Sony NEX-C3 review

Upgrading the year-old NEX-3, comes the 16.2-megapixel NEX-C3. This is more refinement than revolution, but like the compact Pentax Q the C3 can slot in a pocket if the lens is removed, thanks to a 33mm body depth. For just under £500, the C3 comes with an 18-55mm equivalent zoom – more often found on an entry-level DSLR. It proves a good all-encompassing option, even if it does make the camera appear front-end heavy when fixed. Without it the NEX-C3 simply looks a bit plain, unfinished even.

Offering 400 shots from a full charge the NEX-C3 betters all comers here for power consumption. More importantly it offers a physically larger APS-C sized sensor, which matches those found in DSLRs, and is currently the world’s smallest camera to do so. However, being the entry model, some features have been necessarily pared back, such as the video mode offering 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution rather than 1,920 x 1,080. That said, with stereo sound and a smooth 30fps frame rate, quality is good.

The auto-focus quickly adjusts if you change framing or manually adjust the zoom, so it’s simple to use, with a dedicated video record button at the back. The 3in, 921k-dot resolution LCD presents a widescreen aspect ratio and can be tilted up or down for better visibility. This comes into its own for shooting video and 3D ‘sweep’ panoramas (viewable only on a 3D TV). Like the E-PL3 there’s no built-in flash, just a clip-on plastic bulb.

The layout of the NEX-C3 is largely the same as its predecessor, complete with scroll wheel at the back, and an unmarked button at its centre now calling up some fun digital effects, including Panasonic-like background defocus, plus toy camera, soft skin and retro-look options. The uses for further unmarked buttons change depending on what you have selected on screen at the time so the Sony’s menu system takes a bit of getting used to.

Sony’s NEX-C3 is more a refinement of its successful original than a revolutionary new model

OUR VERDICT

Colours are warm and images presentable straight off the camera; indeed only an expert eye would see any difference between the output here and that of one of Sony’s entry-level DSLRs. Though the NEX-C3 is good, the steely utilitarian exterior means it’s not a camera to easily fall in love with.

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