Review

This Hands on Review will go over everything you need to know about the New Sony Nex-F3!! Some of the topics covered in this Hands on Review include: Image Quality, Video Quality, Build Quality, Ergonomics, Value for the Dollar, the New Flip screen, and more!! If this sounds intriguing to you, please read on and you won’t be disappointed!!

I had the pleasure to use the Sony Nex-F3 extensively for about one month along side the incredible Sony RX100, which I just finished reviewing and can be checked out Click Here >> if your interested. What was great about having both cameras at the same time is the advantages that each camera had over one another become very clear!! The Nex-F3 has the ability to use multiple lenses which makes it much more powerful right off the bat. Next we have a much larger APS-C sized sensor on the Nex-F3 which allows for better depth of field control and separation between subjects and backgrounds. The Sony RX100 however, offers no burden of carrying at all, because it literally fits in your pocket!! Both cameras take a great photo, but the RX100 is still a point and shoot in the end and should be thought of as such. The Nex camera system however, is much closer to DSLR quality in a much smaller package.

We went to the local fair the other day and I had both the Nex-F3 and the RX100 with me the whole time. I found myself using both cameras depending on the scene, but I was using the Rokinon 8mm fisheye on the Nex-F3, which is limiting for sure. An interesting note about carrying both these cameras was they were still lighter and easier to manage than a DSLR with a decent size lens.

 

Lenses and Accessories Used

The lenses used for this review include the Sony 18-55mm kit lens (SEL1855), the New Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Zoom Lens (SEL18200LE), the Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara and the New Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye Lens. I could have also used my Canon lenses with the Fotodiox lens adapter, but I just didn’t have the time due to all the gear in my hands for the months reviews!!

The accessories used for this Hands on Review were the Sony ECM-SST1 Compact Stereo Microphone, and the Sony FDA-EV1S OLED Electronic Viewfinder. I’ll show you pics and video of all this stuff, so don’t worry ;)

Sony Nex-F3 – Build Quality and Overall Design

In this photo below I had the OLED Viewfinder attached and I must say after using it, I did not want to take it off the camera!!

Be sure to Click on the photos for the large 1200px gallery style version!!

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens and OLED Electronic Viewfinder Attached

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens and OLED Electronic Viewfinder Attached

The skin of the Nex-F3 is a smooth plastic that has a very slight texture to it, and the grip is now very similar to the Nex-5n which is a huge improvement. It doesn’t feel as rigid in my hands as the Nex-5n though, because the plastic actually flexes a tiny bit. It’s noticeable when you grab the screen on one corner for example. The E-Mount lens mount area is still rock solid, but the slight screen flex leaves room to desire the Nex 5 and 7 series  models. Understandable Sony had to cut costs somewhere, and this new 3-series model has a ton more features than the previous version at the same price point of ~$598 US w/ the 18-55mm kit lens. The Nex-5n is ~$698 and you do gain the better build quality, 1080/60p video, and a few other things, but you lose the built in flash, a ton of new software features, and the flip-up screen design. It’s honestly a tough call if I had to pick between these two cameras with the $100 dollar price difference factored in.

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens and OLED Electronic Viewfinder Attached

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens and OLED Electronic Viewfinder Attached

The Nex-F3 chassis has been completely re-designed to accommodate for the new linkage needed to flip the screen 180 degrees upward and 45 degrees downward. The two main mount points of the LCD screen are connected to retractable arms which allows it to rotate 180 degrees. This extra hardware also created the need for a slightly taller camera design. The extra height made for some room for a built in flash that is very similar to the Nex-7 design. The flash also works with the OLED Viewfinder and ECM-SST1 Mic attached to the powered auxiliary port, as it’s offset to the the right looking from the back.

Sony Nex-F3 - Flip Screen Hinged Linkage

Sony Nex-F3 – Flip Screen Hinged Linkage

The Flip Screen is particularly useful for doing reviews , as it caters to self portraits or self recordings. Using this camera for reviewing equipment would be great, I could actually see what I’m doing and make sure the Autofocus is on what I want etc..

The flip screen does still aim down a little bit as well, but not near as much as it use to. You can still use it for overhead shooting, but it’s not as visible and is more likely to glare. In my opinion it’s worth losing the better overhead shooting for the advantage of self recording.

 

HD Video of all the Gear

Check out this Quick HD Video for a 360 degree look at the Sony Nex-F3, lenses, and Accessories used for this review!!

Be sure to select the HD option in the player settings!!

 

Nex-F3 Vs Nex-C3 – Bottom of the Camera

The Nex-F3 has significantly more surface area on the bottom of the camera and Sony took advantage of this by beefing up the tri-pod mount area. This extra space in the middle was created by making the camera thicker for better sensor cooling and overall strength.  You will need to remove your tri-pod /quick re-lease plate in order to change the memory card though, but the battery shouldn’t be an issue for most common plates.

The battery is now facing perpendicular to the camera body which allows for a much deeper grip than the Nex-C3. This makes it easier to hold by simply giving you more leverage. The very bottom of the screen also clicks into the chassis near the tri-pod mount point when in the fully closed position. See below for a closer look, and be sure to check out the HD Video for a detailed 360 degree view!!

Nex-F3 - Bottom

Nex-F3 – Bottom

Nex-C3 - Bottom
 

The newly designed shutter button area is also much better in my opinion. The power switch is now on its own, separated from shutter button and on top of the camera with the record button just behind it. Note how the record button has a protective ring around it to prevent accidental pressing. It’s a nice touch, but is to hard to press for my somewhat large fingers. I have to make a conscious effort to use my pointer finger instead of my fat thumb. This is a bit annoying at first, but I did get used to it after a few uses of the record button.

Nex-F3 - Grip and shutter button design

Nex-F3 – Grip and shutter button design

These little ergonomic improvements do make a difference, especially when using larger lenses like the New Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens as seen below.

Nex-F3 w/ New 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens

Nex-F3 w/ New 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens

 

A few Sample Photos and Image Quality

Here’s a few snapshots using the Sony Nex-F3 and the 18-55mm kit lens in full Auto Mode and exported from Lightroom 4 at 1200px 65% Quality for fast viewing.

Be sure to Click on the photos for the large 1200px gallery style version!!

My Nephew - Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 55mm, f/5.6 1/500sec, ISO 800

My Nephew – Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 55mm, f/5.6 1/500sec, ISO 800

Pool Side - Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 55mm, f/6.3 1/1250sec, ISO 200

Pool Side – Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 55mm, f/6.3 1/1250sec, ISO 200

Chopper - Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 47mm, f/8 1/320sec, ISO 200

Chopper – Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 47mm, f/8 1/320sec, ISO 200

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @53mm,  f/5.6, 1/160sec, ISO 200

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @53mm, f/5.6, 1/160sec, ISO 200

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens - Sample Photos, Jpeg Fine

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens – Sample Photos, Jpeg Fine

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens - Sample Photos, Jpeg Fine

100% Crop – Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens – Sample Photos, Jpeg Fine

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 19mm, f/4.5, 1/200sec, ISO 200

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 19mm, f/4.5, 1/200sec, ISO 200

100% Crop - Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 19mm, f/4.5, 1/200sec, ISO 200

100% Crop – Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens @ 19mm, f/4.5, 1/200sec, ISO 200

As you can see from these sample snapshots, the Nex-F3 and kit lens combo are sharp, and can easily get you nice separation from backgrounds depending on your needs. The bokeh is also not bad for such an affordable lens with optical steady shot and near silent focusing built in. The color and contrast are also really good in my opinion.

The Sony Nex E-mount Lens line is growing slowly but surely!! So, when you get a spare minute be sure to check out my Sony E-Mount Lens Guide >>, where all the available E-Mount lenses are located with direct links to my reviews, and best prices on the web!!

 

Nex-F3  – AF Performance

The AF is significantly faster and more accurate on the Nex-F3 than the older Nex-C3 in my opinion. I took a lot of test photos and the Nex-F3 was able to track a flying crop duster, moving dogs, and more without much issue. It seems to know where to start focusing better, which makes it faster overall at finding the target. I also found it much easier to track things using the viewfinder rather than the LCD screen as the glare on the screen is brutal in the daylight and you need to use your hand and/or body to help shade it sometimes. At dusk or dawn it’s totally usable though, and of course inside it works great. Really just broad daylight is tuff.

Continuous Shooting at 5.5 fps with focus tracking

The Sony Nex-F3 is able to continuously rapid fire at 5.5 frames per second in high speed priority mode. A respectable speed for even a DSLR, and it can track objects as long as it’s not moving to fast away or towards the camera. Check out this crop duster series below taken with the Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens.

The Plane was panning back and forth in front of me and it was mid morning light which made it really difficult to use the screen. I was hand holding the camera as well, so when zoomed in at 200mm trying to track a plane with a screen in the daylight is close to impossible!! I happen to have the OLED Viewfinder accessory handy though, so I plugged it into the powered auxiliary port and WOW is it awesome!! Now I can see in the daylight and easily track the plane back and fourth!!

Sony - FDA-EV1S - XGA OLED Tru-Finder Electronic Viewfinder

Sony – FDA-EV1S – XGA OLED Tru-Finder Electronic Viewfinder

Check out a few of these Crop Duster photos and also keep in mind I was using the New Sony 18-200mm OSS Lens @ 200mm wide open @ f/6.3!!

Nex-F3 w/ Sony 18-200mm OSS Lens @ 200mm, f/6.3, 1/1000sec, ISO 200

Nex-F3 w/ Sony 18-200mm OSS Lens @ 200mm, f/6.3, 1/1000sec, ISO 200

Nex-F3 w/ Sony 18-200mm OSS Lens @ 200mm, f/6.3, 1/1000sec, ISO 200

100% Crop – Nex-F3 w/ Sony 18-200mm OSS Lens @ 200mm, f/6.3, 1/1000sec, ISO 200

 

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About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!