Sony NEX-C3 review
23.5x15.6mm 16.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 225g
It wasn't quite love at first sight for us and the Sony NEX range. We're big fans of the concept – an SLR-style sensor and interchangeable lenses crammed into a compact-shaped body – but while image quality was every bit as good as a conventional SLR, its performance and controls were severely lacking.
The NEX-C3 enters a very competitive market
A firmware update went a long way to addressing the control issues of the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5. This convinced us to give the NEX-5 a Best Buy award when we revisited it in our group test of interchangeable-lens cameras, particularly in view of its excellent 1080p video capture.
Since then, Panasonic has launched the NEX-like DMC-GF3. It couldn't quite match the NEX-5 for photo quality but surpassed it for performance and controls. At £550, it seemed overpriced at its launch, but as we go to press it's available at Amazon for £450 with a 14mm pancake lens, £419 with a 3x zoom lens or £550 (from Jessops) with both lenses.
The NEX-C3 enters the fray at similar prices: £430 with a 3x zoom lens (NEX-C3K), £528 with a 16mm pancake (NEX-C3A) or £550 as a twin-lens kit (NEX-C3D). It's even smaller and lighter than the old NEX models, but build quality remains extremely high. The slim handgrip and front-heavy centre of gravity when the 18-55mm lens is attached means it's best not to use it one-handed, but grasped in two hands it feels extremely satisfying and luxurious. The 3in, 921,000-pixel screen looks fabulous and tilts up and down for easy shooting from the hip or over your head.
The tilting screen allows for more creative compositions
As before, this is primarily a point-and-shoot camera. The only labelled buttons are for power, shutter release, video capture, playback, display and exposure compensation – and that short list is reduced further in Auto mode. Pressing exposure compensation brings a message that this control is only available in P/A/S/M modes (Program, Aperture, Shutter and Manual).