Sony NEX-3N review

World's smallest and lightest APS-C CSC

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At first glance, the Sony NEX-3N bears more than a passing resemblance to its older sibling, the Sony NEX-5R. Sony says that it has done this intentionally, since the NEX-5R has sold so well.

Now, we have in the Sony NEX-3N a much sleeker body than the camera it replaces, the F3, with a high quality feel, thanks to the metallic finish. It's also been shrunk down a significant amount, but without being too small so as to feel cheap.

The kit lens, being a power zoom, is also a good chunk smaller than the previous offering, making this a much more convenient option to slip into a bag, or possibly a large jacket pocket.

Sony NEX 3N review

Although the grip at the front of the camera is smaller than on both its predecessor and the Sony NEX-5R, it's still solid enough to give you confidence when shooting one-handed.

There's no mode dial on top of the camera, unlike some of the other higher specced cameras in the range. Instead, a virtual dial can be accessed by pressing a button on the back of the camera. This is a little fiddly if you want to quickly change between modes, but given the target audience, it's completely understandable.

In keeping with that, there are also no dials for changing other parameters such as aperture and shutter speed. A dial which doubles up as a four-way directional pad is used for altering aperture or shutter speed, depending on the mode you're shooting in. When shooting in fully manual mode, pressing the downwards button on the four-way dial enables you to change between shutter speed and aperture.

Sony NEX 3N review

If you've used any of the Sony Cybershot, NEX or Alpha range of cameras before, you will likely be familiar with the menu system onboard the Sony NEX-3N. It can be a little frustrating at times, requiring a good sit down with the camera to get your head around the different areas that you need to search through.

For instance, if you want to make changes to settings such as white balance and metering, you'll find these options in the Brightness and Colour sub-menu, while you can change image ratio, and raw format shooting, in the Image Size submenu.

One of the most frustrating things, however - and pretty much all Sony cameras are guilty of this - is the number of options that can't be shot when shooting in raw format. Options including Creative Effects, Auto Object and Portrait Framing and Clear Image zoom are all not available when shooting in raw format.

Sony NEX 3N review

This means you need to head back into the menu system, switch raw format shooting off, then head back to what you were trying to do.

It's a very fiddly system that could be solved quite simply either by having a dedicated raw on/off button on the back of the camera or by having a window pop up if you tried to shoot something with raw format enabled to quickly switch to JPEG only. Better yet - having the ability to shoot these options in raw format.

For the first time in a Sony NEX camera, a zoom lever can be found around the shutter release. This is very similar to those found on compact cameras, such as those in Sony's Cyber-Shot range, and enables you to zoom the lens in and out without having to touch the lens itself. When using a fixed focal length lens, this activates the Clear Image Zooming, if that's turned on.

Sony NEX 3N review

This is especially handy when shooting self-portraits, where twisting the lens might be awkward, or when shooting videos where you want to avoid moving the lens and introducing blur.

The tilting screen is very handy for shooting from awkward angles, and it seems perfect for the target audience. It's a little bit of a shame that it doesn't fully articulate, which would be more useful for shooting vertical images, but that would likely increase the camera's size and weight. As it is, when the screen is fully recessed, it sits flush against the body of the camera and adds to its sleekness.

As with several other cameras in Sony's range, the buttons on the back of the camera are customisable, which is useful for making the camera work exactly as you'd like it to - and it means that if you find that you regularly use one particular setting you can have it ready very quickly.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution16.1 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product Familyα NEX
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom3.1x
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameSony
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Live View, Orientation Sensor, Noise Reduction, Smile Detection, Face Detection
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsAVCHD, MP4, MPEG-4 AVC
Weight (Approximate)210 g
Image Sensor Size23.50 mm x 15.60 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4912 x 3264
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height62 mm
Width109.9 mm
Depth34.6 mm
Focal Length16 mm to 50 mm (Lens 1)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
External FlashOptional
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelNEX-3N
Product NameNEX-3N Body With Standard Zoom Lens
Product Lineα NEX
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Shutter Priority AE
  • Aperture Priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberNEX3NLB.CE
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Be creative wherever you go

Take the creativity of a DSLR anywhere with the easy-to-use NEX-3N. With a large 16.1 megapixel APS-C sensor, you can shoot detailed images in low light, use the handy 180° tiltable screen for self-portraits or tricky angles, and give your photography that professional look.

Package Contents
  • α NEX-3N Mirrorless Camera
  • E PZ16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
  • Battery NP-FW50
Limited Warranty1 Year