The series of mirrorless entry-level Sony, identified by the number 3 in the name, has had its ups and downs in recent years since the Sony Nex-C3 had reached a not entirely convincing – for performance and design – Sony Nex-F3. With the last representative, the Nex-3N, thankfully Sony is back to where they started, churning out a really impressive camera for the quality that manages to pull off a body so compact and lightweight. Like the previous C3, Sony Nex-3N has a CMOS sensor in APS-C sized 16.1-megapixel camera, which, together with capable image processor, is the real key to the success of this 3N.
To truly appreciate the small mirrorless Sony NEX-3N need to examine the body only, not much bigger than a pack of cigarettes: 109x62x34, 6 mm with a weight of 210 grams. Obviously, when you mount the kit lens, a compact zoom with wide-angle focal length of 24-75 mm (16-50 mm) and aperture f :3.5-5.6, weight and size will grow but not too much, with a relatively small overall footprint.
The construction is taken care of, both for materials and for finishing with a solid and aesthetically pleasing. A delightful surprise in the evolution of Sony Nex-3N is the small built-in flash, as well as an improvement of the provision of interfaces and expansion slots: one-stop on the left side allows access to the connector’s microHDMI and microUSB addition to the compartment for SD cards. The latter fortunately is no longer on the underside of the camera, flanked by the battery, for a more professional approach compared to similar solutions on the market.
Another important update of the design concerns the zoom control via the lever surrounding the shutter button, to be used as an alternative to the ring mounted on the lens. This option is useful when you are shooting video, which also allows you to get softer transitions and controlled. When take pictures, the increased speed of the ring on the lens is unmatched, as well as the ability to go from one extreme to the other focal length with a single rotation of the wrist.
The rear panel of the Sony Nex-3N is dominated by the screen 3″ LCD with a resolution unfortunately limited to 461,000 points, but can be rotated 180 ° on the long axis so as to facilitate shooting in difficult conditions, as well as making simple self-portraits. The brightness is high, with the option to bright ambient light, which ensures a perfect reading of the human subject. The colors are faithful, while the sharpness is only average. For this price, we cannot expect a higher resolution or touch control for the LCD screen, as well as the presence of an electronic viewfinder.
To the right of the display, we find the classical wheel with central selector, plus two programmable buttons with functions that depend on the shooting mode selected. We appreciate your choice of Sony to make available the physical buttons to control basic options such as display mode, exposure, ISO, self-timer and burst, in addition to the button dedicated to video footage.
Sony Nex-3N: Performance
A big step forward compared to the previous generation has been done to the contrast auto focus system of the Sony Nex-3N. Finally became responsive and accurate, even with performance comparable to those of top-range models ( the AF system is inherited from that of the mid-range NEX-5R). The package camera body and lens series delivers performance above the average entry-level mirrorless equivalent.
Strong of a capable sensor in APS-C format and an image processor efficient, the small Sony Nex-3N return’s images with vivid colors and faithful, as well as a high detail, on a very wide range of ISO (200-16000) so as not to preclude their use in all conditions of use. We can take up to ISO 3,200 relying on a signal / noise ratio satisfactory, with the noise that becomes really annoying to ISO 6400, but still controllable shooting in RAW and acting in post production.
On the video, we can record clip’s Full HD 24p or 60i in AVCHD format, or in MP4 mode with a resolution of 1,440 × 1,080 and form factor of 4:3. In every situation, the videos are surprised at the high detail, for accurate exposure and superior color balance, even managing to capture clips in low-light conditions thanks to the low noise.
As anticipated, the zoom control via the switch on the camera ensures smooth transitions and accurate, strong also for optical stabilization, while the stereo microphone located on the top side of the camera body does not allow to grasp the fullness of the sound, especially capturing more noise bottom of need.
The user interface of the Sony Nex-3N is virtually unchanged, with pros and cons. Lacking the selector for the main shooting mode – Intelligent Auto, Superior Auto, PASM, Sweep Panorama, Scene – you must take the time to become accustomed with the combination of rear wheel and menu software.
It is the natural price to pay for a body so compact physical controls cut to the bone. Even those unfamiliar with the ecosystem of mirrorless Sony Nex instead are immediately at ease with the software menu, well-organized and with the ability to customize the two rear buttons to your preference.
When you want to shoot in RAW, things become difficult. Unfortunately, access to this mode of image capture is not implemented in a simple and intuitive, having to move through submenus overly complicated. Hopefully, Sony best this aspect in a future firmware updates. Like all mirrorless cameras designed for those who want to grow as a photographer without carrying a bulky camera body and lens, shooting mode’s Scenes of the Sony Nex-3N are particularly rich and well structured.
We loved the Twilight mode, which helps to record quality images freehand, merging multiple shots at different exposures. Other effects, such as Toy Room or Pop Color allow a check on the level of the effect to be applied directly on the shutter.
Sony Nex-3N: Conclusions
We were really impressed with the Sony Nex-3N. With an affordable price, we have a camera that provides image and video quality, and a solid and easy to handle. The result is a machine that actually puts at ease those who want to make the leap from a compact “point and shoot” to a platform enabling them to unleash their creativity with the ultimate in ease of use.
This camera is also a valid option for those looking forward to learning something more about the world of photography, since they are available shooting modes with priority and full manual control and the ability to record images in RAW format.
Where to Buy Sony Nex-3N
- 16.1 MP Exmor APS-C sensor for great images
- New SELP1650 lens with motor zoom lever and body control
- Create easy self-portraits with 180° tilting LCD screen
- Full HD movie shooting 60i/24p
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