Sony Alpha NEX-F3 Review
Performance & Photo Quality
Sony's NEX cameras have always been very snappy, and the NEX-F3 is no exception. Here's a summary of what kind of performance you'll get out of it:
|Timing||Measured Performance||How it Compares|
|0.2 - 0.5 secs (W)
0.4 - 0.8 secs (T)
|~ 1.0 sec||Average|
|Shutter lag||Not noticeable||Above average|
(JPEG, no flash)
|~ 1 sec||Above average|
(RAW, no flash)
|~ 1.5 sec||Above Average|
(With incl. flash)
|~ 2 sec||Above average|
|* With 18 - 55 mm kit lens|
You won't do a lot of waiting on the NEX-F3, that's for sure. That only thing I noticed is that autofocus seemed a tiny bit slower than on the NEX-5N and NEX-7, but since I don't have either of those sitting around, I can't confirm that.
Sony's other NEX models have very impressive burst modes. Let's see how the F3 compares in each of its two burst modes:
|Image quality||Continuous||Speed priority|
|RAW + Large/Fine JPEG||7 shots @ 2.6 frames/sec||6 shots @ 6.0 frames/sec|
|RAW||8 shots @ 2.6 frames/sec||7 shots @ 5.8 frames/sec|
|Large/Fine JPEG||Unlimited @ 2.6 frames/sec||13 shots @ 6.3 frames/sec|
|Tested with a SanDisk UHS-I SDHC card|
The NEX-F3's performance is typical of an entry-level ILC. It can shoot fast enough, but its buffer memory fills up after just a few shots. Once you've hit the limits listed in the above table, the camera will keep on shooting - just at a much slower rate. The LCD kept up with the action fairly well, at both speed settings.
Let's talk about photo quality now. With the exception of the night shot, all of these photos were taken with the 18 - 55 mm kit lens.
|Photos are taken under indirect lighting provided by two Smith-Victor Q80 lamps at a focal length of 34mm (equivalent) and an aperture of f/6.3.|
Now it's time to see how the NEX-F3 performed in our studio ISO test. Since these photos are taken under consistent lighting, you can compare the results with those from other cameras I've reviewed over the years. And with that, let's begin our trip from ISO 200 to 16000!
|ISO 200||ISO 400||ISO 800||ISO 1600|
|ISO 3200||ISO 6400||ISO 12800||ISO 16000|
The ISO 200 - 1600 crops all look fantastic. At ISO 3200 there's a slight increase in noise, but not enough of one to reduce your output size. ISO 6400 is still surprisingly clean, and even ISO 12800 and 16000 can be used if you're really desperate. Nice job, Sony!
|This shot was taken in manual exposure mode at f/6.3 at an equivalent focal length of 118mm.|
I took our night test scene with the new 18 - 200 mm zoom lens (which I used for all of the photos in the gallery, as well). I'm not as enthusiastic about the quality of this photo as I was the night shot, mainly due to the brownish color cast and overall soft appearance (though at least it's equally soft across the frame). While I used manual controls to obtain a proper exposure, you can do the same using the NEX-F3's auto or scene modes. With the exception of the building on the far left, highlight clipping wasn't too bad. There is some purple fringing as well, but it's fairly mild.
Now let's use this same night scene to see how the NEX-F3 performed at higher sensitivities:
|ISO 200||ISO 400||ISO 800||ISO 1600|
|ISO 3200||ISO 6400||ISO 12800||ISO 16000|
Let's ignore the ugly brownish color cast for a moment and focus on noise and detail. At ISO 200 through 800, you'll see plenty of detail and not a lot of noise. While there's a slight loss of detail at ISO 1600, it shouldn't keep you from making mid-sized or large prints. At ISO 3200 I'd probably stop if you're shooting JPEGs, or switch over to RAW. The three highest sensitivities are best avoided in low light.
The minimum distance to your subject depends on the lens you're using. For the 18 - 55 mm kit lens, that distance is 25 cm. If you're interested in a dedicated macro lens, Sony has a F3.5, 30 mm lens available, which has a minimum distance of just 9.5 cm.
|There's fairly mild redeye in our flash test photo, which was a pleasant surprise. If you do encounter more serious 'red', you'll have to fix it on your Mac or PC, as the NEX-F3 lacks a built-in removal tool.|
Distortion (18-55mm kit zoom)
|Distortion correction off (default)||Auto distortion correction|
The NEX-F3 has a lens distortion correction feature, and strangely enough, it's off by default. That leads to quite a bit of barrel distortion with the 18 - 55 mm kit lens, as you can see in the chart above (taken from my NEX-5N review). Turning on the distortion correction flattens things out nicely, so you'll probably want to use this (unless, of course, you like barrel distortion). While the test chart shows some vignetting on the right side, it was rarely an issue in the real world.
Overall, I was quite happy with photos produced by the NEX-F3. The only real issue I had is that the camera consistently underexposes by 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop. I pretty much always shot with the exposure compensation set to +1/3 EV, and I'd suggest doing that, or at least bracketing. The NEX-F3 isn't a big highlight clipper, which isn't too surprising, given that it uses an APS-C size sensor. Colors were nice and saturated (aside from those color casts under artificial light), and photos had good sharpness. As you've seen, the camera keeps noise in check until ISO 1600 in low light, and a whopping ISO 12800 in good light. Purple fringing was not a problem - at least not with the lenses I used.
Aug 10, 2015
Aug 16, 2012
Jun 25, 2014
May 17, 2012
|Douaumont Ossuary by Eric 54-BNF|
from Armistice Day
|Silhouette at sunset by Jill Hancock|
from Portrait Lens (around 80mm or equivalent - please check the full rules)
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.