Sony NEX-3 review: Sony NEX-3

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good High-resolution, tilting display; 7fps continuous shooting; decent image quality at high ISOs; good value for money.

The Bad Tiresome interface; clip-on flash; quality of 18-55mm kit lens is only fair.

The Bottom Line Why pay more for the Sony NEX-5? The NEX-3 is identical in almost every respect, but this compact camera with interchangeable lenses is around £100 cheaper

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The Sony NEX-3 is the NEX-5 's younger bro. It's made of plastic, shoots 720p high-definition videos as opposed to 1080i flicks, and is 1mm thicker. It's also about £100 cheaper than the NEX-5, so penny-pinching photographers might be wondering if this camera is the better deal.

You can get the NEX-3 in more than one kit configuration. The cheapest comes with Sony's 16mm fixed-focal-length pancake lens and is available for around £400. The next step up is an 18-55mm, 3x zoom lens, which will set you back around £440. That's got to be the best option all-round, even though it does practically double the camera's front-to-back size. If you can't make your mind up, you can get both in a twin-lens kit for around £570, and it will still work out at about the same price as a NEX-5 with the 18-55mm lens only.

Punch for your pound

Apart from the differences in their movie-recording capability and bodies, the NEX-3 and NEX-5 are effectively the same. That makes the NEX-3 rather good value for money. You get the same 14.2-megapixel sensor, the same 7-frames-per-second continuous-shooting mode and the same '3D sweep panorama' feature, although you'll need a 3D Bravia TV and a pair of £100 specs to see the effect.

Wow, now that is barrel distortion. It's the same 18-55mm kit lens as the NEX-5's, so it's no great surprise. What both cameras deliver, though, is super-saturated colours, good definition and excellent high-ISO performance (click image to enlarge)

The control layout's the same, the features are the same and the crazy, what-were-they-thinking clip-on flash is the same. It slots into a connector on the top that will also accommodate a stereo mic if you decide to get into serious film-making.

The 920,000-pixel, 76mm (3-inch), tilting LCD display is also the same as the NEX-5's, and the controls have the same metallic precision. Honestly, why would you pay the extra?

Sweet pancake lens

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Where to Buy

Sony NEX-3

Part Number: CNETSony NEX-3

Typical Price: £440.00

See manufacturer website for availability.