Before talking about, you know, actually taking pictures with the new cameras, I've got to wax poetic a bit about the new Alpha's hardware. In a word, it's beautiful. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for retro styling, but the 7 and 7R really are handsome shooters that are a joy to hold. While the 7 has some plastic bits used in its construction (such as the mode dial), both cameras' chassis are built of magnesium alloy and are solid as a rock in hand. That magnesium construction doesn't add rigidity at the cost of portability, either -- the cameras are light and easy to handle, even with the 7's fairly sizable 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens attached.
Furthermore, I really appreciated the camera's front- and back-mounted settings dials, as they accommodate shooting adjustments via thumb or forefinger equally well. With manual controls for shooting mode and exposure compensation too, pros should feel right at home. And the built-in electronic viewfinder (borrowed from the A99) does its job admirably -- it accurately framed shots and the surrounding eyecup blocked out bright sunlight with aplomb. Meanwhile, the LCD on the back was crisp and clear, and on its highest brightness setting, I had no problem previewing shots in the sunshine.
Using the cameras' new unified menu is a far more enjoyable and efficient experience than the siloed system of old NEX cameras -- it's a setup that will feel familiar to any veteran DSLR user. Generally, while the 7 and 7R are packed with the shooting capabilities and adjustments that most any pro photographer demands, they're not so fussy as to make them difficult for a novice to use (particularly those who have owned another of Sony's ILCs). And, as each camera has WiFi built in, they work quite nicely with Sony's Play Memories app to facilitate social sharing of your shots.
Of course, even a good UX and beautiful chassis mean nothing if the pictures produced aren't up to snuff. Good news is the 7 and 7R both function fantastically shooting stills and video. While both cameras produced excellent results in pretty much every shooting environment I encountered, there are a couple of differences between them. The 7 is a bit quieter and quicker when shooting stills than the 7R, thanks to its electronic shutter and Sony's Fast Hybrid autofocus. Despite the fact that the 7R only packs contrast-detect autofocus (while the 7 uses contrast- and phase-detect autofocus), I didn't notice much difference between the two when it came time to shoot. Both cameras were able to find and lock in focus quickly, and held that focus without issue.