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Sony Alpha NEX-F3 First Impressions Review$599.99
The NEX-F3 doesn't feature a traditional physical mode dial, instead using an on-screen mode menu. In that menu you'll find the typical manual, program auto, aperture priority, shutter priority, intelligent auto, scene, and superior auto+ modes.
For beginners, there are three main automatic modes that they can stick to without feeling overwhelmed with too much control. The program auto is basic, evening brightness across the scene. The intelligent auto mode takes a little more control over the shot. The superior auto+ is a new addition, functioning as the intelligent auto mode but using the information about the scene to pick an appropriate scene mode instead of just evening the scene out.
The Sony NEX-F3 movie mode is a little more robust than what was found on the NEX-C3, with the ability to shoot 1080/60i video as well as 1080/24p against the C3's 1080/30p video. The F3 also has the option of recording in AVCHD or .MP4 video, as opposed to the sole .MP4 option on the C3. The NEX-F3 doesn't feature a mic input, but it does feature the ability to record in all the standard shooting modes, including manual and shutter/aperture priority modes. That gives you a significant level of control, even if you're stuck using the camera's built-in stereo microphone for audio unless you buy a separate accessory that plugs into the top port.
The Sony NEX-F3 shoots at the same rate as the C3, according to Sony. By their measurements the speed priority drive mode allows for 5.5FPS shooting, while the camera otherwise fires off at around 2.5FPS in continuous mode. In addition, there are also options for single shooting and self-timer options.
The NEX-F3 has a pretty standard set of playback options, though very little has changed relative to the NEX-C3. The only real difference between it and the C3 is the level of magnification that is possible when examining a single image. The F3 allows you to magnify an image by up to 13x, along with the option to zoom out and view a grid of many images that you've taken to quickly scroll through a set. There's not much in the way of editing built into the camera, though the usual file management (delete, protect, etc.) functions are included.
Picture Quality & Size Options
The Sony NEX-F3 maxes out at 16.1-megapixels of resolution, with the largest standard image possible being a 4912x3264 size. There are also 8.4- and 4-megapixel 3:2 options available, with the ability to record in JPEG, RAW, or RAW+JPEG. If you want a wider screen shot, you can shoot in a cropped 16:9 version of the other resolutions, or go for Sony's Sweep Panorama mode, which lets you hold the shutter button down while sweeping across a scene to capture a panorama.