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Sony NEX-C3 review

Audley Jarvis




Our Score:


User Score:


  • DSLR-like image quality
  • Small and portable
  • Stylish design


  • Menu navigation still fiddly
  • 720p movie mode lags behind rivals
  • 18-55mm kit lens unbalances overall package somewhat

Key Features

  • 16.2-megapixels
  • ISO 200-12,800
  • Fully manual controls
  • 11 digital filter effects
  • 1280 x 720 HD movies at 30fps
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £430.00

In the three years since Panasonic and Olympus launched their jointly-developed Micro Four Thirds standard, the interchangeable-lens compact system camera (CSC) market has gone from strength to strength and delivered some really interesting, high-performance cameras.

One of the main reasons the compact system market has proven so interesting is that there’s no over-arching standard for manufacturers to conform to, meaning they are free to develop their own interchangeable-lens mirrorless systems as they see fit.

This has resulted in a number of different approaches, all of which use differently sized sensors: Micro Four Thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus use a 17.3 x 14mm chip; Pentax has recently announced it will be using a 5.7 x 4.2mm (1/2.3in) compact-sized sensor for its new Q camera; Samsung and Sony, meanwhile, use 23.6 x 15.8mm APS-C-sized sensors for their respective compact system offerings. Quite what Nikon and Canon will come up with when they finally decide to enter the mirrorless market is anyone's guess.

Why does any of this matter? Simply because larger sensors have a greater potential to deliver better image quality than smaller ones do. Of course that doesn’t mean that they always do as there are other factors involved, but more often than not when faced with the same scene the camera with the biggest sensor will get the best shot, especially if light levels are low.

That’s not to say that anything less than Full Frame (24 x 36mm) will deliver poor image quality – far from it. Indeed, our endorsement of the Lumix G3 shows that Four Thirds sensors can more than hold their own against APS-C. Crucially though, there’s a huge leap in quality between regular 1/2.3in compact-sized sensors and the larger Four Thirds and APS-C sensors sported by compact system cameras.


September 14, 2011, 6:34 am

Re: "Quite what Nikon and Canon will come up with when they finally decide to enter the mirrorless market is anyone's guess."

Nikon is announcing its CX mount mirrorless system (2.7x crop, 12.8 x 9.6mm sensor) in a manner of days.

What sony really needs with the NEX are smaller lenses, though (see Samsung NX 20-50/3.5-5.6 and the new Panasonic 14-42/3.5-5.6 X lenses) and more fast compact primes. Many more.


September 14, 2011, 1:53 pm

You would classify the 16mm as a "handy portrait lens"? Really?!


September 14, 2011, 5:03 pm

Hi Metalex. Yes, on reflection that was a bit of a misleading statement from me, so thanks for pointing it out. Personally I quite like shooting portraits with wideangle lenses (my Chaplin impersonator portrait in the sample images gallery was taken with the 16mm) although I'm happy to concede that not everyone does. I also appreciate that traditionalists would define the ideal 'portrait lens' as something closer to the 80mm mark (in 35mm terms) than the 24mm offered here. A 16mm f/2.8 lens like this is, of course, much more commonly associated with street photography and low-light reportage. Hope that clears things up.


September 14, 2011, 5:34 pm

Hi Voldenuit. I've seen the 2.7x crop factor mentioned on various Nikon rumour sites too and while they could well be correct, let's just wait and see shall we...

Agree totally with regards to the need for smaller lenses. The 16mm f/2.8 feels just right on the NEX-C3 (in the same way that the 20mm pancake lens feels just right on the Lumix GF3), whereas the 18-55mm makes the overall package a little lens-heavy. And yes, more fast primes please too.

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