back to article Sony NEX-C3 compact system camera

For years, early adopters have been saying that the mirrorless camera will see off the budget DSLR. Even Nikon, maker of the superb D3100, has entered the fray with the J1 and V1 compacts Arguably, it wasn’t until Sony’s NEX series appeared over a year ago that the somewhat DSLR-resistant mainstream consumer began to see the …


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  1. Alex Walsh

    "The body, compared to the likes of the more expensive Sony NEX-7 or Fujifilm X10"

    The X10 is £1 more. It's probably poor grammar that makes it sound like you're bracketing the Fujifilm in the "more expensive" camp?

  2. Robert E A Harvey

    I still don't get this category. Zoom, super zoom and bridge cameras seem much more appropriate for the intended market.

    1. Ru

      As a relatively happy dSLR user I'll disagree with you there. A decent EVIL (electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lens... not sure if this is a well known term!) camera can take the place of any other sort of camera with the exception of a super compact (it won't ever be as small) and it can perform most camera uses with the exception of sports/fast-paced photojournalism (because the autofocus is too slow).

      You can put on a big zoom for wildlife or event photography, you can put on a macro lens that will vastly outperform anything on a non-interchangeable lens camera for small subjects and product photography, you can put on a mid-range lens for 'every day' use, you can put on a wide-aperture fast prime for evening/indoor events where you don't want to use flash. At all other times, you don't need to deal with the inconvenience of the features you don't need (eg, the bulk of a superzoom) and the whole package can still be reasonably discreet (with a pancake prime lens it'll be pocketable).

      Like as not you'll end up with better image quality (which is utterly irrelevant for most people, but useful if you're making medium-sized or larger prints) and better low light performance than any smaller sensor digital camera (eg, any of the kinds you listed) and a device which can still do more things and do them better than a combination of super-compact and super-zoom.

      "Bridge" cameras look a bit naff by comparison, superzooms too bulky when you don't need the zoom, and normal zooms not particularly versatile. The only thing that might be more useful for most people is a decent super-compact, because you can take it everywhere really easily... and people seem to prefer using their phones for that!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still don't believe APS-C is the right format for this system as it makes the lenses too big in relation to the compact body. Just compare it against the PEN 3 or GX1 with anything other than a pancake and the handling is much better on the M4/3 systems.

    Sensor size isn't the same 'problem' it used to be - technology can make smaller sensors better, but it can't make larger format lenses smaller.

    1. Ru


      All the disadvantages of a APS-C dSLR, with none of the advantages... just a slightly smaller package. Awesome work by Sony, there.

      Incidentally, small sensors are less limited than they used to be, but you'll still come a cropper when it comes to things like depth of field and diffraction limited aperture when compared to bigger devices.

    2. Jerome 0

      Take a look at the Samsung NX system then, which also uses an APS-C sized sensor, yet has plenty of excellent compact lenses available.

      I don't know what it is that Sony has done to mean they need such oversized lenses for the NEX, but obviously the sensor size isn't the only factor.

  4. Nick Roberts
    Thumb Up

    Thanks, El Reg

    A proper photo-literate review. ;)

    Personally, I can't stick the NEX series; the lenses are so out of proportion with the bodies, and the handling is absolutely terrible - I mean, no mode dial? Only Sony would think that might work for serious photographers.

    However, there's no denying that the results are great - it's just that with lenses that size, I'm far from clear on the benefits of having a smaller body. Make both camera and lens pocketable and you hit the jackpot; however, this combo still needs to live outside, so you might as well have a low-end DSLR with all the attendant benefits and not a huge amount more weight.

  5. Craig Vaughton


    I looked at the NEX series whilst looking for a "travel" camera, lighter than my DLSR + lenses but without the restrictions imposed by even the larger compacts like the Canon G series.

    The images off the NEX are great, but its horrible to hold, it just doesn't balance nicely with the lens at one end. I opted for M4/3 in the shape of an Olympus EP-1, but it was a close fight between that and the Lumix G series. The added benefit to M4/3 is you can buy an adapter and fit Olympus OM mount lenses, the results are impressive!

    Only drawback so far are; there's no viewfinder, I've lost count the number of times I've gone to take a shot expecting one with suitable embarrassment as a result and the auto focus system is easy to fool, leading to shots with the wrong thing in focus if you're not careful. Both Lumix & Olympus now have models out that have expressly addressed the focus issue, so it could be upgrade time.

  6. Steven Jones

    It's diffraction limiting...

    I'd suggest a lesson in basic lens theory for the reviewer. The reason that f/32 is soft is nothing at all to do with the quality of the lens, but is just a function of the small aperture size. Any lens stopped down to F/32 (if that's an available setting) will exhbit the same effect. It's caused by the diffraction of the small aperture. In fact a 16MP APS-C sensor will gradually suffer increased levels of diffraction softening from around f11 onwards. By f32 it will be severe as the Airy disc covers about 8 pixels.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong market?

    All the comments so far are obviously from people who are very into their photography. I bought an NEX-5 and use it primarily as a point and shoot camera, and the shots it takes are simply fantastic compared to all the compact cameras I had before.

    I think rookies like me who don't use the advanced settings very much, but still want good pictures, are exactly who Sony are aiming at with this one.

    1. John Sanders

      Buy a cheap DSLR

      All cheap DSLR are not too big, cheap (you can buy them for the price of this abortion) and have a very nice point and click mode.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Buy a cheap DSLR

        Sorry John, here's the big red flag back at ya. I don't see where Tony asked for cheap or "not too big". Considering "too big" is very much a personal matter and I might even surmise the smallest cheap DSLR is "too big". A quick look online shows a Rebel T3 priced nearly the same as the NEX-C3 but I'd say it wasn't small enough.

        Personally speaking, the Lumix gf3 has both the missus and me wanting to take more pictures because it's something that can easily carry every day as small is my main concern. Oh, this may come as a shock but I only carry a single lens; I have others that I may break out for special occasions like weddings or a vacation to Angkor Wat but mostly it's one lens, the smallest one actually. If one day I am as good as the tool, I'll consider moving up but I expect sensor technology will easily outpace me so I may even get to move to a smaller size camera. I'll finish with the mention that the missus insisted on getting the gf3 (damn my bad luck) after using my g2 because the g2 was "too big" and is capable of taking better pictures than we are.

  8. karl reading

    deoends on what you want

    i love a proper camera I.E dSLR because of the handling and i just generally like the format, however i can actually see why people like the NEX, which is essentially a wolf in sheeps clothing. My alpha a580 and this new c3 share the same sensor, so format aside there basically the same tool, just packaged differently. and in that respect, i suppose this is as much a " proper " camera as my dSLR.....

  9. AceRimmer


    Having owned a NEX-5 with both the pancake and the 18-55mm lens for a few months now I can say that I have been very impressed with it.

    Main reason for buying the NEX rather than a DSLR was that I didn't want a huge camera - I also hate having to use view finders and find it much simpler to frame a picture on the LCD

    Handling wise - the camera feels fine even with the 18-55mm lens plus a fisheye attachment, although I'm not used to how a DLSR handles either.

    With the pancake lens fitted, the camera is small enough to slip into a jacket pocket, although I tend to just leave the 18-55mm lens on

    I've used the flash once just to check it works. The camera has great low light level capabilities and I've never felt the need to use the flash even at parties (or which there have been several recently!)

    There are plently of manual modes, and although the menu can be a bit of a pain it does at least remember where you were last so switching frequently between manual and auto focus isn't too painful. (There has been a software update which I can't remember being mentioned in the article)

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