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Cameras

Sony NEX-C3 is latest lens-swapping snapper with an SLR sensor

It may be a couple of letters short of a translation droid, but the Sony NEX-C3 is a new lens-swapping camera with an SLR-sized sensor.

It may be a couple of letters short of a translation droid, but the Sony NEX-C3 is a new lens-swapping camera with an SLR-sized sensor. The NEX-C3 boasts a 16.2-megapixel APS-C image sensor and Sony reckons it's the smallest of its kind.

The NEX range puts advanced photography in the hands of the beginner with simple instructions and an uncluttered, user-friendly interface. The C3 features a new Photo Creativity interface that uses novice-friendly words, replacing technical terms such as 'aperture', 'exposure value' and 'white balance' with 'background defocus', 'brightness' and 'colour'.

The screen is 3-inch affair, folding out on an elaborate-looking arm. The display folds up or down but not sideways, so no shooting round corners. That's a shame, as recent Sony SLRs have given up on this limited range of folding screens, switching to camcorder-style twist-out screens.

The C3 shoots 720p high-definition video and includes Sony's 3D Sweep Panorama feature, letting you capture a widescreen 3D image in one smooth movement.

The NEX-C3 replaces the Sony NEX-3, quietly discontinued earlier this year. It's pretty much the same size as the C3, but has an improved textured grip.

The new model sits below the Sony NEX-5 and alongside the Sony NEX-VG10 video camera in Sony's lens-swapping range. A range of new picture effects, such as Retro Photo, Pop Colour and Toy Camera, are included in a firmware update also coming to the NEX-5 and NEX-3 on 20 June.

The SLR-style sensor gives the NEX range an edge over its principal rival, the Micro Four Thirds format used by Olympus and Panasonic. NEX is matched by the Samsung NX100's sensor, but cameras using Micro Four thirds have smaller sensors. Micro Four Thirds has a hefty headstart in terms of choice, however, with a wide range of cameras including the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix GF2 and Olympus Pen E-P2.

The NEX-C3 comes in silver or black with choice of 16mm or 18-55mm lenses. It arrives in August. UK prices haven't been confirmed, but our friends in the US will pay $600 (£370) or $650 (£400), depending on the kit lens.