Sony Alpha NEX-3 review

Tim Smalley
11 Nov 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

The new firmware makes a remarkable difference and the NEX-3 produces identical image quality to the NEX-5. It’s £110 cheaper and that makes it mighty attractive.



23.4x15.6mm 14.2-megapixel sensor, 3.1x zoom (27-83mm equivalent), 287g (without lens)

Sony’s Alpha NEX series of cameras are two of the smallest system cameras available today. We looked at the Alpha NEX-5 a couple of months back and while it was undoubtedly a beautiful camera with DSLR-like image quality, some of the choices Sony had made meant the camera was often frustrating to use – particularly when using the aperture priority, shutter priority or manual modes – because regularly-used functions were buried in a unique, but fragmented menu system.

The company has taken the feedback on-board and, as a result of that, a new firmware version designed to correct many of the original complaints was announced at Photokina in September. Just a day after our NEX-3 sample arrived in the Expert Reviews labs, the new firmware version was released, which is what we're testing here.

Sony NEX3 And Lens

The NEX-3 is slightly bigger than the NEX-5 and, despite being made from plastic, it still feels incredibly well-built. It doesn’t invite you to take pictures in quite the same way that the NEX-5 achieved and doesn’t feel quite as sturdy in your hand. This is down to both the hand grip being much less prominent and, as a result of this, the subsequent relocation of the shutter button which has been combined with the power switch.

Sony NEX3

With the 18-55mm kit lens attached, the centre of gravity is in front of the NEX-3’s body, making it feel front heavy. The NEX-5 also feels front heavy, but because the hand grip is larger, a firmer grip can be established. With the tiny 16mm f/2.8 pancake lens on the front of the NEX-3, the camera is a little sturdier, but we still found ourselves wanting a firmer grip as it’s a good deal heavier than a typical compact camera – and it’s not truly pocketable either.

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