Review

AutoHDR

First the standard J-peg that the Sony Nex-F3 also writes to the memory card then the AutoHDR image. Having a single exposure version of the image is nice feature encase you don’t like the results of the AutoHDR, or want to do some additional editing and/or layer blending.

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

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

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

The AutoHDR certainly opened up the shadows and retained the highlights, although not the most dynamic scene.

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens - AutoHDR - Auto

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens – AutoHDR – Auto

This next scene has much more dynamic range and the AutoHDR really made a big difference. First the normal exposure, then the AutoHDR!!

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

Sony Nex-F3 w/ New 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens – Standard Exposure

Take a look at the boxes in the garage behind the green dumpster and the clouds.

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

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

This feature works really well in my opinion, and I use it all the time with the Sony cameras!! It’s also a lot fun to do some additional editing with the programs like the Nik Filters, and Lightroom, because you can really make these AutoHDR’s sing!!

 

Sample Photos and Image Quality

My very good friend Doug day dreaming about something. Note how the image has a 3D look to it. That “look” is courtesy of an APS-C sized sensor and a high focal length lens  relatively close to the subject. The separation between the background and Doug is what I’m referring to specifically.  The same exact shot on a full frame sensor would look even more “3D” as the separation would be even stronger. Large sensors offer much more than just surface area, low noise, and mega-pixels!! Sony made a really smart move when they decided to create the Nex camera line!!

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

Sony Nex-F3 w/ New 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens @ 126mm, f/7.1, 1/640sec, ISO 200, Jpeg Fine

Sony Nex-F3 w/ New 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens @ 126mm, f/7.1, 1/640sec, ISO 200, Jpeg Fine

Take note here 0f the actual image quality! The Nex-F3 is capable of taking fantastic photos in my opinion. Especially when you put some really nice glass on it like the 18-200mm!!

Sony Nex-F3 w/ New 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens @ 126mm, f/7.1, 1/640sec, ISO 200, Jpeg Fine

100% Crop – Sony Nex-F3 w/ New 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens @ 126mm, f/7.1, 1/640sec, ISO 200, Jpeg Fine

 

I took a photos at the local fair with the Nex-F3 and the New much smaller Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye Lens. This lens is fully manual so you do have to enable the “shoot without lens” feature in the menu. Other wise the camera will say “no lens attached”. In any event I was using mostly f/8 and f/16 with it, but since the lens has no electronics the exif data is limited to the shutter speed and ISO. A nice benefit to having no electronics and/or focusing motor, is it keeps the costs down and allows for much better optics with more room inside the lens housing also. This lens is really nice quality so stayed tuned for the full review where I will have many more sample pics at 100% crops!!

Another important note about image quality. Check out the shadow and highlight detail in the 100% crops below. It’s really good with low noise and I was shooting in Jpeg mode, so it’s also compressed. If I was shooting raw I could pull some detail back from the highlights for sure.

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

Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Some Cows – Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens – 1/60sec, ISO 800

Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Top -Left – Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Upper Center Area – Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Sex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Sex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Bottom Left – Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Center Area – Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

As you can see from these sample photos and 100% crops, the Sony Nex-F3 and New Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC lens make a killer combo!! Super sharp corner to corner with excellent color and detail retention in both the dark shadow areas and super bright florescent lights in the middle area. Image Quality is awesome on the Nex-F3, how can you argue??

Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Lens

 

High ISO Testing

The Nex-F3 has a ISO range of 100-25600 which is a very respectable. What really matters though is image quality. If the image is not usable, what difference does it make how high the ISO goes?? Just keep that in mind when comparing High ISO images from any camera, as it’s easy to get caught up in the High ISO wars.

I took these next few shots hand held and set to the Max ISO without using Hand Held Twilight Mode. The Hand Held Twilight Mode actually works similar to the AutoHDR feature, except it retains the noise free detail from each image and then blends up to 6-frames together. That feature not only works great, but it also expands the ISO to 25600, as you can’t use it normally when shooting in a regular mode like aperture priority. The Max ISO for regular modes is 12800, and I have a really good sample shot below from an old communication tower!!

ISO 12800

Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens - ISO 12800

Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens – ISO 12800

Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens - ISO 12800

100% Crop – Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens – ISO 12800

Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens - ISO 12800

Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens – ISO 12800

ISO 3200

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens - ISO 3200

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens – ISO 3200

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens - ISO 3200

100% Crop – Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens – ISO 3200

Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens - ISO 3200

100% Crop – Sony Nex-F3 w/ 18-55mm kit lens – ISO 3200

ISO 1600

Really poor lighting in this photo!

Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens - ISO 1600

Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens – ISO 1600

Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens - ISO 1600

100% Crop – Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens – ISO 1600

Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens - ISO 1600

100% Crop – Sony Nex-F3 w/ Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye lens – ISO 1600

 

In my opinion ISO 1600 is totally usable, and even ISO 12800 as noisy as it is doesn’t look that bad at normal viewing size. If it was converted to BW I bet the noise would add a nice grainy effect and make some image usable depending on the situation of course. I did shoot using ISO 6400, but I deleted by mistake thinking I would take more High ISO sample pics.  That never happened though, but it was slightly noisier than ISO 3200 and again, usable depending on the intent of the photo.

If your looking for 100% noise free images, ISO 400-800 is about the limit. With some noise reduction, ISO 800 – 3200 are usable in my opinion. Beyond that were talking some noticeable detail loss, although certainly better than no photo at all. That ISO 12800 image above was hand held in almost darkness!! Pretty impressive if you ask me, and if I used a tri-pod could have easily shot at ISO 100 instead ;)

A Few More Sample Photos

I also had the pleasure of using the incredible powerful Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara. This lens is definitely for the Macro enthusiast as 4:1 and 5:1 magnification is no joke!! This lens is also fully manual, so the setting for “shooting without a lens” will need to be enabled on the Nex-F3.

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

Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara - Sample Photo

Money – Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara – Sample Photo

Money is actually a weave of fibers with special colors thrown in to help protect against counterfeiting. Pretty cool as I never saw this before up close!!

Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara - Sample Photo

100% Crop – Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara – Sample Photo

Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara - Sample Photo

My Finger Print – Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara – Sample Photo

Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara - Sample Photo

Dew on a Heineken Bottle – Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara – Sample Photo

Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara - Sample Photo

Scissors Blade – Nex-F3 w/ Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 from Yasuhara – Sample Photo

 

Conclusion

The Sony Nex-F3 has been significantly upgraded from the previous 3-series model, the Nex-C3.  The New flip screen design is great for doing self portraits or self video type stuff like I do for these reviews. The build quality leaves a little room for improvement as the smooth plastic is a tad flexible on the screen mount points in particular. Nothing to cry about mind you, but worth noting as the Nex-5N and Nex-7 both have a more rigid skins. The Nex-F3 can still be used for over head shooting, but the screen only aims downward at 45 degrees now due to the new design. It’s a bit harder to see for over head shooting, but still works great for really low to the ground shots.

I didn’t shoot that much video with the Nex-F3, but I did do an over heating test by letting the video record for 29 minutes using the 1080/60i setting. This setting creates the most heat on the sensor and I was able to record two 29 minute clips in a row no problem. I tried for a 3rd, but the memory card filled up. It seems to me Sony learned from their mistakes on the previous models and addressed the internal heat issues somehow. Perhaps the larger overall size is all it took, or maybe there is some extra heat sinks inside? Not really sure, but the camera was only slightly warm after filming for 60 strait minutes.

High ISO performance is also pretty good and when using the Handheld Twilight Mode it’s really good!! I’ve used this mode many times on other Sony cameras, but forgot to try it on the Nex-F3 unfortunately. Trust me it works!

Battery life has also been improved as this entire review was done on two charges! Plus I took many additional photos with each lens used for those upcoming reviews.

Image quality is great in my opinion and can really be taken advantage of with additional high quality lenses! The Fisheye and 18-200mm lens in particular were a lot of fun to use. The Macro is a bit harder to use, but still has really interesting results!

The Sony Nex-F3 goes for ~$598 US, and for that amount of cash, you get a very powerful camera capable of taking DSLR quality photos in a much smaller form factor. Just look at the sample photos up close and I’m sure you will agree. I highly recommend the Sony FDA-EV1S – XGA OLED Tru-Finder Electronic Viewfinder for an accessory, as tryng to accurately see the screen in bright sun is not very easy. The high quality OLED viewfinder makes it really easy for those situations, and you can simply unplug when not needed.

The Sony ECM-SST1 Compact Stereo Microphone also worked well on the Sony Nex-F3 in my opinion and I used it when I recorded the AF testing video for the RX100 (Click Here). More on the Mic coming soon, don’t worry.

That is about it for now, and if you liked this review please consider clicking our links if you decide to do some shopping!! We have lots of Camera Guides, Lens Guides, and Accessories Guides with direct links to our preferred venders and best prices on the web; BHPhotoVideo >>, Amazon >>, Adorama >> – Any link you click on our site will give us credit, and result in a few pennies for every dollar you spend. This adds No additional cost to you and the money will go to help maintain the website, and ensure we keep getting equipment to review.

As always feel free to address any questions or concerns in the comments area below.

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Thanks,

Jay

 

 

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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!!