It was with deep regret that I returned the Sony NEX-3, a very fine camera. It was a pleasure to hold and I couldn’t be more happy with its excellent image quality.
In many ways, the NEX-3 has more in common with compact digital cameras than digital single lens reflex cameras. It has a single turn-and-click Control Wheel and a pair of Soft Keys that are used to change settings and modes via menus.
Because I was unaware that there was a firmware update until after I returned the camera, I had to dig deeply into the menu system to access a number of settings. For example, it took about 33 presses on the dial to access the format menu!
NEX-3 text/simplicity not for me
Hard to read settings
The main flaw was the difficulty viewing camera settings on the LCD because of the small text. This often occurred when taking outside shots, which I do 95% of the time. When bright outside and/or a scene was light, I could barely read the text such as when changing Exposure Compensation.
The NEX needs slightly larger and bolder text similar to my Canon s90. I’ve owned many digital cameras and never experienced this.
The text problem alone would have caused me to return the camera. But there is another reason.
The very simplicity of the NEX-3 was disappointing. The NEX was to be a replacement for my DSLR not simply a compact camera with DSLR image quality.
I longed for a more external buttons and controls such as those on my Canon s90, which is much smaller than the Sony NEX. I need quicker, more direct access to key camera settings. Surely there is room for a few more buttons on the NEX.
Waiting for the next NEX
For those who want a smallish, simple-to-use camera with interchangeable lenses and DSLR image quality, the NEX may be just what you’re looking for. It’s a fine digital camera.
Personally, I’ll wait. Hopefully the next generation of the Sony NEX will better accommodate the needs of long-time photo enthusiasts that have similar expectations.
UPDATE: The latest versions of the NEX cameras are the NEX-5N and NEX-7. The latter has just about all the bells and whistles a photo enthusiast could want, however the price is quite high.
Note: I also returned the NEX because it had a defect that appeared in the right-hand corner of some photos. The defect is shown below, a small crop from the full photo: