On top are a redesigned power switch, a newly added built-in pop-up flash, and a covered accessory connector for add-ons like a microphone. As on Panasonic's ILCs, the flash can be tilted backward for bounced indirect lighting in order to produce a much better shot. The movie record and playback buttons sit behind the power switch on the angled edge of the back. There's a lip around the record button to prevent accidental pressing, but I find it makes it annoyingly difficult to stop and start video.
The back has the typical NEX design, with programmable controls that are contextually labeled on the LCD. I really like this interface, though I'd love just one more button; I hate having to sacrifice the main button, which defaults to pulling up the virtual mode dial, in order to comfortably streamline the controls for my shooting needs.
The tilting LCD is the same as on the C3, but Sony has added a new twist: you can flip it straight up for self-portraits, and when it's in that position it automatically goes into self-timer mode, with a countdown display appearing on the LCD. It then flips the photo automatically so that it's normally oriented rather than mirror-oriented. This is a really nifty feature if you're the self-photographing sort.
|Olympus PEN E-PM1||Samsung NX1000||Sony Alpha NEX-C3||Sony Alpha NEX-F3||Sony Alpha NEX-5N|
|Sensor (effective resolution)||12.3mp Live MOS||12.1mp Live MOS||20.3mp CMOS||16.2mp Exmor HD CMOS||16.1mp Exmor HD CMOS||16.1mp Exmor HD CMOS|
|17.3mm x 13mm||17.3mm x 13mm||23.5mm x 15.7mm||23.5mm x 15.6mm||23.5mm x 15.6mm||23.5mm x 15.6mm|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 200 - ISO 12,800||ISO 100 - ISO 6400/ 12800 (expanded)||ISO 100 - ISO 12,800||ISO 200 - ISO 12,800||ISO 200 - ISO 16,000||ISO 100 - ISO 25,600|
(5.5fps without image stabilization)
unlimited JPEG/4 raw
11 JPEG/8 raw
18 JPEG/ 6 raw
(5.5fps with fixed exposure)
18 JPEG/6 raw
(5.5fps with fixed exposure)
10 JPEG/6 raw
(10fps with fixed exposure)
|Autofocus||35-area contrast AF||23-area contrast AF||15-point contrast AF||25-point contrast AF||25-point contrast AF||25-area contrast AF|
|AF sensitivity range||n/a||0 - 18 EV||n/a||0 - 20 EV||0 - 20 EV||0 - 20 EV|
|Shutter speed||60-1/2,000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes||60-1/4,000 sec; 1/160 x-sync||30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/180 x-sync||30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 flash sync||30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 flash sync||30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync|
|Metering||324 area||144 zone||221 segment||49 zone||1,200 zone||1,200 zone|
|Metering range||0 - 20 EV||0 - 18 EV||0 - 18 EV||0 - 20 EV||0 - 20 EV||0 - 20 EV|
|Flash||Included optional||Yes||Included optional||Included optional||Yes||Included optional|
|Image stabilization||Sensor shift||Optical||Optical||Optical||Optical||Optical|
1080/60i @ 20, 17Mbps; 720/60p @ 13Mbps/29 minutes
|AVCHD or MPEG-4 QuickTime MOV
1080/60i @ 17Mbps
1080/30p; 1,080x810/ 24p; 720/30p
1080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/ 30p @ 12Mbps
|AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/ 30p @ 12Mbps|
|Audio||Stereo||Stereo||Stereo; mic input||Stereo; mic input||Stereo; mic input||Stereo; mic input|
|LCD size||3-inch fixed
|3-inch fixed touch screen
|3-inch fixed LCD
|Wireless file upload||Optional Bluetooth||None||Wi-Fi||None||None||None|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||n/a||330 shots||320 shots||400 shots||470 shots||430 shots|
|Dimensions (inches, WHD)||4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3||4.2 x 2.6 x 1.5||4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4||4.4 x 2.4 x 0.9||4.6 x 2.6 x 1.6||4.4 x 2.4 x 1.6|
|Body operating weight (ounces)||9.3||9.3||9.5 (est)||10.7||11.1||9.3 (without flash)|
|Mfr. price||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||$549.99 (body only)|
|$499.99 (with 14-42mm lens)||$599 (with 14-42mm lens)||$699 (est, with 20-50mm i-Function lens)||$649.99 (with 18-55mm lens)||$599 (with 18-55mm lens)||$649.99
(with 18-55mm lens)
|n/a||$749 (with 14-42mm power zoom lens)||n/a||$599.99 (with 16mm f2.8 lens)||n/a||n/a|
|Ship date||September 2011||June 2012||June 2012||August 2011||June 2012||September 2011|
If you use a tripod with any regularity, I'd suggest you pass on the F3, though. While I appreciate Sony's having moved the SD card slot out of the battery compartment, I think the new location, on the bottom next to the tripod mount, becomes equally as problematic.
The camera has the usual assemblage of Sony features, including 2D and 3D Sweep Panorama modes, Auto HDR, and a fixed-exposure 5.5fps continuous-shooting mode. New to this generation of cameras is the Auto Portrait Framing feature; in Superior Auto mode, when you frame a picture of a person in landscape (wide) orientation it will automatically create a crop that more attractively positions the person in the photo, and save both it and the original (though it seems to randomly choose between portrait and landscape orientations). This is a clever and useful idea for newbies.
After it crops the photo, Sony feels compelled to unnecessarily bloat it back up to 16 megapixels. At ISO 200 and when viewed at 50 percent, Sony's Clear Image Zoom interpolation technology used for uprezzing does produce a photo that looks sharper than simply cropping the original, if somewhat oversharpened. However, at higher ISO sensitivities (in other words, in any indoor portrait you'll take), it simply exacerbates the other artifacts in the photo. And even at ISO 200, the interpolation mushes up detail that looks sharp in a regular crop.
While the Alpha NEX-F3 doesn't wow me for any particular aspect of the camera, overall it's a nice package that should suit many point-and-shoot upgraders looking for the versatility and photo quality of a dSLR without the bulk.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Raw shot-to-shot time||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)