The Sony NEX-C3 is an Amazing Camera

by Ben Bajarin   |   September 29th, 2011

I recently attended Sony’s annual analyst day where they gave us their new NEX-C3 digital camera. The NEX-C3 fits into a category that the industry is calling mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras.

The only real difference between these cameras and DSLR’s are mirrors and a view finder. I was a big DSLR fan but I am now converted to the mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras.

I am more of a hobby photographer than a serious one but I can appreciate innovation in this category. I have owned many different types of cameras but I have to say this Sony NEX-C3 is the most amazing. Sony offers it at a competitive DSLR price of $599 including the 18-55 lens.

There are two features I want to highlight. One is more general and the other is unique to Sony and truly sets this camera apart from the pack.

Real Time Image Post Processing
One of the things I appreciate about using my smart phone as a camera is all the apps that allow for creative on the fly image post processing. I am capable of doing many of the same effects in Photoshop however I am to lazy to do it as often as i’d like.

The Sony NEX-C3 brings a number of on the fly image effect options. Because these cameras don’t have view finders you have to look through, you can see all your image effects in real time with the LCD screen. This way you can make sure you get the shot you want.

This is a feature a number of these cameras, point an shoots and now even DSLR’s are packing but Sony has created a very elegant and simple UI to access and use these on the fly effects.

Here are a few examples of the on the fly effects I thought were extremely useful.

Color Pop

Isolate R,G,B Or Yellow

Auto Panarama

The XMOR Advantage
One thing I learned that I found interesting was that megapixels are becoming less important in this category and instead the focus has turned to the image sensor.

The trend going forward is to pack the largest image sensor into the smallest package. Sony with this camera using their EXMOR image sensor has the lead in this race.

Although that is interesting, what is more interesting and in my opinion amazing is what a quality image sensor will get you. The sensor in the NEX-C3 is 13 times the area of the typical image sensor which results in delivering an exceptional combination of high resolution, high sensitivity and gorgeous, blurred backgrounds. Most other cameras in this category use a micro 4/3rds sensor and Sony’s is a bit larger.

Besides image quality the biggest thing you get is superior pictures in low light situations.

Capturing a quality image in low light, like dimly lit rooms or at night is notoriously difficult. It is something typically reserved for the pro’s.

This single experience of being able to use this camera to take amazing pictures in low light – without a flash or a tripod – is what blows me away.

Besides the EXMOR image sensor, Sony has also added some key software to help capture low light images.

The one in particular – that I am going to use like crazy – is a setting in the camera’s “Scene Mode” menu called Hand-Held Twilight Mode. This setting exists solely to take photos at night without a tripod.

What this setting does is take a burst of 6 images very quickly. The camera then blends all 6 images together to produce amazing photos at night without the need of a tripod. Below are a few examples all taken with no tripod.

     
Camera technology has come a long way. As I stated at the beginning these mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras have made a DSLR convert out of me.

The real question is when will this kind of image sensor technology be available in smart phones? As much as I like this camera i’d love to have many of the features in my smart phone.

This is an interesting category to watch. These cameras still pack a great deal more technology than a smart phone can and because of the size they pack a lot of technology in a very small package.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio