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Labels: CamerasBuyers Guide

1. The NEX-3 and NEX-5 accept both Sony Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo and SD/SDHC/SDXC media. 2. The red movie button provides quick access to video recording. 3. An optional optical viewfinder designed for the 16mm pancake lens provides eye-level viewing when that’s desired.

Sony Alpha NEX-3

ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $599 (with 18-55mm zoom)

A smidge larger than the NEX-5 (but still more compact than any other mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera), the NEX-3 shares most of that camera’s fine features, including a stylish design, the 14.2-megapixel APS-C-format Sony Exmor CMOS image sensor, 7 fps shooting (with focus and exposure locked), ISO settings to 12,800, a 3.0-inch, 921,000-dot tilting LCD monitor, Sweep Panorama mode, Auto HDR mode, Dynamic Range Optimizer, simple operation and more).

The main differences between the two models are that the NEX-3 doesn’t provide the NEX-5’s 1920x1080/60i AVCHD video format or the NEX-5’s magnesium-alloy front fascia (the NEX-3 does shoot 1280x720p video in MPEG4 format, with continuous AF and AE). Both models lack a built-in flash unit, but come with a detachable flash; neither has an eye-level EVF (nor is one available as an accessory). An optional optical viewfinder provides eye-level viewing when that’s desired (it’s designed for use with the 16mm “pancake” lens, but can serve as a framing guide with the 18-55mm zoom as well).

Both NEX cameras feature a new electronic Sony E lens mount and can take new Sony E-mount lenses, which currently number two: the 18-55mm kit zoom and 16mm ƒ/2.8 “pancake” lens. But more are on the way, as is an LA-EA1 adapter that lets you use Sony A-mount DSLR lenses (and legacy Minolta Maxxum lenses) on the NEX cameras (with manual focusing), and there are a lot of those. The E-series lenses provide continuous autofocusing, even for video.

Like the NEX-5, the NEX-3 offers Sony’s 3D Panorama mode: Sweep the camera across the scene, and the camera records separate right- and left-eye images that display in 3D on 3D HDTV sets. Face Detection technology can detect up to eight faces and adjust focus, exposure, white balance and flash for optimal results. Smile Shutter technology trips the shutter when the subject smiles.

STANDOUT FEATURE: Tiny and stylish, the NEX-3 combines a DSLR-sized APS-C sensor, HD video and interchangeable-lens capability in a body about half the size of Sony’s smallest DSLR.


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