It's interesting that Sony has chosen to replace the NEX-C3 with this NEX-F3 camera so soon, but by doing so, it has addressed some, if not all common issues with the older model. Thanks to the slightly bulkier body, and inclusion of a decent finger grip, this camera is much easier to hold, and controls are easier to access. Photographers of all experience levels should appreciate this.
Focusing on ease of use doesn't mean that the Sony NEX-F3 will disappoint those who want to take complete control of the camera. All the usual metering modes and manual functions are included, along with two fully automatic picture-taking modes for those who wish to simply point and shoot.
Image quality is impressive too, especially at high sensitivities, where a slight improvement on the performance of the NEX-C3 has also been made.
Incompatibility with specialist accessories, such as audio microphones with a 3.5mm or XLR connection, or external flash equipment, can't really be held against the Sony NEX-F3. It is an entry-level CSC, after all.
The Sony NEX-F3 packs plenty of features into a lightweight and reasonably compact body. It is more than capable of producing high quality images under a wide range of conditions and feels very responsive in use. Features such as the 180-degree flip-out screen and customisable controls make this camera stand out from other entry-level CSCs.
The articulated arm that supports the pop-up flash looks a little flimsy, as does the exposed ribbon cable between the flip-out screen and camera body. Autofocus performance in very low light conditions is poor too.
The Sony NEX-F3 is a well rounded entry-level compact system camera, offering excellent image quality and plenty of features. It is currently priced similarly to alternatives from other manufacturers - such as the Panasonic Lumix GF5, Olympus PEN E-PL3 and Samsung NX1000 - so it should make a good value choice due to the great range of features, handling and image quality.
Sony has packed the NEX-F3 with plenty of features to satisfy both novices and advanced photographers alike. Many of the shortcomings of its predecessor have been addressed and image quality improved. It should make a good choice for anyone in the market for a good quality compact system camera.