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.
23.4×15.6mm 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.
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.
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.
|CCD effective megapixels||14.2 megapixels|
|Viewfinder magnification, coverage||N/A|
|LCD screen size||3.0in|
|LCD screen resolution||921,600 pixels|
|Zoom 35mm equivalent||27-83mm|
|Image stabilisation||optical, lens based|
|Maximum image resolution||4,592×3,056|
|Maximum movie resolution||1280×720|
|Movie frame rate at max quality||30fps|
|File formats||RAW, JPEG, QuickTime (h.264)|
|Battery type||7.2V 1020mAh Li-ion|
|Battery Life (tested)||330 shots|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0 Hi-Speed|
|HDMI output resolution||1080i|
|Lens mount||Sony E mount|
|Focal length multiplier||1.5x|
|Kit lens model name||Sony E 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 OSS|
|Accessories||camera strap, charger, USB cable, flash, RAW conversion software|
|Weight||287g (without lens)|
|Warranty||1 year parts and labour|
|Exposure modes||program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual, scene mode, intelligent auto, anti-motion blur, sweep panorama|
|Shutter speed||30 to 1/4,000 seconds|
|Aperture range||f/3.5 to 22 (wide) f/5.6 to 32 (tele)|
|ISO range (at full resolution)||200 to 12,800|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2EV|
|White balance||auto, 6 presets, manual|
|Additional image controls||6 picture style presets, dynamic range optimiser|
|Closest macro focus||25cm|
|Auto-focus modes||multi (25-point), centre, flexible spot, face detect, predictive focus|
|Metering modes||multi, centre-weighted, centre|
|Flash||auto, fill, slow synchro, rear synchro|
|Drive modes||single, continuous, speed-priority continuous, self-timer, continuous self-timer|