Body & Design

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Two things are immediately striking about the NEX-C3: that it's small and that most of its styling cues are from compact cameras, not DSLRs. We've shown it here with the 18-55mm zoom, rather than the 16mm F2.8 lens with which it can also be bought in a kit, because we feel this is the more appropriate lens for the overwhelming majority of compact camera users Sony is hoping will buy the camera.

Obviously there are limits to how small the zoom lens can be made (larger sensors require longer focal lengths to provide any chosen field-of-view, so the NEX needs an 18-55mm lens to give the same zoom range as a 5-15mm lens would on a typical compact), but the degree of downsizing Sony has achieved won't have been a small job. Without adopting the collapsible lens design favoured by Olympus and, more recently, Samsung, it's hard to imagine offering a zoom camera with an APS-C sized sensor in a smaller package.

Of course one of the ways Sony keeps its NEX models so small is by not building a flash unit into the body. The C3 does include an external accessory flash, attached using a proprietary, fiddly screw-secured connector, but this adds to the camera's size and inevitably, to an extent, detracts from its convenience.

Instead of building the flash into the C3's body, Sony chooses to include a small, fiddly screw-in flash in the box.

We suspect most users will choose to either leave the flash attached at all times (thus increasing the size of the camera), or end up leaving it at home.

Sony also offers an optional plug-in stereo microphone, the ECMSST1, that plugs into the same accessory slot on top of the camera as the flash.

Body elements

On the top of the C3 you will find controls for the playback and movie modes as well as the power-switch and shutter button.

As part of the internal re-organization required to make the C3 smaller than the NEX-3, the SD/Memory Stick card port has been moved.

The good news is that it has its own slot, rather than being lumped in with the battery. The bad news is that it's so near the tripod bush that with the camera on a tripod, you can't access the card or battery.
The left and right positions on the control dial are no longer marked, because their behavior in PASM modes is now user-definable.
Just like the previous NEX models, the NEX-C3 has an articulated screen that can be adjusted from 80 degrees up to 45 degrees downward.