Sony NEX-C3 review

Ben Pitt
20 Aug 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Image quality to rival SLRs and much improved performance over the NEX-3 – a breathtakingly impressive point-and-shoot camera



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.

Sony NEX-C3K

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.

Sony NEX-C3K back

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).