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:



Sony NEX-C3 review – Design

With the onus on size, the NEX-C3 definitely ticks the ‘small’ box, perhaps with the exception of its lenses that may look a little disproportional to the camera body. The C3’s claim of ‘smallest and lightest’ Compact System Camera may ring true for now, but the imminent release of the Olympus E-PM1 will take this title, plus once the NEX-C3’s included flashgun is added onto the camera it becomes larger than Panasonic’s Lumix GF3. The truth is the difference between the size of each of these three outlined cameras is to the point of millimeters and excludes the addition of a lens – the Olympus and Panasonic models will have proportionally smaller lenses due to their smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor size (the NEX-C3 has a larger APS-C sized sensor).
Sony NEX-C3 product shot rear back

The NEX-C3’s silver-coloured top brings the model together and the aesthetic appeal of this latest release is a leap forward compared to the boxier NEX-3. It’s not only looks where the C3 ups the ante, however, as many of the qualms we had with the previous generation model have been addressed: The C3’s startup time, for example, is near instantaneous which is a big step forward; plus a number of buttons are now customiseable – left, right and centre of the d-pad and the lower ‘Focus’ function button can all be set to the user’s discretion.

Improved though the menu accessibility is, however, it still feels clunky and distant from a fully immersive user experience. To have wholly changed the camera’s menu system and layout may have alienated the existing NEX users, but from a user experience point of view the menu digging isn’t a lot of fun to access certain functions. The lack of a ‘quick menu’ visible on the screen itself, as adopted by many manufacturers, would have gone a long way in providing a better user experience. There’s no touchscreen here either which, while not to everyone’s tastes, is becoming a common feature of the competition.

Sony NEX-C3 product shot topThe other issue, and one that’ll divide opinion, is the Smart Accessory Terminal. ‘Smart’ by name, but fiddly by nature – it’s time consuming to add the provided flash gun, there are a lack of other accessories and the ‘closed’ nature of its unique fitting means third party products aren’t widely available. Avoiding the bulk and eyesore design of a hotshoe is perhaps understandable, but does cause its own limitations on a practical level.

  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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