Sony NEX F3 - new entry level CSC

We take a look at Sony’s latest entry-level Compact System Camera, the F3, which replaces its C3. Improvements include a built-in flash

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Sony NEX-F3 Highlights:

- All-new 16.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor

- 180 degree tiltable LCD

- Built-in flash

- ISO 200-16000

- AVCHD (50i/25p)

- Superior Auto Mode

- 5.5fps burst shooting

Sony's NEX-F3 Compact System Camera replaces the NEX-C3, and is aimed at those looking to make the jump from a point and shoot compact to a camera with better performance and image quality.

The NEX-F3 features an all-new design. Larger than its predecessor, it has a more pronounced handgrip and the styling has more in common with the premium NEX-7. The design features a built-in flash - something that was missing from the NEX-C3, and while there's no built-in electronic viewfinder, the accessory port will accept Sony's optional FDA-EV1S electronic viewfinder.

Sony's range of NEX cameras feature APS-C sized sensors (the same physical size as most sensors found in DSLRs) and while the resolution is virtually identical to the NEX-C3 at 16.1MP (compared to 16.2MP on the C3), it's a completely new sensor design, which linked in with the latest BIONZ image processor, promises to deliver better images than the C3. There's an ISO range running from 200-16,000, while video can be captured at 1080i.

The rear screen has also been overhauled - the display can now be rotated 180°, so self-portraits are nice and simple, while the screen itself is 3in in size with a resolution of 921k-dots.

If you want to capture the action, then the NEX-F3 is capable of shooting at up to 5.5fps (frames per second) in Speed Priority mode, with a battery life of approximately 470 shots - improving over the C3's 400 shots. Rather than having a traditional charging dock to charge the battery, the camera is charged via a USB connection.

There's a full suite of manual controls, but there's also plenty of modes for the novice as well. Superior Auto mode intelligently recognizes a wide range of scenes and subjects. There's also Auto Portrait Framing - it identifies your subject's position then trims the scene to a more pleasing composition. As well as saving the cropped image, the original is also saved, so you can always return and edit that one at a later date instead.

The NEX-F3 looks like a promising upgrade to the C3 - we'll have a full test online shortly, so we'll be able to tell you more then. The NEX-F3 will be available in June, finished in black or silver, and will be bundled with an 18-55mm kit lens for £530.

Video interview with Joe Asai of Sony: