Sony NEX-C3 Review

August 22, 2011 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 rec

I do not have a NEX or a G3, and I have to decide which to buy.

I have just compared the image quality samples you have published for NEX C3 and for Panasonic G3.

The NEX is beating the G3 hands down at all ISOs, but particularly at high ISO, in your samples. Images are clearer, the level of details is higher, the chromatic scale is better, at higher ISO the noise is much less, and the image is still usable at 12800 on NEC (but hardly so on G3).

Why do you give NEX C3 a 4.5 score for image quality and G3 a 5 for image quality???? It should be othe other way ‘round.

11:41 pm - Monday, August 22, 2011

#2 bokehlicious

Can anyone explain to me how to access NEX-C3 raw files using ACR 6.4.1 or lightroom 3? I am currently unable to open .ARW files even though the reviewers were able to process the samples.

5:27 am - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#3 Pierre Lehu

I would guess the tilting LCD helps somewhat in being able to see the screen enough to compose a shot when shooting in bright sunlight, but how much? And with so many functions accessible only through the LCD, might one find oneself unable to make adjustments when in bright light, like at the beach?

1:43 pm - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#4 danaceb

“Why do you give NEX C3 a 4.5 score for image quality and G3 a 5 for image quality???? It should be othe other way ‘round.”

Because even if its a hundred dollars more its automatically pinned as preferable for not being Sony.

Seriously though, that was pretty idiotic. Going by sensors alone; M43 is just garbage and its only justification is fatter profit margins than APS-C. Respectable photojournalist should spit in Olympus and Panasonics face for this shameful act. Using Sonys lack of decent glass as justification to overlook that is using a orange reason for an apple problem.

2:33 pm - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#5 Jan


Not sure that spitting in anyone’s face will help this issue, though.

3:43 pm - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#6 Kyle


Wow, just, wow.  Seriously, what are you talking about?  m4/3 is a compact system.  The sensor is smaller, but performance print quality up to iso 1600 is good.  It is a tradeoff… much smaller system for a slight loss in DR and diminished high ISO performance.

The NEX line is definitely not designed for photojournalists.  Have you used the camera or seen the interface?  It was designed, first and foremost, as a way to move point & shooters up the Sony product line.  The NEX7 is targeted towards a different market, of course, but you will still only have 1 good lens (upcoming Zeiss, assumed) for this “system.”  I just don’t see it… if you are cool with one focal length and need an APS-C sized sensor, the Fuji X100 seems like a much better option. 

Also, for the size of the NEX7 with Zeiss, I would be tempted to move up to the Alphas.

5:05 pm - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#7 vladimir

I will gladly help someone by repeating what I have experienced with this wonderful camera:
Jpeg quality is almost awful, blurry and too grainy, camera in most of cases unable to maintain acceptable focusing.
Sensor is quite “piggy” - I only used nex-c3 few times without changing lens, but sensor is already covered with spots like I’ve been keeping it in sticky dust.
But the main problem with that beautiful piece of technology is that Adobe Photoshop does not support it’s ARW files, so you will have to use Sony proprietary software that Image Data Converter is, which is a huge pain in the back as it was probably written in 1990s - almost unusable discomfort wise.
In conclusion: developing this marvelous product Sony made everything possible to be sure that customers who once bought nex-c3 would never be back for another Sony anything.
And Sony outstandingly succeeded.

9:21 pm - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#8 vladimir

why are you blocking my comments as spam? is it how everything works these days? no one allowed to tell truth about sony cameras? I spent $600 on nex-c3 and I have right to share my experience.  what kind of blogger are you? I can’t imagine Sony paying you for cutting unsatisfied users like me off.  You know I’m not lying about nex-c3. So what is you deal, please do tell!

9:27 pm - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#9 danaceb


Their lenses and body size don’t even remotely justify the smaller sensor size…just look at the NEX. One could easily make AF prime lenses the same size that Olympus recently released for m43. No one has yet tried to do what M43 would be brilliant, a large sensor format for premium compact cameras. Think S95 but with a larger lens bump.

Also I did not say anything whatsoever against the m43 cameras functionality or build. was just commenting on the M43 sensor itself. Although I will certainly state that whines over the ergonomics of the Nex system, specially with the big firmware upgrade brought to all older models, have lost allot of wind. ISO is a one button click like anywhere else without a knob. I can definetely understand why some would go with a lesser sensor to not have to deal with the Nex or its pathetic AF lenses.

5:49 am - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

#10 Seb

Mark ,did You paste some parts of this review ?
When writing about Intelligent Sweep Panorama Mode You mention DSC - HX5 ; with Hand - held Twilight - DSC - HX7V.

  I suppose NEX - C3 has these features as well but is a different model and it spreads unnecessary confusion.
  And it makes me wonder whether those images are actually from the reviewed model.

5:50 pm - Thursday, August 25, 2011

#11 Peter Harris

I recently got the nex 3 (not the c3) to complement my canon 5d on a driving journey.  I find it to be very very good.  The sensor is better than the canon aps sensor and the camera is a joy to use.

Of course not having a VF can be a pain but there are ways around that. Not mentioned in this article is that sony is now offering a an EVF - sadly not for the c3.

I did test an olympus 4/3 camera (epl-2) and I think the lens was defective so I returned it.  I also found that there was noise in the shadows and midtones at base ISO.  It was bad.

The nex sensor is a smooth piece of work.  The images have a nice feel.  I could definitely see this used in a professional setting - particularly with the EVF.  It has great low light capabilities and a nice sense of tonal range.

It’s a great camera.

5:14 am - Friday, August 26, 2011

#12 rec

Dear Marc Goldstein,

Could you please answer my previous question? Was it a typo or a mistake? If it is not a typo, could you explain please why image quality of NEXC3 is given 4.5 and image quality of G3 is given 5 even if your own samples for NEXC3 are much better than G3 (higher resolution, higher colour range,less noise at high ISO and so on)? Is there something strange in the images I do not see?

It is not at all an attempt at being polemic or anything (I am the happy owner of a Leica, and do not side with any field, or manufacturer or system), it is a genuine question, because I would like to understand.


10:22 am - Friday, August 26, 2011

#13 Jo

Marc, there are better reviews eg Dpreview, a more accurate one. Just to make comparisons with my 1dmk4 and 5dmk2, as a walk about camera that lives in the car the Nex c3 rates highly in my views despite some irritated humans on this thread that beg to differ. The Glass is better than most kit lens ive even seen and we are sure to see better lens over the course of time. The sensor in the dxo marks sensor test matched my 1dmk4 and ranked highly amongst the best of them. very impressed this round sony.

12:07 am - Tuesday, August 30, 2011

#14 Jo

Rec, there are more detailed reviews out there, like
d-p-r-e-v-i-e-w. If the sensor ranked alone side my 1dMk4 in a true sensor test at dx0 labs, then why it scored lower than a G3 is mind boggling.

12:17 am - Tuesday, August 30, 2011

#15 Peter Harris

As i stated earlier I really like the nex cameras.  I am fascinated however, that sony didn’t revamp the menu system.  The firmware upgrades have made it very usable due to the programable buttins but, if you do have to gig its a strange universe in there.

What I’d suggest is when a mode is chosen the bottom button, when pressed, should bring up a list of all the menu items related to that mode.

For example - if I’m in AV I can see all image related choices, color space, auto iso,  etc.

If it’s in panorama I can see wide, normal, 3d ,direction, - all with the press of 1 button.

Surely if my limited mind can see this the sony boys have too. It is curious.

3:46 am - Monday, September 5, 2011

#16 CC

I hate to state the obvious, but the reason the NEX got a “low” score for image quality is because of the kit lens and the 16mm pancake. Just look around on this review, dpreview forums, or almost anywhere. This is a lovely camera with a great sensor, but the two base lenses for it produce oddly soft, strange looking images that don’t look nearly as good as they should coming out of an ASP-C sensor system.

5:23 am - Friday, September 9, 2011

#17 vladimir

16mm is very weak. I now shot some couple thousands images with it, and 16mm is a terrible disappointment. Still planning to buy nex 7 with new lenses. if sony wants to rule this market they won’t let us down with nex 7.

7:46 am - Friday, September 9, 2011

#18 Peter Harris


It’s not the obvious and not true.  The kit lens is solid- the images from my nex 3 are very nice.  The 16 - I don’t know but reviews are typical for modern lenses: sharp in the center, not so much in the corners.

The forums are full of people who have 5ds and a suitcase of L glass and spend their time zooming to 300% to justify spending their kids’ college tuition.

IE:  a really big grain of salt is required.

1:13 pm - Friday, September 9, 2011

#19 Peter Harris


I’m curious as to why you’ve shot thousands of pictures with a lens you don’t like?  What is it exactly that that you’re doing?

10:28 pm - Friday, September 9, 2011

#20 vladimir

because there is still no choice of lenses for nex system, and for snapshots I was making with this 16mm it was not so important for photos to be good. you can say Im using my nex c3 for photo notes, although I can’t wait to try nex7 with good lense… It’s too heavy to carry pro Canon all the time - for work I use my 1ds mark2 with L primes…

10:44 pm - Friday, September 9, 2011

#21 Peter Harris


Get a used rebel and slap on your prime

If you just want sharp - get a rebel and get a non L ef prime.  Then you’re small and sharp.

11:06 pm - Saturday, September 10, 2011

#22 AG

I think many have missed the point. The NEX is focused on technology, not the art of photography.

Sony simply doesn’t have good design sensibility and used sub-par optics. The 16mm is terrible and the 18-200mm absurd. The NEX is only an ILC system in name because it was intended to be an advanced CyberShot.  The C3 is a great camera if you view it as an expensive p&s and not worry about primes. Just use and replace when it gets old.

IMO the MFT tries to capture the essence of photography with cameras like the PEN E-P3 and excellent Panasonic lenses. They stumble on other issues like availability where Sony can deliver in larger numbers and better distribution channels.

There is no perfect system because MFT has the style/lenses but NEX has the sensors. It’s like a Mexican stand-off between the two camps. I own both because I can afford it, but if I had to choose I would stick with MFT because it’s closer to the retro, rangefinder style.

8:32 pm - Thursday, December 22, 2011

#23 Peter Harris

@vladimir- you are boring and ignorant .  If you were a suppository I wouldn’t put you up my ass.

Just my opinion - It’s a free country.

8:39 pm - Thursday, December 22, 2011

#24 neduser

I think Sony Nex very good camera but I dont buy Sony Nex 3/5/7 untill moment when appear alternative patch. Because I planning use Sony Nex 3 in aerophotogrammetry FPV for foto. As you know long foto session at this moment is a big problem.

3:40 pm - Sunday, January 20, 2013

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, compact system camera, 16 megapixel, 720p, hdmi, mirrorless, sony, 5.5fps, nex c3, nexc3, nex-C3, Sony NEX-C3, Sony NEX-C3 Review

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