Sony NEX-7 Review

 
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Sony NEX-7 Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally good to excellent performance in our tests.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.2 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~0 to 8.0 seconds

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
10 seconds after 21 Large/Fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
17 seconds after 18 Large/Fine JPEGs, Speed Priority mode*
20 seconds after 17 RAW files*
25 seconds after 14 RAW+ L/F JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup time was much slower than an SLR, but reasonable for a CSC. Shutdown was sometimes instantaneous, but other times took up to 8 seconds even with an empty buffer, which is a little odd. Buffer clearing times were a little slow, but not a surprise given the large files. The Sony NEX-7 isn't UHS-I compliant, so a faster UHS-I card won't likely help.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~1.2 seconds

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~1.7 seconds

Time to display a large/fine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.4 second

Time to display a large/fine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Mode switching performance was a little sluggish, though displaying a recorded image is pretty fast.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.223 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (AF timing performed with the Sony E18-55mm kit lens.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.225 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Auto Flash Enabled
0.402 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, TTL Auto flash enabled.

Continuous AF
0.323 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.073 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.022 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Looking at the Sony NEX-7's ability to determine that it's properly focused when shooting the same target multiple times, its autofocus speed is very fast for it class. The Sony NEX-7's full-autofocus shutter lag (with the subject at a fixed distance) was only 0.223 second in Single-area AF mode. This increased slightly to 0.225 second in Multi-area AF mode. That's much faster than the average CSC, and competitive with digital SLRs.

With the flash enabled, the NEX-7's full AF shutter lag increased to 0.402s, to account for the preflash metering. Shutter lag was 0.323 second in continuous AF mode. When manually focused, the Sony NEX-7's lag time dropped to 0.073 second, which is quite fast. The Sony NEX-7's prefocused lag time was only 0.022 second thanks to its electronic first curtain shutter (enabled by default). That's easily the fastest interchangeable lens camera we've tested (other than the NEX-5N which had the same lag), including professional DSLRs.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.59 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20+ shots*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.65 second

Time per shot, averaged over 5 shots*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + L/F JPEG
0.69 second

Time per shot, averaged over 5 shots*.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.29 second (3.49 frames per second);
20+ frames total;
10 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 21 shots, with no signs of slowing.

Continuous mode
RAW

0.31 second (3.21 frames per second);
17 frames total;
20 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 17 frames, then slows to an average of about 1.43s or 0.70 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous mode
RAW + L/F JPEG

0.28 second (3.51 frames per second);
14 frames total;
25 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 14 frames, then slows to 2.07s or 0.48 fps when buffer is full.

Speed Priority Continuous mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.10 second (10.00 frames per second);
18 frames total;
17 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 18 shots.

Flash Recycling

1.8 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were not bad with Large/Fine JPEGs at 0.61 second, 0.65 second when shooting RAW files, and 0.69 second when shooting RAW + Large/Fine JPEG files. Standard continuous mode performance was about average ranging from 3.2 to 3.5 frames per second depending on the file type, but Speed Priority Continuous mode was outstanding at 10 frames per second, though autofocus and exposure are fixed at the first frame of a burst in that mode.

Buffer depths were quite good, at over 20 frames large/fine JPEGs, 17 for RAW and 14 for RAW+Large/Fine JPEGs in standard continuous mode. In Speed Priority mode with Large/Fine JPEGs, buffer depth was still very good at 18 frames. Note, though, that our target for this test was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG burst lengths should be longer with typical subjects.

The flash was able to recycle from a full discharge in 1.8 seconds which is quite fast, though it's a small and relatively weak flash.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

12,184 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were very fast, quick enough that you won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Sony NEX-7's performance was generally excellent for a Compact System Camera. Autofocus is on par with most SLRs, prefocused shutter lag is faster than any SLR we've ever tested, and Speed Priority burst mode was faster than most professional SLRs (though the NEX-7 won't track focus or adjust exposure in that mode). Buffer depths are also quite good despite the large files, though buffer clearing is understandably a little slow. Startup and mode switching were a little sluggish when compared to most SLRs, though, and frame rate in standard continuous mode wasn't impressive.

Battery Life

Very good battery life for a Compact System Camera.

Operating Mode Battery Life
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard, LCD Monitor)
430 shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard, EVF)
350 shots

The Sony NEX-7 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The battery is rated for 430 shots per charge when using the LCD monitor, and 350 shots when using the electronic viewfinder, according to the CIPA standard which includes 50% flash shots with built-in flash. Battery life is above average for a CSC, but we do recommend getting a second battery for your NEX-7 if you plan any extended outings or shoot a lot of video.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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