The Sony NEX-C3 squeezes a new 16.2MP sensor into a yet smaller Compact System Camera body. Is it the best NEX yet? The What Digital Camera Sony NEX-C3 review…

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Sony NEX-C3

Overall score:90%
Image Quality:95%


  • Good image quality, improved start up time, button customization, small size


  • Poor menu system, no Quick Menu layout, Smart Accessory Terminal fitting, no viewfinder (nor accessory option), battery life still not long lasting enough


Sony NEX-C3 Review


Price as reviewed:

The next generation of Sony’s NEX-series Compact System Camera focuses on further shrinking the camera’s proportions. The NEX-C3 – the ‘C’ element standing for ‘compact’ – lays claim to being ‘the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable system camera’, and far from a quick lick of paint offers a new and improved sensor and improved battery life. With the original NEX-3 a landmark release, albeit one with menu design issues, does the NEX-C3 wipe the slate clean and iron out the previous generation’s issues?

Sony NEX-C3 review – Features

The Compact System Camera (CSC) market has been in full flow this year, taking a chunk of the interchangeable lens camera (i.e. DSLR) market and becoming the predominant sector of camera releases over the course of the last 12 months. Compact-like in form, but with large-sized sensors akin to those found in DSLRs, the CSC’s cause is to appeal to the masses seeking top image quality but minimal body size. The NEX-C3 – that replaces the NEX-3 that came to the end of its production line life earlier in the year – hones in on the concept of ‘miniaturisation’ by shrinking the NEX-series body size to an all time low.

However it’s not a simple cosmetic update, as the NEX-C3 also packs in a new 16.2MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor akin to the one found in the admirable Sony A580 and Pentax K-5. With the knowledge of just how well that sensor has been performing in other bodies, this is a bold NEX-series update that promises to deliver big things on the image quality front. Able to deliver shots from ISO 200-12,800 at full resolution, the NEX-C3’s latest processing engine also supports 720p MP4 movie capture.

With full manual modes for those seeking DSLR-like control, the C3 also introduces Sony’s ‘Photo Creativity’ mode. The latter includes an updated Sweep Panorama mode to capture real time panoramic images by moving the camera in real time; Background Defocus offers a simplified method to ‘blur’ the background (via aperture control) in a simplified and easy-to-use user interface; while HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Handheld Twilight modes both use different multiple-exposure methods to pronounce exposure and shadow detail throughout a shot. These modes can also be found in the previous NEX-3 release, but the C3 adds new Soft Skin and seven Picture Effects modes for more creative shooting options. A new ‘Peaking Level’ mode to help with manual focus assist also highlights in-focus areas on screen for more accurate pinpoint focusing.

On the NEX-C3’s rear is a 3in, 921k-dot LCD screen that’s mounted on a tilt-angle bracket for vertical adjustment to help with waist-level or overhead shooting. There isn’t a viewfinder however and the Sony-specific Smart Accessory Terminal – that can be used to attach the included flashgun – doesn’t have the capacity to add an optional one either. While the NEX-series targets the viewfinder-free and ultra-compact sector, its Sony’s SLT (Single Lens Translucent) cameras, such as the recently released Alpha A35, that target a different, more DSLR-like minded audience.

  1. 1. Sony NEX-C3 review - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Movie/Video Mode
  6. 6. Value & Verdict
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