Sony Alpha NEX-F3 Review
The Alpha NEX-F3 ($599) is Sony's entry-level mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. It's the replacement to the NEX-C3, with the most significant change being a new 3-inch LCD that can flip upward 180 degrees and face your subject. In addition, the F3 now sports a built-in flash, so you'll no longer need to carry around an external one. It also has a wider ISO range, an improved movie mode, and a new Superior Auto mode.
Check out this chart for all the differences between the old NEX-C3 and the new NEX-F3:
|Sensor resolution||16.2 Megapixel *|
|LCD size (resolution)||3-inch (921k pixel)|
|LCD angles||80° up
|Support for electronic VF||No||Yes|
|ISO range (full res)||200 - 12800||200 - 16000|
|Superior Auto mode||No||Yes|
|Object tracking AF||No||Yes|
|Auto Portrait Framing||No||Yes|
|Clear Image Zoom||No||Yes|
|Lens correction (distortion, vignetting, fringing)||No||Yes|
|Number of Picture Effects||7||11|
|Max movie resolution||1280 x 720 (30p)||1920 x 1080 (60i/24p)|
|Movie sound recording||Stereo|
|Movie codecs||MPEG-4||AVCHD, MPEG-4|
|Battery life (CIPA)||400 shots||470 shots|
|Battery charging||External charger||Internal over USB|
|Dimensions||4.4 x 2.4 x 1.3 in.||4.6 x 2.6 x 1.6 in.|
|Weight (body only, empty)||225 g||255 g|
|* Despite having the same effective resolution, the two cameras use different CMOS sensors|
As you can see, there are plenty of improvements on the NEX-F3, bringing it closer to Sony's midrange model, the NEX-5N.
What's in the Box?
The NEX-F3 is available in just one kit (at least in the U.S.), which includes an F3.5-5.6, 18 - 55 mm IS lens for $599. Here's what you'll find when you crack open the box:
- The 16.2 effective Megapixel Alpha NEX-F3 camera body
- F3.5-5.6, 18 - 55 mm Sony zoom IS lens
- NP-FW50 lithium-ion battery
- AC adapter
- Body cap
- Shoulder strap
- USB cable
- CD-ROM featuring Application Software for Alpha Camera
- 94 page basic manual (printed) + full manual on CD-ROM
Should you choose the lens kit, then you'll be getting the same F3.5-5.6, 18 - 55 mm OSS (Sony's term for image stabilization) lens that came with the original NEX models. This lens offers solid build quality, good sharpness, and minimal purple fringing. I also tried out the new 18-200 mm lens, which has the same traits of the 18-55, just with a much larger focal range. Sony has a relatively small collection of E-mount lenses at this point (especially compared to Micro Four Thirds), though that should change as time progresses. Whichever lens you end up using, there will be a 1.5X crop factor to keep in mind.
If you want to use old Alpha (A-mount) lenses, you have two options. You can pick up the original LA-EA1 adapter (priced from $134), which offers sluggish autofocus on select Sony lenses. A much better solution is to use the newer LA-EA2 adapter (priced from $295), which has the same translucent mirror technology as Sony's D-SLRs and allows for super-fast AF with any A-mount lens.
Interchangeable lens cameras like the NEX-F3 never come with memory cards. So, if you don't have one already, you'll need to pick one up. The NEX-F3 is still a Sony camera, which means that it supports Memory Stick Pro Duo cards. Thankfully, it can also accept SD, SDHC, and SDXC media in the same slot. I would suggest a 4 or 8 GB card if you're mostly taking stills, and a 8 or 16 GB card if you'll be recording movies, as well.
Battery Life (CIPA)
The NEX-F3 uses the same NP-FW50 lithium-ion battery as many other Sony cameras. This battery can hold 7.7 Wh of energy, which is on the upper end of the spectrum for interchangeable lens cameras. Here's how that translates into battery life, with a look at the competition:
|Camera||Battery life w/live view
|Nikon 1 J1||230 shots||EN-EL20|
|Olympus E-PL3||300 shots||BLS-1 / BLS-5|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1||300 shots *||DMW-BLD10|
|Pentax K-01||500 shots||D-LI90|
|Samsung NX210||330 shots||BP1030|
|Sony Alpha NEX-F3||470 shots||NP-FW50|
With the 14 - 42 mm kit lens
The NEX-F3 comes in second place in the battery life competition, with only the bulky Pentax K-01 ahead of it. If you do want to pick up a spare battery, one with a Sony label will set you back around $54.
One area in which the NEX-F3 is a step down from its predecessor is in the battery charging department. Instead of charging the battery externally, it's now down in the camera using the USB cable and either an AC adapter or your PC. The charging time is a whopping 280 minutes, and you can't charge a spare battery, either. Camera manufacturers like to say that internal charging is more convenient, but I think they've made this switch to save a few bucks. If you want a faster charger, an external one is listed in the accessories table below.
Speaking of accessories, here are the most interesting items available for the NEX-F3:
|Accessory||Model #||Price *||Description|
|Both of these let you use A-mount lenses on the NEX-F3. The first one only supports autofocus with SSM and SAM lenses, and even then, will be slow. The second one offers super-fast focusing with all lenses.|
|External flash||HVL-F20S||From $128||Get better flash coverage and a lower risk of redeye. Attaches to the Smart Accessory Terminal and has a guide number of 20. Folds down when not in use. Since the camera lacks a real hot shoe, this is the only only external flash you can use.|
|Electronic viewfinder||FDA-EV1S||From $300||An absolutely gorgeous 0.5" EVF with almost 2.4 million dots and the ability to tilt upward as much as 90 degrees. Same as the EVF on the NEX-7. Expensive, but may be worth it.|
|Stereo microphone||ECM-SST1||From $90||Attaches to the Smart Accessory Terminal and captures digital stereo sound. A windscreen is included.|
|AC adapter||AC-PW20||From $85||Unlike the included AC adapter, this one lets you operate the camera using 'shore power'.|
|External battery charger||BC-VW1||From $42||Lets you charge the battery outside the camera - and a lot faster.|
|Lens jacket case||LCS-EJC3/B||From $43||This polyurethane case holds the NEX-F3 with a smaller lens attached.|
|* Prices were accurate at time of publication|
Not a bad selection for a budget mirrorless camera!
Moving onto the bundled software now. Sony includes two products with the NEX-F3: PlayMemories Home (Windows only) and Image Data Converter (Mac and Windows). PlayMemories Home (formerly Picture Motion Browser) is a pretty standard photo organizing/sharing suite. In addition to importing photos from the camera, it can also share them via e-mail, prints, and on photo/video sharing websites. Editing tools include redeye reduction, brightness/saturation/tone curve, and sharpness. There's also an Auto Correct function which attempts to fix things with a single click. While PMB can view RAW files, it cannot edit them. For that, you'll need to use the next product.
That product is Image Data Converter, which can edit a number of RAW properties, including white balance, Creative Style, D-Range Optimizer, noise reduction, and exposure. IDC has a 'version stack' that lets jump back in time to older iterations of the photo you're working on. My only real complaint is that it's a bit slow to process adjustments. If you'd rather use Photoshop for editing RAW files, just make sure that your Camera Raw plug-in is up-to-date.
Sony uses two different codecs for video recording on the NEX-F3: AVCHD and MPEG-4. PlayMemories Home can be used to view all videos produced by the camera, and it can remove unwanted footage from your clip, and save the results as an MTS (AVCHD) file. While it can convert videos to WMV format, they'll be VGA quality. PMH can also burn videos to Blu-ray or DVD discs. Mac users can edit MPEG-4 and most AVCHD videos with ease, using iMovie or Final Cut Pro X.
As is too often the case these days, Sony has split the NEX-F3's documentation into two parts. There's a decent-sized basic manual to get you up and running, but if you want more information, you'll have to open up the full manual, which is in PDF format on the included CD-ROM. The manuals themselves are good enough for beginners, but enthusiasts will find themselves wanting a bit more depth. Instructions for the bundled software is installed in the form of help files.
A version of this review was first published at www.dcresource.com, and is presented here with substantial changes, notably the inclusion of a full set of product images, our usual studio comparisons and an expanded samples gallery, plus the addition of a standard dpreview score.
Aug 10, 2015
Aug 16, 2012
Jun 25, 2014
May 17, 2012
|Christine by JP Zanotti|
from Car wreck
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.