Sony NEX-3

When I first saw the Sony NEX through a counter-top at Ritz camera a few months ago, I had no interest in even taking a closer look. This small camera looked very odd, especially with a relatively large lens attached to the front of it.

But when I went to Best Buy about a month later, I had a chance to actually hold a NEX-3 (if you can call it “hold” with the clunky security device attached). The camera, even with the larger lens, was lightweight compared to my digital single lens reflex camera. Despite its somewhat awkward look, it felt surprisingly well balanced.

The real attraction of the NEX was knowing the it had a sensor capable of  producing images with the quality of a DSLR despite it being about half the size and weight.

So I bought the NEX with the 18-55mm lens.

The Sony NEX-3, and its more expensive big brother the NEX-5, are mirrorless interchangeable lens digital cameras. The NEX cameras have a full APS-C sized sensor, the same as most DSLRs. As of this writing, the NEX 3 and 5 are the smallest, lightest interchangeable lens digital cameras in the world.

The NEX is packed with features but the ones of most interest to my style of photography, besides the size and sensor, include:

  • ISO range is 200 to12800
  • Takes interchangeable lenses
  • Fast auto focus
  • Up to seven frames per second continuous shooting at the full 14 megapixel resolution
  • Tiltable 920K pixel LCD
  • Built-in anti-dust system

Virtual mode dial

There are few buttons or dials on the NEX. Almost all settings and functions are accessed via a control wheel and two soft keys. To change a shooting mode, say from Program to Aperture Priority node, you must use a virtual mode dial.

The NEX lacks features found on many DSLRs: no viewfinder, no hot-shoe and no built-in flash. The camera comes with a small accessory flash that is attached to a smart accessory terminal, though an extender is necessary when using the flash with some lenses.

NEX simplicity

Sony advertises the NEX cameras as “Sophistication Made Simple,” and it’s true. They are very simple to use; maybe too simple for some.

The simplicity of the NEX is one of two main reasons that caused this photographer to, regrettably, return the camera. Hopefully my reasons will help others in their purchasing decision regarding this very fine digital camera.

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