Sony A7 vs NEX-7
The Sony Alpha A7 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2013 and August 2011. Both the A7 and the NEX-7 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7) and an APS-C (NEX-7) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixels.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha A7 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7 and the Sony NEX-7. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-7 is considerably smaller (33 percent) than the Sony A7. Moreover, the NEX-7 is markedly lighter (16 percent) than the A7. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7 is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-7 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-7). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
The power pack in the A7 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
|3.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|4.||Panasonic GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499|
|5.||Samsung NX1||139 mm||102 mm||66 mm||550 g||500||Y||Sep 2014||1,499|
|6.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|7.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|8.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|9.||Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|10.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|11.||Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
|12.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|13.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|14.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329|
|15.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|16.||Sony NEX-6||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||345 g||360||n||Sep 2012||999|
|17.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The NEX-7 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 21 percent) than the A7, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A7 features a full frame sensor and the Sony NEX-7 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-7 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of chip-set technology, the A7 uses a more advanced image processing engine (BIONZ X) than the NEX-7 (BIONZ), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Even though the A7 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixels. This implies that the A7 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 3.90μm for the NEX-7), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the A7 is much more recent (by 2 years and 1 month) than the NEX-7, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
The A7 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A7 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the A7 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the NEX-7 (overall score 9 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|3.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|4.||Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|6.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|10.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|11.||Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
|13.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|15.||Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|17.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7 provides a higher frame rate than the NEX-7. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the NEX-7 is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A7 offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the NEX-7 (2400k vs 2359k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A7, the Sony NEX-7, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Sony A7||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|3.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|4.||Panasonic GH4||2359||n||3.0 / 1036||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0||Y||n|
|5.||Samsung NX1||2360||Y||3.0 / 1036||tilting||Y||1/8000s||15.0||Y||n|
|6.||Sony A7C||2360||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||Y|
|7.||Sony A6400||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n|
|8.||Sony A6300||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n|
|9.||Sony A6500||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|10.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7S||2400||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|12.||Sony A6000||1440||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n|
|13.||Sony A7R||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|14.||Sony A3000||202||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|15.||Sony RX1R||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|16.||Sony NEX-6||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|17.||Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The NEX-7 has one, while the A7 does not. While the built-in flash of the NEX-7 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the A7 and the NEX-7 write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A7 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-7 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony Alpha A7 and Sony Alpha NEX-7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Sony A7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Panasonic GH4||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Samsung NX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Sony A7C||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony A6400||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Sony A6300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Sony A6500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Sony A7S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Sony A6000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Sony A7R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony A3000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony RX1R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony NEX-6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Sony RX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A7 has a headphone jack, which is not present on the NEX-7 This port makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process.
Both the A7 and the NEX-7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A7 was replaced by the Sony A7 II, while the NEX-7 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7 and the Sony NEX-7? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (BIONZ X vs BIONZ).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 921k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the NEX-7 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-7:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.71x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 127x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 74g or 16 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (430 versus 340) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (21 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2011).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7 is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 8 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A7 and the Sony NEX-7 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A7 or the NEX-7 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|3.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|4.||Panasonic GH4||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499|
|5.||Samsung NX1||5/5||..||..||87/100||5/5||5/5||Sep 2014||1,499|
|6.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|7.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||4/5||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|8.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||..||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|9.||Sony A6500||5/5||+ +||3.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|10.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|11.||Sony A7S||4/5||..||..||86/100||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|12.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||4.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|13.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|14.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329|
|15.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|16.||Sony NEX-6||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||999|
|17.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Sony A7 vs Sony NEX-7
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Sony A7||Sony NEX-7|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2013||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 1,349|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A7||Sony NEX-7|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.8 x 23.9 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||855.62 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.97 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.80 MP/cm2||6.57 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||90||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.8||24.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.2||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2248||1016|
|Screen Specs||Sony A7||Sony NEX-7|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A7||Sony NEX-7|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A7||Sony NEX-7|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Sony A7||Sony NEX-7|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||340 shots per charge||430 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
127 x 94 x 48 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
120 x 67 x 43 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||474 g (16.7 oz)||400 g (14.1 oz)|
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