Sony announces high-end NEX-7 interchangeable lens compact camera

Sony finally announces the well-leaked NEX-7, its high-end interchangeable compact lens camera, along with the lower-end NEX-5N.
Written by Janice Chen, Inactive

Though it wasn't exactly a surprise, having been long anticipated and extensively leaked, yesterday's announcement of Sony's high-end interchangeable lens compact (ILC) camera, the Sony Alpha NEX-7, got slammed by the Steve Jobs resignation news tsunami (along with lower-end sibling NEX-5N and Sony's two new dSLRs, the SLT-A77 and SLT-A65). Nevertheless, the NEX-7 has been doing gangbusters, besting all the other new Sonys in pre-orders at Amazon. At this writing, it's already crept up to Number 3 on Amazon's dSLR bestseller list (though someone needs to tell Amazon it's not a dSLR).

When Sony entered the ILC camera market last spring, a good year or more after Panasonic and Olympus had already introduced their first models (the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 and the Olympus E-P1, respectively), it smartly targeted the aspiring point-and-shooter with consumer-friendly features and pricing, rather than targeting high-end dSLR shooters like Panasonic and Olympus did out of the gate. (Sony's Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 were competitors to the lower-end Olympus E-PL1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10, rather than the top-of-the-line G1 and E-P1.)

With the NEX-7, though, Sony is finally pulling out the big guns and has the Olympus PEN E-P3 (or the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2's future successor) in its sites, potentially out-shooting them with its big APS-C size sensor among other top-notch components and features.

Developed for enthusiasts, the NEX-7 sports a 24.3-megapixel sensor (the same Sony Exmor HD CMOS used in the new A77 dSLR), and introduces a unique navigation system aimed at enthusiasts who demand very direct control (read: those who shun menu-driven feature access) and very granular control of the camera, but still want a compact body. To accomplish this, the NEX-7 uses three user-customizable control wheels (vs. the two you typically see in dSLRs). Two dials are on top of the camera, and a third wheel is on the back. By pressing a button on the front of the camera (next to the shutter release), you can cycle through different groups of parameters, giving very precise and granular access to various menu options via the three dials.

Another key feature is the new XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, also inherited from its dSLR cousins, which may just be a game-changer, providing users an eye-level viewfinder in a super compact package.  Of course, there's also a fully articulating and tiltable 3-inch, 921,600-dot LCD. Other standout features include:

  • 20-millisecond release lag
  • ISO sensitivity range 100-16000,
  • Flash/accessory hot shoe, wireless control, and built-in flash
  • User-selectable lens compensation for chromatic aberration, distortion, and vignetting
  • Full AVCHD progressive video recording
  • High-speed shooting of up to 10fps at 24 megapixels
  • Object tracking AF
  • Face recognition
  • Level gauge
  • Mic input jack

The Sony Alpha NEX-7 will ship in November for $1,200 body-only, or $1,350 with an 18-55mm kit lens.

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