Sony NEX-C3 Concise Review
Operation and controls
Like its immediate predecessors, the Sony NEX-C3 has very few buttons, and very little in the way of labelling to suggest what functions they might fulfil. This is because they are essentially 'soft' controls, which can be used to access a range of different functions. The C3 has further increased the flexibility of the user configuration by allowing the left and right keys on the control dial to also be user-configured. As such, it is important to keep an eye on the on-screen information beside each control, which indicates the currently-assigned function. This is a very different approach to that taken by most cameras, and although it might disorient some more experienced photographers, it may well help the NEXs seem less intimidating to beginners.
Sony says it is mainly promoting the NEX series as cameras aimed at point-and-shoot users, and its interface is certainly consistent with that general philosophy. The Intelligent Auto mode is pure point-and-shoot stuff and offers very limited creative control. But it does offer access to Photo Creativity mode where it is possible to take control over depth-of-field - or 'Bkground Defocus' as Sony calls it - which allows you to make the most of one of the camera's biggest features - its large, APS-C format sensor. Exposure compensation is also available in Photo Creativity mode as a 'Brightness' adjustment. Quick access to 'Shooting Tips' is accessed through the menu or one of the user-selectable soft keys, which can be quite helpful for photographers just starting out.
Sony has made some improvements compared to previous NEXs by making the C3 more easily adaptable for enthusiast shooters, through the addition of customizable external controls (see above) and a user definable 'custom' menu. However it is still clear that Sony is mainly targeting compact users who want a more capable camera but don't want to go so far as to purchase a DSLR, as such iAuto should be considered the primary means of controlling the camera. And in general it's pretty good - if you don't want to worry about anything other than framing your subject, then the camera will quite happily worry about everything else for you.
Disappointingly, iAuto mode in the NEX-C3 still only allows the use of Auto ISO, which has an upper limit of ISO 1600. Sony proudly advertises the camera's highest ISO setting as 12,800 (way above the level at which any compact camera could produce good images and a real advantage of a large sensor), which makes it all the more frustrating that iAuto mode limits you to a setting eight times less sensitive. Useful features such as Auto HDR are also unavailable in iAuto, and sadly the SLT-A55's clever Auto+ mode, which makes use of the multi-shot modes as needed doesn't make it into the C3 at all.
Disinterred for inclusion in the C3 is a feature Sony first used several years ago in the Sony H2: 'Focus Peaking.' This is a visual method for confirming the areas of highest contrast (and hence focus) when manually focusing the camera. With focus peaking set, a bright colored outline appears around the highest contrast regions of an image, denoting the current zone of focus. You can adjust both how thick an outline is applied, and its color, (from a choice of red, white or yellow), to ensure it's always easy to see.
Peaking works happily in conjunction both with magnified focus assist and, most usefully, when shooting movies. This option is also included in the version 04 firmware update for NEX-3 and 5 owners.
|With 'Focus Peaking' enabled, the outlines of the in-focus regions are highlighted. In this case in red but you can select white or yellow if red clashes with your subject.
Here it's being used in movie mode to aid manual focusing while recording.
In low-contrast scenes, depending on the exact level of contrast, focus peaking is disabled. Instead, a green AF lock reticule is placed on the area of the scene which is in focus.
For DSLR users considering the NEX-C3 as a second camera or for enthusiasts accustomed to manual control, the C3 offers a complete complement of manual exposure control. And although the C3's physical interface is minimal, switching between shooting modes and adjusting parameters such as shutter speed and aperture are quite easy, and require only a minimal interaction with the menu system, especially after setting the custom buttons to your liking (see below for more information on customization).
Aperture and shutter speed are adjusted by rotating the control dial on the back of the camera. In manual mode, switching between shutter speed and aperture adjustments is controlled by pressing 'down' on the control dial, and the adjustable parameter will then be highlighted in orange. When in A or S modes the down button is used for accessing exposure compensation.
In keeping with Sony's general push towards results-oriented shooting functions in the NEX series, the aperture control in A and M exposure modes is presented as a background blur slider, and shutter speed in S and M modes as a subject speed slider.
Custom Buttons (PASM modes only)
Like the NEX-3 and 5 the C3 has two soft keys along the right side of the screen, with the bottom one (B) being user programmable. The left and right buttons on the rear 4-way controller are unlabeled, because they are now also completely customizable. This single feature addition does a lot to make the NEX-C3 truly usable as an enthusiast camera. In addition to directly programmable keys there is also a 'Custom' function setting that bring up an on-screen menu that can be set to show up to 5 user-selectable functions; this can only be assigned to the center select button (C) of the control dial. Below is a list of functions that can be assigned to each of the NEX-C3's programmable soft keys and custom menu.
|Custom menu options
(up to 5 can be selected)
|Left / Right Control Keys & Soft Key (B)|
|• Drive Mode
• AF/MF Select
• Autofocus Mode
• Autofocus Area
• White Balance
• Metering Mode
• DRO / Auto HDR
• Creative Style
• Flash Mode
• Not Set
|• Shoot mode
• Shoot tips
• Drive Mode
• AF/MF Select
• Autofocus Mode *
• Autofocus Area
• Prec. Dig. Zoom
• White Balance
• Metering Mode
• DRO / Auto HDR
• Creative Style
• Flash Mode
• Flash Comp.
• MF Assist
• Not Set *
|* Option not available for the (B) soft key|
With all this customization you can set up the C3 to provide fairly swift access to almost any camera setting. A potential downside, however, is that all of these additions divorce the behaviors of the C3's manual and automatic modes of operation even further away from one another, potentially confusing habitual iAuto shooters that decide to experiment with the C3's PASM modes.
Menus and displays
The NEX-C3's menu system is almost identical to the NEX-3 and 5 (post firmware 04 update) with only one minor (but welcome) difference. Pressing 'Custom' on the earlier models brought up a side bar where you can click though the options you have added to your custom menu. On the C3 the 'Custom' button opens an on-screen popup with up to 5 custom-set shortcuts.
This addition, while relatively minor, is helpful as it lets you see at a glance which custom options are available, compared to the NEX-3/5 where you would have to scroll through the list of options to find what you are looking for, or if it is indeed even on the custom list.
The playback menus on the C3 are identical to those found on the NEX-3 and 5. Images can be enlarged by using the center button on the control dial, then further magnified by using the scroll wheel. Pressing down on the control dial shows your images in groups of 6 and also allows quick access to movies through a tab on the left.
|Images can be enlarged or viewed 6 at a time.||Highlight and shadow clipping warning is shown along with histogram information by pressing up on the control dial.|
|scrum break away by al booth|
from Sport competition
|Chinese Acrobat by lim yau tong|
|Parking Deck by Olaf R|
from Your City - Parking Garage
|Communication Tech by alberto_b|
|With & without by OBellini|
from Empty - Full
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II brings more resolution, better autofocus and faster continuous shooting to Canon's entry-level full-frame camera. And we've had the opportunity to shoot with one.
The Canon 6D Mark II will ship to consumers in August, but we've been able to do some shooting with a pre-production unit well in advance.
Rumors have been swirling around for a while, and Canon has just unveiled the long-awaited successor to the popular and long-serving EOS 6D. Read all about it in our hands-on preview.
Canon's latest entry-level DSLR is here. The new Rebel SL2 (EOS 200D) is the belated successor to 2013's Rebel SL1, billed at the time as the smallest and lightest DSLR on the market.
Nearly five years after the announcement of the EOS 6D, Canon has finally replaced it with the EOS 6D Mark II. The Mark II features an all-new 26.2MP Dual Pixel AF full-frame sensor, 6.5 fps burst shooting, a fully articulating touchscreen, 1080/60p video and much more.
Canon has announced the EOS Rebel SL2 (also known as the EOS 200D), which replaces the aging SL1. This ultra-compact DSLR features a 24MP sensor, DIGIC 7 processor, Dual Pixel AF system and a 3" fully articulating touchscreen LCD.
When one of his friends got a filter stuck on his $1,700 Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L, former MythBuster Adam Savage removed it using an unlikely, terrifying tool: a band saw.
The New Yorker asked Magnum's famed photographers, in town for the agency's 70th anniversary, to go out and capture 'the fleeting beauty of New York City's golden hour.' This is what they shot.
Roger Cicala is a difficult man to impress, but he's been waxing lyrical over at Lensrentals about Sony's new 12-24mm wide zoom.
Glassware is one of the most challenging subjects to photograph, especially against a white background. This tutorial shows you how to do it with hardly any gear.
Handevision is now shipping its all-metal Iberit 90mm F2.4 short telephoto lens for Leica M-mount 35mm and full-frame cameras.
Isocell comprises four sub-brands: Bright, Fast, Slim and Dual which are tailored to specific mobile device market demands.
The new store will be located at the Fotografiska center for contemporary photography in Stockhom, Sweden and carry the full range of Hasselblad products.
A recent vacation gave Richard a chance to think about the needs of travel photography – and how our reviews might recognize the perfect travel camera.
Need more evidence that 2017 is the year analog begins its comeback? Well, welcome another new film stock to the world.
The winners of the 10th annual iPhone Photography Awards have been announced, and they're striking.
If you were disappointed by reports that the Sony a9 struggles with adapted Canon glass, you might be able to take some comfort from Metabones' latest update.
Blackmagic Design has dropped the prices of its Video Assist external monitor/recorders for a limited time. Prices of the SD card-based recorders will be reduced in all markets, while supplies last.
Instagram has started testing a new feature called 'favorites' that enables users to share photos with only certain people. Only a small number of users have access to the feature at this time, though it may roll out to everyone in the future.
Lensbaby has announced the Velvet 85 F1.8 for interchangeable lens cameras. The lens is available in Canon, Nikon, Sony E, Sony A, Pentax K, Samsung NX, Fuji X and Micro 4/3 mounts.
It's the end of an era. Parent company Micron has announced that they are discontinuing the Lexar retail brand. This includes 'memory cards, USB flash drives, readers, and storage drives.'
Youthful trainspotter turned adult photographer, John Sanderson has traveled across the United States, documenting the country's railroads. But you won't find any trains in his pictures.
Sony's new CMOS sensor is backside-illuminated and offers an all-pixel global reset function which should drastically reduce rolling shutter effect when panning.
Shoulderpod has converted its offerings into a lego-like modular system by offering all individual parts of existing products separately, allowing users to build exactly the rig they need for a specific project or simply replace a damaged part.
Photographer Felix AAA has spent the past ten years touring the world with a variety of musicians, capturing behind the scenes shots and portraits. He talks about some of his favorite images on the FujiFilm Blog.
A roll of film discovered in an Argus C2 from an Oregon Goodwill turned out to contain some incredible images – and has been re-united with the original owner's family.
Nikon's 28mm F1.4E ED appears to roundly complete the company's updated lineup of fast, professional prime lenses. We've already seen some initial images from a Nikon ambassador, but we've worked through a gallery of our own, with a lens of our own over the past week. Take a look.
Google is holding a competition that could see your Pixel photos gracing millions of screens.
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.