Although Sony NEX cameras aren't the most compact on offer here, they sport a large APS-C sensorwith a crop factor of 1.5x. This means a 30mm lens is required to provide the same angle of view as a standard 45mm lens on a 35mm camera.
Larger sensors have a greater surface area available for reacting with light, which should improve performance at high sensitivities and dynamic range in high contrast situations. Having more surface area available also enables higher pixel counts to be achieved.
A decent number of additional lenses are available for the NEX system, with third-party lens manufacturers such as Tamron beginning to support the E-mount. Owners of Sony Alpha cameras can purchase an adaptor to enable A-mount lenses to be used with the cameras too.
Price: £400/US$500 (around AU$580)
Spec: 16.1MP, 1080p video, 3-inch tiltable LCD screen
The Sony NEX-3N sits in the company's cheapest and most basic entry-level CSC range. It replaces the Sony NEX-F3 and has a redesigned chassis, which makes it the smallest and lightest CSC to feature an APS-C sized sensor.
Aiming pretty squarely at compact camera "step-up" users, the camera has a 16.1 million pixel sensor, the same device that can be found in the Sony NEX-5R. It also features a 180-degree tilting LCD screen, which is ideal for framing self-portraits, though it's not touchscreen.
Read our Hands on: Sony NEX-3N review
Spec: 16.1MP, 1080p video, 3-inch tiltable LCD screen, strong high ISO performance
A bulkier body and decent finger grip make controls easier to access. All the usual metering modes and manual functions are included too, along with two fully automatic picture-taking modes for those who wish to simply point and shoot.
Read our Sony NEX-F3 review
Spec: 16.1MP, 1080p video, 3-inch tilting touchscreen, Wi-Fi
The NEX-5R is the first Sony CSC with Wi-Fi connectivity, and is a significant upgrade on the Sony NEX-5N. The inclusion of downloadable apps enables quick and easy customisation, and the new hybrid AF system works well.
The Sony NEX-R5 shows how compact system cameras are really coming into their own. The design doesn't have to rely on retro chic, but instead uses modern research and development to create a compact body shape that both fits the electronics and also feels comfortable to hold.
Read our Hands on: Sony NEX-5R review
Spec: 16.1MP APS-C format CMOS sensor, Full HD video, 3-inch 921,000-dot tilting LCD, 2,359,000-dot EVF
Unlike the Sony 5R below it in Sony's CSC line-up, the Sony NEX-6 has an electronic viewfinder (EVF) built-in. There's also a pop-up flash and a standard design hot-shoe to accept a flashgun. Oddly, however, the screen is not touch-sensitive like the 5R's and it can't tilt right up to help with self-portraits.
As usual the enthusiast's favourite exposure modes (aperture priority, shutter priority and manual) are available along with a collection of scene modes for less experienced users. The camera is also Wi-Fi enabled and is compatible with Sony's apps to add extra functionality.
We found the NEX-6 a very enjoyable camera to use and it produces some excellent results that can be shared directly on social networking sites like Facebook.
Read our Sony NEX-6 review
Spec: 24.3MP, 1080p video, 3-inch tiltable LCD screen, EVF, direct manual control
A compact system camera with professional ambition. The Sony NEX-7 is the flagship model in the Sony CSC range, sporting a 24.3MP CMOS sensor, Full HD video recording and direct manual controls. The high pixel count should enable really large prints to be produced. A 3-inch tiltable LCD screen provides extra flexibility when shooting, and the lightweight magnesium body feels reassuringly rugged.
A high-resolution OLED electronic viewfinder is included, enabling you to choose your preferred method for composing images. ISO sensitivities up to ISO 16000 are available, enabling images to be taken in very dark conditions.
The Sony NEX-7 wins our Best advanced CSC award.
Read our Sony NEX 7 review