Sony NEX-3

NEX-3 image quality

Written by Gail Bjork

The low light performance of the Sony NEX is excellent. Colors are pleasing, well-saturated and skin tones are natural-looking.

I am quite impressed with the high image quality of the Sony NEX-3. Like most small sized digital cameras, it does very well in good light. But what sets the NEX-3 apart from many of them is its excellent low light performance.

The NEX-3 has a full APS-C sized sensor, a large size as those found in digital single lens reflex cameras. The camera has a sensitivity range of ISO 200 – 12800! While I certainly would refrain from shooting important events at ISO 12800, the resulting images are cleaner than those I’ve shot at ISO 400 and 800 with compact cameras of just a few years ago.

ISO 12800! Click for larger view.

How I judge image quality

My approach to judging the image quality of jpegs is visual. I personally do not pixel peep. In other words, I don’t scrutinize at them at high magnification or agonize over 100% crops. Pros may need to do this and some photo enthusiasts love to do this…but I am not one of them.

I want digital photos to respond well to minor editing: cropping, reducing the size, making a brightness adjustment and minor sharpening. I don’t like applying noise reduction and, with the NEX, do find it necessary to do so for my personal tastes.

The NEX responds well to these minimalist editing steps. With a 14 megapixel sensor, I can do significant crops with little, if any, loss of detail.

NEX-3 colors

I’m a big fan of colors produced by Canon digital cameras. The colors of other brand cameras I’ve owned often disappointed straight out of the camera. But not the NEX, which is my first Sony camera.

Colors are pleasing, well-saturated and skin tones are natural-looking. Without adjusting the white balance setting, NEX images have a warm tone when shooting inside under incandescent lighting. The warm tones are pleasant but can easily be tweaked when post processing.

NEX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens

My NEX-3 came with the 18-55mm image stabilized lens, which is a typical zoom range for a kit lens. It may not be the fastest or sharpest lens in the world but in my opinion it’s a decent lens with a usable and practical zoom range.

Sony seems to be aiming the first generation NEX at compact digital camera users and this lens should serve them well. For others, they can use many A-mount Alpha lenses with an adapter that can be purchased separately. Some older lenses can also be used with the NEX but they must be focused manually. Other E-mount lenses are available for the camera.

Sample photos taken with the Sony NEX-3:

For best view of photos, click slideshow icon for full screen mode.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.