SONY NEX-3

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

The Sony NEX-3 is a mirrorless interchangable lenses camera that they marketed as the smallest in the world (as of April 2010). It comes with a 14.2 megapixel APS-C size HD image sensor that gives high quality images. Action shots are possible with an up to 7 frames per second continuous shooting mode. You can also record video in HD 720p and save it in the web friendly MP4 format. The ISO sensitivity is pretty high ranging from 100 to 12800. It offers several modes like Sweep Panorama and HDR image capture. The LCD screen is 3 inches diagonally and tiltable. Take photos in JPEG or RAW and save them on a memory stick or SD card. It also has an HDMI port to hook up to HDTVs. Again this is small camera at 8.4 ounces heavy and less than five inches wide and 2.5 inches tall.

Features List:

– Mirrorless DSLR

– 14.2 megapixel APS-C size HD Sensor

– 7 FPS continuous shooting

– HD Video recording in 720p

– ISO 100 – 12800

– Sweep Panorama, HDR image capture

– JPEG, RAW

– 3 inch tilting LCD screen

– Memory Stick, SD card compatible

– HDMI port

– 8.4 ounces

Digital Trends’ digital camera buying tips:

What are some basics I should look for?

Your new digital camera should have these key features:

  • At least a 6MP imaging device for a D-SLR
  • At least a 7MP imager for a point-and-shoot
  • Optical zoom of 3x, not just a digital zoom
  • The highest quality optics
  • A large LCD screen; the more pixels, the better the quality
  • The widest range for aperture (f/stops), shutter speed and ISO
  • An AF Illuminator or AF Assist mode for best flash shots in dim light
  • A variety of Scene Modes for more convenient shooting in a variety of situations
  • Make sure you do your own ergonomic hands-on test

Don’t Buy Til You Try

One final bit of advice. Never, ever buy a camera purely on its specs or a few positive reviews. What looks good on paper, and what feels good to one person, isn’t necessarily going to be the perfect camera for you. Patronize shops that allow you to spend a lot of hands-on time with your prospective models. Cameras are extremely touchy-feely products, and the truth is that most of them include similar feature sets and take decent pictures. But they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and you’ll be spending many hours with one of them in your hands. Long-term comfort is perhaps the most important factor of all.

What about shooting video?

Within the past few years, video has gone from a novel sideshow that yielded almost unusably bad results, to a legitimate secondary purpose for many point-and-shoot cameras. Although you probablt won’t want to replace your dedicated camcorder with a camera that also shoots video, many will do the job just fine for short, impromptu clips.

First off, pay attention to the resolution a camera can capture – VGA (640 x 480) is now common on point-and-shoot cams, while 720p is getting more frequent and 1080p sometimes crops up on DSLRs. Video in the AVCHD format – the same type real digital camcorders shoot – is preferable to other formats. Pay attention to the encoding bitrate, measured in megabits per second (mbps). The higher the rate, the more detailed the videos will look, although they will take up more space on your storage card as well.

What about memory cards?

There is no universal memory card to fit all digital cameras – not yet, anyway. Based on internal politics, design considerations and financial reasons, individual camera manufacturers typically adopt a particular style of Flash Memory card for their cameras. Some manufacturers will even split their alliances – one type of memory card for professional-level cameras, and another type of memory card for consumer level cameras. When buying a new Flash Memory card, remember which camera you have and the type of card it requires. Some camera snobs (like your humble writer) will even selectively buy a digital camera based on the type of Flash Memory card they prefer to use!

The most common types of Flash Memory cards are:

Compact Flash, or CF – Roughly the size of a silver dollar (though not round), the CF card is one of the earliest types of Flash Memory cards and is most often used in professional or semi-pro digital cameras.

Secure Digital, or SD – Roughly the size of a postage stamp, the SD Card is available in a wide range of storage capacities. It’s inexpensive, durable and amazingly lightweight.

Memory Stick or Memory Stick Pro – About the size of a small stick of gum, the Memory Stick is meant for Sony Digital cameras.

XD-Picture, or XD Card – Typically found in Fuji and Olympus cameras, the XD Card is about 40% smaller than the SD card.

What Should I look for in an LCD Display?

Camera manufacturers market display size quite prominently because it’s easy to visualize, but other factors also come into play. Resolution (usually measured in the number of pixels, like 461K) will determine how clear the display looks, and brightness will help determine whether it gets washed out when shooting outdoors. An optical viewfinder makes a great backup when shooting with a less-than-ideal LCD.

LCD screens are measured diagonally and 2.5 inches is a common size. We prefer even larger ones, up to 3 inches. If your eyesight is a bit challenged, definitely look for a larger LCD. Screens are measured in pixels, just like image size. Again, the more pixels, the better the image you’ll see on screen.