ReviewGist Report for Sony NEX-3
The Sony NEX 3 (the lesser expensive cousin of NEX 5) is one of the coolest things to come out of the Sony stable recently. Released in May 2010, this small wonder combines an interchangeable lens into a smallest package ever seen. In this report we look at some of the clever innovations that Sony has introduced with the NEX line. We then round up over 39 different expert reviews to see what the experts have to say about this mini-marvel.
What the Manufacturer Says
With the NEX 3, Sony claims a DSLR level picture quality in never-seen-before small and compact package. According to Sony, the NEX 5 is the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens digital camera. The small size has become possible essentially with a first-time-ever mirrorless design with a claimed thickness of just 25.4 mm for NEX-3 (excluding the grip and mount)
Sony is introducing the a brand new sensor with the NEX 3 - what it calls the 'Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor'. The sensor is larger than the ones found in most other compact cameras and should dramatically reduce image noise and bring it close to DSLR levels.
The other noteworthy introductions with the Sony Nex 3 are as follows:
1. Powerful BIONZ processor to support super fast DSLR leven shooting capabilities.
2. Supports a wide range of interchangeable lenses
3. HD Video Recording (Only till 720p for NEX 3, 1080p for NEX 5)
4. Sweep Panorama Mode - which allows a very user friendly panoramic image construction by simply sweeping the camera from side-to-side and pressing a button.
What the Reviews Say
Almost all experts found that the NEX line does boast of some very impressive image quality. CNet went on to claim that the NEX line has the best noise profile as compared to all other cameras (including DSLR's) in its price range. However, it is important to note that the experts response get mixed when we look at the higher ISO levels. At ISO 1600, PC Advisor claims that the image was still 'clean', however CNet found it pretty noisy. At ISO 3200 most experts report increased noise, so much so that the image is only usable for small prints.
Video quality has also been lauded across the board by almost all experts. Reviewers have specifically praised the HD (1080i) video quality and most are happy with the lens response while shooting videos. Though experts at 'Luminous Landscape' do point out a minor quirk (which might be a big deal in certain situations) that the shutter speed and aperture controls are unavailable while shooting video.
The optical capabilities are also top-notch for the NEX-3 according to most reviewers. The experts attribute this and the great images to the new Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor. PC World claims a very impressive exposure quality outpaced only by the Canon EOS 7D. Most experts are very happy with the auto-focus speed and accuracy. However, one major gripe with the NEX 5 is the lack of a built-in flash an viewfinder which has bummed off most experts.
Quite a few experts expressed a child-like delight on handling the NEX 3. This camera has a sturdy build quality and small in size, which makes it a joy to hold.
The 3-inch variable angle LCD does a great job for the NEX 3. It must be noted that the NEX-5 has very few buttons and dials even though the LCD is not touch. This has resulted in a mixed response as far as the interface is concerned. Depending on what you want to do, this arrangement might actually get in the way and seem annoying. According to experts at 'Luminous Landscape', this arrangement is only good for the newbies and would most probably seem annoying to the more advanced users.
As far as the battery life is concerned, we again got a mixed response from the experts. PC Advisor experts are very impressed, whereas the PCWorld experts claim it to be just average.
Sony's claims of dramatically improved image quality due to the new 'Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor' has been given a thumbs up by almost all experts.
However, the Sony NEX line just stops short of setting a new benchmark as far as the image quality is concerned, primarily because of a lack lustre performance at higher ISO's. Though it must be said that combined with the fact that all this comes in a very small package and with all the interchangeable goodness, the NEX line becomes one of the most impressive deals in the compact camera space.
The Sony NEX 3, primarily because of its small size and interchangeable lenses, comes out as one of the best piece in the market for almost-pros who want to shoot on the go. However, buyers should definitely try to play with the menu handling before buying, because most of our experts are not too happy with it. Also, if you absolutely need a built-in flash and optical view finder check out the Samsung NX10, as the NEX-3 is missing these.