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277 of 283 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, the perfect camera!
I have been waiting a lifetime for this camera and it was worth the wait! It provides excellent quality shots in the smallest possible sized body. I am a point-and-shoot user who has been disappointed with the photo quality that comes from even expensive point-and-shoot cameras but who has never bought a DSLR because I knew I would never want to lug one around. If this...
Published on June 24, 2010 by Justin T

versus
38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid performer but short battery life
I have been playing with the camera since June 25. The camera has excellent low light performance. Very low noise in general.
I compared it side by side with my Canon T1i and found that in may cases, Nex-3 produces better quality of pictures. Auto focus in video mode is quick. The video quality in 720p mode is generally very good, but not as good as the Tx7 which...
Published on July 10, 2010 by S. Yang


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277 of 283 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, the perfect camera!, June 24, 2010
By 
Justin T (Mid-Atlantic USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
I have been waiting a lifetime for this camera and it was worth the wait! It provides excellent quality shots in the smallest possible sized body. I am a point-and-shoot user who has been disappointed with the photo quality that comes from even expensive point-and-shoot cameras but who has never bought a DSLR because I knew I would never want to lug one around. If this describes you, then this is your perfect camera. Or, if you own a DSLR and use 5% or less of the features on your camera, this is also the camera for you. On the other hand, if you're a skilled DSLR user, skip this camera because you'll be frustrated the compromises that make this camera a smart choice for the average consumer.

Why is this camera "perfect" if you're a typical or even advanced point-and-shoot user?

COMPARED WITH POINT-AND-SHOOTS, you'll immediately see the following improvements:
- Low light/indoor shots are dramatically better
- Quicker shutter response time
- Ability to do continuous shooting at 7 frames per second and other DSLR-like features
- Great HD video

COMPARED WITH DSLRs, you get:
- A much smaller camera than a DSLR that you can actually carry around on a regular basis
- As good or better HD video because of the advanced auto-focus technology in the Sony Alpha Nex which does a better job of continuous auto-focus than the average DSLR
- Photo quality that is comparable to a DSLR for the average user (again, if you're an advanced DSLR user, skip this camera)
- An easier-to-use camera that was designed to make the most important features very accessible with the advanced features tucked away in the menus. The advanced features are there if you need them but if you're more likely to set the camera on the auto setting, you won't need the advanced stuff much and will appreciate how straight-forward the camera is to use.

COMPARED WITH OTHER WANNABE PERFECT CAMERAS, you'll be glad you waited for the Sony Alpha Nex because it's:
- Smaller in size than the other options
- Has better photo performance due to the larger APS-C sensor (12X the size of a typical point-and-shoot and also significantly larger than the competitive Micro Four Thirds sensor)
- Has better video performance
- Is similar or cheaper in price

Other wannabe "perfect cameras" I've considered and almost purchased have all been "Micro Four-Thirds" cameras, which owned this category of cameras before the arrival of the Sony Alpha Nex.

Panasonic Lumix GF1: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens

Olympus PEN E-PL1: Olympus PEN E-PL1 12.3MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens (Black)

And I am glad I waited. The Sony Alpha Nex has better photo and video performance than both, a smaller form factor than both and is cheaper than the Panasonic (though slightly more expensive than the Olympus which cut its price when the Sony was announced).

As for the Nex-3 vs Nex-5, if you care about the dollars involved in the price difference, then you should get the Nex-3. Three key differences are not really worth the added cost if you're looking to maximize value: (1) the typical user will not see a noticeable difference between the higher 1080i video resolution in the Nex-5 vs the 720p resolution in the Nex-3 (and I have a hard time believing that home movies can even benefit from the higher resolution). (2) The Nex-5 has a metal body vs plastic for the Nex-3 which is an aesthetic nice-to-have but not a need-to-have. (3) The Nex-5 is marginally smaller in two of the three dimensions (0.2 inch and 0.1 inch). Because of the overall size of the camera with its lens, shaving a little off of the height and width just won't make a practical difference. Spend your savings on stuff that will actually impact how you use the camera like a spare battery or a larger memory card.

Other things to note:

- The flash is small and detachable, and it's different than almost any other camera you're considering. PRO: you don't need it often because of the great low-light performance and you get a more compact camera as a result. CON: there's a part you can lose or forget to bring with you if you really need it.
- If you're looking to own multiple lenses, there aren't many available lenses directly compatible with the camera and they're expensive compared to competing lines. But for the advanced point-and-shoot user, you don't need multiple lenses; just the 18-55mm or if you splurge, the 18-200mm when it comes out (expected fall 2010). But if you have the 18-200mm, the even larger lens starts to erode the benefit of the small body.
- While this is very compact compared to a DSLR, it's not really going to fit in a pocket (though it will fit into a purse). The lens still juts out like on a DSLR so it won't be portable like an ultra-compact point-and-shoot. But for high quality shots, there isn't a smaller camera than this one.
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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, for what it is, December 27, 2010
By 
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
Mirrorless SLR's are the current hot thing. I've done wedding photography for years on the side, and when I want to be serious about taking pictures I lug a bag full of pro-level lenses and cameras around. Frankly, that gets old, especially when you're on vacation. I've been hoping for quite a while to find a camera that would offer SLR-like quality in a smaller form factor that would allow it to be carried around all day with minimal effort. I owned a Panasonic LX-2 and more recently a Canon Powershot S90, and while both were decent cameras, I never really fell in love with their images.

The NEX-3 is a classic case of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. On the upside, the sensor is excellent, even by modern SLR standards. You're not quite on the cutting edge (think Pentax K-5), but you're pretty darn close - certainly exceeding the previous generation of SLR sensors. With a plethora of adapters for other lenses, high quality glass is also available, and can produce some rather stunning pictures. The small and light form factor allows you to carry the NEX-3 places you wouldn't want to take a larger SLR (even a consumer-level one), and the adjustable screen gives you the ability to hold the camera in ways that just aren't possible with a traditional camera, allowing you to be very creative.

Unfortunately, as has been stated many times before, the control layout is a bit poor, though honestly it's completely manageable. Things are not as quick or elegant as they could (or maybe should) be, but the camera is perfectly usable. The biggest current downside is available lens selection, which is limited to three kit-lens quality lenses, which are extremely overpriced for what you get. While the lens that comes with this kit (the 18-55) is not awful, it won't win any awards for optical quality either. The other available lenses are a 16mm prime and a 18-200, the latter of which costs close to $800 dollars - a lot of money to spend for a non-pro lens.

The real question, though, is the future of the format. Sony has announced an aggressive roadmap (7 new lenses in the next 2 years), but we know very few actual details about the lenses that will come out. Does a "high quality standard zoom" mean a 17-55 f2.8, or a 17-40 f4? How much might this lens cost? Will any third party manufacturers produce lenses for the E-mount? How committed is Sony to using this mount going forward? What is the relative level of effort between the A-mount and E-mount lens design groups? All of these are currently unknowns.

If you're a pro for whom $550 doesn't sound like a big deal when buying a camera, then this is a great little toy. Light, fun, good image quality in a small package.

If you're looking at this as a long-term alternative to an SLR, remember that in the land of higher end cameras, you're buying into a system, more than buying a single camera. That system is so uncertain at the moment that it's impossible to say whether it will be worth additional investment in two years.

If you're looking for a one-off camera purchase that will give you better results than the point and shoot's out there, this is a camera you should look at.

Above all, the NEX-3 is an impressive technical achievement, and a fun little toy to play with. More than a toy, it is completely capable of producing gallery-quality prints when paired with competent glass. It certainly hasn't replaced my camera bag, but it's allowed me to leave it at home and still have confidence that I can capture great images.
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75 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great camera with poor battery life, July 10, 2010
By 
Julie Le (Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
The reviewer above did an excellent review, so mine will pale in comparison. I bought this camera the very first day it was available (June 29) and have been playing around with it since. It takes beautiful low light photos, even without a tripod, which I'm very pleased with. I have yet to use the flash that came with it.

Anyway, great camera, don't regret my purchase... The only downside that I want to point out is the battery life. I realize the big screen and the continuous autofocus uses up a lot of power, but this camera REALLY sucks up battery power. If you went out for a day of shooting on a fully charged battery, you will need an extra. The camera seems to even suck up a lot of power when it's not even on. There is new firmware that claims to reduce battery consumption when off, so hopefully that will be an improvement. Which leads to another downside, which is that firmware is only available for Windows and not Mac.

Other than that, beautiful beautiful camera.

*** Just a note that the battery life has improved greatly after the firmware update. Much happier with the camera now!
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good for what it is, but pickier buyers may not be satisfied, July 11, 2010
By 
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
Update: with latest firmware updates, the battery life glitch and start up times have been vastly improved.

The reviews of this camera are pretty correct - if you are a compact point and shoot person that wants to move up to greater picture quality but not necessarily wanting to put up with the bulk of a SLR or the complications of different aspects of photography, then this camera should do nicely for you.

Pros:
1) cost - for what it is, it could have been more expensive, though the additional lenses will cost you.
2) size - it really is a small body, comparable to some of the larger point and shoots. It's also a nice looking camera, if you care about those kinds of things (I have the red model, which is particularly cute).
3) picture quality - out of the box has been better than my previous point and shooters with the ability to do background defocus and panoramic shots.
4) shutter speed - camera really is fast and you'll see a big decrease in blurry pictures, even with action shots
5) low light shooting - camera comes with a flash but the camera's able to take decent pictures in low light settings without the flash.
6) flip screen - pretty handy for shooting different angles.
7) video quality is good and has all the pluses of being able to shoot video with an SLR type camera - changeable lenses/settings, high quality.

Cons:
1) battery life could be better - I shot about 100 photos and the battery drained down to about 33% after about 2 hours of shooting
2) navigation speed - the camera is slow when jumping between shoot mode and playback mode. NOTE: this issue seems to have been addressed with the firmware update.
3) navigation - it did seem to be a bit cumbersome that there isn't a back button to go back to where you navigated from
4) picture quality - I know I listed this as a pro, one bit of downside on the automatic settings is that sometimes the color is not as vibrant as probably the SLRs are capable of - you might need to futz with the manual settings to capture the best color. In some settings, particularly low light, some of the colors seem a bit washed out.
5) LCD screen is not the most visible in sunlight and gets smudgy at times.
6) would have been nice if it came with body cap and lens back cap, so that you could store the lens and body separately.
7) movie artifacts - sometimes, at the end of a clip, there may be some jagged artifacts. These can probably be snipped off by video editing software.

I'm pretty happy with this camera, though I imagine that an SLR can probably take better pictures - though you'd have to learn how to do so.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing picture quality, get the firmware update if you want better controls, November 30, 2010
By 
U Lala (Orange County, CA - USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
This is the Mustang of digital cameras. Tons of horsepower, no sophistication. This is about as much bang-for-buck picture quality you can get in a reasonably small package. What I'm talking about is ISO performance. It's all good all the way up to ISO 3200, and ISO 6400 is surviveable, especially if you shoot RAW. That's about 1.5-2 stops better than a micro 4/3rds. The 18-55 kit lens is decently sharp. Too bad you can't get too close to do macro shots (you'll have to get a close-up filter kit, which is another inconvenience). I can't comment on the 16mm prime, since I don't have it. For [...] shipped with kit zoom lens, that's quite a deal.

The autofocus is pretty fast, though sometimes it has to hunt a little, especially in the dark. In most cases it's about as fast as my brother's Panasonic GF1, which is commendable.

As you probably already know, the flash comes as a hotshoe add-on (included with purchase). It screws on to lock. It's pretty well diffused but quite weak in range. The operation is pretty simple: flip up to activate flash, flip down to deactivate.

The panoramic mode is very well done. It is smooth and intuitive, and the results usually come out great.

Operation is pretty fast, though is you set it to auto review after ever shot (which everyone does) and then try to zoom in during the review, it will lag for a second or two.

The 720p movies are fantastic in quality. Built-in stereo mic. Sounds pretty good without having to get the hotshoe

High resolution LCD screen is always nice. Plus it tilts up and down so you don't have to find a stool to stand on to take that really wide angle downwards picture.

The arrangement of the interface is quite horrible. Why does it take so many button presses to get to where I can change ISO? Same for white balance. Why can't I set ISO parameters to, say, between 200 and 3200? There a DEDICATED button for tips. Really? Someone from Sony's engineering department thought it was a great idea to throw away all the important buttons and make a dedicated button for helpful tips?

One can make the argument that it is geared towards "point-and-shoot" customers, but is that really a valid excuse? Is it so hard to get an APS-C sized sensor in a live-view-oriented body with decent controls? For $550 I'm not going to cry too much about it, but I have to say I was strongly considering the GF1 despite the higher price and huge loss in ISO performance. Just saying, Sony could've made the choice much more obvious by making a more pro-friendly interface and button layout.

UPDATE 2010-12-08: Apparently firmware update gives some interface customization options that make life a lot better. You can now map two of the soft keys to do something other than shooting tips. Changing from 4/5 to 5/5 stars.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best camera I've ever owned!, December 22, 2010
By 
Harrisfire (Brownsville, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
Let me start by saying I've owned dozens of cameras, about two years ago I stepped up to a Canon DSLR and enjoyed it tremendously. After two years with the DSLR I started looking to replace it with something a little smaller (the size and weight of the SLR making it prohibitive for all my travels/uses). So I sold off the Canon and ended up buying and returning three different point and shoots before finally stumbling onto the NEX-3!

The picture quality easily rivals that of my Canon XSi, yet the size and weight are deceptively small. As much as I practiced and tried different lenses and techniques, I was never able to get great low-light shots from my XSi, with the 16mm prime lens, the Sony constantly gives me great low light performance - without using the flash. Speaking of the flash, I was skeptical at first about the whole detachable flash - for fear of losing it or breaking it. Once I installed it I found that it's really not that obtrusive, when closed (in the down position) it hardly adds any mass to the camera and unless it's in the open position, the camera doesn't even recognize it's presence.

Some have complained about the user interface, while I've grown accustomed/spoiled by manual controls the NEX-3 menu system is really easy to navigate. Even my parents were able to change settings and get some amazing shots without being told how, or looking at a manual. Some of the "helpful" tips are a bit basic, but those can be turned off quite easily.

The "handheld twilight" mode is amazing, taking several pictures at different exposures then combining them into one - why haven't all camera manufactures jumped on this bandwagon? Sure you get some color distortion, but the ability to take a picture in all but the darkest settings and still be able to see what was there is mind blowing. How many people with a point and shoot can walk outside at midnight and take a good picture of the moon? What's that you say? You don't want to mess with a bunch of settings? Just set it to intelligent auto mode and let it choose for you!

Pleasantly surprised, by far the best camera I've ever owned! Cannot recommend highly enough!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb low light performance, September 25, 2010
By 
Ricardo Indradjaja (Jakarta, DKI Indonesia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
I bought this great camera about two weeks ago during my vacation in Hong Kong. I bought the double lens package, containing the 16mm pancake lens and 18-55mm lens. During the 6 day period that I was there, I took more than 400 photos. Needless to say, I really like this camera.

Its low light performance is very good. I never used the flash for all my shots. In fact, I just kept the flash in my camera bag, never attach it to the camera. High ISO shots are also very good, up to ISO 5000. At ISO 6400 and above, noise start to show. Because of the good high ISO quality, and also with the special handheld twilight option, I can take pictures mostly without a tripod, even during night time. You can see some samples of my pictures in the customer image gallery for Nex 3 and judge it yourself.

Some reviews in Internet mentioned about the difficulty of its control interface. Personally I don't find it a hassle. Perhaps it's my style of shooting. I don't change much of the control; mostly only to change the shooting mode (iAuto, handheld twilight, manual, etc.) I find the menu quite user friendly and the in-camera help files are also helpful. To this date I have not read the manual. I just shoot away :)

I would recommend this to any amateur photographer, just like myself. I think the pros will find this camera very good too.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid performer but short battery life, July 10, 2010
By 
S. Yang "New Amazonian" (Los Angeles, California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
I have been playing with the camera since June 25. The camera has excellent low light performance. Very low noise in general.
I compared it side by side with my Canon T1i and found that in may cases, Nex-3 produces better quality of pictures. Auto focus in video mode is quick. The video quality in 720p mode is generally very good, but not as good as the Tx7 which is a Sony point and shoot supporting 1080p. Like the other reviewer has shared, the battery seems to use significant amount of power even when the camera is off. Overall a solid performer. I just wish Sony get the battery life issue fixed as soon as possible.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Camera is LEGIT!, September 9, 2010
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
Well, first about myself. I have only had point and shoots in the past, and with an upcoming European vacation I wanted to take awesome pictures. I didn't want the bulk of the big boy high end dslr, but I wanted the ability to change lenses, and get the dslr quality. I looked at quite a few Canons and Nikons, but when I went to check them out in the store, they just didn't feel like the quality I expected, although I do know that many, many people go with these because the pictures are awesome. Great cameras, but not what I needed. I then looked over and saw the Sony Nex-3 with the 18-55mm lens and fell in love. It really is a sexy camera. Using it was very easy. After the firmware update to V2.0, the battery life was still really good. I took about 200 pictures at the park and had 66% battery life left. I am impressed. I'm an amateur photographer, but once i uploaded my pics, the camera paid for itself. Just awesome. I would recommend it 100% for people that are looking for great, great pics in a small form factor. So far very pleased! A+++!!! Buy it!!!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor metering in bright conditions, February 17, 2011
By 
R. Kerry "Bob K in AZ" (Tucson, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony Alpha NEX-3 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera w/18-55mm Lens (Black)-14.2 Mpix (Camera)
This is a terrific camera for low light situations. Magic, really. I like most everything about it. But I bought it to use as my hiking camera and I was very disappointed. The metering is way off in bright situations. I tried the Auto setting and the Program setting with -.7 exposure compensation. The images were fine if they did not include a large section of bright sky, light rock or light colored grasses. In those situations the images were uniformily over-exposed. My current camera for hiking is a Canon SD880IS which also over exposes in bright situations. But, if set at Program mode with -.7 exposure copensation is produces great images. I suppose I could work on each image with the Sony to get it just right but that is not why I use a point and shoot camera.

Also, I'd have to say I was not impressed with the contrast in the images I shot outdoors in the Arizona mountains. Finally, the Sony red looks really weird when it is the only bright color in an outdoor scene,for example a sole hiker in the desert with a red t-shirt. And really finally, I didn't think the camera handled back-lite subjects very well.

I am a long time photographer at the "prosumer" level. I have have owned film cameras including 35mm, medium format and 4x5. I have owned the Canon Digital Rebel, Nikon D50, D80, D300and D7000. I am not a "pixel peeker." Most of my Canon point and shoots have seemed to work very well for me.
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