Lightweight, compact design; impressive filter selection
Settings are all buried deep in menus; Auto mode tends to overexpose.
$699 (SEL1855 lens); $999 (SEL1855 & SEL55210 lenses)
Sony has mastered the art of ‘compact’ in a compact system camera. The NEX-F3 body is positively tiny when compared to some of the other cameras on test.
The compact design doesn’t come at the expense of image quality, though. Sony has packed a whopping great 16.1-megapixel APS-C sensor inside the F3, which means pretty impressive colour reproduction and image clarity. Dynamic range does struggle a bit in auto modes, though, with bright sections of the shots tending to almost always blow out.
The 3in LCD is amazingly clear and vibrant and conveniently flips up 180 degrees for self-portraits, which isn’t something many CSC or DSLR cameras will let you do comfortably.
The trouble with the Sony is the menu system. If you look at the back of the NEX camera, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its simplicity – there are very few buttons and an almost complete lack of dials. But that means that almost everything is buried within the menu system, including choosing which shooting mode you wish to use.
This is far from a deal breaker and instead indicates that the best audience for the F3 is novice users. While the Olympus and Panasonic cater to a more experienced photographer, Sony has targeted the user without experience. Even the way the camera adjusts things like aperture is by demonstrating the effect through images rather than confusing f-stop numbers.
That approach is reinforced by the fact that every change in setting has an explanation bubble pop up, as well as by fun features like sweep panorama and Toy Mode. Sony’s filters are impressive and offer novice photographers another reason to experiment with something a bit more artistic than they might normally try.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
This is not really a camera for a keen photographer who already knows their way around complex settings. But for compact users looking to step up, the NEX-F3 is hard to beat.