Sony NEX-C3 Concise Review
Using the NEX-C3/Handling
The NEX-C3 is a well-built and solid camera that feels good in the hand. Even though the body isn't much larger than a typical high-end compact camera, with a lens attached it creates a very natural two-handed shooting position. The C3's slightly rounded front hand grip and rear thumb pad make it possible to shoot one-handed comfortably, and when used with the articulated screen pointing downward, it's possible to get decent shots from a higher vantage point. Overall we feel that Sony has done a good job of creating a user experience that is not only unintimidating enough for novice shooters but also flexible and customizable enough to satisfy enthusiasts.
Specific handling issues
There are very few things about the NEX-C3's handling that we actively dislike. Operational control is well executed in both iAuto and PASM modes. As we've said previously, the new level of customization available on the C3 means that if you have an issue about where the placement of a certain feature is, it's quite easy to set it to a key or custom menu. That said, we did find two issues that hindered an otherwise pleasant shooting experience.
Direct Manual Focus (DMF) allows manual adjustment to the focus after the camera has already found a focus point using AF. To use this feature, first you half-press the shutter button to lock the AF. While continuing to hold the half-press, focus can then be fine-tuned using the focussing ring on the lens. As soon as you move the focus ring, the screen zooms in to the AF point picked by the camera to assist in manual focus.
This is a useful feature, but there are two issues which keep it from being truly effective. If the camera fails to find focus, it won't then allow you to adjust the focus manually as you would normally be able to. You are then left with the choice of either trying to acquire AF again, or switching to Manual Focus mode. This is particularly frustrating because it is precisely in this sort of situation that manual focus override tends to be most useful.
The second problem is that MF assist zoom in DMF mode isn't particularly well-implemented. If the camera does find an AF lock the MF assist will zoom into the region of focus. This is all well and good, but if it happened to pick a focus spot that is incorrect (when shooting in multi-point AF mode), then while it is technically possible to readjust the zoom position with the 4-way controller, doing so while keeping the shutter half-pressed without either accidentally pressing the shutter completely or letting go (and thereby forfeiting your previous AF lock) is nearly impossible.
Regardless of which shooting mode you're in, the NEX-C3 is an able and responsive camera. From power on to first shot is a little less than 2 seconds. The NEX-C3's autofocus system is relatively quick, although not the fastest contrast detection system that we've ever used (that honor belongs to recent Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds models). We've found that, given good light and contrast the AF system is quite reliable. White balance works well in a variety of lighting situations and even produces good skin tones under notoriously troublesome tungsten light. The metering issues that hindered the NEX-3/5 in their original firmware have now been resolved. The C3's Multi-Metering mode consistently delivers a good exposure in most environments.
Continuous shooting modes
The NEX-C3 has three continuous shooting modes: 'Continuous Adv.', 'Speed Priority Cont.' and AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing). In 'Continuous Adv.' mode, the camera will continuously shoot images at approximately 2.5 fps, with 'real time' focus and metering. In 'Speed Priority Cont.' the C3 will shoot at a higher frame rate of approximately 7 fps but focus and exposure are locked from the first frame for all subsequent images. In both of these modes, live view is still available but cuts out for a fraction of a second when each frame is captured.
In AEB mode the C3 captures three sequential images at 0.3EV or 0.7EV apart. The first image is correctly exposed and the subsequent two frames are over- and under-exposed respectively. In our tests using the 18 - 55 mm kit lens we've found the actual frame rate to be quite close to Sony's specs, and in some cases slightly faster:
To generate the timings shown below, we shot with the camera's burst mode set to Continuous Adv. (nominally 2.5 FPS) and Speed Priority Cont. (nominally 7 fps) , with a SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC card.
Continuous Adv. (nominally 2.5 FPS)
SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC card
|JPEG||2.6 fps||Until card full|
|JPEG + RAW||2.3 fps||6|
Speed Priority Cont. (nominally 7 FPS)
SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC card
|JPEG||6.3 fps||12 at full speed, then 1.4 fps until card full|
|JPEG + RAW||6.2 fps||6|
Maximum framerate in Continuous Advance mode is close to Sony's indicated rate of 2.5 fps, but in Speed Priority Continuous mode the C3 gives a measured framerate roughly 0.7fps slower than the indicated maximum of 7fps. It's also important to note that the Speed Priority Cont. mode is limited to 12 frames (when shooting in JPEG only) before the buffer fills up, and the continuous shooting speed drops right down to about 1.4 fps.
Like all mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, the NEX-C3 relies on contrast detection to determine focus. In general this method is not as fast as the phase-detection systems found in DSLR cameras but in recent years the gap has closed dramatically. Unlike phase detection, contrast detection focussing systems must 'hunt' back and forth to establish maximum contrast, which denotes accurate focus. In low-contrast, low light scenes, this hunting takes longer, and as such, shooting with the C3 in this sort of environment can be time consuming and in some cases AF is simply not possible.
The NEX-C3 has a built-in AF illuminator but its settings are limited to 'Auto' and 'Off'. This means that in situations where the camera determines that there should be enough light to focus the illuminator may stay off, even if focus proves impossible to acquire due to low subject luminance or contrast. However, in sufficient light and when presented with a reasonably contrasty scene the NEX-C3 is able to find focus quickly. It is not quite as fast as the likes of the Olympus E-P3 or Panasonic GF3 but offers a virtually identical performance to the NEX-3 and 5.
Face Detection works well at locating and tracking multiple faces in a scene. In Auto Face Detection mode, the camera highlights the prioritized face with an orange box around the face that is closest to the camera and nearest the center, and this subject will then be given focus priority. In Child and Adult priority face detection modes the NEX-C3 does a good job at separating adult and children's faces to give priority focus to whichever you choose, but is nowhere near 100% accurate.
|Nectar Dancing by Lensmate|
from A Big Year - birds
|Sad clown by PEB|
|Mtl Gen X 2015 DP by MarioSS|
from - Gen X - (In Full Colours+ Border)
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has a the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.
2018 is the last year Photokina will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates. In 2019, Photokina will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May.
The Canon IXUS 50 (known as the SD400 Digital ELPH in North America) was one of a string of high-performing, pocketable PowerShots of the mid-2000s. In this week's throwback Thursday, Barney casts his mind back to 2005.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.
Adobe just released version 2015.12 of Lightroom CC, adding support for several new cameras and lenses, and baking in several important bug fixes while they were at it.
In this interview, Chiara Marinai, photo editor for VanityFair.com, explains exactly what she looks for in new photographers and photo submissions. Take notes.