The new entry level mirrorless camera in Sony’s range is NEX-F3. It will succeed to the NEX-C3 launched a year ago. Oddly, this new generation is slightly larger and heavier with a few additional mm here and there and 25 grams more but this change in size and weight will benefit the handling of the camera and the battery life gets a boost from 400 images on the NEX-C3 to 470 images on the NEX-F3.
The Sony NEX-F3 gets the now famous Exmor 16MP APS-C CMOS sensor designed by Sony (now on multiple cameras like the Nikon D7000 and D5100 DSLRs, the Pentax K-5 Digital SLR, the Sony NEX-5N, the SLT-A37…). I like this sensor (aside my D800, I also own a D7000 and D5100) for its best-in-class high ISO and low-light image quality but also for its impressive dynamic range that you really appreciate when you shoot RAW and don’t get the exposure right during the shot or when the contrast is very high. This sensor allows the NEX-F3 to offer Full HD movie recording at either 50i/60i or 25p/30p with built-in stereo microphone.
I would suggest this mirrorless camera rather than the NEX-5N because the NEX-F3 comes with a pop up flash when you have to deal with an external flash on its bigger brother. It also has a tilt screen that always comes in handy and the screen is better than any other entry level camera : 3″ / 921,600 dots. If you please…
The NEX-F3 user experience will be enhanced by the fast AF that Sony has worked on and I know for the fact that their contrast detection autofocus is very, very fast… I am currently testing the Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V that gets a lightning fast AF.
In addition to that, the Sony NEX-F3 offers Sony’s best creative and assist functions like the Superior Auto mode, with intelligent scene recognition, 11 digital filters including soft high-key, toy camera, soft focus…, the famous swipe panorama function, now in 2D and 3D, a real HDR mode that computes 3 differently exposed photos and not just one image with stresses tones, etc.
Sony has added two new functions that could be interesting depending on the image quality :
- An intelligent 2x digital zoom that uses the By Pixel technology to recreate the missing pixel because of the 2x crop. This can be handy when you travel light or when you just have a pancake lens mounted on your camera. They call it “Clear Image”.
- An automatic portrait composition function that use face detection and By pixel technology to crop your portrait shots in order to respect the rule of thirds. I think that this function could help most of my friends improving their portraits shots that they tend to shoot with their subject right in the middle of the frame…
Sony NEX-F3 prices and availability
The Sony NEX-F3 will be available in June 2012 at the following prices :
- Sony NEX-F3 with 18-55mm lens : €600 / $600
- Sony NEX-F3 with 18-55mm lens and 16mm pancake lens : €700 / $700
The NEX-F3 will come out with a new telezoom lens, the new SEL 18-200mm, an interesting 27-300mm equivalent optically stabilized lens.
Sony NEX-F3 main technical specifications
- 16MP Exmor CMOS APS-C sensor
- ISO 200 to 16 000
- Sony E mount
- Crop ratio : 1,5x
- Quick AF, contrast detection, 25-point AF
- 1920 x 1080 pixels 50i/60i and 25p/30p with full time AF
- Shutter speeds : 1/4000s to 30s (+ bulb)
- flash Synch speed : 1/160s
- Burst rate : 2,5 fps on 18 JPEG images or 7 images in RAW format
- Exposure metering : TTL 49 zones
- Bracketing : 3 frames with 0.3 and 0.7EV increments
- PSAM modes
- Intelligent Auto and Superior Supérieur Auto modes
- Digital filters : standard, vivid, portrait, landscape, sunset, black and white and additional adjustable picture styles (contrast, saturation, sharpening).
- D-Range Optimizer
- HDR (Auto HDR / 3 bracketed images)
- 2D and 3D swipe Panorama (up to 12 416 x 1853 pixels)
- Built-in intégré : Guide Number of 6, covering max 16mm
- 3″ / 921,600 dots swivel tilt screen
- Sortie USB 2.0 output
- Dimensions : 117.3 x 66.6 x 41.3mm
- Weight : 255 grams (without battery nor memory card)
- Battery life : 470 images according to CIPA standards