Sony A900 vs NEX-7
The Sony Alpha A900 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2008 and August 2011. The A900 is a DSLR, while the NEX-7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (A900) and an APS-C (NEX-7) sensor. The A900 has a resolution of 24.4 megapixels, whereas the NEX-7 provides 24 MP.
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 A900 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 A900 and the Sony NEX-7. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. 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 (56 percent) than the Sony A900. Moreover, the NEX-7 is substantially lighter (55 percent) than the A900. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A900 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|4.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|5.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|6.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|7.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|8.||Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|9.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|11.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|12.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|13.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329|
|14.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|15.||Sony NEX-6||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||345 g||360||n||Sep 2012||999|
|16.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
|17.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-7 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 55 percent) than the A900, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A900 features a full frame sensor and the Sony NEX-7 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-7 is 58 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.
With 24.4MP, the A900 offers a slightly higher resolution than the NEX-7 (24MP), but the A900 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.90μm for the NEX-7) due to its larger sensor. However, the NEX-7 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 11 months) than the A900, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Sony Alpha A900 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|4.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|6.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|7.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|9.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
|11.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|14.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|16.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
|17.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The NEX-7 indeed provides for movie recording, while the A900 does not. The highest resolution format that the NEX-7 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the NEX-7 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the A900 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the A900 has a higher magnification than the one of the NEX-7 (0.74x vs 0.73x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A900, the Sony NEX-7, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Sony A900||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|4.||Panasonic S1||5760||Y||3.2 / 2100||full-flex||Y||1/8000s||9.0||n||Y|
|5.||Sony A6400||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n|
|6.||Sony A9||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||Y|
|7.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|8.||Sony A6500||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A6000||1440||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n|
|13.||Sony A3000||202||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|14.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony NEX-6||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|16.||Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|17.||Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the A900, but is missing on the NEX-7 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The A900 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the NEX-7 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A900 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the NEX-7 only has one slot.
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 A900 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 A900||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Panasonic S1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Sony A6400||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Sony A9||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Sony A6500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Sony A6000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Sony A3000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Sony RX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony A850||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A900 (unlike the NEX-7) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the A900 and the NEX-7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A900 was replaced by the Sony A99, 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 how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A900 or the Sony NEX-7 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A900:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.73x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (880 versus 430) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2008).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-7:
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 156x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 495g or 55 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (55 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the A900 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (11 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 A900 and the Sony NEX-7 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the A900 and the NEX-7 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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 A900||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|4.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||4.5/5||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|5.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||4/5||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|6.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||4.8/5||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|7.||Sony A99 II||..||..||4.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|8.||Sony A6500||5/5||+ +||3.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|9.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|11.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|12.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||4.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|13.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329|
|14.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|15.||Sony NEX-6||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||999|
|16.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|17.||Sony A850||3/5||..||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 A900 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 A900||Sony NEX-7|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony A mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2008||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 1,349|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A900||Sony NEX-7|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.4 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6048 x 4032 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.83 MP/cm2||6.57 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||79||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.7||24.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1431||1016|
|Screen Specs||Sony A900||Sony NEX-7|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A900||Sony NEX-7|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or MS cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A900||Sony NEX-7|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Sony A900||Sony NEX-7|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||880 shots per charge||430 shots per charge|
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
120 x 67 x 43 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||895 g (31.6 oz)||400 g (14.1 oz)|
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