Sony Alpha NEX-F3 Review
Conclusion - Pros:
- Very good photo quality; low noise through ISO 1600 in low light, ISO 12800 (!) in good light
- Good value for the money
- Sharp 3-inch LCD display can flip upward 180 degrees, allowing for easy self-portraits
- Snappy performance in most respects
- Full manual controls, including RAW support; focus peaking feature comes in very handy when manually focusing
- Intelligent and Superior Auto modes make point-and-shoot photography a snap
- D-Range Optimizer and HDR features improve contrast at the push of the button
- Fun sweep panorama feature
- Very fast burst mode shoots at 3.3 fps with continuous AF or 10 fps without it (but not for long)
- Helpful Shooting Tips and descriptions of each menu option
- Records Full HD video at 60i or 24p, with stereo sound, continuous AF, image stabilization (if available), and manual controls
- Optional super high resolution electronic viewfinder, stereo mic, external flash
- Above average battery life
Conclusion - Cons:
- Consistently seems to underexpose by 1/3 or 2/3 stop
- Menu-driven user interface still frustrating to use, even with addition of custom button
- Design annoyances: camera's size advantage lost when a lens is attached; LCD's 16:9 aspect ratio not suited for still shooting; LCD doesn't tilt downward very much
- Buffer fills quickly in burst mode
- Bare bones playback mode; can't view stills and movies at the same time
- Internal battery charging is slow, can't be used for a spare
- Full manual on CD-ROM; quality of manuals is not great
The Sony Alpha NEX-F3 is an entry-level mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that is easy-to-use, with a broad feature set that both beginners and enthusiasts will appreciate. Add in some of the best photo quality of any budget ILC out there, and it looks like Sony has a winner on their hands. The NEX-F3 is a compact camera - at least without a lens attached - whose body is made mostly of plastic. Despite its composite construction, everything is put together pretty well. The F3 doesn't have much in the line of buttons, with nearly every function handled by the camera's menu system. I don't consider that a good thing.
The camera uses Sony's relatively small set of E-mount lenses, with support for A-mount lenses with an optional (not to mention pricey) adapter. On the back of the camera is probably the NEX-F3's biggest new feature: a 3-inch LCD display that can flip up 180 degrees (thus facing your subject), which makes self-portraits a piece of cake. The screen is super-sharp, with average outdoor and above average low light visibility. Another new addition to the F3 is a built-in flash, so you no longer need to carry around Sony's small external flash. Should you want to use a more powerful flash, you're limited to the one model that Sony offers. The same accessory port used for the flash also supports a high resolution electronic viewfinder and a stereo microphone.
The NEX-F3 offers the same feature set as Sony's more expensive ILCs. On the point-and-shoot side, you'll find two great auto modes (Intelligent and Superior Auto), which can select a scene mode for you, use multi-shot layering if needed, and even detect if you're using a tripod. Some other fun, easy-to-use features include Sweep Panorama, Anti Motion Blur (for low light shooting), D-range Optimizer (for brightening shadows), and HDR (for improving overall contrast). Both of these last two features can be manually adjusted as well, which often produces better results than using Auto mode. If you need a little help with the camera, you'll appreciate the contextual shooting tips and help screens in the menus. If you want manual controls, you'll find them for exposure, white balance, and focus. The new focus peaking feature makes manual focusing a snap, as it outlines the area of the frame that's in focus.
Naturally, the NEX-F3 supports the RAW image format, as well. It's unfortunate that you need to spend lots of time in the camera's clunky menu system in order to adjust most settings. While I appreciate the new shortcut menu, I still think that the NEX cameras need a major UI overhaul. The last feature I wish to mention is the NEX-F3's movie mode, which records Full HD video at either 24p or 60i. You'll have stereo sound, continuous autofocus, and use of the image stabilizer if your lens has one. Manual controls and a wind filter are also available.
Like all of Sony's NEX ILCs, camera performance is very solid. After the NEX-F3's average 1.3 second startup time, it's off to the races. Focusing speeds are very good (though they felt a bit slower than on the NEX-5N for some reason), shutter lag isn't noticeable, and shot-to-shot delays are minimal. The camera has two burst modes, shooting at 2.6 or 6 frames per second, though the buffer fills quickly, so things will slow down quickly (except when shooting JPEGs in normal continuous mode). While battery life is excellent, the camera's internal charging system is very slow, and prevents you from charging a spare (you'll need to buy an external charger for that).
Photo quality is excellent, especially in normal lighting. The one catch is that, like other NEX models in my experience, the F3 consistently underexposes by 1/3 to 2/3 stop, so you'll want to bracket to avoid that. While most ILCs clip highlights easily, the NEX-F3 isn't too bad. Colors were nice and saturated in most cases, with the only real exception being in our night tests, where there was a nasty brown color cast. I took all of my gallery photos with the new 18 - 200 mm lens, and was pleased with the sharpness (the 18 - 55 mm kit lens performs pretty well, too). The camera keeps noise in check until ISO 1600 in low light and ISO 12800 in good light (no, that's not a typo), and you can shoot RAW at those settings to squeeze a bit more detail out of your photos. Purple fringing was not a major issue with any of the lenses I tested this time around, and neither was redeye.If you're looking for a low-priced interchangeable lens camera, then the Sony Alpha NEX-F3 should certainly be on your list. It has great photo quality, a complete set of features, and snappy performance. The only thing I'd recommend is trying one out in person before you buy, as the user interface leaves much to be desired. If it doesn't bother you, then you'll definitely get your $600 worth if you pick up the NEX-F3.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Sony Alpha NEX-F3
Category: Entry Level Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The Sony Alpha NEX-F3 is one of the best entry-level mirrorless cameras on the market. While its menu-driven interface isn't for everyone, its impressive photo quality and host of useful features offer a lot of bang for the buck.
- Sony Alpha NEX-F3 Preview
- Olympus PEN E-PM1 Review
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Review
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Preview
- Mirrorless Cameras: A Primer
About Jeff Keller
Jeff Keller is the Founder and Publisher of the Digital Camera Resource Page. When it was created in 1997, DCResource was the first digital camera news and review site on the Internet. Jeff's love of gadgetry introduced him to digital cameras in the mid-90's, from which his passion for photography developed. Jeff runs DCResource from his home in Oakland, CA, and is often found wandering the streets of San Francisco with a bag full of cameras.
Aug 10, 2015
Aug 16, 2012
Jun 25, 2014
May 17, 2012
|Fascia walkie talkie building London by ian herridge|
from Abstract Architecture
|Global Reach by cjf2|
This two-part video series takes a deep dive into the world of dynamic symmetry and geometric composition, using iconic photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's brilliant photographs as a guide.
Award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart tells the moving story behind this drone photograph, captured in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire in Gatlinburg, TN in 2016.
Happy 2017 World Photo Day! We asked everyone on staff at DPReview to share one photo that they took within the last year that makes them jazzed on photography. Here's what we chose.
French President Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint against a paparazzo who snuck onto the president's private vacation property to take pictures.
Ever wonder what the difference is between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed Raw files? Photography Life's Nasim Mansurov breaks it down for you in this informative article.
The oldest known portrait of a US president was just discovered after over a century in storage. It's going up for auction in October, where it's expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
If you're using the popular Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens with Sigma's MC-11 converter, listen up: you'll want to update your lens and converter firmware ASAP.
If you've heard it once, you've probably heard it a thousand times: never check in your camera gear when flying. This shattered $11,000 lens is what can happen when you do.
Lensrentals just did its first Cine lens comparison, pitting five top-notch 35mm primes against each other: the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T2.1, Canon CN-E 35mm T1.5, Sigma 35mm T1.5 FF, Rokinon Xeen 35mm T1.5 and Schneider Xenon 35mm T2.1.
A team of Google researchers have found that slightly warping watermarks when embedding them into images can help prevent automatic removal.
You don't have to empty your savings account to take your photography to the next level. These cheap buys cost about $50 or less, and come with outsized benefits for your photography.
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."
The latest flagship phone from Asus combines a 12MP 1/2.55" Sony IMX362 main sensor with a smaller Sony IMX351 chip for 2x zoom and a background-blurring portrait mode.
The company behind popular photo editor Picktorial 3 just released the X-Pack: a preset package that allows you to add Fuji's in-camera film simulation profiles to your RAF files in post.
Photoshop. GoPro. Every once in a while a product emerges that defines a category. And sometimes, it vanishes just as quickly as it arrived on the scene. This week's Throwback Thursday remembers the Flip, the pocket camcorder everyone had – until they didn't.
The Nokia 8's dual-cam combines the image data from a 13MP RGB sensor and a 13 monochrome chip for better detail, improved dynamic range and lower noise levels.
The company behind retail giant B&H Photo has agreed to pay out $3.2 million in monetary relief and back wages to settle a discrimination and harassment case from 2016.
After a popular Facebook teaser and some studio portrait samples, Godox has finally officially released the Godox A1 smartphone flash and flash trigger. Cheap, versatile and innovative, color us intrigued.
Canon’s EOS 5D Mk IV has won the European Imaging and Sound Association’s Professional DSLR of the Year award, making this the third year in a row that the brand has beaten Nikon to the top spot in the professional camera category.
A photograph and quote tweeted out by former president Barack Obama has officially become the most popular tweet of all time, receiving over 1.3 million retweets and 3.4 million likes.
Edward Weston was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, and in this episode of Advancing Your Photography we learn the extreme technique he used to capture one of his most famous still life photos.
Instagram just released a small update that will make a huge difference if you're active on the photo sharing app: threaded comment replies.
Venus Optics has announced the price and delivery date of the second lens to join its Zero-D line up: the 15mm F2 for Sony’s E mount. A lens they've dubbed, "the world's fastest 15mm rectilinear lens for full-frame."
Cinnac is a new social network for photographers that will help you separate your good photos from your great ones through a Tinder-like community-based rating system.
The Canon EF 35mm F2 IS USM is an understated jewel of a lens, and one that we've enjoyed on a variety of cameras since its release almost five years ago. Its relatively small size and image stabilization make it a versatile tool for a variety of photography - check out our sample gallery.
You don't need a fancy studio or tons of gear to capture the kind of classic product photography you see in magazines. In this video, Dustin Dolby shows you how to do it with just a couple of speedlights and some know-how.
The life-logging camera is trying to make a comeback. Say hello to FrontRow, a live-streaming enabled life-logging camera from Ubiquiti that hangs on a necklace like a pendant.
When a prospective client approaches you, don't just say "yes" right away. Here's a useful list of questions you should be asking before you decide to take the job and name your price.
Samsung just revealed a blazing-fast new Solid State Drive capable of data transfer speeds of up to 540MB/s.
DJI has developed a 'Local Data Mode' that lets pilots fly without being connected to the Internet. The mode should calm recent fears over data privacy and security when flying DJI drones.