Let's see now.. how do I put this? Oh no... not another...
Seriously, I don't know why I get all these Sony cameras... I guess I just like their features.
So... the next Sony camera I got is.. the Sony NEX-3.
It falls under the Micro Four Thirds family, or as the camera industry likes to call it "The smaller than a DSLR camera yet gives you DSLR like quality cameras and features... and then some!" Oh.. if you're looking for a camera review, you better go here instead since I'm not qualified to give full technical reviews of cameras, I'm just giving opinions about it as a user.
The NEX-3's BODY is small and compact, almost as small as your typical compact cameras
But... unlike your typical compact cameras, and more like a DSLR, the NEX-3's lens doesn't shrink into the body. It's basically a removable lens (like DSLRs) so you can attach different lens for different situations. The problem is of course, depending on what you attach the camera might change from slightly pocketable to only fits in your handbag/man purse size. So... is it easier to carry around than a DSLR? Yes... Is it as easy to carry around as a compact camera? No. Do remember.. I have pretty big pockets in my Docker's pants, so if I feel that even with the 16MM slim pancake lens the NEX-3 is not really pocketable, it won't fit in most other pockets.
The NEX-3's battery bay and card slot is housed in the grip on the side.
It accepts Sony's own Memory Stick Duo cards, SDHC cards and also... SDXC cards. One of my minor complaints is that there's only ONE slot that fits both card dimensions, so when you insert the smaller, thinner profile Memory Stick. Sometimes it goes in the wrong way. I can only imagine what would happen if someone shoved it in the wrong way... HARD!
The rear of the NEX-3 spots a clean minimalistic look.
But.. just because it LOOKS simple, doesn't mean it is. See the big wheel on the right? Not only is the center an ENTER button for selection, Not only is it a wheel which you SPIN to make selections, it is also a four direction D-PAD! And the simple matter of fact is that with only so little buttons, it takes some time to get used to the interface and menus. But I guess once you are familiar with the camera, the maze of menus won't matter this much. Oh yeah... it's NOT a touch screen!
One thing that I must commend Sony on is the Shooting Tips feature, basically the camera ITSELF has a mini beginners shooting guide book. Look at some of the tips offered by it.
Pretty invaluable to someone who's learning how to use pictures outside of Full Auto mode, I wonder if other cameras come with a feature like this?
Since we're talking about the screen, it's also tiltable so you can take photos holding the camera high up, or down low.
You can also see the USB and HDMI mini jacks her on this side.
The NEX-3 DOES NOT come with a built in flash, the little indention you see on the top is actually the accessory port which you connect the external flash to.
It doesn't matter HOW good the camera performs in Low Light situations, or how little noise is contained in the camera's High ISO pictures. If you don't have a Flash, the camera FAILS the all important WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) for the simple reason that without a Flash there are many situations where you can't get pictures of your 3 year old son running around. So it's a big deal when the camera doesn't have a flash built in.
This is the how the external flash for the NEX-3 looks like.
And I'm guessing because the designers at Sony realize that if you had a flash but can't carry it with you easily it's just as useless, they give you a nice little case to hold it in.
Not only that, said case can be easily attached to the camera strap so you'll always have the Flash on you all the time... if you decide to use the camera strap that is...
More importantly is that in a move that easily increases the WAF of the NEX-3, the Flash is INCLUDED in the package instead of as a separate accessory.
To install the flash, you just open the connector door. Plug it in, then tighten the connection screw on the flash.
Then you close the screw's door to make it look nice and flush
Simple right? But there's one ANNOYING thing, the accessory door does not pull back a lot, heck it's almost at it's limits in the pictures you see above, I'd imagine someone with big fingers would have a hard time installing and uninstalling the flash.
Other than that little annoyance, the Flash looks well and proper sitting on top of the camera.
You have to turn it on yourself by lifting it up, it doesn't pop on it's own.
How well is the flash? Well.. it's your typical head on fill flash. Nothing to write home about, if you're at the right distance it works well, if not.. full blown white out. But that's pretty much how these things are. Of course I never actually used it a lot yet.
I mentioned just now that the industry calls these type of cameras "The smaller than a DSLR camera yet gives you DSLR like quality cameras and features... and then some!" So let's talk about the "then some!" features of the NEX-3. First of all, like all compact digital cameras the NEX-3 is able to take videos. The cool thing is that you don't have to enter a movie mode to take videos, you just press the "MOVIE" button.
And you're recording a movie. Unlike most video capable DSLRs (or is it ALL of them?), the NEX-3 is able to perform autofocus during video recording I'm guessing this is thanks to the more silent gearing in the lens. Other reviews have said that the autofocus isn't perfect, and it's hard to achieve certain optical effects with the NEX-3's video mode. But for a movie mode in a still camera's body, it works well enough.
Yet another annoyance I have with the NEX-3 is the position of the LEFT voice recording mic, it's position is easily covered depending on how you hold the camera. Personally I don't even understand WHY they have stereo mics on these things in the first place, what kind of audio distinction can be done by mics there are mic inches apart?!?!? Or maybe they use it for noise cancelation.... but that doesn't make sense too!
The other waaaaay cool feature that the NEX-3 has is that it can take panorama pictures automatically. Basically all you do is enter the panorama mode, press the capture button and the camera will start taking pictures for a few seconds, in that period you are to sweep the camera so that it can snap enough pictures to build a scene.
There are a lot of factors that determine how well this feature works, things like how steady are you moving, how static is the scene (not really meant for a crowd scene), how similar objects look to the camera... etc. etc. But generally it's a pretty nifty feature and fun to play with.
I haven't taken too many shots with the NEX-3 yet. Here's a few.
They built a squash court inside the Curve... impressive..
Look I can finally take a proper picture of my A550, this is with Flash
So, what's the verdict on the Sony NEX-3? Well... it's size makes it more portable than a regular DSLR without a doubt, it's still not as portable as your typical compact digital camera, but it has similar performance to a DSLR yet still retains some of the nifty features as a compact camera (movie mode FTW!) I don't see a reason recommending people AGAINST it if they ask me should they get one.
ps. Before you ask, the main difference between the NEX-5 and the NEX-3 is that the NEX-5 has a magnesium body and is capable of taking Full HD videos. Not things I'm terribly concerned about hence I went for the cheaper NEX-3.