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- Sony Alpha NEX-F3
- We were able to get our hands on a production-level NEX-F3 for some hands-on shooting time. Read on for a full breakdown and our impressions of the latest entry-level compact system camera.
Sony Alpha NEX-F3 First Impressions Review$599.99
The NEX-F3, like all the NEX cameras, utilizes contrast-detection autofocus using the camera's image sensor. This makes it a little slower than some of its competition, but it has the ability to focus on one of 25 areas, or use a multi-area AF. You can also use manual focus if you wish, with manual focus peaking. The focus isn't changed much from the C3, though the addition of subject tracking and face priority with registration do aid things in that department. Overall we thought the focus speed was typical of the NEX system, in that it is acceptable in bright light, but lags behind the newer Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras.
Exposure & Metering
The NEX-F3 meters using the image sensor itself, so the generational upgrade there has allowed it to move from a 49-zone metering system in the C3 to a 1200-zone system. The system is sensitive from 0-20EV at ISO 100 (or the equivalent, as the sensor's native range begins at ISO 200), with the standard center-weighted, spot, and multi-segmented metering modes.
You utilize the metering system in most of the camera's modes, though you can alter shutter speed, ISO, or aperture if you wish in several of the priority and manual control modes. While aperture is lens-dependent, shutter speed can be set anywhere from 30 seconds up to 1/4000th of a second.
The new sensor on the NEX-F3 has an ISO range that is slightly different from the C3, extending from ISO 200-16000. That's 1/3rd of a stop above the 12800 max on the NEX-C3, though beginning the range at 200 will likely limit maximum dynamic range somewhat. You can set ISO manually in most program modes, though the automatic ISO can be relied on in most situations, as well.
The NEX-F3 has the same white balance setup as the NEX-C3, with manual and custom measurement in addition to several presets and custom kelvin temperature entry. The presets are all the typical settings, including daylight, cloudy, shade, fluorescent, incandescent, and flash. The C3 allows for for micro adjustment of any of these presets, with a 15-step ABGM scale available.
As with all Sony NEX cameras, the NEX-F3 relies on in-lens stabilization, rather than the sensor-shift stabilization systems that are in current Alpha DSLR cameras. This system moves a lens element to counteract any movement detected by the system, within certain parameters. As it's dependent on what lens you buy with the F3, Sony hasn't published claims about its efficacy, though we'll test it when we get a production-level F3 in for a full run.
The Sony NEX-F3 includes some basic color settings, as well as a few picture effects that are a little more creative. The modes in the camera include posterization, pop color, retro photo, partial color, high contrast monochrome, toy camera, soft high-key, soft focus, HDR painting, and miniature, with several variations on each.