We have seen them coming for a while now, but they are finally here, the new Sony NEX-3N and Alpha A58. Both of these cameras are the new frontmen for Sony’s 2013 entry-level camera lineup. The Sony 3N replaces the F3 and the A58 replaces both the A57 and the A37. To be an entry camera that usually means that a feature or two may have to be sacrificed and Sony has done it a bit here.
News has been out since the cameras launched in Europe so today we are going to focus on the finer details on the cameras after the dust has settled. Let’s dig deep into the offerings of these cameras and see what they are all about.
|Image sensor||Exmor APS HD CMOS with approx. 16.1 effective megapixels|
|Autofocus system||Contrast-detection with 25 AF points|
|ISO sensitivity range||Still images: ISO 200 – 16000Movies: ISO 200 – 3200 equivalent|
|Movie recording format||AVCHD 50i/25p|
|LCD screen||7.5cm / 3.0-type 460K-dot; tilt angle up 180°|
|Continuous shooting||4 fps (approx.)|
|Picture Effect||11 modes, 15 effects|
|Dimensions||109.9 x 62.0 x 34.6 mm (approx.)|
|Weight (with battery and memory card; approx.)||269 g|
|Weight (body only; approx.)||210 g|
|Battery life (approx.)||480 shots (CIPA standard)|
|Connections / interfaces||Multi/Micro USB* (allows charging); HDMI Type D*Supports Micro USB compatible device|
|Built-in flash||GN4; ISO 100·m / (GN6; ISO 200·m)|
Specs provided by Sony Europe.
Compared to the NEX-F3
The F3 was a good camera in my opinion but wasn’t a huge leap from its predecessor the C3. The 3N offers the same sensor but as time goes on companies learn how to tweak algorithms and engine updates to give better results. The first drawback we are going to look at is a more obvious one: there is no longer a port for an accessory on top of the camera, including an EVF. This for me isn’t a huge deal for this class of camera and honestly I prefer its absence. There is no way I would every shell out the cash for an external EVF for an entry model camera.
The second difference is the display on the back of the camera. This is an area where I can’t stand a spec cut and Sony has done just that by lowering the amount of pixels from 921k to 460k. I usually don’t consider myself a snob but we should only be adding nicer things, not removing them.
A nice addition to the 3N is the new location for the SD card slot. The slot is no longer on the bottom of the camera like the F3. On the previous camera the battery and SD card slot were separate but the SD card was far too close to the tripod port so it made changing cards more difficult. The new location on the 3N is on the side along with the USB and HDMI port.
As far as power and weight goes the 3N is also improved over the F3. The 3N is actually the lightest APS-C camera that includes a flash at 210 grams with the F3 weighing in at 255 grams. The battery life has also been improved on the new model with the capability to shoot up to 480 shots up from 410 on the F3. The boost may be from smarter power management or the fact that the screen packs half the punch.
Another spec that has been cut down a bit is the FPS down to 4 from 5.5. I’m not sure what the thoughts are behind a move like this. Will consumers notice? I bet they won’t. Will this make or break someones mind on buying the new 3N? I doubt it. It seems more of a move to further separate the already cluttered NEX lineup.
There are also some minor tricks that have been added to the 3N including area specific noise reduction and Triluminos Color. I just finished reading David K’s opinion on the new color space from Sony and it seems impressive. To sum it up TVs only have a color gamut that exceeds AdobeRGB and sRGB made specifically for new Sony TVs that can display a larger color palette.
|Image Sensor||Exmor APS HD CMOS|
|Effective pixels||20.1 megapixels (approx.)|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 – 16000 (25600 with Multi Frame NR)|
|Autofocus system||15-point phase detection Live View AF with 3 cross sensors; with AF tracking in Tele-zoom Continuous Advance Priority AE mode|
|Continuous burst shooting (max.)||5 fps (8 fps in Tele-zoom Continuous Advance Priority AE mode)|
|Movie recording||Quick AF Full HD Movie (AVCHD 1920×1080, 50i/25p)|
|Electronic viewfinder||OLED Tru-Finder with 100% field coverage|
|LCD||460k-dot 6.7 cm (2.7-type) with adjustable angle|
|Image compositing functions||Auto HDR; Hand-held Twilight; Sweep Panorama; Anti Motion Blur; Multi Frame Noise Reduction|
|Image stabilisation system||SteadyShot INSIDE|
|Built-in flash||GN 10|
|Interfaces||HDMI; Multi Interface Shoe; Multi Terminal; Memory Stick Duo / SD card slots|
|Picture Effect||11 modes, 15 effects|
|Dimensions||128.6 x 95.5 x 77.7 mm (approx.)|
|Weight (body only)||492g (approx.)|
|Shooting stamina||Using Tru-Finder: 690 shotsUsing LCD: 700 shots|
Specs provided by Sony Europe.
Compared to the A37 and A57
The A58 is here and it is replacing not one but two cameras so I will go into the pros and (few) cons to what users are gaining with the new body. Starting with the heart of the camera, the A58 now offers a new 20mp sensor over the previous 16mp. This sensor is brand new and offers the same high ISO shooting capability up to 16,000 which can be extended to 25,600.
Like the 3N above, the A58 also gets cut in the display department sitting at 460k dots. This would be an upgrade coming from the A37 at 260k dots but a drawback when “upgrading” from the A57 which has a 921k dot display. On that sad note, the display is also a bit smaller which is now 2.7″ down from the 3″ on the A57.
A perk of upgrading is the new OLED display inside of the A58 which is brand new to the series. This EVF offers the same resolution of the other EVFs but from what I have read and seen, the OLED provides a much sharper image with less visual noise.
A perk over the A57 is that the camera is now lighter and with the previously mentioned OLED EVF, it also has bettery battery life. I have found it hard to believe that Sony cameras use more battery when using the EVF compared to the LCD. It still doesn’t make sense in my head but with the lower spec’d LCD and new EVF, the camera has quite a bit more stamina. The new A58 can take up to 690 images using the EVF and 700 using the display. This is quite the leap over the A57’s 550 EVF / 590 LCD and A37’s 450 EVF / 500 LCD expected battery life.
The biggest sacrifice made on this camera in my opinion is the speed of the camera. The A57 has the ability to shoot 10 FPS in full resolution and up to 12 in a cropped mode, this is really impressive but what does the A58 give us? The A58 with its four more megapixels practically halves the buffer to 5 FPS at full resolution and 8 in tele crop mode.
If you would like more information you can read Sony’s European press release here.
When Sony busted through the gate with translucent mirror cameras, they had no limits and nothing to cannibalize. This was courageous and unheard of in the photography world at the time. An entry level camera with GPS and an EVF built in??? These features were nowhere to be found from other companies and still are to this day. I think Sony now believes that they came in a bit too hot and are in the process of cooling their guns off. GPS disappeared from the consumer line. Now LCDs are dropping in quality along with the cameras becoming slower I feel Sony has hit their peak with presenting “WOW” features. I love the A99 but if Sony wants to be number two they need to be consistently be aligning the spec graph upwards.
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