10 Firmware Update Suggestions for the NEX-7

Having a bit of Sony’s ear, I thought it might be a good idea to compile a short list (and the list is short) of suggestions for improvements to the firmware in the Sony NEX-7.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think the NEX-7 is a great camera, but there is always room for improvement.

Having used the NEX-7 “on the job” so to speak, I have run into a few “glitches” which I would personally like to see addressed in a future FW update.  I have also read other’s reports on the camera, and have tried to incorporate their suggestions here as well.

Since it is my hope to get Sony’s attention, I would appreciate any additional suggestions and/or recommendations be made in the comments section of this article.  Note: there is no order or priority to these suggestions.

Here we go…

1. Please increase the steps between EV settings for both bracketing and Auto-HDR.  Neither .3 or .7 EV increments is enough for serious work.  It would also be valuable to choose from either 3, 5, or 7 exposures.

2. The review modes need to be consolidated.  There should not be separate modes for stills and video.  This leads to confusion as to what is in storage as well as how to switch easily between modes.

3. There needs to be a way to prevent the eye-switch from disabling the cameras “sleep mode”.  The simplest way to do this would be to remove it from the list of actions which wake the camera, relying only on a button press to reawaken.  Without this, it is possible to very rapidly drain the battery unknowingly.

4. There should be an option to either simply disable the Record button and /or to reassign it to another function.  It is far too easily pressed when trying to take a shot, thus causing the photographer to not only miss the shot, but to struggle to put the camera back into still image mode.

5. The “Menu” and “Focus” buttons need to be swapped.  The menu button is right under your finger, while the focus button is at the bottom of the camera.  This is awkward as you need to access the focus button often, and the menu button infrequently.  While the menu button is fixed, the focus button is a “soft button.” This should be an extremely easy fix.  I could find no way to reassign these buttons in the menu, though many others could be.

6. The Jpeg processing could use some serious improvement.  Allowing for noise reduction to be turned off entirely would go a long way from eliminating the “smearing” seen in the Jpegs from the camera.

7. Image controls are needed for the adjustment of the image in the EVF.  At least a “contrast control” is required to allow the user to adjust the display to match the actual scene.  Sharpness controls would also worthwhile.

8. Personally I would also like to see the addition of the option to set the ISO range from which auto-ISO chooses.  Currently you have no control over this when you set the camera to Auto-ISO.

The last two suggestions are courtesy Michael Reichmann of the Luminous Landscape web-site.  Since Michael says it so much better than I could, I quoted him here.

9. As good as Sony’s new interface on the NEX-7 is, there is one major omission. That is, there is no way to group all of the camera’s settings into what some camera makers call My settings, or have on the Mode dial as C1, C2, etc. This is, in my view, a huge hole in all NEX camera’s user interface, and is particularly glaring in its absence on the NEX-7 because it is a camera aimed at the advanced amateur and Pro.”

10. Regarding the EVF display… There is a gottcha with the Settings Effect “OFF” mode though. It’s intended to show you a bright visible image, regardless of the cameras settings, and that includes exposure. When OFF, if you’re over or underexposing, deliberately or otherwise, the screen will always show you a decent image for framing and composition (except in manual exposure mode). But, if you have the histogram feature turned on the histogram does not show you a graph of the exposure that is set, but instead shows you a perfect histogram of the image that is being displayed.”

That’s it then.  Hopefully when Sony releases a FW v1.1 we will see many, if not all of these implemented.  If you have other suggestions, or recommendations which can be implemented in the FIRMWARE, please sound off in our comments section.

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72 responses to “10 Firmware Update Suggestions for the NEX-7

  1. number 4, possibly a user option to where you have to press the record button twice to stop recording, in addition to your suggestion. I have seen this used for voice recorders for a long time, so it would be very easy to get used to.

    number 8, YES YES YES I love that suggestion.

    As for another, it would be amazing if the pop-up flash could gain the capability to be the commander for wireless flashes.

  2. Now that Sony is sticking to EVF/LCD with all of their cameras, they should offer more image ratios than just 3:2 and 16:9. Give us 1:1, 4:3, 4:5, 6:7, Sony!

  3. * custom setting to choose between 1080/50p and 1080/60p videos. it sucks to have a camera which could do 60 fps, but is limited to 50 fps by software. i really don’t care if there’s flicker when you record a 60fps video in europe. i’m taking e. g. videos of my cat in the garden. there are no flickering neon lights in my garden.

    * custom setting for jpeg compression; the awful picture quality of the hx9v, hx100v and tx100v makes me wish that sony would update those cameras as well with custom compression settings. i don’t want to take every picture in raw format and post process it. having a custom post-processing and jpeg compression setting would be very helpful and time saving

  4. in addition to a larger bracketing range, you should be able to use an infrared remote to trigger auto-bracketing, to make sure you have no camera movement when doing HDR. It’d be nice if you could bracket RAW files as well.

  5. here’s more:
    movie button – Holding down for (say) 2 seconds should lock it against accidental activation and then holding down for two seconds should reactivate it. Note: since this time-monitoring is done for the dial function change button, it should be possible.

    movie/still display – Holding down the display button for two seconds should switch between movie and still display. Alternatively, or in addition, in setup there could be a choice between combined and typed storage. Typed storage display would behave exactly as at present. Combined storage would display everything in chronological sequence (using the same card folders for both movie and still). This would be implemented when a card is formatted. At other times the firmware would detect the presence of movie folder(s).

    menu items access – Currently, items not relevant to the current setting choices are greyed out and cannot be altered. This is useful to tell new or less advance users not to expect changes to these items to have any effect. It is however, inconvenient for the advanced user who wants to set up everything for a session. Better would be to put a big red X next to the item and, when selected, allow changes but display a warning such as “This option is not applicable in current settings”.

    non functional buttons/dials if auto mode – Contrary to what some people think, I believe that this is a good thing. If I hand my camera to take a picture in auto mode, I don’t want them to fiddle with the settings, accidentally or on purpose.

  6. Not sure whether this is in the NEX-7 firmware. Have an option to switch movie mode between NTSC/PAL.

  7. Exposure bracketing needs not only a wider EV space (+- 3 EV min.), but also more exposures (5-7). Just copy the AEB-settings from the Pentax K5.

    We also need a way to use RF triggers for HDR.

  8. Oh, and one more thing. Loose the awful P&S iconography from the menu screen. Icons of little kids and flowers has no place on a serious camera. This is just so wrong.

  9. Here are some additions I can think of:

    – Manual control in panoramic mode. This would allow me to set the aperture wide open so I can take a wide portrait and keep the background blurred.
    – VIDEO ISO to top at 6400 rather than 1600
    – To allow exposure compensation button to be reprogrammable to things such as flash
    – To allow the built in flash to wirelessly control external flashes
    – To allow functions that require JPEG mode to shoot to not be greyed out when in RAW mode, but to automatically switch to JPEG. One example would be anti motion or twilight mode.

  10. “To allow the built in flash to wirelessly control external flashes”

    This probably is hardware limitation with the small built in flash.

  11. 1) Be able to sat max ISO for use with AutoISO

    2) On-screen display of whatever ISO AutoISO is selecting

    3) I think it makes little sense that Hand Held Twilight is in one place, and Anti Motion Blur is in another — perhaps there should be a programmable PASM menu, so that you can select whichever PASM Modes and/or Scene Modes you want, all within a single menu — actually, now that I think about it, that would be great — I’d get rid of 3D pano and creative styles — add HHT, and possibly some more.

    4) AutoHDR should be a mode in the way that HHT and AMB are.

    5) It’s lame that I have to manually switch to JPG if I want to use AutoHDR/HHT/AMB — the camera should know how to automatically switch to JPG and then switch back to RAW

  12. Hey Peter,
    Absolutely critical:

    Auto Iso all the way to 6400, able to set minimum shutter speed to 1/500 sec, available in manual mode.

    All the best,
    Jonathan

  13. Add 30P/25P to the 1080 video options. Personally, I thinkk all interlaced options can be eliminated.
    Seeing as the camera can record at 28Mbps, allow this data rate for ALL video options.

    Is there a reason for the 29 minute record limit? If it is just a firmware limit, eliminate it.

    • I’m pretty sure they put the limit in there as a failsafe in case the overheating sensor broke. These cameras aren’t built to record like a camcorder. Too much camera in too little space. For instance, the NEX-5n in real world use records for about 10-15 minutes before overheating, even though the recording limit is technically 29 minutes.

    • It’s actually because if a camera can record 30 minutes continuously , they are considered video cameras according to European tax laws and are taxed more… I’m sure it’s just a firmware limit, but who would want to pay $50 dollars more (I pulled that figure out of a hat) for the ability to record over 29 minutes? I don’t.

      • personally? I would. Given that the 7 doesn’t overheat like the 5n does with videos, it would turn the 7 into a full featured camcorder with a professional camera attached. :)

  14. Cable release setup using firmware modification and a small gadget

    The 3.5mm jack for the stereo-mic, well, how about use it also for a cable-release setup? A simple box that creates a spike in impedance when its button is hit, and the firmware would detect the impulse and take a photograph.

  15. I’d like to be able to view and control the audio levels manually like you can for the 5d2 and gh2 in video mode.

  16. RAW format files in sweep panorama mode.

    sweep is awsome, but it would be killer if sony allowed raw files to be saved

    • If you could do sweep panorama in manual mode, it would allow you to set the aperture wide open, and as a result, you could take a picture of a person with a really wide background a retain shallow depth of field. Something no camera can do.

  17. I would love to see AutoISO in manual mode. And yes, the position of the video record button is _really annoying, lost many shots trough accidently hitting it.

    • That would be pretty nice. Especially when combined with the exposure compensation button in the bottom of the control wheel. In video mode, it would allow you to set the aperture for, say, shallow depth of field, the shutter speed to say 1/50th for 24p, autoiso, and use the control wheel button on the bottom to have the camera compensate exposure (by modifying iso) based on the lighting. Whew.. wonder if that made any sense..

  18. The Nex-7 should have a second and similiar menu-choce ( under MENU -Setup- FINDER/LCD Settingn- desired setting.) for playback-mode. As it is now, it needs four or five presses to see the picture you just took if you prefere to use the viewfinder only. (and you have to look through the viefinder to change setting) With this suggestion you will only need to press the playback-button once.
    If so, It would be possible to turn on the screen for viewing pictures on the screen with one button-press. As it is now, that is not possible. There are three reasons I would like this to be in a firmware upgrade: The Viewfinder is activated much faster when it dont need to change from lcd to viewfiner. 2: I dont like the lcd to light up when I dont need it. 3: Saves battery life.

  19. “4. There should be an option to either simply disable the Record button and /or to reassign it to another function. It is far too easily pressed when trying to take a shot, thus causing the photographer to not only miss the shot, but to struggle to put the camera back into still image mode.”

    I would suggest a double-press (double-click?) of the video button should be required to begin recording.

  20. can’t wait to get hold of one of these…. SLR just way too heavy for personal use…

  21. Here is a real chance for Sony to do something very revolutionary:
    Why not multiple versions of the firmware to suit different user preferences. This would satisfy the P&S crowd(default firmware shipped with the camera?), the JPEG shooter, and those preferring RAW. This would free up limited firmware space for more advanced features by eliminating some of the more armature stuff for those who do not use it. Make the other versions a free download.

  22. An option to disable pre-flash,
    More options for focus peaking,
    Assign any function to any button.

  23. Pingback: sonyalpharumors | Blog | NEX-7 news roundup + new madness auctions + watch out BHphoto!

  24. How about turning off peaking on initial press of the shutter? I’d like to see the composition without the peaking before I take the shot.

    enable direct control of peaking intensity.

  25. Also, more image ratios, like 1:1 and 4:5!!

  26. I second the 1:1 and 4:5 image ratios. It is very useful to be able to compose ‘in camera’. This must be a simple fix. Right?

  27. I would love to see the Smart Teleconverter feature that is in A77, provides a nice video zoom and maintains nice resolution. Great for kids performances or sporting events.

  28. for nex7 and 5n
    1 intervalometer ( for timelapse )- it’s only menu function
    2. audio control in video
    3. and all movie mode – 50p 60p 24p 25p in the menu

  29. yep, 2, 4 & 5 are my biggest issues with the original nex 5. i’m surprised sony hasn’t changed this yet.

  30. #5 is huge. My biggest frustration with my NEX-3 using mostly manual focus lenses.

  31. I’ve had my camera for 3 days. I would like to be able to switch from lcd to view finder manually with a press of a “soft key.” I like your list of changes. Hope they make them soon.

  32. +1 for: Now that Sony is sticking to EVF/LCD with all of their cameras, they should offer more image ratios than just 3:2 and 16:9. Give us 1:1, 4:3, 4:5, 6:7, Sony!

    Additionally:
    – Auto iso in M!
    – if viewfinder only is enabled, images should show up on the main lcd when play button was pressed and status screen should be displayable. Alternatively, if thats too tricky for the engineers: option for setting both evf and lcd to “on”.
    – customizeable dials: direction and function should be configurable.

  33. For me, Nex-7 is almost a perfect camera if only it is capable of shooting stills while recording video.

  34. For number 5, the manual labels the Menu button as Soft Key A, yet it’s not assignable. Please make it a Soft Key as the manual claims it is.

    Definitely agree on numbers 1, 4, and 8! Especially 4.

    Also, please allow HDR and other similar effects without having to take the camera out of RAW+JPEG.

    Then the fancy stuff:

    1. Allow setting of default values for things like Shoot Mode, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, Aperture, ISO, etc, to be set when the camera is power cycled.

    2. Allow entry of EXIF details for legacy lenses.

    3. Close the shutter when the camera is powered off.

    Thanks,
    Paul

  35. Hi there!

    How are you?
    Could you please pass on another firmware recommendation.

    At the moment a lot of the prime competitors like the GH2 offer all video modes. For example, PAL 25/50p and NTSC 24/60P (although 60p is hacked).

    Unfortunately, sony restricts the NEX7 and all there cameras to the region of purchase. E.g. USA buyers only get 24p/60p (NTSC), and Australian buyers like myself only get 25p/50p. It would be glorious if a camera could access all these video modes no matter where you purchased it from.

    Thanks for your time!
    Leo

  36. One thing I miss is a function to close the shutter when removing the lens.

  37. You really know your stuff, my friend!

  38. I find that while using the NEX-7 in P, A, and S mode, the rightmost of the top twin dials, which is used for EV in those modes, will move on its own (or perhaps I am brushing it with my hand), so pictures are often taken with + or – EV when I wanted it at 0. Drives me crazy. There doesn’t appear to be a function to just lock the right dial, nor a function to assign it to something else. Am I missing something?

  39. Thank you for your excellent review earlier and photos from Cuba! I’m leaning towards getting this camera as my only camera.

    By the way, Bjorn Uptott also has a good list of firmware update suggestions (some common with yours): http://www.bmupix.com/journal/2012/1/21/nex-7-part-4-10-firmware-update-suggestions.html

  40. - Allow 60p/24p in UK models, with a 1/50 or 1/100 shutter to eliminate flicker as you have now done with the FS-100. Ridiculous these options are not there, Canon and Nikon offer them, why not Sony?
    – Wider exposure and number of shots on bracketing, 0.3/0.7 is medieval.
    – Completely revise the insanely unintuitive menus.
    – Other aspect ratios 5:4 especially.
    – Manual audio control while recording.

  41. -have peaking detect horizontal detail instead of just vertical!
    -implement “trap” focus for MF lenses
    -in image review all the dials do the same thing – zoom in and out. Have them do different things, like change the picture while keeping the zoom level.

  42. Built in focus stacking.

  43. 1. Agree do something, anything about the movie button.
    2. Allow more programming of buttons, especially
    3. With MF lenses the left dial is useless; allow it to programmed.

    • 1. Higher range in braketing
      2. Custom Favorites folder so you can put up to 6 of your favorite menu items in this folder.
      3. make bottom exposure button on scroll wheel programmable
      4. allow swapping of top menu button and bottom button.
      5. allow manual control when in panoramic and antimotion blur modes. I want my aperture to be wide open when shooting panoramic so i can get shallow depth of field. the camera currently sets the aperture value automatically in these modes.
      6. allow built in flash to control external flash wirelessly.
      7. allow level heads up and histogram to be displayed at the same time.

      • Would love a feature that allows you to switch the Left and Right tri-nav wheels — (i.e. what is now controlled by Right is controlled by Left, and vice versa). The controls I use the most are on the Left, and I’d prefer them to be on the Right.

  44. + Exit magnify mode by pressing the same button (and not the menu button)
    + Delete images by double pressing the delete button (and not have to press a separate ok button–ala Nikon)
    + Fix the wheel behavior so it is consistent. In otherwords, Sony cannot decide whether turning the wheel has the effect of a) moving the wheel through a stationary selection, or b) moving the selected point along the wheel.

  45. This is a wonderful list: I especially love the point on HDR brackets. It would be so easy to make an even awesomer camera from one which already is awesome.

  46. I’m within a few weeks (tax return, of course) of buying either an amateur-friendly DSLR or the Nex-7. Any word on what Sony has planned for near-future firmwares?

    I’m most definitely planning on a camera that will handle HDR easily. The HDR range issues + JPEG quality + issues around the EVF “eye detector” keeping the camera on constantly are making me hesitate on the Nex-7. If it wasn’t for these 2 issues (and the issue that I would like my lenses to be a bit more future proof for when I buy a new camera in a few years) I would be pretty well decided on the Nex-7.

    • Goon news for you, the upcoming update for the a65/a77 addresses many of the biggest complaints reviewers and customers were having with the camera. Seeing as they just updated the 5n’s firmware to bring the AF speed up, I wouldn’t doubt that an update within the next couple months is in the pipeline. It could even be part of the “big announcement” this Tuesday at the Sony conference.

  47. Two suggestions from me:

    1) Add Exposure Markers like on the DSLRs – I find the Live Histogram unreliable most of the time, without it though I have no indication of how elements of the scene are exposed. On DSLRs you see the marker where you have Locked AE, and then you see the indicator of if you are over/under and by how much as you recompose.

    2) Digital Distance Scale in MF Mode – Manual Focusing with E-Mount Lenses is a pain in Low Light. The endless turning is annoying for me, but the bigger issue is the lack of Distance Scale on the Lens itself. It is all down to guesswork unless. Because of this I have resorted to my A-Mount lenses for all Low-Light Landscape work.

  48. Is there a stronger battery than the quite weak kit battery for the NEX-7 camera?

    Thank you.

  49. I know the overheat issue doesn’t appear to be impacting everybody but it’s impacting enough of us that it should be taken seriously by Sony and addressed. If it shut down consistently and predictably that would be one thing but when it quits after 12 minutes once, then runs to the limit the second time, then quits after 2 minutes (with no warming) all back to back and all with cool down periods in between…something isn’t right.

  50. +1 for #1. Bracketing up to +- 3 with 3 or 5 exposures. and RAW
    This is a must in a camera competing in this category.

    This was actually a deal-breaker from me. I had made my decision to buy the NEX-7 and was looking for one when I stumbled on this issue. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m now waiting on the 1st firmware update to see if it gets addressed. If it does, I’m in!

  51. I’m with DaveT here. The overheating is a little ridiculous. I am lucky if I get 10 minutes on the first run and when it overheats once, I only get 2 or 3 minutes out of recordings before it overheats and shuts down.

    Why do I need more than 5 minute video clips? I did my first short piece using only the nex 7 and boy was the interview part extremely difficult and putting together all the cut up interview was challenging.

    http://blog.rishio.com/2012/03/dharma-comics.html

    If the nex 7 provided even 12 minutes of consistent video usage – that would be huge for me!

  52. That’s a great list. I agree with all of those suggestions. Here are 3 of mine, and these are ordered by most important first:
    1. I like having my camera show me a “Review” of the picture I just took (e.g. for 10 seconds). This is settable via the NEX-7, as it is with my Nikon D7000. The problem is the implementation. Sony shows the preview in the eyepiece as well, which it shouldn’t do because I might be trying to compose my next picture. The Nikon (as most viewfinder cameras) only shows the preview on the rear LCD (or course, the Nikon has an optical viewfinder, but still). Also, if you are in preview mode, and lightly press the shutter release, it takes the Sony way to long to get out of preview, sometimes causing me to miss a shot. These seem like easy fixes,
    2. When I am in playback mode my vertical pictures are shown vertically in the horizontal display, which makes them tiny. Most point and shoots (and smartphones) sense the camera rotation and then rotate the image to fit the LCD display. The Sony does not. I can go through the menu and rotate the *actual image*, but I just want vertical images to fit the playback window (which is *how they were shot in the first place*!). This seems like a no-brainer, and I’m surprised I don’t see others complaining about it (maybe I have a setting wrong)
    3. Movies are jittery. Even if I use the 16mm fixed-focal lens which doesn’t have VR, the playback seems choppy, and it’s not from my computer. It’s like the camera tried to do shake control as it took the movie, but it just ends up coming out choppy. (unless I’m missing some way to shut this off)

    I think all of these things could be fixed with a firmware update.

    Thanks for listening!

  53. This is really a request for enhancement, or alignment of an existing system to the SLR model. I have set the focus mode to manual, set the AF/MF button to ‘hold’, and set the MF assist to no timeout. This allows me to autofocus when I push the AF/MF button, release the button and fine tune with manual focus. I get the best results and the best of both worlds this way. The issue I have with manual focus is the camera live view is done with the lens aperture set to the user setting, instead of wide open, as it is with an SLR. I would love to see the live view done at max aperture, stopping down when the ‘DOF preview’ function is active (assigned to the current movie button) or when taking the picture. This gives the best view of focus plane when the DOF is at a minimum, and also minimized noise in the EVF. The stopping down could occur when the shutter button is half pressed.

    • Hey Guy, since we are among the few who use the camera this way, I’m wondering if you noticed this bug.

      I have the camera set as following:

      – AF/MF Control to “Hold” in the Setting menu
      – Autofocus Area to “Flexible Spot” in the Camera menu
      – AF/MF Select to “Manual Focus” in the Camera menu
      – Grid Line to “Diag. + Square Grid” in the Setting menu

      The way I use the camera is that I keep the spot focus in the center and hold down the AF/MF button to lock focus, recompose and shoot. I prefer spot focus over center focus because spot focus is more precise. I use the Grid because there is no mark on the display marking the center of the screen when in manual focus mode. The grid solves the problem by marking the center of the screen so I know where precisely to point my camera before I hold down the AF/MF button to autofocus.

      The problem is that whenever I restart the camera, the spot focus location shifts to the left and wil not stay in the center of the display where the diagonal/square grid meets. The bug is that the spot focus point does not default to the center, it’s defaulted slightly right which is a big annoyance.

      Does this bug occur in your NEX and know of anyway around it?

  54. Yes! An intervalometer like in most nikons is a great feature and the primary way I plan to use this camera.

  55. Here’s another major problem I just discovered:
    The AF/AEL button can be made either “momentary” or “toggle” (sticky) via the menu, which is great. When the AEL is toggled there is a snowflake icon on the screen/viewfinder so that you know you have AE locked. Unfortunately, there is no such indicator for if focus is locked, so you have no way of knowing if you’re focus is locked or not (other than playing with it) which means you’re very likely to accidentally leave it in locked mode. This should be a trivial firmware fix, and I’m surprised they shipped it like this (I have to leave focus in “Momentary” because of that, but that’s really annoying).

  56. While Sony’s recent firmware upgrade now provides usefull autoexposure bracketing using three images up to +/- 3 EV, unfortunately you apparently can not set the drive to self-timer or remote shutter release so that the three exposures are done when you are not touching (and thus slightly moving) the camera.

    A camera for the enthusiast/serious amateur/professional market should allow this. For example, both my Canon DSLR and my Panasonic LX5 will do all three AEB exposures following just one press shutter on the 2-second self-timer setting.

  57. for nex7 and 5n
    1 intervalometer ( for timelapse )- it’s only menu function
    2. audio control in video
    3. and all movie mode – 50p 60p 24p 25p in the menu

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