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Sony NEX-C3 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £430
inc VAT

Image quality to rival SLRs and much improved performance over the NEX-3 – a breathtakingly impressive point-and-shoot camera


23.5×15.6mm 16.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 225g

It wasn’t quite love at first sight for us and the Sony NEX range. We’re big fans of the concept – an SLR-style sensor and interchangeable lenses crammed into a compact-shaped body – but while image quality was every bit as good as a conventional SLR, its performance and controls were severely lacking.

Sony NEX-C3K
The NEX-C3 enters a very competitive market

A firmware update went a long way to addressing the control issues of the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5. This convinced us to give the NEX-5 a Best Buy award when we revisited it in our group test of interchangeable-lens cameras, particularly in view of its excellent 1080p video capture.

Since then, Panasonic has launched the NEX-like DMC-GF3. It couldn’t quite match the NEX-5 for photo quality but surpassed it for performance and controls. At £550, it seemed overpriced at its launch, but as we go to press it’s available at Amazon for £450 with a 14mm pancake lens, £419 with a 3x zoom lens or £550 (from Jessops) with both lenses.

The NEX-C3 enters the fray at similar prices: £430 with a 3x zoom lens (NEX-C3K), £528 with a 16mm pancake (NEX-C3A) or £550 as a twin-lens kit (NEX-C3D). It’s even smaller and lighter than the old NEX models, but build quality remains extremely high. The slim handgrip and front-heavy centre of gravity when the 18-55mm lens is attached means it’s best not to use it one-handed, but grasped in two hands it feels extremely satisfying and luxurious. The 3in, 921,000-pixel screen looks fabulous and tilts up and down for easy shooting from the hip or over your head.

Sony NEX-C3K back
The tilting screen allows for more creative compositions


As before, this is primarily a point-and-shoot camera. The only labelled buttons are for power, shutter release, video capture, playback, display and exposure compensation – and that short list is reduced further in Auto mode. Pressing exposure compensation brings a message that this control is only available in P/A/S/M modes (Program, Aperture, Shutter and Manual).

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 16.0 megapixels
CCD size 23.5×15.6mm
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 921,000 pixels
Articulated screen Yes
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 27-82.5mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,912×3,264
Maximum movie resolution 1280×720
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; MP4


Memory slot SDXC and Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 400 shots
Connectivity USB, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material plastic
Lens mount Sony E mount
Focal length multiplier 1.5x
Kit lens model name Sony E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
Accessories USB cable, neck strap, flash unit
Weight 225g
Size 60x115x100mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £430

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-32 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 200 to 12,800
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 5 presets with fine tuning, manual, custom
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction, dynamic range optimisation
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 25cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, flexible spot, face detect
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket