Sony NEX-C3 review

Does 16.2MP, a flip out screen and 720p video recording come at a price?

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  • Excellent performance at high ISO sensitivities
  • Fast autofocus


  • Lens-heavy design
  • Hard to use in dark conditions
  • Orange AF illuminator is poor in dark conditions

Compact system cameras (CSCs) such as the Sony NEX-C3 are all the rage at the moment. Their promise of DSLR-quality images from a lightweight compact camera form is certainly a tantalising prospect, for snap-shooters and enthusiasts alike.

As the Sony NEX-C3's system differs substantially to Sony's Alpha range of DSLRs, a new lens mount and range of optics have been designed specifically for it.

A small selection of E-mount lenses is available, including the 18-55mm kit lens supplied with this compact camera. Other lenses include an 18-200mm lens, a 16mm f/2.8 compact prime and a couple of wide-angle converters to be used with the 16mm lens.

Sony also offers a lens adapter for its A-mount DSLR lenses, which can greatly expand the range of compatible lenses, although the full-size Alpha lenses may seem a little bulky compared to the dedicated E-mount lenses.

Sony nex c3

This could be interesting for those who already have a collection of Sony or Minolta autofocus lenses. However, only lenses with a built in focusing motor such as the SAM or SSM lenses will autofocus on a NEX camera with the adapter.

Sony caused a stir when it released its first NEX series cameras, the NEX-3 and NEX-5, because they're among the most compact interchangeable lens cameras to sport an APS-C-sized sensor.

This size of sensor is the same as found in many DSLR cameras. In theory, using a larger sensor size than many other compact system cameras should result in better performance at high ISO sensitivities for low light photography, and improved dynamic range for high contrast scenes.

Sony nex c3

The Sony NEX-C3 builds on the foundations set by previous models by sporting a higher resolution 16.1MP sensor housed in a slimmer, lighter body than either the NEX-3 or NEX-5. As with those previous models, the sensitivity range remains unchanged at IS0200-12800.

Unlike in its DSLR cameras, optical stabilisation is built into the lenses, rather than the camera body, so those using Alpha lenses with an adapter may miss the luxury of Sony's Steadyshot system.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Effective Camera Resolution16.2 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product Familyalpha NEX
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom3.1x
Digital Zoom10x
Brand NameSony
DurabilityDust Proof
FeaturesFace Detection, Smile Detection, Live View, Continuous Shooting Mode, Self-timer
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)225 g
Image Sensor Size23.50 mm x 15.60 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4912 x 3264
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height60 mm
Width109.6 mm
Depth33 mm
Product SeriesNEX
Focal Length18 mm to 55 mm (Lens 1)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelNEX-C3
Product Namealpha NEX-C3 Mirrorless Camera
Product Linealpha
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Shutter Priority AE
  • Aperture Priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberNEXC3KS.CEE5
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Capture stunning images with DSLR-like picture quality, plus the convenience of interchangeable lenses - all without the size and weight of a DSLR. Compact, beautifully styled and brilliantly easy to use, with amazing features like 3D Sweep Panorama and HD video shooting.

Package Contents
  • alpha NEX-C3 Mirrorless Camera
  • SEL-1855 Lens
  • NP-FW50 Battery
  • CD-ROM
Limited Warranty1 Year