When the Sony NEX-7 was announced last summer, I was immediately intrigued. In addition to more resolution – not an unalloyed blessing with an APS-C size sensor – it looked like Sony had completely reworked the NEX-5 controls, adding two thumbwheels in addition to the five position button on the back. I hated the user interface in the NEX-5, and this at least had the potential to be better. The icing on the cake was the electronic finder. I find composing a picture at arm’s length awkward and unstable, and I can’t see the LCD screens on the back of cameras in bright sunlight. The NEX-7 has an organic LED finder. Rangefinder size and convenience coupled with SLR framing and focusing accuracy – sounds great to me. I ordered one. Sony promised delivery 1 November.
Then came the Thailand floods. 1 November came and went. In the middle of the month I got a note from Sony saying my camera would be late. At the end of last week I got an e-mail saying that it had shipped. It arrived when I was out of town, so today’s the first chance I had to play with it.
Here are my notes upon opening the box, as dictated to Dragon.
The box is a little smaller than a shoebox. There seems to be a sleeve around it but I can’t get it off. Oh yes, I see, there’s a tab to pull out and the sleeve unwraps from the box. Inside there is a nice thick cardboard box – these guys are taking lessons from Apple – with a shiny black cardboard packet on top. Opening the cardboard packet without tearing it is next to impossible; I hope I don’t have to send it back. Inside the packet is a 60+ page pocket-novel-size operating manual, the warranty card, a getting started manual, a list of lenses and accessories, and a CD with application software. Underneath the shiny black cardboard packet is a microfiber cloth covering several compartments, with the camera nestled in a flocked recess, a nice strap for the camera (I had to use an old Canon strap on my NEX-5), a battery charger (the same as the one for the NEX-5), a USB cable, a battery, and an eyecup for the finder.
The eyecup slips easily onto the finder. There’s a tag hanging from the left strap-mounting triangle labeled “TRINAVI XGA OLED” on both sides. I’m not sure what the point is (the finder uses organic light-emitting diodes, and is XGA resolution, and Sony calls its UI TRINAVI, but if you’re looking at the tag, you’ve already bought the camera, and are presumably beyond needing to be sold), but the tag comes off easily. The strap is no harder, and no easier, to install than similar straps on your standard-issue Nikon or Canon SLR’s. There’s a tag stuck to the top of the camera announcing that the camera has an APS-C sensor of 24 megapixels. One end of the tag comes off easily but the other seems to be stuck to the camera. I can’t imagine the sticker is supposed to stay on, so I pull harder and it finally comes off. I put the battery in my old NEX-5 charger and wait for it to charge.
Sony must ship the battery almost completely discharged for safety purposes. It took four hours to charge it. The setup process is very similar to the NEX-5, which is not high praise. I like the menu structure on the Canon and Nikon pro level SLR’s much better. While the menu structure wasn’t much fun to navigate, it was not very confusing either, and it didn’t take me long to set the camera up.
How’s it work? Stay tuned.