Build and Handling

You would assume that the NEX-C3, being smaller and lighter than any previous compact system camera, would be awkward to handle. The battery compartment and memory card socket are now separate, helping to keep the camera slim, while the on/off switch and shutter button are now combined into the same unit, which has slightly reduced the size of the handgrip.

My original concerns were unfounded, and in practice the camera fits nicely in the hand, maintaining a comfortable grip. The camera feels very sleek when coupled with the 16mm f/2.8 pancake lens. As you would expect, the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens does rather dwarf the NEX-C3, but it is still easy to use and handy when travelling.

It isn’t all good news, though. The button layout is unchanged from the NEX-3 and NEX-5, and in our review of the lNEX-5 (AP 5 June 2010) we found that those more used to having full manual control will be frustrated by the lack of direct control over the camera.

Sony quickly addressed the problem with a firmware upgrade that allowed two of the buttons to be customised so that the photographer can directly access the two functions they use the most. In the NEX-C3, the company has taken it a step further and there are now six customisable buttons, situated on the rear of the camera. While this helps to speed things up, only two of the buttons are labelled on-screen, so you must remember which other functions you have allocated to the other four buttons.

I still feel that buttons could be added without spoiling the minimalist design and simple feel of the camera. One could even be placed discreetly on the front of the body.

As mentioned earlier, the ‘C’ in NEX-C3 stands for compact, which hints that Sony may be planning another line in the NEX range in the future. With the body of the NEX-C3 being polycarbonate like the NEX-3, and not magnesium alloy like the NEX-5, we will surely see a more advanced body at some point.

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