It’s easy to be sceptical about the NEX-3. Wearing its trendy Sony logo, and a svelte 30mm deep without a lens, it looks too pretty to be any great shakes as a camera.
As we turned to our image tests, though, any hesitations faded away. Where other mirrorless cameras such as the Olympus E-PL1 have smaller sensors, the Sony’s APS-C sensor is roughly the same size as those in “proper” DSLRs, theoretically giving it a chance to provide the same image quality.
Our greatest concern – ISO performance – was quickly laid to rest. The NEX-3 can be pushed to ISO 12800, and while the final two stops are best avoided, ISO 3200 produced excellent images. Our image tests rank the NEX-3 and NEX-5 together behind the table-topping Canon, Nikon and Pentax DSLRs, but only by a fraction.
Zoomed out, the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens produced good results outdoors. Chromatic aberration was present but not at all obvious, and we had no problem with sharpness at either f/5.6 or f/16. Twisting the zoom ring did produce some problems, though. At its maximum zoom of 55mm, the NEX-3’s image corners suffered at f/5.6. Blurry and indistinct, crucial details were lost in the haze. Closing down the aperture to f/16 largely solved the problem.
Where the NEX-5 shoots in Full HD, the NEX-3 can only muster 720p recording, but otherwise the two cameras offer few differences. Except the NEX-3 is a little less stylish and almost $150 cheaper.
Still, compared to traditional DSLRs the NEX-3 is expensive. And if you want a camera that will grow with you, the NEX-3 isn't the best option. You can attach the Alpha mount adapter, which allows you to use lenses from Sony’s DSLRs, but the range of available glass doesn’t compare. Nevertheless, if you’re after a slim, stylish camera that doesn’t offer many quality compromises, the Sony NEX-3 is the best we’ve seen.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk