Feature Design Sony NEX-7
Feature Design Sony NEX-7

The embodiment of convenience

Takagi:If we merely added what DSLR enthusiasts crave to a camera without some thought, the camera would look no different from ordinary DSLRs. But if simplicity were our only design guideline for the NEX-7, which already inherits the minimalist NEX "cylinder + panel" aesthetic, the camera would look no different from the NEX-5. It was my task to help give the NEX-7 some impact.

With greater convenience in mind, expressed in more chiseled styling, I examined each area of the camera. Although the NEX-7 may remind you of classic rangefinder cameras, this was not at all a consideration in design. We might venture to describe the NEX series as the ultimate in convenient shooting. That's why the NEX-7 had to enable undistracted adjustment as you look through the EVF, so that you won't miss shots. Buttons are carefully arranged for this, and even when switching dials, you can keep your finger on the shutter release while operating the camera. In this way, the camera took shape as we chose the most effective arrangement of the key elements.

Even subtle details were carefully considered. The contours around dials, for example, took many mock-ups to perfect. Seeking easier operation, we asked ourselves how much the dials should be exposed, and how far apart and deep the non-slip ridges engraved on the surface should be. In the end, we chose a ridge pitch of just 0.08 mm. That's too small to see, but fingers can discern subtle differences on this scale. Besides the appearance, we also fine-tuned the movement of dials to match all kinds of UI animation shown on the screen. Dial movement feels precise, which makes it a pleasure to use the camera.

Design goals shared by Sony engineers

Takagi:The grip is shaped to fit securely under your middle finger, ring finger, and little finger. It's made of rubber, which keeps your fingers in place and feels luxurious, as the grip of a premium camera should. Rubber is not easy for product engineers to work with, though. Unlike ordinary elastomers, it can't be molded in one piece. Rubber parts tend to be thicker, among other disadvantages. But because our engineers shared our goal of a camera that feels perfect in your hand, we decided to use rubber. The fine, faux-leather texture was also developed especially for this model. In textural detail and luster, it's different from most SLRs grips.

One result of the slimmer camera body was that unless we modified the accessory shoe, it would stick out. For this reason, we shortened the shoe considerably. We knew this might meet with some resistance from our engineers, but once they understood our design goals, they took on the technical challenges involved. The shoe you see today is just as sturdy yet more compact, so it doesn't protrude. As you might expect, what made it possible was our determined engineers.

Covering the details enthusiasts look for

Niitsu:Although the black appearance of the NEX-7 sets it apart, we had initially considered an NEX-5-like combination of silver and black. But to accentuate the NEX-7's luxurious, classic styling, we began exploring the idea of a uniformly black camera, including the lens and release button. Existing NEX lenses are silver, so we created a black lens especially for the NEX-7.

This decision also helped us resolve an issue raised internally. Viewed from the front of some cameras, the On/Off lettering by the power switch looks upside-down and may be distracting. We thought there might be no way to avoid this, because the lettering is intended for the camera user, but nevertheless, we treated it as an issue worth resolving. It turned out that by adopting this kind of black release button, we could hide the lettering from the front by inscribing it on the back surface of the button.

Another detail, the triangular strap rings, was not originally part of our plans. But once we determined that camera aficionados would appreciate this touch, we decided to include them. As for the accessory shoe, instead of recycling the A-mount series shoe, we developed a smaller shoe to suit the overall NEX image. We don't usually modify standard parts just for a particular model, but our regard for target users extended to camera details such as this. A camera designed to resonate with enthusiasts that's the NEX-7.

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