Sony has announced the successor to its entry-level 16 megapixel NEX-C3 mirrorless camera. The new NEX-F3 gains a lot of higher end NEX and DSLR technology, including a built-in flash, tilting LCD display and HD video recording.
With the NEX-F3, Sony has introduced a new trick to its compact photography arsenal. The camera's 3-inch, 921,600 dot resolution Live View LCD panel with auto brightness control not only tilts up to 180-degrees but will automatically mirror the image displayed onscreen when at full stretch for self-portrait mode. The included Auto Portrait Framing feature uses the rule of thirds composition technique to crop the image area around a subject, dispensing with unnecessary scene background while keeping the cropped image at full resolution courtesy of the company's proprietary By Pixel Super Resolution technology.
This pattern-matching feature also lends its assistance to the camera's Clear Image Zoom feature that's said to effectively double the magnification of any lens attached to the 4.61 x 2.64 x 1.65-inch (117.3 x 66.6 x 41.3 mm) NEX-F3 while maintaining image detail, tone and texture. The compact camera benefits from 25-point autofocus system and features manual focus assist in the shape of a peaking function which highlights image edges in a chosen color.
The camera uses the latest generation 16.1 megapixel Exmor APS (23.4 x 15.6 mm) HD CMOS sensor and BIONZ image processor, offering up to ISO16000 sensitivity and up to 5.5 frames per second continuous shooting at full resolution. It has the same 24p/60i Full HD video in AVCHD format capabilities as its SLT-A37 alpha stable-mate and benefits from an InfoLITHIUM NP-FW50 battery boost that's said to be good for 470 stills before needing to juiced up - that's 18 percent more than the C3 before it. Usefully, the camera can now receive charge via USB so forgetting the dedicated charger is not the holiday-spoiler it may once have been.
There's now a built-in pop up GN6 flash - previously only available on the NEX 7 - with a three second recycling time, ±2EV, 1/3EV step compensation and pre-flash through-the-lens metering.
The NEX-F3 has also been partially constructed using Sony Recycled Plastic (SoRPlas), a 99 percent recycled polycarbonate plastic that's been blended with a sulphur-based flame-retardant, and is compatible with the (optional) FDA-EV1S high-contrast, high-resolution OLED viewfinder accessory.
The new camera will be available in black, silver and white when it's released as an 18-55mm kit zoom lens kit for US$600 in June.
Sony has also announced a new E-mount 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 telezoom lens - the SEL18200LE - that has an 11X zoom range and is 12 percent lighter than the existing SEL18200 lens. Optical stabilization reduces the effects of hand shake and it features Direct Manual Focus for precision control over focus settings. The new lens will be available in July for $850 and will come in black only.
The following video shows the SGNL by Sony team walking through most of what's new in the NEX-F3, and having a brief look at the new lens: