Shooting with the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5

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For the past few weeks I have been shooting with the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5 cameras with both of the available lenses for the system, the 16mm f/2.8 and the 18-55 kit zoom. I have to say that the first week with the cameras were a bit hit and miss.


I eventually grew to really enjoy them, and now realize that  these two cameras have pretty amazing potential, especially when Sony eventually releases more lenses. From what I hear, Sony is dedicated to the NEX system. The NEX-5 has been a VERY popular camera for Sony, and is hard to come by (as of this writing).


Here is the NEX-5 with the 16mm mounted to the body, with the 18-55 sitting beside it.

So maybe you have some interest in these cameras? You are probably asking yourself,  "Which one do I buy?" The NEX-3 and NEX-5 both have the same APS-C sensor, they both have the same image quality and the same features. The main difference between the two cameras is that the NEX-3 is a bit larger and has more plastic in its construction and it also shoots video in 720P instead of 1080P like the NEX-5. The NEX-5 has a more solid construction, is made of metal and is smaller. The video is also of higher resolution, though both are HD quality. 

 The NEX-3 is ever so slightly larger, has more plastic in its build and has a more shallow grip.

Over the course of two or three weeks, shooting with the NEX-5 became the most enjoyable. I enjoyed its larger grip and smaller size, though the 18-55 seemed like a giant beast on the front of the camera. I ended up writing a full, detailed review on my site for these cameras, but the bottom line is that they are going to give you REALLY good DSLR quality in a tiny package. The AF is fast, the shooting is fast at 7fps (when needed) and the Twilight and Panoramic modes work as advertised.

The Twilight mode is a very unique feature and it's only found in Sony cameras. If you are in an area with low light, set the camera to "Twilight Handheld" mode and the camera will fire off six sequential shots. It will then "stack" these shots and create a low noise, grain-free image! 

The only niggles I have with the NEX cameras are that I feel Sony could have improved the menu system, because you have to really dig around to change settings, and it takes a little time just to change the ISO of the camera. Also, the lenses are a little on the soft side, especially at the edges. But, most people who buy these cameras would not even notice that, as only a true photo geek like myself would.

Also, while the external flash that the cameras come with is cool, I feel the way it connects to the cameras could have been designed a better way. But I never use flash anyway, and with the twilight mode and high ISO capability, you really never have to!


The rear LCD of the NEX-3 and NEX-5 is fantastic. It swivels up and down and is bright and clear.

Since this article is called "Shooting with the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5," what I really wanted to do was show a few photos that were taken with the cameras. After all, this is what it is all about, right? Taking photographs! In this regard, the Sony does its job well. It's easy to use, good to look at, light and with it's big sensor, high ISO is not a problem. Crank it to 3200 and be prepared for great results. 

The Sony NEX system is for those who want a step up in quality from a smaller point and shoot but do not want to lug around a large DSLR. It is in this area that the Sony rocks

Here are a few images shot during my time with the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5. Enjoy, and if you want to see a longer and more detailed review, you can see it on my site here


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The NEX would be perfect for me except for two things.

1   There need to be more buttons, certainly we need an ISO button. I would also like 1 or more programable buttons, I use one on my DP1 for bracketing. On a camera of this quaility we need to be able to assign buttons to those settings we change most often.

2   The bodies are so small they are hard to hold. The Olympus Pen is a great body size and weight.

 I agree! I wish there were more buttons instead of the deep menu digging. Also, the 5 has a better grip so where the 3 is harder to hold, the 5 is much easier, and feels great in the hand. Thanks for the comment!

Steve