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.
|_ERN9064 by ernesto juarez|
from Shoot yourself ! (with your camera)
|walkersons fields by George Veltchev|
from -Waiting for Autumn- (in Full Colours Only)
There's no mistaking the Nikon Coolpix P1000 – with a 24-3000mm equivalent zoom, it really is in a class of its own. It's a conspicuous-looking superzoom with one main job: getting you really close to far away subjects. We've put together a gallery showing the kind of results you can expect from it.
A new report from The Verge claims Instagram is currently testing a feature that allows users to re-share posts to their own account feeds.
GoPro has announced its HERO7 camera lineup. The updated action cameras feature new HyperSmooth and TimeWarp modes, as well as improved video and photo specs.
The latest Samsung midrange smartphone offers a super-wide-angle lens in its triple-camera setup.
The Sony 24mm F1.4 is the latest lens to join the company's premium G Master lineup. We've been shooting with one for a couple of days - here's what you need to know.
Apple released iOS 12 a few days ago and some iPhone X users are less than happy with how the new operating system has made their phones look.
Camera bag manufacturer Lowepro has introduced mark II backpacks for its ProTactic AW range with models that are said to feature an improved handling experience as well as a collection of accessories that can be attached to the outside.
Canon has announced its latest superzoom camera, the PowerShot SX70 HS. Compared to the SX60 that came before it, the SX70 has the same lens but offers a higher resolution EVF, 4K video capture and support for Canon's new CR3 Raw format.
Cosina has announced its eighth lens designed specifically for Sony's E-mount system. The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 lens is due out October 2018.
Sony has taken the wraps off of its new 24mm F1.4 GM full-frame lens, which the company claims is the lightest in its class. Despite its fast aperture, the 24mm F1.4 is remarkably light, weighing just 445 grams (15.7 ounces). The lens will set you back $1400 when it ships next month.
In this episode of DPReview TV we take a look at Sony's brand new 24mm F1.4 GM lens, a desirable focal length for many photographers. How does it perform? Chris and Jordan give us their first impressions.
We've had a little time to shoot with Sony's new wide/fast prime, both close to home and on the water in San Francisco. Check out our initial sample images.
Fujifilm released a firmware upgrade for its X-T3 mirrorless camera that addresses issues with distortion compensation and the mechanical lock on SD cards.
The app's algorithms have been trained using using 200 million cropping data points from real photographers.
Thanks to a software update, the Loupedeck+ editing console can now be used for video editing.
British photographic engineer MTF Services is claiming the world’s first third-party lens adapters for the new Nikon Z system with a collection of four units designed to allow cinema lenses to be mounted on the mirrorless full frame bodies.
Think Tank Photo has updated its line of heavy-duty rain covers and introduced a new, compact version for emergency situations.
The X-T3 is our first opportunity to analyze what's likely to be Fujifilm's next generation image sensor. Take a look at how it performs next to the competition in our studio test scene.
Canon's new normal is seriously sharp wide open. After shooting with it for a few days, we've prepared a gallery of real-world sample images.
Nikon will cease offering Brazil-based customer service and technical support, though the company stresses that it will still offer technical assistance and warranty repairs for valid warranties.
Two years ago, CatLABS of JP announced a plan to save Packfilm from the dead. Now, it's announced it's giving up its efforts to better focus its resources elsewhere.
The GoPro Fusion is designed to make it easy to capture 360-degree video and stills. We took it out recently on a typically hot Seattle summer day to see what it can do.
We've got our hands on a full-production Nikon Z7 camera and have updated our gallery with additional samples.
A new Kickstarter campaign seeks funding for Chroma Chrono, a programmable RGB camera flash that emits multiple colors during long exposures.
Think Tank Photo has launched a new lineup of six dual-access, water-resistant protective lens cases it calls Lens Case Duo.
Canon and Nikon finally entered the full-frame mirrorless market this summer with the brand-new RF and Z mounts. Now that we've had some time with the cameras, we wanted to revisit our earlier predictions and take stock.
The devices' camera specs look pretty much identical to last year's iPhone X but under the hood a number of important improvements have been made.
Blackmagic Design has announced the public beta of its new Blackmagic RAW video codec. The company says the new format combines the benefits of shooting Raw video with the ease of use and smaller file sizes usually associated with non-Raw video files.
Serif, the company behind the Affinity suite, has announced the latest update for its mobile Photoshop competitor Affinity Photo for iPad.
The Atomos Ninja V external video recorder and monitor will be ready to ship at the end of this month. The 5.2in Ninja V is designed to provide a smaller option, while still offering many of the features of the larger 7-inch models.