Personally, I always carry an extra battery in my bag, which is a fairly small bag, that I attach to my belt. It holds the camera, three Zeiss ZM lenses, the connection cable and two batteries. This is one of the things I really appreciate: being able to carry everything, without feeling it. Well, I have to say, yes the battery could be better, but it just doesn’t bother me that much. I had 2 batteries with my NEX-5, so I can take 3 batteries with me now, but rarely will need more than one. With two chargers on a trip, I’ll never be without power four sure. Even with only half the performance that Sony indicates (but that’s seriously underestimated since 100 pictures, a lot of downloading and some serious “fooling around” through the menues took me 40%), I can take 600 pictures a day. This is more than sufficiant for me. But honestly, when your out for shooting the whole day and do nothing but shooting, I believe you’ll get close to 400 shots per battery life.
        That’s all I can say up till now. If I experience interesting new facts, I’ll let you know. Dirk.

        • Dear Dirk,

          Many thanks for your informative insight into your new camera.

          I have a selection of E mount lenses The SEL18200 E18-200mm F3.5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens11x zoom range and Optical SteadyShot when I purchased a Sony NEX VG 10 video camera, plus SEL-1855 Zoom lens DT 18-55mmfocal, the SEL-16F28 Wide Angle lens plus a VCL-ECU1 which Instantly converts the E16mm F/2.8 ‘pancake’ lens to ultra-wide field of view.
          ALL of the above, I could use for the NEX7 if I purchased one. I guess with all these lenses i could afford to buy one or two spare batteries.

          My wife and I spent the weekend in Brugge last year, its so beautiful there, I took hundreds of photographs, (much to my wife’s disappointment!).

          My very best regards to you.


    • Please check your Biogon 2.8/28 for magenta color shift in the corners as well as any resolution loss in the corners when the lens is set at infinity & wide open. I believe that to be the worst-case donditions.

      Thanks, Alan

      • Hello Alan. It’s been a drizzling day today in Belgium. You can’t see the rain drops, but you get wet in a minute. Still I wanted to do some testing with my Biogon 2.8/28 as you suggested. I ad three shots. I took them fast (due to the rain), at ISO 200, out of hand. The first wide open, the second at 5.6 (both focused at infinity), the third at 8 with the focus put back at 15ft. Those are out of camera JPG’s. I’ve taken both RAW and JPG, but uploaded the JPGs for size reasons. And indeed, wide open at infinity, there is a very limited amount of magenta shift in the left upper corner (at the edges of the branches of the tree). At the right side, I don’t see any color shift at all. Yesterday, I didn’t notice this color shift, because I only took pictures indoors. There is some resolution loss at the same place too (in the branches). To me all this is not much at all and it diminishes gradually when reducing the aperture.
        OK it’s there. But honestly, I would never take that picture like that. I honestly wonder why some photographers (like Steve) always shoot wide open. If really that would make sence, why not fabricating lenses without aperture control. It would save a lot of money, wouldn’t it. 🙂 But seriously now. Why for heaven’s sake would I wanna see the red berries in the right lower corner unsharp in this picture? I just don’t believe in landscape pictures with shallow depth of field. So the third picture is much closer to how I’d want it. Maybe I would go for sharp berries in the front and a hazy background, with a different framing, but then the color shift wouldn’t be there at all.
        When I really want shallow depth of field, I prefer taking my Planar 2/50 (or even my Tessar 4/85), wide open indeed. No color shift there and a very beautiful shallow DOF. I believe the wider the glass, the less it’s ment to shoot shallow DOF. But I’m no authoritative photograper at all. So if I’m wrong here, please explain to me. To me it just turnes out that, when I want shallow DOF, it’s better to keep somewhat more distance from the subject (very often people). So I really don’t mind the tiny little bit of color shift at full aperture in my Biogon that much. Still I wonder how the even wider Zeiss glass will perform, because I really would like to add one more lens to my collection, a 21 or even 18.
        You can see the three pictures at

        • Hi Dirk,

          Thanks for your quick test. You are correct that most of the time you wouldn’t want to use the lens fully open when shooting landscapes. But there are occations when you need to do that — for example at dusk just before it goes dark & you don’t have a tripod. It looks like the 28mm is “on the edge” with the NEX 7, just like it was on my old NEX 5. If the NEX 7 behaves like the 5 (not 5N) then it would perform poorly with a Zeiss 21mm. It seems they made impovements with the sensor on the NEX 5N microlenses and/or IR coatings that they didn’t (or weren’t able to) do on the NEX 7 sensor.

          Having said that, with the exeption of using the wide-angle rangefiner symmectrical-design lenses, the NEX 7 looks like a dandy camera!

          Thanks again, & have a great New Year!


          • A great New Year to you too, Alan! Anyway, this morning I took some shots indoors, on tripod, ISO200 and 800, wide open and focused at infinity. I really have been searching for the magenta shift. Well, when I placed shiny objects (like Christmas tree lights) in the corner and looked at 66% enlargement or higher, I indeed saw the magenta as a thin line at the edges of the Christmas tree lights. This means two things to me: 1) you really have to enlarge the picture quite a lot to be able to see it and 2) one needs to know of the possible magenta shift to even notice it. I believe if not, nowbody will ever see it. So really, I don’t see the problem. It surely won’t hold me back from shooting wide open at dusk, unless there’s important objects with big light contrast in the corners. When you’re shooting in clear daylight, it’s probably another deal, but than I easily can reduce the aperture. Bottom line, I can use the Biogon 2,8/28 almost all the time. But like you said, the 28mm is probably on the edge with the NEX-7, if you wanna shoot wide open. So what I wanna try is see from what aperture on the 21mm will show the color shift.

          • By the way, when I mentionned that Steve always likes to shoot wide open (with a smile) let there be no mistake. I fully understand that it’s part of his style. And I admire his work so much. He frames wonderfully and his timing is simply amazing! I experienced so many “Wow!” moments looking at his pictures. I’d so much love to have “his eye”…

        • Thank you for the test images; it seems to me that the magenta shift is quite obvious in the upper left and right corners (where the sky makes it stand out). I suspect it is similar in the lower corners but simply less obvious due to competing patterns/colours.

          It also seems to me that the leaves smear on the right corner is obvious and severe; but maybe this is the natural behavior of this lens – I suspect not as test 3 clearly shows a nicer image (with regards to both smear and colour shift).

          Is it unacceptable? That is a personal view; but it does seem obvious to me without having to compare the image to another. Obviously any sort of cropping performed would reduce this effect.

          Since I do not own a nex; I cannot really comment if the 5n performs better.

          I did not enlarge these images or pay special attention beyond what was displayed in the browser from flickr @ default size when you click on them.

          • NEX-7 with Zeiss ZM
            When I bought the Biogon 2,8/28mm, I was looking for the most possible sharpness, with the widest depth of field, because that’s exactly what I need for my job. I compared the Biogon with a Leica 28mm (sorry, I don’t remember if it was the Summicron or Elmarit) at the Belgian Leica and Zeiss distributors’ place (they reside in the same building) and used an M9 to mount them on. Wide open, the Leica performed better, but at reduced aperture (5.6 and above) the Zeiss was unquestionably the winner with clearly more sharpness. In normal light conditions, the Zeiss easily gives razor sharpness from 5ft to infinity. It’s probably the best M-mount 28mm lens in that domain available. And I love it for that. So that’s why I bought it, now a bit more than a year ago, without regretting it for one single moment. I’m only looking for shallow DOF, when I’m shooting for fun, and than I prefer my Planar. So in what I do, I’ll probably never be confronted with the magenta shift of the NEX-7/M-mount combination.
            Anyway, wide open I’d prefer a Leica 28mm, if it wasn’t that expensive. I’m dreaming of Leica stuff for so many years now, but I simply can’t justify to spend that kind of money for my “on the road” pictures. So I fear that it’ll remain a platonic love. My (more realistic) dream come true and probably definitive purchase would be a full frame “NEX-9” or comparable Fuji (with full frame organic sensor?) for about half of the price of an M9, as long as Novoflex makes an M-mount adapter for it… That’s not too much to ask, isn’t it? Within a year or two? 🙂
            By the way, in my third day with my NEX-7, I’m really getting crazy in love with it. It’s size, it’s weight, it’s functionality, but most of all it’s feel make it simply the most enjoyable camera I ever owned. By far! It’s the first camera that I really can hold effordlessly almost endlessly, because it simply fits perfectly between my right hand’s thumb knuckle and middle finger. Imagine, I can hold the camera by simply relaxing (!!) my finger muscles. This is new to me and an incredible experience. Still the camera feels everything but a cheap lightweight. It’s only due to it’s perfect size that I can hold it in complete relaxation. Adding my left hand to it, having the camera resting on the knuckle of my left index finger, I have complete and incredibly fast control with thumb and middle finger of the focus ring of my Zeiss ZM lenses, for instantanious manual focusing. What a joy! It never has been so easy! Togeher with the wonderfull viewfinder and it’s peaking function, this is exactly what brings me back the real joy of photographing, even more than I ever experienced it before! Ever!! The weight of the camera is perfect: never to bother me hanging around my neck, never to get me tired holding it in my hand. It simply has the perfect size and it’s a real joy in combination with the Zeiss ZM lenses.
            WOW! This is one wildly enthousiastic user! I’m fantasizing what my friends and clients would think, if from now on, they’d never see me again without my NEX-7 around my neck… 🙂

  46. Hej Terje!

    There is a nice EVF for the 5N, but it is presently very hard to get hold of (a result of the flooding in Bangkok, I guess). I eventually managed to get hold of the little marvel, and use an adapter I found on Amazon (available on EBay, too) for my Pentax FA lenses (plus a few others). Works just great!

  47. Huff’s review discusses (and recommends?) the use of other lenses, including M-series Leitz, via a Novoflex adapter. Presumably this would apply to the Nex 7 rather than the nex 5N, since the latter has no evf.
    Owning three excellent M-Rokkor lenses, 28, 40 and 90 mm from a Minolta CLE, I wonder whether anyone has had the opportunity to try one of these on either camera – ?

  48. Hey Steve. In your NEX-7 vs M-8 comparison, you write “If you buy an M8 you MUST buy the UV/IR filters for each lens you own”. So adding a filter is considered as “normal”, regarding the M8. Now I wonder, isn’t it possible to ad a filter to wide M-mount glass, to overcome the magenta color shift with the NEX-7? This would really solve the problem, wouldn’t it…

    • No, I do not believe that will work. The M8 issue was totally different and did not hurt the edges of the frame, it affected the entire frame and was basically a fault with the sensor.

  49. Anyone know of any adapter out there to take Canon EOS mount lenses and put them on the the NEX-7 yet? I’ve got some great Zeiss glass for my 5D Mk II and would love to be able to use those lenses on the NEX-7.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Fotodiox has an EOS adapter. Works great and runs around $79. I believe Novoflex makes them as well but they are much more expensive.

  50. i think the NEX-7 could be great with long lenses – I use my NEX-5N with my old PENTAX-M 400mm tele and it works great!

  51. This is looking better for me. Built-in EVF, with a tiltable screen (I used to own, and foolishly sold, a Rolleiflex TLR) gives a lot of options.

  52. Thanks for the careful thorough review. of the NEX-7!
    Given the abundant MP count,how effective is the camera for telephoto photography?

  53. Re: IQ: you stated in comparing the Fuji X100, “it’s files are gorgeous and I prefer the colors of the Fuji.” That says it all for me. As an X100 owner, though sometimes frustrated with the quirkiness of the interface, semi-reliable, sometimes slow, sometimes quick AF, the jpgs right out of the camera are amazing and continue to blow me away. I guess I’ll have to wait for this spring, when Fuji brings out their mirror-less interchangeable lens camera, which they claim will blow away the IQ of even their full frame competitors.

  54. What about wireless flash?
    Could the integrated flash control e.g. another Sony flash wireless?
    If not, what kind of equipment has to be plugged to the NEX 7 to make a wireless flash control possible?

  55. Thanks for your first look…. I have questions about the NEX 7 flash capability for portraits, outdoor portraits, and available light fill. Also, can you change batteries to extend shooting session?

    • The batteries in the NEX-5N can easily be exchanged, even with the camera secured onto a normal tripod, and the card can also be easily accessed – I guess it is the same with the NEX-7. Don’t know nothing about the flash, though! I’ve used the tiny built in flash combined with slaves with my NEX-5N, and that has worked well!

      Oh, I wish the 5Ns would have a flash hot shoe, in addition to the multifunctional adapter, as I always use mine with the EVF – an amazing piece of hardware, that Sony now sells to the opposition!!!

  56. I am impressed with the camera and its features, but not with the image quality. The only image I find acceptable is the one taken with the Leica 50 at f/2 followed by a couple taken with the Sony 50.
    I am surprised that the Zeiss 24 doesn’t do any better.

  57. Thanks for the writeup. The swivel screen is the key feature that makes the NEX series so interesting. Some of the best shots in history were all taken from waist level. And it helps get the candid shots everytime. Now all we need is a better lens setup, something in line with what Samsung is offering their NX buyers.

  58. Thanks a lot for your review; I own a E-P3 and was tempted to buy a Nex 5N (because of higher ISO) , I’ll be waiting for the Nex 7 which seems perfect to me. A question: I often take pictures in AF/MF mode (I believe it is DMF on Nex 5N) which allows you, if you wish, to manually adjust the focus. I have read in a review that there is a problem in the Nex 5N concerning this matter: it seems you cannot make manual adjustments in DMF mode whenever the camera is not able to autofocusing: in this case you should move to Manual Focusing MF before taking a picture. Of course this is a pity: in many cases manual adjustments are useful exactly when autofocus cannot do its job. What about in Nex 7?
    Thanks again, carlo

  59. Is there digital zoom on the NEX-7? Is it possible to use a pancake lens, turn down the resolution and then zoom digitally? I want a camera like this but with a thin lens. Sony Japan also has a serious problem and only make cameras in Japan with Japanese menus. If the camera is being sold all around the world it would just make more sense to add English to the menus. Glen (

  60. Just a brief update. I pre-ordered my NEX-7, the 50 1.8 and the 24 1.8 on 25 October from Sony Europe. Yesterday, received emails from Sony saying something was being shipped and today, the 24 arrived. Theie website is saying February for the 50 and I hear January for the NEX-7.

  61. Hi Steve!

    Maybe a noob-question, but isn’t it possible to shoot with a lower resolution on the NEX-7 in order to reduce the noise issue? Maybe doesn’t work that way.


    • Yes but in JPEG only. The camera does not let me select RAW as an option when shooting at lower resolution, so if you want to shoot JPEG that is fine. Also, the noise level is fine and perfectly acceptable at any normal ISO levels most of us would use. It is just not as clean as the 5n.

      • Thanks for you reply!

        Well, you’re the pro 🙂 but I think the difference is visible (100% crop but still) att ISO 100 and disturbing at ISO 800.

        I’m new to your site but will for sure be a follower, great work!

  62. Battery Life SONY NEX 7.
    Hi Steve,
    It appears the New NEX 7camera sports the same battery “NPFW50” as the Sony NEX 5.
    I have a NEX 5 and I must say I am truly disappointed about this, the battery is always running out on me. Yes, I could carry a spare around with me, but sometimes it doesn’t always go according to plan. I noticed during your video review on the NEX 7 the battery life falling from 11% down to 6% and wasn’t surprised at all to see the indicator down at this low end. Maybe I have been spoilt by the superb battery in my Nikon SLR, it never seems to run out, it also charges in a very short amount of time. The Sony NPFW50 is very very slow (it seems to take forever) at recharging and is in my opinion weak compared. I would have like to have seen Sony make a significant improvement on the battery side for such a relatively high end camera. Sony might purport you can take 400 shots on a single charge, but after you have been playing with the menu functions, viewing your photos on camera etc, turning the camera on and off a few times, the life in the NPFW50 is soon wittled down considerably.

    • December 5, 2011 at 6:41 am Simon wrote this about SONY NEX 7’s battery life:
      “It appears the new NEX 7 camera sports the same battery “NPFW50″ as the Sony NEX 5.
      I have a NEX 5 and I must say I am truly disappointed about this, the battery is always running out on me. ”

      The same one in the 5N as well, and yes, it does consume a lot of power – adding the electronic viewfinder maybe improves things?! I have this magnificent viewfinder, but have not really used the camera with it enough to judge if it affects performance, one way or the other. Have maybe taken 400 photos till now, but also been forced to charge the battery a few times, so 4oo shots per battery charge seems to me a pipedream!

      By the way: Is there a way to turn off the display (might help)?!

  63. Oops, I forgot to add something… You mentioned that you weren’t sure why Fuji could get such a big sensor with such a small lens. I suspect that this has to do with the sensor tech that they patented years ago which uses sensors that are hexagonal instead of the typical square shape. Just a guess, but I think I read that somewhere that this allows more sensor density without sacrificing sensitivity.

  64. Thanks for the review. I jumped in and bought an NEX-5N with the small amount of money left to me from my grandparents. I have waited nearly 20 years to buy a camera after mine was stolen and anxious to get back into photography and finally work with HD video. Shortly after buying the 5N the NEX-7 came out. I was worried that maybe I had jumped the gun. But for my needs as a non-pro, I think I did well. Would love to upgrade someday, but until I have enough money to invest in important things like lenses, I think I made the right choice. Thank you for being clear and honest. This is really important to people like me that can’t afford to buy the wrong camera based on a dishonest review.

  65. hey Steve,

    amazing job on reviews, by far the best camera reviews (PERIOD) so informative.

    I am in market for buying a camera now it came down to Sony Nex-5N or Nex-7. i am new to photography and i want a camera that serves me good and its good for all occasions ( such as for night at the club or taking pictures at Central Park in NYC in day time) i am coming from canon powershot so i know i m looking for some improvement here but its so hard to know what to get. in other words yes i am asking you which one should i get?

    Keep up the good work

    • No camera is good for all occasions, Max! The NEX-7 is a fairly big camera, not as easily pocketable as the 5N. There are more manual controls on the 7, but do you use them/will you use them?! Cameras improve all the time, while lenses slowly evolve, so buying expensive lenses is always better invested money than buying the latest camera body. The NEX-7 is severely delayed, while the NEX-5N is here and available. The NEX-7 Mark II will probably follow pretty soon, as the times change fast! I’d spend money on a good lens, and see which camera I can afford (the difference in price for the 5N plus electronic viewfinder versus a NEX-7 is just a couple of hundred dollars, but those dollars can buy you a nice lens)!

  66. After reading your review of the 5N I got the NEX-5N, with the 16 and the 18-55, awaiting to 50 and the 24, and the wife bought the 18-200 for hers. But the EVFs seem to have gone away, totally! Not even present on Sony’s webpage in Japan any more!

    I’ve played around with mine using my Pentax lenses, and some really shine, some less so! As yet the 5N has been a total delight, just as the Olympus XZ-1, and my K-5!

    Thanks for being an inspiration to us all!

  67. I’m at a loss to understand your enthusiasm for this camera, based on your text.
    It almost sounds like a paid advertisement, but without any discernible logic.

    • Lets see…I said its high ISO is worse than the 5n, Sony should have stayed with the lower megapixel sensor, focus is slowish and not 100% accurate, it has color shifts with wide angle Leica lenses, image quality is a bit flat out of the camera, lenses are bigger than they should be, the camera was underexposing for me with the 24 Zeiss, and no 9n body IS. Yea, great paid advertisement!

      Fact is that the body of the 7 is wonderful as are the try-navi controls. It is also the most anticipated mirrorless of the year, no doubt which is where the enthusiasm comes from. There were high hopes for the 7 and it delivered on most of those hopes. There is also a lot of hype on this camera and I have been shooting with it daily for weeks. It is a solid camera but not without faults, which I pointed out plainly and clearly. VS the 5n, it is bigger and has the wonderful EVF and controls. Up to the buyer to decide what they want in a camera. I just show my results with it and let you guys decide. If it were me, Id take this over the 5n easily just due to the EVF, controls. The high ISO is great, just not as good as the 5n but good enough for me.

      • Ramon’s remarks seem to me like just a cheep way to feel important. Your review is exactly what it should be: a real life report without skipping the cons, but clearly indecating the pro’s. I’m strongly convinced, have my order placed and intent to use it with Zeiss M-mount lenses. The only real con for me is the magenta issue, but I’m confident that this can fairly easily be solved afterwords with the computer. If this wouldn’t be the case, it would be my only disappointment. Do you agree that this can be solved Steve? (A simple yes or no is OK for me)

          • Thanks Steve. We’re publishing (a music trade magazine in Belgium and the Netherlands) and do a lot of image processing (with Photoshop). So I’m not afraid of it, if it’s doable. I believe we’ll even be able to program some “Actions” to compensate the magenta. And if not, I guess, with some experience, the compensation will go fairly quickly, even if performed manually. Anyway, my widest glass is a 28mm, but I was thinking about adding a 21. Guess I’ll run a test now before buying. Also, I read the rumour about a hybrid mount FF Sony for late 2012. I still see the NEX-7 as a transition to a (compact) FF Sony – I’m counting on it that it’ll be able to mount M glass. I hope this camera will still be compact – not bigger than a M9, which is my dream camera, but simply to expansive to be justifiable for me. (Too bad.)

  68. Steve,
    Thanks for the review. Interesting reading, especially with all comments/questions. I still shoot medium format, film, 90% landscape/night time exposures, 28mm wide. So, will this camera with the magenta issue and limited wide angle lens’ be dissapointing? Film and processing is not cheap, but my 11×14’s and 16×20’s just jump off the paper.
    with best regards, mike j.

  69. Any idea when this is going to be released? I was really hoping to have this to record the family holiday shenanigans.

  70. Awesome review. So thorough. I’m trying to decide between an Olympus Pen ep3 and the Sony NEX 7. I have a Nikon D7000 which I love, but lugging it and all my lenses on hikes is getting really difficult. So, I’m thinking I want a smaller camera and lens set up for hikes. I know people say that the NEX system lenses are big, and that’s why I’m wondering if I’d be better off with the Olympus. But, man the NEX 7 looks awesome. And I hate the fact that the Olympus doesn’t come with a viewfinder built in. With my nearsightedness and glasses, though, viewfinders are sometimes hard to see through. Ugh. Hard decision.

  71. I would love to have the NEX-7 for wide angle manual lenses, but after seeing the magenta shift with the 15mm Voigtlander I am really not sure anymore. Is the color shift something that can be fixed eventually or is the camera just permanently limited to lenses over 35mm? Great review by the way!

  72. Great detailed reviews! Which should I buy based on Specs and image quality, and if you have tried the Panasonic GX 1- The sony nex 7 or the pana GX 1?

  73. Hi Steve!
    Thanks for the detailed review.
    Could you confirm one thing, would this camera take a 3.5mm mic jack? Or would we have to buy the Sony own mic. Thanks!

  74. Wow! By accident I stumbled across your site to discover who you are and what you do, and I must say a big THANK YOU for amazing information, reviews, video and photographs. I loved your video review of the features for the Sony Nex-7, and I must say, I want one badly. I’ve been shooting with an old Nikon Coolpix 4500 and once in a blue moon I shoot film with my old Minolta SLR. I grew up with a range finder which I loved.

    I wonder if my old Minolta lenses would work with the Sony Nex-7?

    Thanks again for your amazing insight and I love your work.

  75. Apologies if that’s a stupid question, but since “For the majority of us, 12MP of resolution is PLENTY!”, how is the image quality (and especially the low light / high ISO performance) if you just shoot to 12MP with NEX-7?

  76. Hi Steve,
    Thank you for your great review, it’s really really amazing!
    Could I ask a question, that I am running a non-profit camera information website,, which is in Chinese. Now it is hard to find a nex-7 in China, and we are too small to request a sample from Sony. Do you mind if I translate your review into Chinese to re-publish on our website, I promise I will refer to your site and never use it for profit purpose, and I will put your name and contact on our site.
    Hope to hear you soon, and Thank you very much!

  77. Hey Steve,
    Thanks for the review!
    I have a question about the viewfinder – is it a hybrid as X100 or not?
    I had the chance to play with X100 and I LOVED the hybrid viewfinder – the best I’ve seen so far. I played with V1 and I didn’t like the EVF (but we already had a talk in the other review posts).
    How is the NEX-7 viewfinder comparing with these two?

  78. As a novice photographer, what quality of pics will I get with the E-mount 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lense that comes with the camera? If the lense is crap, then should I order just the body?

  79. Englarged images in this review don’t show any more detail or even better quality detail than in the ones of the Olympus PENs done here too. Why spend all the extra cash and settle for the same or worse?

  80. Thank you Steve for the very cool review. I’m a impressed that you can take such interesting photographs on demand.

    I don’t remember any mention of automatic exposure bracketing. I don’t think the N5 has it, but does the N7? Like you, I would rather do HDR outside of the camera — too many variables.

  81. I’ve been hoping for a digital full frame Zeiss-Ikon for years. (naive!) But since that’s not gonna happen, I’ve put all my hope in Sony to shoot full frame with a camera that would have as much of the advantages of the M9 for a more feasable price. 🙂

  82. Hello Steve, I simply love your approach! My dreamcamera is the M9, but it’s too expensive at this moment, at least for some years to come. I’d love to see more simple-to-operate camera’s in the shops, with “fast” manual controls. At this moment, I use a NEX-5 with Zeiss M-mount lenses (via Novoflex adaptor). I love those lenses, because of their exceptional quality for a realistic price. The NEX-7 gives me what I was longing for from the moment I bought my NEX-5: a viewfinder (even if it’s not an optical one) and Tri-Navi Manual Control. I consider the 24.3Mp resolution as less important. As a mather of fact, I’d like to take pictures in a way, as close as possible to the way you shoot with the M9. So I immediately ordered the NEX-7. My worry is: what about fast manual focussing with the 7. Is it possible?
    Another question. Regarding the success of the M9 and the NEX-7, I’m hoping for a Sony camera with NEX-7 concept, but with the 35mm CMOS sensor from the Alpha A-900. I’d be glad to pay twice the price of the NEX-7 for it, providing that it can receive an M-mount adaptor. Would you be thrilled by such a camera? I simply don’t think that I’m the only person in the world that thinks in that direction. It would not give me the Leica build quality, but I’m not a professional photographer, only an enthousiast, that also takes photo’s as a part of his job. So I won’t use if as intensively as you do. I really wonder what your idea is about this concept, Sony/Carl Zeiss, that would save me more than half of the price of camera and lenses. At this moment, I wouldn’t doubt for a second.
    Thank you so much!

  83. Hey Steve,
    You compared the NEX 7 to the E-P3 by saying ‘the E-P3 does not have a built in EVF or a tilt able LCD.’ What about the Panasonic GH2 or G3 with a good EVF and a better tilt LCD screen that you can turn all the way around when you are filming yourself.
    When it comes down to size, (which is Very Important) than the micro four thirds wins with flying colours! You have the pancake Lumix 20mm f1.7, the new Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens and M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f2.8 which make these cameras very easy to carry around. Not to mention the M.Zuiko Digital 12mm f2.0 with the killer manual focus feature.

    When you start to get into larger lenses on the NEX 7 or DSLR’s the size of the body does not make the difference as much, so why not go all out and have a full size sensor?
    The design of the NEX-7 is perfect! So, I guess what I am getting at ~ is that I would like to have seen the NEX 7 be bigger and have a full size sensor (I know the price would be krazy but it would be worth it).

  84. Thanks so much Steve for the review , I really appreciate your hard work, I really want to share some thoughts with you , I am currently reviewing all the mirror-less camera in the market trying to figure what the best brand for me in terms of camera and lenses, I am photography enthusiastic not professional photographer , I had the Fugi Finepix s5000 and another kodak point and shoot camera and started to feel the I am jailed in the kodak camera boundaries as it is point and shoot , so I am now as I said trying to upgrade to something good but not highly professional , I am interested in the Sony NEX 7 but as I said from your review I didn’t see it has the superb sharp image quality , may be because of the sony lens itself , but I don’t know if this right or not . if I can have your comments on this point then I appreciate that , also what do you think the best mirrorless camera in terms of IQ. ..

  85. Reading from a Pentax DSLR readers perspective
    Such a great review. Just a small question for those of us who cannot afford a shirt full of Leica lenses no matter how much we might like them.
    BUT we do have a shirt full of good Pentax Primes DA21/DA35 Macro/ DA40 / FA77 … I know you liked the K5 and wonder if you had tried Pentax primes on the NEX5N or the NEX7 as they seemed a poor mans option …. also with the paucity of primes the NEX7 body becomes really worth buying with the 16mm for me as i can add in those other focal lengths. I will put this on the NEX7 review as well . hope thats ok.
    I must say I am tempted by the NEX7 … I realise I do not want a detachable EVF which I will loose and I dont need the DSLR form …. so for me its about keeping my K20D and uprading to the K5 or adding the NEX7 body as a more portable format , keeping my K20D and then using my Pentax Primes alongside Sony glass … is this a runner??
    I must say i love a review which is about use of a camera /and look of the out put .. rather than pixel peeping With great thanks from Dartmoor UK … Tom

  86. Steve,

    Yet another brilliant, real-life focused review, thank you! I have a slightly different take on the NEX-7 question for you and your very educated readers:

    Rather than focus on the 7 vs. 5n vs. ep-3 vs nx100 vs GXR question … WHAT SYSTEM SHOULD I BUY INTO?

    Which one has the best & most flexible future?

    I’m currently shooting a canon 7d, but my shooting is primarily travel and street with some landscapes & occasional video. Lugging that kit around can be back breaking and most of the time it’s overkill. I want to trade down in size, but NOT (too much) in IQ and flexibility.

    The m4/3 platform currently has MUCH better lenses, but I assume they are designed specifically for that m4/3 sensor size. If so, they will be useless on the 1.6 or full frame PEN PRO that we are all waiting for, right? The m4/3 sensor is fine for most travel & street photography, but will its inherent size limitations keep it from being useful for landscapes?

    The NEX seems to offer more flexibility in the long term, but it’s also new and there isn’t much of a product road-map that I’ve seen. I like the option of being able to buy/use Leica glass in the hope that I will one day be able to buy a full LEICA kit. And, the APS-C size sensor is pretty solid and more than usable for nearly ALL kinds of shooting… But, for landscapes, there doesn’t seem to be a decent wide angle lens available at all (even Leica glass has problems)…a bit concerning to say the least.

    In the end, can I really consolidate around the NEX, m4/3, or GXR platform, or is the concept of giving up a traditional DSLR for a mirrorless kit simply a pipe dream given my shooting habits?

    Any thoughts on the subject would be greatly appreciated… 🙂



    • I’m in a similar quandry… I want to buy a camera and am weighing the Nikon d7000 and the Sony NEX 7? Do I choose quality or portability? Is it silly to invest in a system whose future is unknown?

  87. Steve, would you please kindly comment regarding video noise comparison between the NEX-5N and the NEX-7? I refer to the videos you have uploaded on your youtube channel. Whilst from a photo persoective, it has been discussed that the NEX-5N with the lower megapixel count may provide for what appears to possibly be lower noise, when I look at the video you uploaded, the NEX-7 appears to look better, suffering less noise and compression issues in the shadow areas. The NEX-5N video footage you provided appears to suffer more in low light. Granted, the footage of the NEX-7 and NEX-5N were taken at different times, different locations and different camera settings, most likely. That said, is there any information that can assist in determining if the NEX-7 may have something under the hood that makes the video better than the NEX-5N, if at all? The general view may be that the NEX-5N may perform better when taking photos in low light with higher ISO settings, possibly resulting in low noise photos (video too?), yet the video footage you uploaded for the NEX-5N does not appear to compare reasonably equal to the NEX-7, in my humble opinion. Any view or clarification regarding my observations raised would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Well I no longer have the 5n on hand but do see what you are referring to in the youtube videos. The 5n and 7 both did great in the video dept but the 7 did indeed look better. I used iMovie for both, same settings, same export, etc. Then uploaded to youtube. I did nothing different. Same camera settings as well. I think the NEX-7 is fantastic for video. I would buy it just for that actually. There is also no clicking 🙂

      • Yes, no clicking may save a Sony warranty repair and time lost using the NEX-5N, and details regarding the fix are not exactly clear. Further, as for clicking and audio in general, the audio input for non-proprietary mics on the NEX-7 is also another benefit for the user that wants to avoid the separate audio and post audio sync work required using secondary audio recording devices, especially for the indie/enthusiast.

        Steve, I am not sure if this has been answered, does the NEX-7 have audio level control or is audio level locked or automatic, or does it have inbuilt audio limiting with auto level? Thank you, Steve.

  88. Just tried the Nex 7 at the PDN PhotoPlus Expo here in New York City, and I agree that the controls and viewfinder are superb! The viewfinder previews the effects of exposure comp on the fly, which is great! My pre-order is in!

  89. Hi Steve,
    Thank you for comparing both aspects on ISO performance vs 5N. That tells me all I need to know. Agree with your statement that 5N is cleaner, but not by a wide margin.

  90. I’m a bit confused on ordering this camera. Amazon Germany says that the product is available for pre order but Amazon USA does not mention it. Is there a final verdict on the available dates for this camera? Will there be a delay due to the floods? Even the Sony website does not talk about any delays for the camera. Has anyone got any authentic information regarding the exact availability of the camera?

  91. Hi Steve, Sony states that the OSS image stabilization system in the Sony 50mm f1.8 gives a 4 stop improvement. From your experience with handling that particular lens, does it actually provides that level of stabilization performance? Thanks in advance.

  92. Steve,
    Am I naive to remark that when shooting with Leica or other M-mount lenses, you had to manually open and close the aperture?

    No auto-aperture as it were?

  93. Great review. I have been in the market for a new camera, and have been changing my mind from the 4/3 Oly to the NEX-5n, and now this. Will order using you links.

    Only one other question you need to answer. Which camera should I buy? 😉

  94. First, thanks for the great review. I can understand your enthusiasm for the Leica glass and Zeiss, but right now I’m lucky to have enough money for the 7 with the 18-55. You didn’t talk much about it; can up say a bit about this one? Also, regarding the shipment delay, I called Sony and the person I talked to said there was no delay, shipments starting Nov 9. So now I don’t know what to believe as “delay” is plastered all over the net. Thank you!

  95. Went to the PDN PhotoPlus yesterday and immediately over to the SONY exhibit to have my own look at the NEX-7…… It is going to be a great addition to my M9. They also confirmed a now-January arrival.

    BTW, your review was quite comprehensive, as usual.

  96. Steve, thanks for the wonderful review on the NEX-7. This can be an exciting camera for some, especially for people who have some Leica glass. For me, because the high ISO performance is not as good, it is not too compelling.

    I’ve noticed my blog entry ping back made it to your comments section but I wrote about all my reasons against the the NEX-7 in my blog post.

    I still really appreciate your comprehensive text and video review. Now if Sony can come out with a NEX-5 with the Tri-Navi controls. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for next year.

  97. Why you would rather have an EP-3 than NEX-7? I mean on paper the NEX-7 is so much better, built in EVF, DSLR sized sensor, swivel screen and much more. Whats more appealing about the EP-3? :S

    • Not sure who this is directed towards as I am answering this from within my admin screen BUT I can say that the E-P3 has one thing going for it over the NEX. Native lenses. The 12, 45 and Panny 25 are some of the best lenses I have ever shot with period.

      • Steve, you may or may not remember that I’m a NEX-5 user. I’ve recently been very taken with the Olympus precisely because of the lenses. My favorite right now, the Lumix 20mm f.7. I’m also thinking of getting the Olympus 45mm f1.8.

  98. I just saw the Sony Nex 7 in the Photo show in NYC at the javits ctr. Sony tech admitted the the Nex 7 does NOT have 5x or 7x magnifier for critical focusing in manual mode lenses using a adapter. I dont know what focusing peaking is yet, but i will. I use lumix G-1 and G-2 DSLR cameras on my telescope and microscope and a host of adapters I ownin all round shooting! a 5x Focus magnifier is a VERY important feature to me especially when using my 1000mm Nikkor mirror lens. Because of this very important lack of planning, I am holding off buying a Nex 7 camera.

  99. The NEX 7 is now available for pre order at Amazon. Just checked the Sony website as well and even they have the camera listed for pre order. Would that mean that there is no delay due to floods?

  100. Very nice review. Does anyone know if the electronic gauge and grid show up in the EVF ? Also does the 5n have these features ?

  101. Well done Steve, very comprehensive real world testing and love the old Leica 50 Summitar too! No digital camera is or ever will be perfect and by the time the ultimate lens has arrived there will be an NEX 7 markIV with it’s short comings. Can’t wait for mine to arrive!!!

  102. Excellent review based on your real world shooting over a few weeks. I enjoyed reading it as I have most of your posts on this fantastic site. There is a true sense of honesty, humility and expertise in your writings that I find ever so refreshing in this world of advertising hype at any cost. I am impressed with all the features of this camera body to utilize all my Leica M glass normally attached to my M9 or M7. Sounds like this would be a great addition to an M system as a 2nd body with some fast multi frame shooting capability….very fast. That possibility does not exist on the M9. Yea I think I may just have to get one…and from your site for sure. Thanks for a great review and causing me to purchase an M9 off your site….all the sudden my wife thinks I am a better photographer….the M9 is magic! Put a Summicron on that Bad Boy and show us what’s possible in the hands of the master.

  103. thanks for thorough review, still choosing myself to upgrade to 7 or pick up some vintage Leica glass and stick with the 5.

  104. Something to think about…

    I am one who has pre ordered the NEX7. However even in Steve’s review there is nothing really showing that the 7 is taking better pics in any way over the Nex5n. If anything the way I read the review, the 5N will have better high iso. So one can actually buy the 5N with better picture quality? As to high ISO at least than the 7? AND get a more pocketable Fuji X10 TOO”PERHAPS” if you want two new cameras for LESS money than one Nex 7. You would have enough money left over for a couple sd cards. 🙂 I am starting to waver here on the NEX7 seems it’s all about Control which IS great. But once you are done twiddling dials PLAYING with the camera and all that, seems the 5n is going to have pics that look as good or better than the 7 the way I’m reading this. Of course the HUGE thing MISSING on the 5n vs the Nex-7 is the lack of the amazing NEX-7 EVF but at least you CAN get buy same quality EVF for the 5n and you still have a lot of money left over..well just something to think about…I know I am.

  105. Hi Steve, I think you made a slight error with the prices: Official sale price of 5N is 700 Euros with kit lens, EVF is 350 Euro, 7 is supposed to cost 1350 Euros.
    => 300 Euros difference.

    If I take actual sale price of 5N of < 650 in local shops and digitalrev order cost for the EVF including shipping and import taxes 400 Euros cheaper than 7 with kit.

    I guess you accidentally compared 5N kit + EVF versus 7 body only?

    • I did make a mistake. I used the NEX-5n price with kit lens. The NEX-7 body is $1199 US. The NEX-5n body only is $599 US. The EVF is $349 US. That is $949, so $250 less than the NEX-7. At the end of the day you are paying that extra $250 for the slightly larger body, more advanced controls (Tri-Navi) and the higher resolution as well as having the EVF built in so it doesn’t stick out like a wart. To some it would be worth it, to others not so worth it.

  106. After reading DP Review’s A77 review, my conclusion for the NEX7 is that 24 megapixees are too many. None of the NEX zoom lenses and even less the 2.8/16 can make use of it. Likely only the 1.8/24, 3.5/30 and 1.8/50 are good enough to justify the 24MP. NEX7 specs are driven by those who still believe in the megapixel race, and the glory of the Zeiss brand. The user interface copies “pro” DSLRs, but the lens range targets “consumers”. Panasonic and even Samsung offer reasonable pancake lenses for their mirrorless cameras. Perhaps Sigma is listening who were the first with a 1.4/30 prime for APS-C.

    I prefer the 16 MP NEX 5 (N) with better high ISO performance and “clean” user interface over the zillion buttons and dials on the NEX7 (and on many DSLRs). As an amateur, I spend more time carrying the camera than shooting with it. Small size and weight has priority over features and even over ergonomics. We should not complain that some features are “hidden” deep in a menu. Back in the days of film, the only way to change ISO, B&W/colour or filters was to change rolls, eventually waste some remaining shots, carry a second body and sets of glass filters for various front lens diameters. We should not complain that AF is slow or at times hunting, because it is still faster than manual focus.

    Back in the 70s many press photogs continued to carry a Leica M with 35mm along with their Nikon F gear. Fuji today fills that gap with the X100. NEX7 with 1.8/24 likely has better IQ, but double price and only a limited range of adequate interchangeable lenses.

  107. Thanks and great work!
    But I’m just confused
    1 if our desire is to have a light,portable compact camera, then why we just go for the nex7 instead of many other options like Oly EP3,GF3or even 5N, regarding to the bigger body and larger lens? Why we get a real DLSR like D700 or 5D2+ big lens?
    2 Well IQ is almost the 1th consideration of many enthusiasts of buying a compact camera, is there a huge advantage of NEX7 over the others (mentioned above)?
    3 Comparing the price +the invests followed by lenses, which seems not as good and compact as the M4/3 system or Pana pansright now, Why we put a big budget into a NEX7, without awaring it could be a deep hole with no end to invest some leica or VC lenses?
    I really love and enjoy reading your reviews and DI, which has always been funny and inspired. Keep going Steve. THX.

  108. Brian, I certainly am not Steve but I can speak to the K5 vs any Nex., I owned the original NEX5 and I presently own the Pentax K-5 AND Nikon D7000 if this is the K5 you speak of. Though the Nex 7 is a bit bigger than the Nex5, it’s going to be MUCH easier to take around than the K-5 overall. Yes it’s dopey they make a tiny body and then you slap a lens on that makes the camera too big too be pocketable. But still overall the NEX will be a much smaller lighter camera to have WITH you. That said, I LOVE my K-5 and am not expecting any NEX to quite equal it in overall picture quality. Oddly my K-5 is not THAT much smaller than the Nikon D7000 but somehow feels way lighter and smaller it has SUPER ergonomics. It is certainly a camera to consider if you don’t mind the extra bulk/weight. It also has built in Pixel mapping which I love. Still nobody has mentioned if the NEX7 can do incremental ISO that’s big for me..or the lack OF (NEX)

    Though I pre-ordered the NEX7 like many I suspect? Later will tire of the too many UNNEEDED pixels on this camera, and once you get bored with the 7 many may opt for a BETTER OVERALL camera in a K-5 etc. and or a truly more pocketable camera be it the new Fuji x10, an EP3 or the GF3 which is really SMALL and takes great pics. Well what do I know…:) Just my opinion here, as I own a ton of cameras already including the X100 my favorite all around camera I will NEVER sell.
    The NEX is neither pocketable OR huge OR gonna equal a K-5/D7000 I don’t believe…even I ordered it I’m not sure WHAT it is BUT I HAVE to have it. I’m a gear head I guess. PLUS I do love photography obviously.

  109. Steve, nice review (and thanks for doing it) but…

    “Not clinically sharp?” You’re going to give it a pass? It costs $1000 and is the size of a VW Bus. It should damn well be clinically sharp. The 16mm pancake can be forgiven for not being sharp, given its price and size…but the 24/1.8? No way. That thing should be no less than fantastic. Hell, my Canon Nifty Fifty is clinically sharp stopped down, and it cost me $80.

    Of all of the things I’ve read about the new Sony stuff, the quality of the 24/1.8 is probably the most disappointing. I so want to want a NEX-7, because it fits pretty much every one of my desires in a camera, but it’s looking more and more like there are NO native lenses worth owning. I can’t afford Leica glass, and even then the adapter adds an annoying amount of bulk to the camera.

    Steve, can you do the World a favor and do a similar write-up on the Samsung NX200 (or better yet, the impending NX20) when it comes out, preferably using the 30mm pancake? If Samsung can improve its sensors, it will be leagues ahead of the other mirrorless manufacturers. My NX100/30mm combo was super cheap and is just FANTASTIC pound-for-pound. But nobody in the review-o-sphere gives NX a lick of credit!

    • Clinically sharp is not always a good thing. Not to me at least, and NO, the copy of the 24 I have with me here is not clinically sharp. It’s more “smooth” than razor glad sharp. One reason I use classic Leica glass sometimes as I do not always want brutal sharp. That would make the lens awful for portraits. The lens is indeed sharp, like I said in the review “don’t get me wrong” but it is not CLINICALLY sharp, and for that I am glad. 🙂

      • Thanks for responding! I do understand the point about super-sharp not always being a good thing…but do you truly believe that the lens has enough “character” to make up for its mild softness? If so, I suppose I can’t write it off just yet. I await more sample shots!

      • I find that comment strange, since I thought the one thing Zeiss lenses were supposed to deliver was “sharpness” – they always designed to an MTF. In comparison, Leica designed for tonality, micro contrast and gave a smoother look.

        But now you tell us the ZA 24 looks smooth… hmmm

  110. Am I the only one who thinks the bokeh in the parrot shot with the Leica lens is horrible? I guess not everything that has Leica printed on it is (still) good (today).
    For me, this combo really isn’t something to crave.

    • The Bokeh of the cheap 50 Summitar, a lens from 1942, is very crazy. It’s not something you want to use every day but it can add a unique look to some images. I reviewed this lens TWICE on this blog so all the info is here (review index lists it). Stopped down to f/4 the lens is really sharp. At f/2 and 2.8 it’s softer with a sort of good and crazy weird Bokeh. I was not showing that shot to say “oh, look at the Bokeh, its gorgeous”! I showed it just because it was a shot taken with an old Leica lens wide open. 🙂 The old lenses like this one and a few others are NOT for everyone, but they are also $250-$300 for good copies. Not the $3000 – $4000 of todays Leica lenses.

  111. Thanks for producing a very hands on review. Compared to the Ricoh GXR mount I found the 5N’s sensor superior at ISO100, esp. in the shadows and cleaned up well with little noise, incredible features, flip LCD and good price. However, the lack of angled micro lenses at the sensors edge produced corner softness when coupled with wide lenses. The angled micro lenses in the GXR is a strong enough reason to buy over the Sony NEX and mFT with anything wider than 35mm Leica M lenses. And, along with the Ricoh’s micro contrast, sharpness of the images due to the lack of an AA filter is amazing.

    • Ive been shooting a 15, 21, 24 and 35 on both the GXR and NEX-7. The 15 is awful on the NEX-7 with the red sides and corners. The GXR is much better and does not have these issues. The 24 on the other hand, I have been preferring the Sony output and have not found any lack of sharpness. Neither IMO get to M8 territory in reality so if you are not a night or high ISO shooter an M8 would still be a better choice for Leica glass IMO.

    • Steve, I’d really like to know this too. We are about to buy the Nex-vg20 at work. We need a secondary camera for coverage and for interview situations. A Vg20 AND a Nex 7 will break the bank, but I need more than 20 minutes of shooting before overheating as is a problem on the Sony A Series cameras. If you didn’t note any overheating, I’ll just go for two of the Nex 7’s. With a microphone input, I can get high quality audio into the camera. It is only missing the headphone jack which I can work around by monitoring through the wireless mic receiver.

      Awesome review. If you were to add to it, I’d love to see more on the video front. Is this a Canon 5D Mark II killer at a fraction of the price and will we see it popping up at film schools everywhere shortly? One small change to the review…I imagine the video on the Nex 7 compares favorably with $3000 camcorders. Anything for $1000 bucks wouldn’t be capable of depth of field, the indie filmakers most prized capability (and going corporate shortly). The Nex VG20 goes for $2199 and is the first of it’s kind with 24P AND a large sensor anywhere near this price point.

  112. Steve, Your writings are always informative. The question I have is this: when it comes to size, shutter lag, quality of lens availability and viewfinder, how does the Nex7 compare to the K5? Last year you raved about the K5 and now we have the Nex7. I haven’t seen the exact size and weight specs on the Sony so what’s the comparison? Is it even a fair comparison? Thanks.

  113. Hi Emily,
    My advice is to enjoy your EP3. I have an EPL1 and I haven’t had any desire to throw away big chunks of money on newer cameras. I’m very happy with its image quality and size and weight.

    The Nex 7 is big with its lenses, the image quality seems uninspiring, its going to be slow to process on your computer with 24m pixels (especially in raw), and the high ISO performance doesn’t look all that much better than the EP3’s (maybe a stop or less). I don’t see what great advantages it will give you, and frankly I think that after people here get over the usual new camera mania, they will look at it more objectively. I think that is just starting to happen with the X100. Kirk Tuck has a great blog piece on why we feel the need to keep buying new cameras and how the camera companies have convinced us that we have to have the system that is in vogue at the moment.
    Good luck.

    • Jeff,
      thanks so much for your honest opinion and for taking the time to leave it here. it is very helpful and reassuring. i actually just took a look at the nex 5 while i was at best buy for other reasons and was totally not into the body just to start with. i know they’ve increased the body size for the 7 but the 5 seemed totally a super compact camera with a lens on steroids. based on what i’ve seen in store of the e-p3 it seems like a really fun camera, very user friendly..something that makes you want to try new things and take pictures. also based on names alone, it seems that it’s usually always better to go with a tried and true camera brand rather than a company that spreads themselves all over the electronics market as sony does. also, the fact that sony won’t sell through the local mom and pop camera store because they’re volume isn’t high enough is just sad and alienating. thanks for the other link as well, i will give it a read. it’s all too easy to get caught up in the numbers…12 mp vs. 24 mp. is it really that much better for all hype to get you to buy. thanks again, i needed to hear some kind e-p3 words (even though 2 guys at my local camera shop tell me it’s an awesome camera).

      • Emily – Just to piggyback on this exchange, I think you’re making the right decision. M4/3 isn’t going anywhere for a while (though who knows in the slightly longer-term), and it’s a far more mature SYSTEM than NEX. Tons of lens options (the Panny 20mm alone kind of blows the Sony system out of the water, as apparently does the new Oly 45mm), much smaller overall size, and IBIS. In my opinion, until Sony can wrangle up some smaller lenses, there’s virtually no benefit to the NEX-7 over a dSLR except for styling (which is admittedly great). Yes, the 7 is smaller than a dSLR, but with a lens it isn’t smaller enough to make a meaningful difference in how you carry it around. The E-P3 however, is!

  114. thanks for this conversation. i literally bought the e-p3 yesterday and still have it in the box wondering if i made the right decision. i’m so so torn… should i wait for the nex 7 in hopes of spending a couple hundred more for a higher performance camera. i’m in the same boat, would like a camera that could be used for more artistic purposes with good quality but also be able to get a lot of use around town and the house. i really need someone to just tell me what to do!! i’d hate to invest in a system that everyone feel is on the way out. i need some e-p3 cheerleaders here or a devil sitting on the other shoulder telling me to wait for the nex 7. .

  115. Love your site Steve and always refer to it before purchasing equipment. I am undecided between the EP3 NEX5N NEX7. I have a couple nice M lenses and am leaning towards the NEX to be able to use the M’s. I am not a professional and just want a camera that I will not feel the need to upgrade a year from now. I have the 7 on pre-order (linked from this site) but am getting anxious and to get a camera back in my hands. What would you think for an amateur (but enthusiastic) photographer, ease of use of the EP3 (with the 12) or the NEX with the ability to use my M’s?

  116. as always a very good read with lots of info from real shooters perspective …so thanks,,,
    im a micro 43 adapted glass shooter who uses that gear alot less since getting the x100 and the m mount module, i would love to see more head to head comparisons between various adapted glass shot on the nex 7 the gxr mount and the 5n in a futurre article ,

    do you think that id get more out of my glass using the ep3 vs the ep1 i have now, how much betteris the latter sensor?

    im a recent subscriber to reid reviews , your insights are no less enjoyable to me

  117. Is the electronic level in the Nex-7 visible in the evf ? Does the 5n have an electronic level ?

    I’m finding it difficult to actually find a complete list of differences between the 7 and 5n; to be honest the 7 looks pretty nifty but as others have noted I sort of wish they went with the sensor in the 5n.

  118. I still ask,.with all the customization that the NEX-7 offers, it can’t do simple “incremental” ISO???
    EVERY full sized DSLR cheap or otherwise CAN, or even an S95, LX5, XZ-1 can do this. Can’t do incremental ISO on the NEX,? or can it? Thx!

  119. Steve, when you have a chance will you re-review every lens you ever reviewed, and then review every lens ever made on the Nex-7? Thanks!

  120. Steve, thank you so much for this awesome review. If the NEX5 is a monster, NEX7 will probably eat it’s little brother for lunch! But…

    I pre-ordered the camera the first day it became available on Amazon, judging from your review, this is truely a very well thought out camera by Sony and I love the Zeiss and NEX7 combination. However, I’m not too hot with the images taken with the kit 50mm. It’s rendering is just… that… nothing that speaks to me in a organic way like the Zeiss did. Can’t pin down what tho, maybe should I just say “flat” is the word.

    I only wish this review has more samples taken with a 50mm Summilux or a 35 Summilux or a modern day cron.

    After reading your review, I’m now from can’t wait to get the NEX7 down to not so hot to get the camera. Still want to have it but now I’m more leaning towards a NEX5n, for it’s hight ISO performance. Since i’m looking for a back up to my M9 where I need uber video via adapter with the tiny 28mm ASPH Elmarit(Love the Zeiss, but it’s too big and too expensive imo for what it is) and not to worry about 10k+ worth of gear over my neck. Like you said, if only NEX7 has the same sensor of a NEX5n… oh well, in life you just can’t have everything can you.

  121. Watched the overview video 18mins, during the 18mins video, the battery of the nex7 down from 15% to 6%… looklike this camera need a much bigger battery : (, not sure why this camera has been rate able to do 400 shots.

    • I know there are at least a few cuts happening in that video, I’m not sure how long it took for Steve to shoot that video.

      I’m sure if they say it’s rated for 400 shots, then it’s rated for at least close to that, there’s no way that the battery will barely last 3 hours, like if we assumed each 1% is 2 mins, from the video…

      That said, I’d be curious to know how much time it took to shoot the video.

      • That video was shot over an hour or so with the LCD on most of the time. Don’t go by the video for the battery life, please. I had no issues with the battery life at all. Shot all night with one battery and still had juice left.

  122. The comparison with the Ricoh GXR is curious, not the least because one has an older generation 12 MP sensor, while the other has the latest generation 24 MP sensor. I would expect the NEX 7 to come out ahead in IQ. It is rumored that Ricoh will be introducing a new GXR body within the next year, and who knows if there will be upgraded modules/sensors as well? Ricoh is renowned for excellent ergonomics, certainly better than Sony’s. The Pentax-Ricoh merger may bring some interesting products.

  123. he says the ep3 its not far behind the nex7 in terms of high iso?
    That’s just plain wrong, the nex7 is a massive step ahead with high iso.

    Tge ep3 is great but that statement is wrong.

    Ty for the review 🙂

  124. Thank you and congratulation for this exclusive review. A little angel (devil) on my shoulder was telling me to get the Nex7. I already have a Nikon D700 and a Panasonic GF1 with several lenses. i am very happy with these 2 cameras. I also have a Fuji X100 that the same devil told me to buy and don’t like it at all. Great image but not suited to my style of photography (street photography with the camera always on to get whatever happens in a snap: the Fuji is always sleeping and 35mm equivalent is too long for me (prefer 20 and 24 mm equivalent). Based on your review, I can appreciate the excitement of having a camera like the Nex7 (especially the integrated EVF). However, because of the size of the lenses, I think that I will stay with my GF1 until they propose a model with integrated EVF (according to rumors it is not going to be the GX1, so I will wait…).

  125. Hi Steve,
    Bought the 5n a couple of weeks ago and did some searching on photoshop raw converters and if you have cs5, it looks like there is an updated plugin that will at least process the 5n (and I’m assuming the 7):

    Unfortunately I’m still stuck on cs3 so I have to live with the painfully slow sony software.
    Thanks for the 7 review, it didn’t make me regret my 5n purchase too much. Can’t wait for the side by side comparison.

  126. Another excellent review. Currently i have the NEX-5N(Which i absolutely love) with the optional viewfinder which is great too. the ONLY thing lacking is support for a 3rd party microphone. i used the NEX-5N twice now at concerts, while the video is superb the audio is clipping like hell. I don’t think the Sony external microphone will be the solution here as there’s no way to set the input levels.

    I know the NEX-7 has an input for a normal 3.5mm jack mic(hurray!) Can you tell me if there’s an option to set the input levels somewhere? If not, that’s not a huge deal breaker as a lot of mics have their own adjustments. Still would be nice though 🙂

  127. Hello Steve,
    Enjoyed your review thoroughly. Just a thought on the ISO performance, that you may like to investigate if you wish to …
    Since you are comparing a 16MP sensor (5N) with a 24MP (7), I feel that the comparison should contain 2 aspects. This is desirable whenever comparing across sensors with different resolutions. The first test should compare noise via 100% crops @ NATIVE/FULL resolution (which you have done). The second test should again compare noise via 100% crops, however this time the crop from the higher resolution image should be taken AFTER RESIZING down to the lower res. image. This will tell us how the noise will look like when both images are viewed at the same PHYSICAL DIMENSIONS.
    Again, thank you for the review. It was wonderful. Have a nice day.

  128. hi steve

    i just got a email from uk digital,,,,, We are advised that the flood problems have had an impact on production but only to a relatively small amount. Sony say that the launch date is still appropriate and that there will be fewer cameras available than originally planned. However at this time cannot advise of the numbers. They have stressed that if customers require a camera that they order it asap.
    UK Digital
    seems like the nex7 camera is still being released in the uk as stated on there wesite and others to sony uk still says november to as dows were i have ordered my nex 7 they said november 7th its a bit confussing ya oh well we wait and see mate i will let you know if and when we get it here in the uk

  129. I think Camera manufactures lose their minds once they get one good product out. Once they get something really good, just hold on to it and make it even better by only fixing the things which are not good or needed. That’s what you think people would normally do. Make what you have into a perfect or the best and then go to the next level.
    Making drastic changes trying to go higher and higher with no good results to me is insane. Nex 5 had very good Image Quality which made history and changed a lot in world of photography, which is made even better with 5n. They should keep that excellent image quality and work on fast Auto-Focus , more Accurate Color reproduction like in x100 or better, more accurate White-Balance, Better or higher Contrast ratio, better Low Light performance. Work on better Lenses may be. To get more realistic pictures with better 3D pop with No flash or any other assist lights. Try and work on getting pictures, where people feel they can touch the person or the object in the picture they are seeing.
    Canon I think is getting the Point, there new cameras or more focused on Image Quality and Low Light performance, and not on Megapixels. The new 1Dx is down to 18megapix and new Sx40HS is down to 12megapix. If Sony is making the Sensor for Nikon D3s which is the best DSLR ever, can’t they put the similar quality big sensor in Nex 7 with same great performance in a small body which people love.
    People love the small size and light body of Nex series, very easy and convenient to carry. This small body combined with Performance of D3s will be the epic or the ultimate photographers dream. No matter how much a photographer will love his work, he will be tiered after sometime carrying big heavy gears. If cameras are small and convenient, every photographer for sure will shoot few more pictures. I am sure Steve will definitely agree with this.

  130. Can you comment on 5n vs 7 image quality up to 1600 ISO. I realize from your very informative review that the 5n sensor has less noise but how about colour fidelity, tonal range and dynamic range ?

    I.e, 90% you shot at iso 100 and 5% 400 and 5% >= 1600 is there much of a difference in image quality ?

  131. Hi Steve, thanks for your great review, very detailed and helpful. I was quite excited about the camera, but had a couple of questions on its operation that weren’t covered in the review and weren’t listed on the Sony web site. So, asked their support email address. I got a very curt response from them, not at all helpful, basically telling me that they don’t discuss specs for unreleased products. Wow!, given the level of detail they do have on the camera already, and what with reviews like yours, this was really quite a slap in the face. Will think twice now.

  132. Hi Steve,
    i think you would “earn” more money if you add some amazon stores from europe (or do you have to have a contract with them?) … Before you are going to throw your Nex7 into the trash, stop by @ my home and hand it over to me 😉

    Thx for that great review

  133. Nice review and write up

    The thing that bugs me most about the NEX7 aside from its cost is that the camera itself is compact but the lenses are not and why someone would want buy an adapter so that they can stick a leica lens on it I find a little silly, if you want to use leica lenses and an M9 is out of your price range then either buy a film M camera or a used M8 (which sell used for around the same price as the NEX7)

    so many people complained about the 1.3 crop sensor of the M8 but then its ok for a x1.5 or a x2
    crop sensor, why spend so much money on leica glass only to use it on a NEX7, GXR or M4/3rds, whats the point, those leica lenses are not designed to be used on those cameras so you’ll get nothing close to their true potential.

    I just fail to see any advantage that the NEX7 has over say a Canon 600D or a Nikon D3100

      • I am inclined to agree. The NEX-5 was a combination of tiny body and comparatively large APS-C sized kit zoom, which I didn’t find nice to handle. Whilst using adapted lenses such as M mount means smaller lenses, the APS-C format means a 1.5x crop, and turns expensive wide angle lenses into rather “normal” lengths, without the convenience of AF. Whilst I understand many users like the ability to use their legacy lenses on a relatively affordable body, they are not “mainstream” users (=volume), and the lack of compact lenses on a system which has been mercilessly marketed for it’s small size just doesn’t make much sense to me. By insisting on making the NEX camera bodies so small, Sony have sacrificed smaller lenses, anti shake, a built in flash (not the 7) etc. I am keen to take a look at the NEX 7 to see how well it addresses some of the handling issues of the other NEX bodies, but I still don’t think the lens choice is good for a second small system camera. I think what many of us would like is a “normal” fast prime of compact size, and they simply don’t have one. I am sure the ZA 24mm is optically good, but it’s not small, and in the UK at least it’s damn expensive – it makes the NEX 7 and ZA 24mm about twice the price of a Fuji X100, which I think is a tough sell. Of course, the NEX 7 will appeal to what I think are in some way Sony’s target customers, the “techno-fascists”, because iit has lots of headline grabbing stats and features, rather than necessarily having great photographic performance or being a tool that photographers like – although it appears to be by far their best NEX yet for ergonomics.

        • Can’t agree more.

          It is curious to use my 60 year old 35 and 50 Summicrons on the NEX5 which are surisingly compact in comparison to the NEX lenses. But even with peaking, manual focus is a pain. Perhaps they are optically better than the kit zoom, but lack of OIS and AF often means a lost or blurred image. Under no circumstances I would buy a Leica or other manual lens for use on the NEX.

          It is weird that small Leica is cranking out new super-fast wide-angle lenses, new generations of 35 and 50 Summilux nobody was missing whilst at the same time giant Sony has problems to manufacture a 50/2 equivalent for NEX. Perhaps Sony management only sees the consumers who just stick to the kit zoom.

          • I think the inadequacies of the E mount (NEX) lens range is best bourne out by selling the NEX-7 in a kit with the 18-55mm kit zoom. It’s not a “bad” lens, but the outer field is quite soft even when stopped down, and although I have heard central resolution is more than adequate for 24Mp, it doesn’t feel like the ideal standard zoom for the NEX-7. However, they don’t have any alternative to offer customers.

            The Sony “lens roadmap” for NEX (and Alpha!) has some obvious gaps that currently they offer no way to fill, beyond using Alpha mount lenses with the E-to-A adaptor (somewhat defeating the point of the small camera).

            Surely anyone who was a photographer would realise that you need a decent quality standard zoom, a fast standard prime, a portrait prime, a variable aperture low cost tele zoom, and maybe something a bit wider. If the registration distance of the E mount is one of the reasons this has not been possible at reasonable size and cost, then frankly they should have thought of that 2 years ago.

            Whilst the ZA 24mm is probalby very good, I personally think the price is too high for a wide standard prime on the NEX system, and too big.

          • Portrait prime is done, 1.8/50. Fast standard prime is not done. I don’t count the 3.5/30 macro. Panasonic does 14 and 20mm pancakes for MFT which are very good, albeit not to Zeiss or Leica standards.

            I just read the the A77 review on DP Review. My conclusion for the NEX7: 24 megapixees is too much, none of the NEX zoom lenses and even less the 2.8/16 can make use of it.

            Better stick to the 16 MP NEX 5 (N). In fact I prefer its “clean” user interface over the zillion buttons and dials on the NEX7 (and on many DSLRs). As an amateur, I spend more time carrying the camera than shooting with it. We should not complain that some features are “hidden” deep in a menu. Back in the days of film, the only way to change ISO, B&W/colour or filters was to change rolls, eventually waste some remaining shots, carry a second body and sets of glass filters for various front lens diameters. We should not complain that AF is slow or at times hunting, because it is still faster than manual focus.

            NEX7 specs are driven by those who still believe in the megapixel race, and the glory of the Zeiss brand. The user interface copies “pro” DSLRs, but the lense range targets “consumers”. Bulky lenses partially waste the advantage of E-Mount over DSLRs.

            Back in the 70s many press photogs continued to carry a Leica M with 35mm along with their Nikon F gear. Fuji today fills that gap with the X100. NEX7 with 1.8/24 likely has better IQ, but double price and a only limited range of interchangeable lenses.

          • I agree on the sensor. I would shave preferred the 16 of the NEX-5n but only due to file sizes, nothing more. Im posting a high ISO side by side of the 5n and 7 this week, and they are not really that far off in that respect. As for the “clean” interface of the 5n, it is not any cleaner than the 7 and the 7 is MUCH more intuitive to use. The 7 can be called a “Photographers Camera” for those who like external controls (like me and many here). It’s a joy to use, the quality is just as good as the 5n for 99% of photos and shooting manual glass is a JOY on this camera due to its built in EVF and peaking. It really is a no brainer over the 5n if you are buying the EVF for the 5n. For $150 more you get the NEX-7 and that would be my choice after shooting both extensively. If you are not interested in an EVF, stick with the 5n. (If you are considering Sony that is).

          • Not wishing to start any arguments, for me the 50mm is a little too short for a portrait lens, something equivalent to the 85-135mm would have been nicer. Face portraits with a 75mm tend to distort facial geometry a little. The lack of a fast standard lens and a quality zoom and obvious and very dumb holes in the line-up, with no plans to fill in the near future.

            I can’t agree with you about the NEX-5, I owned one and the user interface drove me crazy – every time you wanted to change ISO or colour profile or DRO settings or anything, you spent 3 minutes fiddling in the menus trying to remember when Sony had hidden the option. Dedicated buttons is a big step forward for me, although without seeing the NEX-7 I am not sure it could have done with a couple more buttons for common options. The lack of a viewfinder on the other NEX cameras is also a deal killer for me, and adding one is too expensive in my opinion.

            The NEX-5 AF was pretty poor in low light, it would AF slowly and confirm, only to turn out it had totally mis-focused. Even using face detertion mode, it would ahppily put a green square around someones face and then when you reviewed the picture, the background 2 or 3 meters behind them was in clear focus. It really didn’t seem that good on the NEX-5, can’t comment on the newer cameras but I doubt it is greatly improved.

            I do think the NEX-7 is typical Sony “techno-fascist” spec sheet – more of everything and higher numbers equals a better camera, although it does appear they have made something with photographers in mind this time (unlike the 3s and 5s). Given that the pixel density is about the same as micro 4/3rds 12Mp, which all enthusiast photographers decry as “too small”, I wonder if the NEX-7 sensor will be “too small” for it’s pexel count too. I can’t say the performance at higher ISO (by that, I mean 800 and above) has blown me away compared to the best in the class, such as the X100.

    • Some people like the idea of using manual, compact lenses. Leica lenses are fairly small in comparison to SLR lenses and as Steve has pointed out, they create a nice 3D effect on the Nex 7 while the Sony lenses don’t. I am not sure if you can get a M8 for 1200 bucks. So far they are closer to 2k used. The Nex is a great camera for people who already have Leica, Zeiss, or CV lenses. Nice backup and great to do video, which you can’t do with a M. I know several people who use the Nex 5 with Leica lenses and they love it. It is a small set and it feels like a camera. It is hard to see the difference without actually trying it.

      • I have tried it, I owned a NEX5 for quite awhile, it allowed me to use my Zeiss G lenses on a digital body but I didn’t find the effort worth it in the end.

        I’ve no doubt that the NEX7 is a great camera and if you stick something compact like a CV 35 or 40 f1.4 on it then its still quite compact but again the lens isn’t designed to be used with it.

        I’ve seen plenty of fast DSLR lenses render a nice 3D look

    • Used M8’s are $2-$2600 – NEX is $1199 – so they are double the cost which is a big difference to many people. NEX will give you better low light performance but will not give you that crisp M8 look.

      • Current UK pre-order NEX7 body only price is 1K, used M8’s sell on ebay for as little as £1100, even some camera shopts sell them for around £1300 with warranty, so while not the same there isn’t that greater difference in price.

        yes lowlight would be much better, I never even liked using my M8 at iso 640

        fingers crossed for a full frame NEX next year, I’ll get one if only so I can use my Zeiss G lenses

      • Nothing is perfect, even Leica. We just pick what we can afford. Some people have old lenses, if they can find some solution to make it alive, why not. At least NEX is a good solution for that up to now.
        Thanks Steve for your review, great job!!

  134. Thanks Steve for all the work you do on your blog.

    I have a question about colors: I know you like the Olympus colors , how do you like the NEX colors?
    generally, and more specifically skin tones?


    • Well, to be 100% honest, I prefer the colors from the Olympus E-P3 and Fuji X100. Sony colors ALWAYS have been a bit drab out of the camera if shooting JPEG. I always used the term “dirty” which basically means the colors are a bit off IMO. But shooting RAW solves that as you can tweak away.

  135. Steve, thanks great review.We can only request you now, since you still have Nex 7 with you.
    The MOST WANTED side by side COMPARISON of Nex 5n with Nex 7. Compare side by side shoots of the same situation, same lens. Try add Sony 18-200mm in the comparison. More of kit lens 18-55mm. Compare low light, IQ, 3D pop, what ever that means.

    When this is done it will be the first ever hands-on comparison review on the net or print. That’s something to talk about. Keep up the good work.

  136. I never understood the interest in Leica Tri-Elmars. Slow and small zoom range. Sony’s SEL 18-55 OIS costs only $150 more, and almost covers the range of both Tri-Elmars. In many situations OIS and AF will do more for image quality than the Tri-Elmars’ superior performance on a test bench.

  137. Sony again proved that they have great engineering skills and poor marketing that goes against the users wishes because they “know better”.(remember how long it took them to drop the memory stick or to recognize that interlanced video is not optimal for all progressive devices in this time of age?). How did they blow it this time?
    1. They should have used the 5N sensor.
    2. They should have not force on everybody throat that hated AVCHD video format.
    3. For once that should polish their JPEG algorithms to mach Canon, Nikon & Olympus
    4. They should put the phase detect AF on the main sensor instead of the pellicle mirror solution that will go on the same history lane like the memory stick.
    5. They should have come out with some decent fast pancakes lenses that don’t make the all assembly look like an astronomic telescope.

  138. I bet Mrs. State Fair had no idea that she would hold center stage for the most anticipated camera of the year review. : )

  139. Thanks for the impressive review.
    I’d like to say that two really important things are missing:

    – A video aliasing/moirè comparison with Nex-5n (some reviews point out that Nex-5n has still horrible moirè, making it far from GH2 for serious stuff, is the NEX-7 the same?). That’s a really big point in video features!

    – A high iso – lowlight comparison with Nex-5n (one shot is enough) just to understand how much is “little worse”

  140. Those, including myself, complaining about lack of lenses for Sony E-Mount should realize that after several years of APS-C DSLRs, there are ony two fast standard primes (Sigma 1.4/30 and Nikon 1.8). For a fast wideangle there is no other choice than the huge 1.4/24 for full frame. Apparently manufactures don’t see a significant demand to justify a special design for APS-C. Remember, 50 million Canon EOS bodies made, but only 70 million EF lenses. The majority of customers just stick to the kit zoom.

    So lets thank Sony for the 1.8/24 and even for the cheesy 2.8/16.

    APS-C DSLRs are dirt cheap nowadays, almost cheaper than the new LA-EA2 adapter, with lots of cheap lenses. Hence I don’t see a need for long tele, macro or 15-300mm zoom lenses for E-Mount. NEX is todays Leica-M. Both excel with short to medium focal lengths.

  141. Is a great camera that I m looking forward to get my hand on it.
    Could you recommend a good nikon adaptor to go with the nex-7?
    Thanks for the great review. Cheers!

  142. great review Steve but can you compare AF speed vs Panasonic GH2 ? would it be possible to use intervalometer with NEX7 ?

  143. Nice review Steve. One of the things that you have mentioned is the lack of glasses and that is a common complaint made by all against the NEX series. But I personally feel that with the introduction of the EA2 adapter, wherein you can use all the A-mount lenses negates this negative aspect. What people forget is that the Sony A mount has some amazing lenses courtesy of Minolta, Zeiss and Sony itself and we are talking AF here.

  144. Hi Steve,

    I think more people would be interested in a comparison between the X100 and the NEX-7+24mm Zeiss. As different as these cameras are, many are deciding between these two setups.

  145. I’ve been waiting for this review from the moment you announced you’ve got the NEX7 to try. So a big thank’s for the review.

    I’m very insterested in to use NEX7 with my Leica lenses, do you see any difficulties using NEX7 with Leica WATE and/or MATE?

  146. Is it weird that I now am thinking harder about the gxr?

    The only bummer is the focus peaking letdown.

    Funny thing though. I never see any for sale used.

    • You know the saying, “never sell a Leica”. The same applies to Ricohs. They always make you come back, that’s the reason they do not show up in the buy/sell sections.

      • Really? I see a quite a few X1 for sale these days and I’m sure the sellers wants to add two zeros to the end of the name 🙂

  147. Wonderful and honest review, Steve. While I continue to be thrilled with the GXR, I’ll certainly give the NEX7 a spin once they are available…..

  148. enjoyed your review. does the nex-7 have a good manual or is most of it on a cd ? i ordered one from sony and they assured me i will have it on 11 nov and the thailand situation would not affect my shipment date.
    thanks again for your review, fred

  149. Thank you so much for posting a real world useability review. It is without a doubt able to take great photos, previous Nex cameras have shown that but what was missing from seeing photos and reading peoples opinions on the noise ratio and blah blah blah was what it would feel like in hand and out of many gear reviewers out there I always come back to you for a feel of what a camera would be like to hold. I have loved my Nex-5 but this 7 just looks to be on an entirely different level and might just give me the feel I have been wanting without going the full dSLR. I now cannot wait to hold on in hand but with the floods in Thailand, it looks like it will have to be a birthday present to myself next year instead of a Christmas present.



  150. Have you compared nex 18-55 24mm with Zeiss 24/1.8? The 24mm on 18-55 at F5.6 is really sharp from my point of view. Thanks.

  151. WOW, Wow, wow!!! Your review was well worth the wait, and is a nice cap to my weekend as I lie reading it on my iPhone 4. Thank you Steve very much, you are much appreciated. I just turned another photojournalist on to your site also considering the NEX system with an up up omng trip to Haiti. Sincerely, Craig ( I’m a long-time newspaper photojournalist and have always wanted an M Leica but they’ve always been out of my reach. I long to experience first hand what you are talking about with the Leica “glow” and 3D look but for right now I’m going to have to go with the affordable Sony NEX. Thanks!

  152. Hi Steve,
    What’s your opinion on the standard kit zoom lens that comes with NEX-7?
    Just read one line about it in your conclusion as you focused more on the 24 and 50. Thanks.

  153. Looks like a killer system, great images from the 7. Thanks again for such a great review Steve. It still sounds like you like the E-P3 more in the comparison though, I guess everyone like a sexy camera :).

  154. Ok guys…working out a way (possibly, will know for sure by tomorrow) to get a hold of three wide Leica lenses this week to do testing with them on the NEX-7 and GXR. Also a 5n body to do the ISO comparison which will show both files from RAW with no NR, then a downsized 5n file to 12MP. As soon as I get this worked out (if indeed I do) I will post the details tomorrow. Then by the end of the week I would have the tests done and posted. This is not yet 100% but I think I can get it worked out, just waiting for a confirmation.

    • Whoaaa this review just gets better and better,
      Steve, it would be great if you could downsize the nex-7 24mp to 16mp and compare to 5N (both RAW, same software)

      Also i wonder if the NEX-7 Microlens are more suitable and will show better corner performance on M or other RF lens.

      Thanks for your work, hope this site will keep growing!

    • It would be great to compare a Leica 24mm lens to the new Zeiss/Sony prime in terms of sharpness, mico-contrast, etc.

      I’d be interested is corner color shift & smearing — the usual anomaly using wide angle lenses on the older Nex’s.

      Also perhaps someone could loan Steve a Voightlander Superwide Heliar Asph II 15mm!!!

  155. Steve, Thanks for the review…I thought you did a fantastic job in a REAL world review..not just shooting a bunch of dead manikins in a controlled studio situation. I have one simple question that I can never find an answer for. As discussed, the NEX-7’s high ISO capability sounds GOOD but not great. I owned the original NEX-5 which I eventualy sold to buy an X100 and…a Pentax K-5 blah blah blah. My question is can the NEX-7 do INCREMENTAL manual ISO ala 640/1000/1250 etc etc.? The 7 seems so customizable but it SEEMS from what I’ve read so far you can’t do set ISO I guess it’s in 1/3rd this true? In this case, with the 24meg sensor perhaps if ALL you need is 1000 iso but you HAVE to use 1600 etc.that would be a shame. Does anyone have an answer re: incremental ISO here? Far as I know NONE of the NEX cameras do this yet..Even a Canon S95 can do it but the NEX-7? Thanks.

  156. Steve,

    Te NEX7 has large 24MP files compared to the 16 from the 5n. I understand that the 7 High ISO performance is not as good as the 5n and I am sure that can be attributable to the relative difference in photo site sizes.

    If you resize the NEX7 high ISO files to match a 5n image, how does the performance compare?

    • See my comment above (number 70) re. relevance of 100% or ‘cropped’ comparison images. One thing I did not introduce in the reply to Jonathan (to keep it simple) was the obvious difference in sensor photo-site density between the two cameras.

      If photo-sites are physically smaller they will have to work harder to convert analog signals to digital ones. Larger sites (lower mp rating) may lose out in the pixel bragging race, but will (usually) generate far less signal to noise artefacts in images. The old ‘good’ mega-pixel v ‘bad’ (crowded) mega-pixel argument.

      If the sensor technology is equal, then the odds are that a lower mp camera will give smoother pictures, whilst higher mp gives noisier ones.

      Many 5D mk11 users reported little improvement in quality over the original 5D (i.e. it has smaller ‘noisier’ photo-sites) – although the Mk11’s bigger print capacity will minimise the effects of increased noise, as viewers will stand further back to take it in and image noise becomes less obvious.

      To be honest, JPEG internet comparison @ 72ppi screen resolution is a total waste of time – only real effect is in printed images at around 300dpi – coupled with viewing at appropriate distances. (Photos on massive billboards look rubbish at a couple of feet but look normal at 100yds)

  157. Great write up Steve I really appreciate your appraisal of gear and find this kind of write more useful to me that detailed specs. The camera has to work for me and be an extension of my mind. The closer we work together the better photos I take. Thanks again…

  158. Another awesome review Steve! Very enjoyable to read! I have been using M8 with 28/2.8 and 50/2 for half a year now and yes high ISO is the only thing i struggle now because that is the only camera I own and I do miss some low light shots… I have considered selling M8 and M6ttl and getting a used MP for the fun of RF and the perfect quality film camera and then a NEX-5N for all around and handling low light situations, do you think it is worth the investment? btw it is very hard to find a good quality fair price MP nowadays…. 🙂

  159. Well, the chroma noise in the “oldhomestead” image is quite evident, particularly in the gray siding boards of the house. Odd, because the original is a raw image exposed at ISO 100. Maybe it was the -1 exposure compensation? And funny again, the shadows on either side of the house look quite nice after opening in PS, though chroma noise is visible in the white bark and branches of the trees.

    Yeah, I’m pixel peeking but I chose that particular image to check because even at the article size, there’s something amiss with the image.

  160. I would love to see a video of focus peaking in action. Sounds interesting.
    I always enjoy your reviews and thanks for your opinion.
    I prefer the Olympus photos above but not really enough to make a decision of course. As a former EP2 owner I’m probably a little biased.
    Personally I would still rather have an EP2, 20mm and 7-14…haven’t tried EP3 but sounds even better.
    EP2 with 20 fits in a jacket or cargo short pocket. But I love gadgetry as much as the next guy so really jealous of the EVF, smoother video and stuff.

  161. Thanks for an awesome review Steve!

    The nex 7 and the Zeiss lens costs more than what I just paid for a brand new 5D mk2. And speaking of the 5D mk2 is the lightest full frame DSLR body. Plus I have some L glass laying around from the 5D days for it to utilize :P.

    I am actually glad I did not pre – order the Nex 7 and got the 5dmk2 instead. The camera is cool and all but it seems like there are more toys in it just like the A77 has. What happened to the days of A850 which was the photographers camera.

    So my portable camera is probably going to be the EP3 :P, but really don’t want to buy into another camera system. Maybe it is gonna be the new offering from Fuji or the X100. Hopefully it won’t be as buggy/broken like the one I purchased last spring…

  162. Great review Steve…I’m still undecided on upgrading my D80 (sent you an email with some questions). Do I wait and save up for an M9 in 3 years, M8 by end of year, or jump on one of these new Sony’s with the Zeiss 28mm and try out the Leica 35 1.4 as a “pseudo” 50mm lens for the NEX 7.

    • If you don’t mind the size get a used D700 – it is light years ahead of the D80 and M8 in IQ and usability and I think the price is almost the same an M8 house or even cheaper 🙂

  163. Hi Steve,

    Nice piece. Seems like a NEX 7 body with the 16 MP Sensor would be a nice machine (less pixels, better ISO noise, etc. but with the NEX body and control set). WIth hints of a an A66 being considered could an NEX 6 be far behind? (Oh how I wish!)

    In your review of the 5N, however, the shots taken with the Summilux were SPECTACULAR in terms of bokeh and sharpness. Any plans to shoot some with the NEX 7 for a comparison?


  164. I think that the Panasonic G3 would be a closer m4/3s comparison than the EP3. It has a very good EVF and a larger pixel count.

    I like the files of the Nex 7, but they need those fast, small primes that make the m4/3s attractive enough to forgo the small IQ advantage that the NEX 7 offers.

  165. Steve – great review
    Can’t wait for mine to arrive

    One point of contention though. When comparing high ISO performance, it is unfair to compare a 100% crop of the NEX-7 to the 100% crop of the NEX-5n. You are essentially blowing up the picture more on the NEX-7 and then surprised there is more more noise. A fair comparison would look at pictures of the same size and compare the noise. This would mean the 5n at 100% and the 7 at about 80%. The easier option is to print both very large and look at the actual prints. I believe that when printed at the same size both will have similar noise

    • That presumes you want two identically sized images – a ‘standard’ size print. What if you buy a 24mp camera because you do actually want/need bigger, i.e. largest size possible, prints? Exactly why many buyers want extra resolution ….

      The above 100% v 80% comparison argument then goes out of the window …. as both will need to be printed – and therefore viewed – at their 100% size.

      Any image artefacts will subsequently be present at their respective ‘native resolution’. The 100% crop IS a valid comparison – as not everyone wishes to effectively downsize to a smaller image than their equipment allows.

      • photozopia. – I agree partially. But to be fair, if I want to print at a particular size – lets say 24″ x 36″ and I plan on shooting in low light at ISO 6400.

        Then, I would like to see a comparison of each camera at that ISO at that size. So at 300 dpi, my file needs to be 7200 x 10,800, so I would have to upres my NEX 7 image by 1.8x.

        Now, my 5n would have to be uprezed by 2.4x.

        You can do the math for any image size you want, if you want to shoot 13×20 at 300 dpi, you do not need to upres the NEX-7, but the nex-5n will need a 1.3x upres.

        So, to be fair, if you want to see how your 13×20 300dpi images shot at iso 6400 will compare between the nex-7 and the nex-5n, you will have to upres the nex 5n, even if you do not want to down res the nex-7

        complicated answer to a simple problem

        • Not gonna disagree with the maths here, but the real issue is what works in real life usage?

          A higher pixel count on an identically sized sensor is (by the laws of current physics) always bound to be noisier than a less crowded one – but many would rather trade-off greater image size than upsize the results from a smaller sensor with better S/N performance – hence the megapixel wars.

          I’m in the ‘try it out and look at the results’ camp – I believe there are sweet spots in current sensor technology/photo-site size (e.g. about 12mp max on either APS or FF) giving pretty good results that are hard to improve upon in real absolute terms.

          Consequently, I’ve stuck with my older 5D (and bought a new X100) whilst others traded their’s in for ‘bigger, better’ cameras. I like the results I get … better than worrying about newer, higher specifications all the time.

          Many pros rue the day they dumped their older, low pixel, models – and now fail to achieve any significantly better results from newer cameras. Clients demanded big files – regardless of IQ – and the photo industry responded.

          Canon’s decision to ‘downgrade’ the former 1Ds marque to 18mp is an indication that they are now prioritising lower pixel count/larger photo-site sizes (and improved processing algorithms, no doubt) for better signal noise values.

          As ever, it’s never the number of pixels – it’s what you (or the camera) can do with them!

          • Agree with you on real life. I shoot a 5D classic and a Leica m8, both 10mp and have never had a problem printing big.

            However, there are people who want to print really big and then use loope to look at the pics. There are clients who want this as well. For these few – usually landscape photographers – higher MP makes sense.

            My bone of contention is that higher MP = more noise, something I have never seen realized in prints, but is a myth propagated by comparing noise at 100% crops.

    • The only video I shot is in the two samples posted, one at the fair and one at the aquarium. The only banding I saw was when shooting in certain light but that was most likely due to the shutter speed. Take a look at the videos and see – I suggest watching on youtube at 1080 and full screen.

  166. Like always great review! I currently have the NEX5N which i absolutely love and you answered all my concerns with sonys upcoming flagship. But for me, i will be waiting for perhaps the second generation NEX-7 (NEX-7N?) and just enjoy my 5N for the time being. Till then i will just invest in the 24mm 1.8 and 50mm 1.8 early next year and call it a day!

  167. Great review Steve, thanks for all your hard work.

    I have the Nex-7 and the Pentax K5 on my short list. I know they are different camera types but ignoring the size how do the two compare?

    Thanks, Railton.

      • Thanks for the reply, but you missed my question 🙂

        The Nex-7 looks great but would it be better to buy a DSLR (Pentax K5) if size is not a consideration?


    • Great review, Steve! I am strongly considering selling my Mint condition Pentax K-5 kit for the Sony NEX-7 as a “travel” alternative. Would you know which E-mount zoom is the sharpest, that would take full advantage of that sensor?

  168. Thanks for the review Steve, great food for thought. Just a few comments: In your review as before, you mention the Novoflex as the best Leica M to NEX adapter in terms of quality. I bought the RAYQUAL adapter, how does this differ from the Novoflex in terms of quality? I have been using the M mount sparingly so far, as I have a screw-in adapter on top of this which is what I use for most of my MF lenses. But in 1.5 years of use, I have seen no issues with it. Do you tend to have issues with the E part or M part after heavy use with the cheaper ones?

    Secondly, I miss the ISO settings on many pictures, and sometimes shutter speed. Can we agree on always supplying these 3 settings? 😉



  169. Hi Steve,

    I saw your comment “”“Canons new pro DSLR, the 1d-x has only 18MP and shoots 14FPS. Seems Canon may know that the MP race was starting to get out of hand.”

    and this has been reiterated quite a few times here. You surelly know tthat Canon and Nikon split their professional DSLRs into ones for photoreporters, sport and concert photographers requiring fast af and maximal iso performance like Canons 1dMKIV 1DX or Nikon D3S and ones with lots of megapixels like Nikon D3X and upcoming Canoon 1DSMKIV for studio photographers and landscape shooters.

    So what is exactly the point of comments like that? as with every professional tool photographers will choose camera that suits their style of work and photography.

    Also in the video you said couple of times that sonnar design means its not a very very sharp lens but then just gave vague statements without any detail. For example, Zeiss names every Zoom Vario-Sonnar without look on the optical design. Also Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 is a Sonnar and according to every single photographer using this lens-Freeman, Recihman to name just a few this is one of the sharpest SLR lenses ever made.

  170. Thanks, Steve, for the enthusiastic review. Read it this morning, and pulled the trigger to pre-order the “7” this afternoon. Despite the flooding in Thailand, and the possibility this camera might not be available for months, it was a no-brainer. I have legacy Zeiss glass (Contax G 28mm, 45mm, and 90mm prime lenses) and it looks like both the 5N and 7 have the microlenses that address the CA issues of the previous NEX models.

    Like yourself and many others, I wish the 7 had the 5N sensor. My question is: how does the smaller image size option work on the Nex7? It has a 12Mpixel and 6Mpixel option. If these used some sort of pixel binning in-camera, the hi-ISO results would be better. Like you said, 12 Mpixels is enough!

    Thanks again for the review. I greatly appreciate your gracious contributions to the community of enthusiasts out here.

  171. Really nice camera: well balanced, full featured. Eg, wish Olympus could get good video out of there cams!

    Wondering however if the NEX 7 should be compared to DSLR, rather than other mirrorless?

    Going by price and size (once you put a good lens on it) the NEX 7 just doesn’t sit in the same league as the EP3.

    I mean, come on: with lenses the NEX 7 is huge compared to the EP3 and X100. You could stack those 2 together and they would take up less room.

  172. I’ve enjoyed reading your review, and I think that the Nex 7 is a great camera.

    Once the other manufacturers catch up and provide some competition and more lenses come out- the end result will be a <$999 camera for serious enthusiasts.

    Nikon missed the boat by going too small, and Sony went very big- is there a happy medium- sensor wise?

  173. Steve,

    First off, I must tell you, I’m checking the site almost daily. I love the every day type reviews you do. Much more informative and enjoyable for me than the pixel peeping type reviews. Great job.

    So I have a dilema. I have an E-P2 w/ 14-42 a GF1 (Oly 14-42 and Pana/Lecia 20 1.7), a 7D with various lenses, and just received from amazon an E-P3 and NEX-5n. The first three are mine, the last two I’m evaluating. I started with the E-P1, then upgraded to the E-P2. When I discovered the GF1 focusing was so much faster I picked it up, and was fairly happy.

    Being a father of 3, I’ve realized that I have two distinctly different goals with photography. There are times when I’m trying to create art, and times when I’m just trying to capture a memory (especially with the children). When the two cross paths, that’s a bonus. I love the 7d, and it’s what I’ve been using for the “art” portion. The other two were my venture into something with good picture quality, and manual control, but small enough to take with me most everywhere.

    The biggest problem I’ve run into with both is capturing the “ever moving” kids. The EP-2 just couldn’t do it, and the GF1 was better, but still lots of blurry shots when we’re home indoors. The prospect of the EP-3 “lightning fast focus” was really promising, but after reading your reviews of both the EP-3 and NEX-5n I really couldn’t decide, so I ordered both to try. Ultimately in the 5n, I was looking for it to give me an idea how the NEX-7 would hold up.

    In my living room, in the evenings, with normal lighting, what I’ve experienced is that the 5n ends up capturing more in focus action shots than the E-P3 (both with kit zooms for testing). When you said you’ve never had an out of focus shot with the E-P3 in your review I was really crossing my fingers. I just haven’t had the same luck.

    So in your opinion, will I be able to capture the same types of shots with the NEX-7? Whichever I end up with, I’ll be getting the Zeiss or Olympus primes.

    I guess all-in-all, if you were stranded on an island with only one of the cameras I mentioned above, which would you choose (as a smaller alternative or even replacement to the 7d).

    Sorry for the ramble.

    Thanks in advance.

    • As a side note, I do have the E-P3 set to center point focus. I’ve tried, both half pressing the button, and using the touch screen. The touch screen does seem to respond more quickly than the half press (it definitely seems to hunt longer in lower light than the touch screen). Have you observed the same results?

    • The kit lens on the E-P3 is too slow to capture moving kids indoors. You would need either the 12 f/2 or 20 1.7 for that. I have had no issues capturing moving kids but with ANY camera you always need some sort of light for decent results, unless you buy a D3s and 24 1.4, then you are all set 🙂 The Ziess 24 and NEX-7 will not give you any better results indoors with no light and trying to capture moving kids. The AF of the 7 is slower than that of the e-p3. Best bet would due an E-P3 and 12 f/2 as that combo gives the fastest AF and good low light performance as well.

      • Thanks, Steve and Shane! I’m in the same boat, and was having the same conflict! My E-P1 is getting loooong in the tooth and I’m SICK of missing shots with it! The NEX-5n and 7 sounded great, but with the right m4/3 lenses, sounds like the E-P3 is what I need for my little rascals!!

        • thanks for this conversation. i literally bought the e-p3 yesterday and still have it in the box wondering if i made the right decision. i’m so so torn… should i wait for the nex 7 in hopes of spending a couple hundred more for a higher performance camera. i’m in the same boat, would like a camera that could be used for more artistic purposes with good quality but also be able to get a lot of use around town and the house. i really need someone to just tell me what to do!! i’d hate to invest in a system that everyone feel is on the way out. i need some e-p3 cheerleaders here or a devil sitting on the other shoulder telling me to wait for the nex 7. .

  174. Hi Steve Get review thanks and appreciated the honesty. No camera is perfect but the Nex ticks a lot of boxes. I am a transitioning EP1 owner so much looking forward to the capabilities a larger sensor offers. In terms of your ongoing review of the Nex 7, would love to see some shots taken outside at the higher appertures to show the detail that is possible across the photo with the zeiss 24 and 50 perhaps compared to your leica lenses and/or the oly lenses on the ep3. Thanks again – your review didnt disappoint. Nick

    • I plan on taking a drive really soon to get some landscape stuff with the NEX-7 at higher apertures and will add them to the review as soon as I get them. Thank you!

  175. Steve,

    Thanks a lot for the review. Well done! Here I have a question: how is edge sharpness of the Zeiss 24mm lens when stopped down to f11 or so? I am intending to use this or the ZM25 as a walkaround. I like the lens from photoes you took with it (thanks again), but still I hope that I can use it for occasional landscape shots. Thanks.


  176. Thanks for not holding off on posting your Nex 7 review. I have had one on order since Sept 10th and so far I have a Sony 55-210 lens, the flash adapter so I can use my Pocket Wizards, the Novoflex adapter so I can use my Nikon 50mm 1.4 and 85mm 1.4 lenses but nothing to use them on. With the floods in Thailand it is anyones guess when they will get here but the Sony Canada site still lists a shipping date of Nov 30/11 so I am keeping my fingers crossed. Until then it was great to see you are still enthusiastic with The Nex 7 after using it for two weeks and am looking forward to your updates and appreciate all the time and work you put into your site. As an aside I was in a Henry’s camera store and another customer was looking at the new Nikon 1 series so I had a look as well. For the life of me I can’t figure out why someone would buy one over the Nex or a 4/3 at the price point they have set, but what do I know.

  177. Its seems that we have a winner… The nex 5n…

    Better price… Better image quality…

    I can do without the wheels…

  178. Good review. I liked the video review too. Can you answer a couple of questions, please?

    Does the NEX-7 have a touch LCD? If so, can you choose the focus point and trigger the shutter like you can on the NEX-5?

    Second, can you shoot raw and then apply the Picture Effects (Retro Photo, Partial Color, Soft High-key, etc.) in camera or in the Sony processing software afterwards? I know my Oly E-P2 allows me to do this, it would be great if the NEX-7 allowed for it too.

    Thanks! Keep up the good work.

  179. Great review sir.

    This will be my first enthusiast camera and I am a complete newbie, but I thought if I’m going to learn, why not invest in it from the get go, so I hope my newbie comments aren’t too bothersome.
    Just wondering if I have the ability to buy just the body, do you suggest I do so, and get the Zeiss 24 1.8 and Sony 50 1.8 lens separately instead of getting a standard Nex 7 Kit lens?
    Will the Zeiss 24 suffice for every day learning of photography and everyday use?
    Or should I just get the kit?
    Though I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to get an NEX-7 just body where I live..
    But just in case I can, I was curious on your opinion.
    I have read that a new G Standard Zoom might get released in 2012 so I did not really want to have 2 standard zoom kits..
    So that is my beginner’s dilemma.

    • Yes you can order the body only. I would say the 7 and 24 make a perfect kit. I asked Sony to make a “SE” kit with the 24 bundled but they said NO GO. Ever. Some kind of agreement they have with Zeiss.

      • Hi Sir,

        Thanks for the reply. I guess I will be using the Nex 7 with the Zeiss 24 when it gets released here.

        Just in case it doesn’t and I have to buy it with the standard kit zoom, may I know what you think of the Standard Kit Zoom 18-55 lens?

  180. Well done! I was pretty much convinced already but awaiting your full review.

    Do the 10 fps at fixed exposure/focus and the 2.5 fps otherwise hold true when shooting RAW? 24Mpx is a lot of data to transfer.

    • Silly. There is nothing in this review showing either of these cameras is better than the other. Lens and raw conversion are the differentiators.

      • And that’s the point. The NEX 7 is newer, with newer sensor, costing significantly more with the Zeiss lens. Yet it does not outclass the Fuji. To the contrary, to my eye, the Fuji is the clear winner IQ wise, raw or not. And even the EP3 is looking very good up to iso 1600 in comparison, it looses on DR, but shows lots of details in its files. Eventually, I expect cameras in 2011/2012 to have decent jpeg engines as well. As said earlier, the NEX7 reminds me of US muscle cars of the sixties, lots of HP under the hood, but not delivering on tracks.

    • The X100 has better colors(which is subjective), better high ISO performance, better looking “film” noise, better dept of field and bokeh depending on lenses used. All in all these are quite the insignificant differences when it come down to them, as they aren’t miles better just slightly better. So to say that it’s far ahead is quite the stretch. I have the X100 btw, and I prefer the look and feel, but the NEX-7 is interchangeable lens camera and is more versatile. So they both have plus and minuses, but to say that one is far better than the other is sensationalist.

      • hm,

        “better colours”-you mean out of camera jpegs? as raw exist for the very reason to adjust colours and many other things to your own taste

        “better high iso performance”-well it produces files 2x smaller so I guess depends on your own needs, no one was expecting 24mpx camera to dethrone Nikon D3s. I agree that 24mpx is a bit of an overkill for the street photography but certainly not for studio or landscape work

        “better dept of field and bokeh”-as you say this depends on lenses used, with x100 you are stuck with 35mm equivalent f2 lens. With nex, you can put whatever lens you want, so basically nex wins here.

        What is amazing for me is that people make swift statements like “the X100 is far ahead.” I mean based on what? OOC snapshots from the nex7 and bad exposures? obviously concepts such as raw format are unknown variable for them.

        • I don’t disagree with your main point but I do want to touch on a few things. When it comes to judging a camera’s picture quality you shouldn’t be taking into effect postprocessing, because I could as easily take a P&S photo and make it look good in postprocessing but it doesn’t mean the camera can take good photos. I did say that the color issue is subjective, as someone could as easily prefer the warmer hue of the NEX-7, so I’m not arguing on that and again postprocessing doesn’t matter here.

          And on the ISO issue I’m going to disagree, simply put it’s just an excuse to say well there’s more pixels so that’s to be expected(btw 24mp res is only a quater larger than a 12mp res). They could have used a less dense sensor and produced better high ISO performance, we shouldn’t make excuses for shortcomings. Also, they produce tremendous results in studios with smaller sensor so it’s not an absolute necessity. I’m not saying NEX-7’s ISO is bad, it’s really good, it’s really really good, but the fact is that it isn’t as good as some others and it’s not productive to make excuses such as the pixel density. Again by no means am I criticizing the ISO performance on the NEX-7, it’s really good. I just feel uneasy when people make excuses for shortcomings, rather than just acknowledging the fact.

          As for the lenses, the thing is you get an exceptional lens with the X100 for $1200, you only get a NEX-7 body for that amount, and with good quality lenses and mounts the camera will run you well over $2000. Now that’s a plus or a minus depending on the person and what they want to use the camera for. See for me the X100 wins here, since the 23mm is all I need, and I get a quality lens with quality sensor, great high ISO performance, and enough pixels. But that’s just me, for someone who needs multiple lenses and zooms the NEX-7 is in fact a win in this category, and it doesn’t matter that they’d be spending more money since they’re getting more equipment for the money, and they need this equipment. So again this category is subjective at best, so neither objectively wins.

          But, yes, I do agree neither camera is “far” better than the other, they both have pluses and minuses, and both are essentially targeted at different uses and different users.

  181. So what’s it like with the F0.95 Noctilux? The only time I find the Leica RF wanting is when shooting a lens like the Noctilux at 1m-ish and wanting to do some serious focus-and-recomposing. Is the NEX the answer in this situation (e.g. portrait at 1m, focus on the eyes with the head touching the edge of the frame)?

  182. Thanks for the great review, Steve. Can Sony handle the issues related to consistent under exposure, color and missed focus with a firmware update or are we looking at waiting for next years model? Would really appreciate your opinion before making a buying decision. Thanks!

    • Sony has the best metamarism in the business, because of their cfa. Any color issue you’re seeing is a product of raw conversion or jpeg settings. Its a non-issue.

  183. Hi Steve, great review! Any words on DR in comparison with the little 5n?
    Really appreciate your work!

  184. Thanx for the review steeve, this is by far the best camera body i’ve seen
    but i wont be getting it because of the 24mp sensor (i prefer the 16mp)
    and the lack of pancake lens (yes, i’ve read your comment about m43 being smaller then aps-c, but that does not explain the samsung or pentax pancakes, heck, there are loads of full frame pancakes as well)

  185. using a 50mm lens (75mm view) isn’t the proof for a good compatibility with the NEX and GXR. This ‘telelens’ combination works even with a m4/3 sensor.
    The real proof is the 12 or 15mm VC. The Leica M9 bites off it’s teeth with these lenses in terms of colour correctness and colour drift.

    • True, true. Already 35mm works acceptable with mft. Anything longer is pretty headachefree. The GXR shines with the 15mm. I have not seen pictures taken with the 12mm yet. Let’s see whether the NEX delivers on anything wider than 35mm (m-mount). I would be surprised if it was as good as the GXR M-mount is.

      • A gentleman over on fred Miranda alt. Gear forum has both the Gxr and Nex5n, and he says the 5n does a better job with M wides, FWIW.

        • I have both the GXR mount and 5n and that definitely is not the case. Tested the voigtlander 12mm and voigtlander 28mm 3.5 and in both cases the m wides performed better on the gxr mount. The Gxr mount also showed better pixel sharpness and higher micro contrast with the same lens. In the 5n’s favor were slightly less noise and the shadows lifted cleaner.

          • Experiences may be user and/or lens specific and in fact you’d expect there to be differences lens to lens model. I know someone who uses both the GXR M mount and NEX-5N with wide and normal ZM lenses and finds the ZM18/4 performs better on the NEX-5N than on the GXR. The ZM25 was said to work well on both. No colour casts or performance issues noted with either, and this from a Ricoh fan. His noted that he found he had to do more post processing of Ricoh GXR M mount files, finding them soft and requiring more effort to get right.

            I guess we can make our best purchasing decisions based on the information at hand and then just get to it. If it doesn’t work out well, be ruthless and sell the thing before it loses too much value.

          • That’s wat I would expect. I have the GXR-M and pixel sharpness and micro contrast are exemplary. The lack of AA filter obviously is a big plus. Looking at the flat and digital looking files the NEX7 produces with the raved new Zeiss lens, I can’t see how it can compete with the GXR with m-mount lenses as far as file quality is concerned. MP is not everything.

    • Bernie, I wrote about it but Steve doesn`t seem to listen. His argument is that his`s so poor, that he can`t afford M-mount wide angles even the CV ones for his poor mans M9. You`re right, Summitar performs on any sensor. His comparison with Ricoh is wonderfully inadequate. Nothing to do man, beside writting him in the style like- wonderfull review, superb pictures, I am in love with it all.

      • I do not seem to “Listen”? Are you paying me to do these reviews? You expect me to go spend a few thousand dollars on CV lenses so I can write a review that I do not get paid to write? The fact is that I have bills to pay, and the money I make from this site is basically peanuts for the amount of work I put in. I do it as it is a passion, and I am a simple kind of guy with a simple kind of life. May not seem like it but it is true. If this were a paid site or you were paying me to review wide angle lenses in the NEX then that would be a different story. I did what i could do with what I had available. Besides, every time you comment on this site it is with some wise ass remark that makes you sound like some bitter old geezer. If you do not like what I write, then do not come here. It’s that simple. You do not pay me to write and I do not make you read what I write. If you would like to send me some of your wide angle lenses feel free and I would happily test them out on the NEX. 🙂

        • Haha, seriously Steve. Since you have Sony flying out to you, why did you not make them give you their NEX-9 prototype with in-body stabilization and IR-button??? Disappointed!

        • Steve – relax – you can’t please everyone all the time. There will always be people who aren’t as polite as we would like. Your review is great. keep it up.

        • Sorry mr.Huff. Looks like I pissed you seriously off. I just misunderstood couple things, that`s all. I was not asking you spending thousands of dollars on CV glasses. I was not talking about 50/1.1 plus 35/1.2 and so on. I don`t have them either. Personally I use snapshot CV25/4 and it costed me some 300 bucks, maybe you could borrow it. Well, let`s forget it all, anyway. Yes, you guessed right, I`m old, 69 and evidently getting a bit senile. Sorry

        • Don’t let the haters get to you Steve. It’s amazing how some people have a feeling of entitlement. The comment from stanis makes him/her look pathetic.

          Love your site, thanks for all the FREE information you put out there 🙂


  187. Steve, great well written and well documented review!

    As a person who is very interested in a mirror-less camera for use with my Leica glass (but have not yet used a mirror-less camera) I would be interested if you would talk a little about precisely how you use your Leica glass on this camera.

    For example, do you focus at full aperture then stop down or focus at your intended taking aperture? Is exposure a fully manual process or is aperture priority shooting available? Does focus peaking work in all lighting conditions?

  188. hmm I am one of the 5n users with the evf, I have all mf lenses, cv 15, 25, and 40 using the voigtlander nex – m mount converter. I have a nex 7 pre ordered at amazon. Though after reading this review, now I am all confused, I am one who does not shoot past iso 800 and I do my own prints on my 24″ printer.
    not sure 8mp difference will make much of a difference in the final print.

    the nex is my bu system for MF

  189. Hi Steve, great review as always.
    Just bought the EP3 since the Nex-7 could be very delayed for delivery, but I will keep an eye on the “7” during the coming months to get a better impression of this little computer marvel. Not quite sure yet if I will stretch my budget into this in 2012.
    Right now I have great fun with the EP3 and my old M8.2. If there was anything that could trigger me into buying yet another camera it would be an EVIL with superb high ISO quality for that low light shots.
    Thanks again for your effort with this site, It`on my favorite tab and are visited on a regular basis due to your reviews.

  190. I’d been checking into your site everyday (multiple times each day in fact) the past week reading your mini review leading up to this one.

    Thanks for the review. I always enjoy it for its relative lack of jargon. It’s fairly easy for a non hardcore guy like myself to understand.

    I bought my Fuji X100 less than a month ago. It is quirky. It is difficult to use (especially for non-expert like myself). However, when I get it right, the output (and I only shot in JPG) are lush and gorgeous…the most film-like of all the digital camera with the exception of Leica.

    I’d been looking through your 7 output and thought that they look great but in no way better than the Fuji X100.

    Your impartial review and comment (despite the Sony guys flying over to see you and offer you their camera to review) confirmed this. While I’m still frustrated by my Fuji X100…I’d learned to better tame the beast.

    A little part of me want to sell off my Fuji X100 for the 7 (and of course put in more money)…for the Zeiss, its more practical video capability, and its ease of use as my everyday camera.

    On the other hand, I might hold out until for the 2012 upgrade to the Fuji X100 (this time with interchangeable lens)…and hopefully with better video capability and quirks that makes it frustrating to use as everyday camera (which I do as I never use my old Canon dc again).

    I’ll be looking at your site for update on that news (and other cool tidbits). Thx again!

  191. Steve – What was the in built flash like w/the NEX-7?

    The X100 has such a smart built in flash, it’s a big plus for the camera, it acts genuinely as a fill flash and doesn’t destroy the scene.

    What’s the NEX-7’s like?

  192. How does the 7’s DR compare through low ~ high ISO to the Pentax k-5? I saw through an older post that it seems to hold sky gradation better then x100 & EP-3.

  193. Well I am happy I have an X100 which produces beautiful JPEGs of compact size. It has some quirks but the Sony IMO has quite a bit of excessive “features” and complexity. And the biggie for me is that the compactness of the camera is of little value with these huge lenses !!! It will be interesting to see your sure to come X100/Nex7 side by sides.

    That said I might consider this camera for use with a couple M-Mount lenses I have and hope Steve can do a review on this important consideration. I have been aching for Ricoh to update their EVF and expect they may in time. But how does the Nex7 compare to the Ricoh for use with M-Mount lenses? Presumably it should suffer since the Ricoh module was specifically designed for this application. By the way your Leica lense images do not display at full size on my browser.

  194. Great review, thanks Steve, You put a tremendous amount of work into this one. Will read it more than once, since there is so much information in it. I can’t help it, but the NEX7 reminds me of the US muscle cars of the sixties. Huge specs and all the features one could think of, but at the end ot the day, on tracks they got their butts seriously kicked by much smaller and seemingly inferior Mini Coopers and Fiat 500 Abarth. Whether jpeg or raw, the Sony metering would seriously bother me as it underexposes way too much. Concerning lenses, disappointing that Sony does not feel capable doing what Samsung, Pentax and in a certain way also Ricoh with its GXR A-mounts are doing, i.e. building compact excellent quality apsc-sensor tailored prime lenses.

  195. Hi Steve,
    thanks for a great review. After reading it, like you, I am a little jaded and I suspect that for ‘The Enthusiast’ that I am sure ‘stirs’ in most of us that visit your blog, the search for the ‘Holy Grail’ of cameras will go on. What comes across as prominent to me is – no, we are not really bothered about ‘mega-pixels’ but what we yearn for is that elusive ‘out of camera’ image quality that is immediately satisfying. Interestingly, it often comes down to the quality of the glass used. I expect that what will will follow as regards future products from Sony will be the utilisation of the NEX 7 body for the NEX 5N replacement etc? We live and hope!

    thanks once again.

  196. interesting is that the new flagship canon DSLR (1DX) has gone for less mega pixels (18) and they have a full frame to play with… something to think about.

    • before thinking about that it would help if you actually new anything about canon lineup as 1dx and 1dmkIV, III etc are professional cameras for sport photographers, newsreporters and concert photographers equivalent to Nikon’s owd D3s and that target aduience put emphasize on fast af and maximum iso performance. On the other hand Canon 1ds mkIII and nikon d3x are for people who are either studio, landcape and wedding photographers and put emphasize on dr and detail rather than maximum iso.All reports point out that that canon 1dsMkIV or whatever the name wil be will have 30+ mpx.

      So thinking is always helped by the information.

      • I probably misread you, but I thought that was a slightly rude reply. I think there are many points to what Stephen says, and I have recently began to wonder if Nikon is missing the plot? Admittedly, I am partly basing this on rumours now which say that the Nikon D700 “replacement” will have a 36MP sensor. Now this rumour I hope is false, and may be spread to lower peoples expectations and then delight them with a beautiful 18-24FF camera. If it is not false, Canon and Nikon has switched positions with each other. Nikon held out with the 12MP for such a long time and produced what is perhaps the best sensor to ever have graced a digital camera in the D3s (M9 users and Medium format shooters may disagree, but anyone after very high ISO must concur).

        Now in your “thinking” reply to Stephen, you talk about the ” 1dsMkIV or whatever the name”, how do you know it will ever be produced? Am I wrong to remember that the highest resolution Canon had 21 something MPs? Their sport equivalent had fewer, but a “H” 1.3 crop sensor. Is it not possible that Canon actually replaces both of them with this offering? It will most certainly have better dynamic range, High ISO capability and video function than both of the predecessors. The MP count does not bog down the processor or overheat as easily as a much higher resolution could have done. Maybe they simply have come to the insight that Nikon seemed to have and that Leica seem to have that there is a point where more MP do more harm than good? Do you know how well the Nikon 24MP sold? I read some nice reviews about it, but I think you cannot get enough volume at a competitive price to make this profitable when there is medium format cameras out there which will slaughter the FF sensors in low-ISO conditions.

        Personally I believe that if Nikon’s next camera is a 36MP, they will simply be at the3 mercy of Sony who decided this will be their next FF sensor. So unless they manage to tweak it to switch it into a 12MP sensor with groups of RGB MPs, I am fearing more Nikon misery in the near future… Again, this is based on rumours to a certain extent, but so is your information about a Canon 30+MP camera, right?

        • Thanks Kragom for stepping in there. Certainly it was my understanding that the new 1DX was the combination of the two (as Photozopia also points out). Whether that is the case or not, it is noteworthy that they are seemingly going for lower mega pixels and suggesting that the quality is there at that level (at least when taking higher iso into account which is what most people seem to care about when talking sensors in compact cameras).

          Sony is not trying to replace medium format with the NEX 7, it is trying to capture the APS-C market and in this market, people care about high ISO. I believe that Canon with the 1DX also do (even though it is in different system) and so what are Canon doing? They are putting 18 mega pixels on a full frame sensor to achieve this. Sony are putting 24 on a APS-C sensor. I think that this difference is noteworthy. What I liked about the M8 is the 10 mega pixel sensor, I like the 12 mega pixel sensor of the Nikon D700. With the movement of technology around sensors, probably today one could get the same performance from 18 mega pixels but not 18 on a APS-C and certainly not 24 on a APS-C. Most companies I would feel would put as many mega pixels as they could without causing negatives to start happening at high ISO. If their engineers said we can put 36 on here and have the same performance at high iso as 16, do you think they would not jump at it (in their flagship version of the system)? Of course they would. I am just not sure that 24 on a APS-C is the best way to go and it seems Canon don’t think so either.

          • well 24 mpx on an aps is still about the same as a 4 mpx point and shoot. I don’t think it’s a big deal. These sensors are very sophisticated and, in my opinion, better than anything canon has to offer.

      • The current 1 DX is supposed to merge BOTH the old 1D and 1Ds range into one format – or so current Canon press releases claim. Full frame model already – so no 1Ds ‘whatever’ model required ….

        Be interesting to see if they stick with this approach – Canon have good communications with top pro shooters, i.e. delivering exactly what they want/request. They may therefore choose to play any future mega-pixel race in the more lucrative semi-pro or advanced prosumer range, where ‘biggest is best’ remains a priority for many users (bragging rights …. )

        Pro’s (or their clients) on the other hand pay only for features they actually use or need – so, for them, if it’s ‘good enough, it’s big enough’.

        The agricultural Hasselblad 500 series soldiers on – despite being technologically out-classed for ALL of it’s 50 odd year life span; now with digital backs available, it’s becoming the veritable VW Beetle of pro cameras!

  197. Thanks Steve, been waiting for a good in depth review for a while. I feel like this is the proper tool for me, I picked up photography on a whim 8 years ago, I loved how you could grab a slice of time, how a good shot would surprise you, and surprise others. I have been continually growing to master that art. I have had many cameras, all very close to what I wanted. The M9 was the one that I liked the most, but far out of the reach of my pockets depth. The NEX-5 with Zeiss glass has been my favorite, and I only wanted more controls and a OVF, sounds like the EVF is there, and the controls a plenty. I ordered this camera (NEX-7) first day it was available, and I’m glad to say I feel “now” I have made the right decision. Thanks again

  198. Hi Steve
    Thank you for the great review. This is just what I have been waiting for. Two questions, one technical, one non-techical, much appreciation if you can help me with them.

    1. Since I have GXR, deciding whether to shuffle out for GXR M mount Or Nex-5n or Nex-7 for my Leica and Voigtlander lenses. From your Nex-7 and GXR M comparison, Nex-7 does indeed look better, but somehow it looks like it may also have great DOF. Maybe focus point difference? Given they have similar size sensor. Would be wonderful if trio 100% crop available too (GXR M vs Nex-5n vs Nex-7)

    2. Gene and Jude let you take pics? They have great dog but told me no pic last time I was there XD

  199. I pre-ordered this camera when it was announced and I am really looking forward to it. It will be nice to have a second camera with a Leica lens mounted on it. Plus I am really looking forward to video, which I can not do with the M. I agree with you that Sony should have used the 5N sensor. Most of us don’t even print our photos anymore. Thanks for the great review. D!RK

  200. Steve,
    you mentioned that the only thing missing in NEX-7 is in-body stabilisation. I’d like to add one: FULL-FRAME sensor.
    Honestly I don’t believe in today’s semiconductor industry the cost difference between a full-frame 135 (36x24mm) sensor and an aps-c (24x16mm) one is significant enough. Especially you consider this particular difference won’t be a large part of the whole camera. I mean in a modern camera, the cost of sensor is not as big deal as the old times.

    • I’m going to have disagree. Canon claimed that full frame sensors cost 20x more than APS-C sensors. Any time you’re taking orders or magnitude in cost, that’s a big deal, especially in consumer electronics, an industry where fractions of a penny in parts costs matter (unless you’re Olypus and can afford to pay an ‘advisor’ almost $700M for ‘services’ 😉 ). Sure, this data is from 5 or 6 years ago, but I’m not really sure the underlying reasons could have been remedied in the time since.

      (Canon doesn’t seem to host the white paper any more, which is why the link is to an outside source.)
      Addin the cost of engineering a new mount and lenses to go along with, and you’re looking at a really expensive proposition.

      • RohithT,

        First thank you for the explanation with reference. This makes much more sense. My wish is that as the technology improves one day the cost of a full-frame sensor would be insignificant enough comparing to the cost of the other parts of a camera. Even at that day it’s still as 20 times expensive as an aps-c sensor, but it takes 3-5% of the cost of a whole camera. Maybe only when that happens we’ll see more full-frame digital camera.

        Second I agree with your opinion about the size of modern lenses above.


  201. Thanks for the great review Steve.

    Just wonder how would you rate the shutter noise for Leica M9, Sony NEX 7, Olympus E-P3, Fuji X100, Ricoh GXR (A12 modules/lenses), say from the loudest to the least noise?

  202. Many of those who use leica we care about the sound when shooting. Today I tested the Sony nex 5n and is fantastic but the sound is like shooting a digital SLR, what bothers me a lot and does not compare to shoot with a leica.

  203. Great review Steve. Looks like it is time to jump ships from MFT to NEX!! Sad day for Panolympus. Can’t see how they missed this one. Waiting for this fateful November awaiting the GFPro/GX1. Whatever it it is, if the GX1 is an external EVF system, count it dead on arrival.

    Thanks for the review. Enjoyed every word of it. Good to see that some companies listen to consumers.

  204. Steve..regarding your self-portrait at the top of page: Stop playing with all of these cameras and MAKE YOUR BED. Will ya!

  205. Nice review, thanks Steve! NEX-7 still does not have that “charm” like X100 has. I’ve read somewhere that you are still keeping the x100? 🙂

  206. Great review, cannot wait to try one out. Its going to be a tough decission. Leica M8.2 or this.

    Currently I am thinking the Sony and then once the Leica M10 is released pick up a second hand M9.

    Thanks Steve for some real world examples.

  207. Great review! Looks like there is still a need for fast lens for those night shots! Despite the smaller sensor, i have to agree the EP3 still remains a strong contender for results and versatility, so don’t sell your EP3! Can’t wait for you to review the upcoming panasonic GFX-1 !

  208. Thanks for the review,

    However I’m slightly disappointed. TheNEX7 was the most anticipated Evil simple to the fact that the Oly and Pan just don’t (want to) to produce a Pro Evil. And yes the Sony has quite a lot of featurse and Gimmicks and checklist-points, but in the End its also about Images and the way they looking. And in this case I can’t they they are better then an 12MP EP3(well apart for High ISO… which I really don’t care for). Somehow they are looking flat and lifeless to me. First a was reading this review on and iPad and thought “well could be the screen” but even on my main MacPro its the same for me

    I was expecting a lot better from this new NEX7 and its Sensor, esp because its an 1.5crop. Maybe those 24MP are just over the top.


    • I agree. I am not particularly impressed with the photos. They are fine, but not exceptional. I really like the idea of the mirror-less system, but I want my photos to “pop”. I think I’ll buy the 5N for half the price and invest the difference in some good glass and hope next year’s model fixes the sensor issues and has in-body image stabilization (how does this thing have everything under the sun except that?!).

      • Maybe they learned from Apple. If you have a product that has so much more than the competition, why make it extremely hard to update the design? Leave out a few things you could easily have included, and feature some of them in the NEX 7s.. sorry, I mean 7n!

      • As a Sony user, and previously an NEX-5 owner, I too thought the sample jpeg images were not terribly inspiring. In my opinion / experience Sony jpegs are never that great, and I’m often unhappy with the auto white balance results. The images tend to be a little warm but curiously with a slight blue / magenta cast – I think the Ricoh GXR comparison shot shows this quite well, and in fact my preference is for the GXR and the EP3 in the direct comparisons. Personally, I will wait and see what announcement Fuji make in the new year about an interchangeable lens X camera.

      • Two questions:

        If you aren’t impressed by the photos, should you not blame the photographer and not the camera?

        What are the “sensor issues” you would like fixed?


        • I’m not sure if your question was directed at my comments, but I will reply anyway!

          I don’t think you can “blame” Steve (the photogrpaher) if the camera auto white balance or the colour pallette of the out of camera jpegs is subjectively not as good as it could be (compared to for example the Ricoh and Olympus samples posted above). There is little control the user has over the colour pallete that the camera creates, beyond choosing a creative style to try and “tame” it, For example, in some Sony cameras “neutral” colour gives a rather flat but more realistic rendering of skin tones that “standard” or “portrait” creative styles do.

          Regarding the image quality, I didn’t say the sensor was the problem. Rather, that Sony jpegs tend to be a little crude in the fine detail, and that the colour and white balance are as pleasing to me as they could be (above). Whilst I appreciate some of these issues can be solved by processing from raw, it would be nice if a 1000 sterling camera was engineering to produce more pleasing results out of camera, something which other makes seem to do a little better.

          • If you’re paying $1200.00 for a camera and shooting jpegs you’re really buying the wrong camera. The quality of the processed raw images are wonderful. If it’s too much effort you may want to rethink things.

    • I also have to agree with you regarding the photo quality. They are extremely flat and lifeless to me…not much better than my GF1+20mm pancake…if anything they’re more boring. This isn’t just a problem with the photos from this review, but all the photos I’ve seen so far of the Nex-7. It has gotten to the point where I’m canceling my preorder for this camera and am debating the X100 since it produces georgeous images with wonderful colors. If only it wasn’t such a finicky camera.

    • I thought I am the only one who sees NEX 7 pictures lifeless , and I can’t blame here the photographer because I saw many eviews by many advanced and matured photographers where their images have the same issue , they are good but not stunning , even in the NEX 5 review (not 5n) when digital rev reviewed the camera they got the same issue , the pictures are good and not superb ( i know we have here a new sensor) , there is a soft edges in the pictures, this could be a lens problem not the sensor itself because I really trust sony in sensors (sony developed the canon d7000 sensor) the best midrange dslr from different aspects, however it could be a firmware detail which adjusting the colors but in this level when someone pays 1200 U$ for the body only, he expects something different , else he could get a nikon d7000 with a lens

    • By ant objective standard the nex – any nex -has far better IQ than the Olympus. Some of those sony “gimmicks” result in noiseless 6400 iso files etc.. Test the camera and come back with valid observations.

  209. damn.. this review trully seduced me to change my m4/3 religion to nex system.. but i’ll still want to wait for the gfpro.. i’m still very much satisfied with my e-p3.. which i happened to buy thanks to your seductive reviews steve!! lol..

    • I’m with you. I may move from micro 43. Sony is starting to understand. Feels like the others are not listening….

    • That’s funny! I had the opposite feeling. To see the E-P3 stack up so favorably against the larger-sensor NEX-7 had me feeling pretty good about m4/3. The fish pictures, like Steve said, were neck-and-neck, and the faster auto-focus and screen of the E-P3 should not be discounted. Also, despite the fact that NEX lenses are increasing in number, there still aren’t as many as m4/3. That’s not to say I’m not tempted by the NEX cameras, but it’s good to know they don’t absolutely blow away the E-P3.

      • Plus the m4/3 lenses, while being more numerous, are also generally less expensive. If I had a larger pocketbook, I’d be thinking differently. M9!

      • +1… I am personally feeling good about the tradeoffs with my E-P3 versus the NEX. If I had some legacy glass, I may feel differently.

        A new NEX roadmap could change the situation (i.e. 2013 releases), but I am not in a hurry to jump on this system. We will be seeing a new round of bodies from Sony before the native lens lineup improves. Also, new compact systems likely from Canon, Pentax/Ricoh (rumors of something APS-C range), Fuji (APS-C+), plus new bodies from Panasonic and maybe a “pro” Oly . It just seems like crazy timing, in my opinion, to invest $2200 in a new body plus one lens.

      • well, to tell the truth i’m actually a bit relieved with this review. Didn’t really make me jump out of the m4/3’s boat.. lol..
        IMO sony’s legacy lenses still can not compete with ones in m4/3.. especially panleica 25mm f1.4, 20mm f1.7, and of course the sexy beast 12mm f2!! Hell yeah even their 16mm still below panny 14mm f2.5!!

        again, this is my stupid opinion.. 😀
        after all i’m not so much love in to manual lenses.. they worked hard all these centuries to make an incredible AF system, so why not use it.. :p

        so, to change my religion to sony system is still soooo far away from now..

        E-p3 rocks!!! LoL

      • I don’t want to start a flame war but in my comparison to a epl2 the Sony was stunningly better. The sensor size has something to do with it but I also think it’s a much better sensor in general.

        In fact the sony was better than my Canon aps camera.

        I also think the 4/3 lenses rely too much on software correction. Many have massive aberrations. There’s a general design philosophy there that I find objectionable.

        The sony kit zoom is quite good. It has distortion on the wide end but it’s a pretty wide end. The thing is that it’s sharp corner to corner and – if you stay away from the extremes – it’s very good in other aspects.

  210. Nice review Steve (and I am looking forward to see the updates). Do you plan to look at the dynamic range of the NEX-7 (and maybe how it compares to the rest of the class)?

    For the comparison with the GXR (IQ wise) – would you give a shot to some summicron or ASPH summilux and maybe show a 100%crop from the GXR and a crop from NEX scaled down to match the size of the GXR one? I would be curios to see how the lack of AA filter in GXR will stand up against double the resolution from the NEX-7 (or even a NEX-5).

  211. Great review !!!

    It’s possible take some shots using 18-200mm lens to compare the quality ?

    I’d like buy a camera to travel and use a versatil lens. Do you recomend this camera and 18-200mm lens ?


  212. Hi Steve, Thanks for the great review!
    I have missed on the chance to be first commenter, when I first opened it, there were none yet -)!

    However, I am now still undecided between 5N and 7.
    THe 5N seems to have the “right” sensor resolution (16 Mpx is enough), it also can be fitted with the EVF, IQ is very good and it is still (with EVF) 400 Euros cheaper than the 7.

    In your review, I have not noticed one comment stating a better IQ of the 7. Instead it is all about usability and the body: Better size for larger hands, easier use with tri-mode dials, external connections for mic and flash. But the tendency to underexpose wasn’t mentioned in your 5N review, so I assume it didn’t happen with that camera?

    So in essence, you can make the same good pictures with the 5N, while the 7 is the costlier Deluxe version. Hmmm……..

  213. Steve, thanks for the review. I was waiting for it just to be sure before making a pre-order, which I will now do. I had pretty much decided on the 24 and 50 anyway, but good to have it confirmed too.

    In one of your pre-review articles, you said that you would say something about Sony trying to make their lenses smaller. I think it was after the delivery visit for the NEX-7. Anything interesting there.

    Looking at the NEX model numbers, it seems Sony have left themselves room for a NEX-9. Future pro model?

  214. Great write up; it’s insightful as usual.

    2 comments, 1 question:
    – Sensor size isn’t the only issue. Electronics, motors, image stabilization mechanisms, and, perhaps most importantly, a desire to optimize on miniaturization (instead of profit, sheer optical quality, maximum aperture, low cost, and/or some other factor) all play a huge part. Even with the same sensor size, you can get huge variance. For example, my ideal Canon lens kit (10-22, 18-200, 35 f2, 85 f1.8) is 27% bigger than the most equivalent Nikon kit. That’s a pretty big difference for the same size sensor and same body style.

    – the NEX mount’s flange back distance, which is very small, may also force the design of larger lenses. The minimal distance allows for a host of adapters to be used and for smaller bodies, but won’t allow lens elements to protrude back, lest they hit the sensor. Designers can’t save length by allowing back focusing, so longer lenses are required. Both Samsung and Pentax have proven that compact auto focus capable primes are possible with an APS-C sensor.

    – Steve, you mentioned using the NEX-7 as an alternative/backup to an M9; what about as an alternative to a used M8? They those have APS sensors and resulting crop factors, and used M8’s are much closer in price to the NEX-7 than M9’s are, so I figure it’s be a pretty reasonable comparison.I’d love to see your thoughts.

  215. I have to say, the NEX cameras to me make sense as a backup (M Mount) camera.. and in this case, it makes sense for them to be as small as possible – and the NEX 5n seems to fit this bill for me better. Smaller, has the option of the same EVF with tilt, better high ISO, same video features, and is less expensive. A few dials isn’t worth the larger size and price to me. They might be if you are planning it as your only camera however.

    With respect to the Ricoh, I have personally noticed the Sony EVF to plug shadows in daylight, which is the main instance when you would use these viewfinders.. the Ricoh, while smaller, less detailed, and smeary, still works better in this light and is still good enough to attain manual focus. I am an eyeglass wearer though, so I’m not sure if this is something that is contributing to this (I have tried the EVF with and without the eyecup).

    Also, being able to toggle the peaking on and off, and the quieter shutter (both focal plane and electronic) make it the camera to reach for if I want something more serious.

  216. Fantastic review! I appreciate your candid thoughts and all of the great photos. This blog inspired me, when I decided to make the jump up from point and shoots, to go for mirrorless instead of DSLR. I pre-ordered the 7 when it was announced, perhaps foolishly but it would also seem luckily after reading this review. Great blog, great fun writing. I love the Daily Inspirations.

    Regards high megapixel count, I’m a painter and for archival purposes appreciate high res when shooting paintings, prints, etc. I know medium format and full frame would likely be better, but my funds are limited. I’m hoping the NEX 7 can be a sort of do-everything camera in this respect–that it’s small enough that I can travel with it and take it on fishing trips but that it produces files detailed enough that I can also archive my work.

  217. Did Sony explain why their lenses are so large? The EP-3 appears much smaller and the fast pancake lenses (14 and 20) are really small…

    • The sensor in the Sony is much larger therefore the lenses have to be bigger to be able to cover the sensor area. Micro 4/3 sensors are smaller, hence the smaller lenses.

      • Comparing apples to apples as much as one can, Samsung’s NX has the 30mm f/2 pancake. The equivalent would go a long way for what people are asking for on the NEX, I think.

      • but how did fuji managed to make X100’s lens way shorter than the 24 or 50mm? its the same size sensor…

        btw, great review steve!

        • And how is pentax managing lenses like the DA 40mm Limited on an APS-C sensor? I think it has to do with sensor size and distance from back of the lens to the sensor maybe? In other words, if the NEX were thicker, it might be easier to accomplish smaller lenses?

          • Exactly – by making the registration distance very small, I think Sony have created a problem with making smaller lenses. Placing the rear elements of the lens nearer the sensor increases the need for telecentric designs, I believe, therefore tending to make wider lenses (less than 50mm) bigger.

            The Samsung NX system has a slightly longer registration distance, and has smaller lenses – although they also use in camera correction to remove distortions and vignetting.

          • Yep, I’ve been disappointed by the size of the Sony lenses, too, especially compared to the tiny Pentax pancakes. BUT, it turns out that Amy is exactly right.

            If you look up the Pentax to Nex adapter, you’ll see that it’s about an inch thick (maybe a little more), because the Pentax SLR bodies are that much thicker than the NEX. So one of the tiny Pentax lenses adapted to the NEX would stick out about a far as the NEX lenses do.

            Guess you can have a thin body or tiny lenses, but not both.

          • Absolutely the flange focal distance (FFD) makes a difference to the overall length of the lens. I’m not about to open up my X100 but surely some of the lens is buried inside the casing, and can be since it’s a single lens solution.

            Regarding the Pentax DA, the Pentax K mount is 45.46mm whereas the same distance for Sony’s E-mount is 18mm – so almost a 3cm difference of space behind the flange and a lens design can take advantage of that clear air to the focal plane.

            Sony’s very short FFD is at the low end of the scale. This removes an apparent space advantage from Sony; they chose to go thin for marketing reasons not probably realizing just how popular that decision would be for enthusiasts as it makes it possible to mount all sorts of glass via adapters, some of which couldn’t be achieved if say they had extended the FFD significantly. But their own lenses would appear shorter.

            Most SLR/DSLR (full frame or not) have a 40+mm FFD. For sake of comparison m4/3 specifies a 20mm FFD.

            Leica M mount has a FFD of 27.8mm, which is why NEX adapters for rangefinder M mount lenses are relatively short compared to adapters for SLR/DSLR “legacy” glass.

            It’s a trade off Sony made, perhaps by accident but its a happy, happy accident, and I’m glad I can run Contax/Yashica mount Zeiss SLR glass on the very same camera that I can run a ZM Zeiss rangefinder lens. That is cool, and even useful.

            Speaking of length of lens, have a look at this prototype Samsung NX 12-24. Looks pretty darn huge relative to the body, doesn’t it?


            When it comes to lens length and compactness of the system, I do wish people would stop comparing the NEX to the Fujifilm X100. While the X100 is marvelously trim, it stops being compact to carry the moment you need another focal length because then you need to carry another camera system to get there, where a NEX or any other interchangeable lens compact simply needs a lens swap. Sure I’d like a fast moderate wide angle of high quality and short length to attach to a NEX but I’m perfectly happy with my Zeiss ZM 25mm thanks very much even if it is limited to f/2.8.

        • It is because the designs of rear elements of the X100’s lens are larger then front elements, so the lens is compact and small. Fuji explained that before the official launching of the X100. But I like bigger lens cause it is more comfortable to manual focus if compare to compact lens because my hand are a bit bigger…

        • Fuji makes a fixed lens-sensor combo. They don’t need to account for multiple lenses of even their own design. If you want to do one thing and only one thing well usually you get benefits, right? Length is one.