Sony NEX-7 Review

5.0
January 4, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 24.3 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 7Mb.

The Sony NEX-7 produced images of excellent quality during the review period. The Sony NEX-7 has an extensive and very usable ISO range of 100-16000. ISO 100-1600 is noise-free, whilst ISO 3200 and 6400 produce more than acceptable results, and even ISO 12800 and 16000 are OK for emergency use for small prints and on the web. The RAW samples illustrate just how much processing the camera does by default, though, as they're much noisier at all ISO values than their JPEG counterparts.

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled, only appearing in areas of high contrast. The 24 megapixel images are a little soft straight out of the camera using the default creative style and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera sharpening level. The built-in flash worked well indoors with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and the Bulb mode offering lots of scope for creative night photography. The  SteadyShot anti-shake system works well when hand-holding the camera at slower shutter speeds.

The effective Dynamic Range Optimizer function extracts more detail from the shadow and highlight areas in an image, without introducing any unwanted noise or other artifacts. The High Dynamic Range mode combines two shots taken at different exposures to produce one image with greater dynamic range than a single image would produce. It only works for JPEGs and for still subjects, but does produce some very effective results. Sony's now tried-and-trusted Sweep Panorama is still a joy to use. The 11 creative effects quickly produce special looks that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, while the 13 Creative Styles provide a quick and easy way to tweak the camera's JPEG images.

Noise

There are 9 ISO settings available on the Sony NEX-7. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

JPEG RAW  

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

 
 

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

 
 

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

 
 

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
 

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 16000 (100% Crop)

ISO 16000 (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

The Sony NEX-7 has 2 different image quality settings available for JPEGs, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

24M Fine (6.87Mb) (100% Crop) 24M Normal (4.59Mb) (100% Crop)
   
24M RAW (24Mb) (100% Crop)  
 

Flash

The flash settings on the Sony NEX-7 are Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow sync and Rear flash sync, with Red-eye reduction available in the Main Menu. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (82.5mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (82.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. Neither the Auto setting or the Red-eye reduction mode caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye reduction

Red-eye reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Sony NEX-7's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds and there's also a Bulb mode for even longer exposures, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 15 seconds at ISO 100.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Steadyshot

The Sony NEX-7 has an antishake mechanism built into the 18-55mm kit lens (but not the body), which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Shake Reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with Shake Reduction turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Shake Reduction Off (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction On (100% Crop)

1/5th / 27mm
     
1/5th / 82.5mm

Dynamic Range Optimizer

D-Range Optimiser (DRO) is Sony's solution to improve shadow detail in photos taken in contrasty light, with an Auto setting and five different strengths available.

Off

Auto
   

1

2
   

3

4
   

5

 
 

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range Optimiser (HDR) is Sony's solution for capturing more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining two exposures into one image, with an Auto setting and six different strengths available.

Off

Auto

   

1

2

   

3

4

   

5

6

Intelligent Sweep Panorama Mode

The Sony NEX-7 allows you to take panoramic images very easily by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera does all the processing and stitching and now even successfully compensates for moving subjects. The main catch is that the resulting image is of fairly low resolution.

Standard
Download the Full Size Image
 
Wide
Download the Full Size Image

3D Sweep Panorama Mode

There is an additional 3D Sweep Panorama mode on the virtual on-screen shooting dial alongside the regular (2D) Sweep Panorama. If you're lucky enough to own a compatible 3D HDTV, download the samples below to experience the full 3D effect.

16:9
Download the Full Size Image
 
Standard
Download the Full Size Image
 
Wide
Download the Full Size Image

Creative Styles

There are 13 Creative Style preset effects that you can use to change the look of your JPEG and RAW images.

Standard

Vivid

   

Neutral

Clear

   

Deep

Light

   

Portrait

Landscape

   

Sunset

Night

   

Autumn Leaves

B/W

   

Sepia

 
 

Picture Effects

The Sony NEX-7 offers a range of 11 creative Picture Effects to spice up your JPEG images.

Off

Toy Camera

   

Pop Color

Posterization

   

Retro Photo

Soft High-key

   

Partial Color (Red)

High Contrast Mono

   

Soft Focus

HDR Painting

   

Rich-tone Mono

Miniature

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 1080p, hdmi, compact system camera, sony, mirrorless, csc, 10fps, tilting, tilt, nex-7, nex 7, nex7, Sony NEX-7, Sony NEX-7 Review, 24.3 megapixel

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