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First Impressions: The Sony NEX-F3 in Santa Monica

by Peter Walkowiak on 05/17/2012

I was honored that Sony let me join them in Santa Monica to be a part of the release of their new cameras. Here are my first impressions and overall states on what I deem as the most important features of the camera.

Tech Specs

- 16.1 MP same as A37

- Latest Bionz processor

- ISO 100 to 16,000

- 1080p HD at 24p or 60i

- The option of recording at an MP4 Codec in 3:2 mode

- Auto Portrait Framing

- 3.0″ 180 degree rotating LCD for easier self portraits

- Built in guide number 6 flash

- Improved battery performance to 470 images per charge

- Charge on the go via USB to PC if you’d like

- Accessory terminal for you to add the trufinder or the microphone

- 5.5 fps in speed priority mode

-Auto HDR

-Sweep Panorama including 3D

- Silver, black and white.

- Shipping in June $599 with 18-55mm kit lens

Handling

The first thing I want to talk about is the newly designed body of the NEX-F3. The grip is larger than the C3 and the main reason for that is the new battery inside of the grip. This expanded battery is now capable of 470 photos per charge. The next design feature is the bridge behind the shutter button. When I first saw this in person I was a bit thrown off but as soon as I held it I saw why it was built that way. The bridge gives the camera an excellent grip and stabilization when using heavier lenses. I suggest feeling the camera for yourself.

Image Quality

This is the first NEX that I was able to use for an extended period of time although I have had my hands on all of the models. The image quality is surprisingly close to the larger A37 or A57 but the difference is probably due to glass. The camera offers the same 2x Clear Image Zoom as the other entry models and HDR modes.

HDR Sample From The NEX-F3

The HDR mode on this model works very well. There are options for bracketing, adjust DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) and steps for various levels of HDR or auto. In auto HDR mode the camera creates an even scene with no blown highlights that has a really nice depth to it.

Display

The display as you may have read is a 3” display with 921,000 pixels that has the ability to flip up and around 180 degrees. This makes for simple portraits because Sony has thought the entire process through. First you simply flip the screen around and you will notice that the displays image flips as if you are looking into a mirror. Second, all you have to do is press the shutter because an automatic 3 second timer is enabled so you can get comfortable and frame the shot. For a lot of people the reason for a camera like this, even in a pro users bag is to capture memories. A screen like this will make these moments easier to capture.

USB Charging

The camera is the first camera that can be charged over a usb cable. By this I mean you can plug the camera into your computer or existing phone or iPad chargers have the ability to charge in more areas.

Autofocus

The camera was no faster or slower than any of the other NEX cameras that I have tested. I never had a moment where it didn’t acquire focus or saw any apparent negatives. In my limited experience the camera focussed quickly and worked as expected.

Samples

Conclusion

I was never interested in the NEX-C3 because of the grip that was on the camera, holding it was uncomfortable for me. With the newly revised grip on the NEX-F3 it is much more comfortable to hold especially with larger lenses. Battery life and the 180 degree screen sell me on the product as a camera I want to pickup when I don’t want to carry my larger bodies around. Sony has armed the entry level with strong and useful features, its becoming tough to foresee what they will add in the future.

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