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Dec 14

2012 Best Compact System Camera – Sony NEX range

Although Sony NEX cameras aren’t the most compact on offer here, they sport a large APS-C sensorwith a crop factor of 1.5x. This means a 30mm lens is required to provide the same angle of view as a standard 45mm lens on a 35mm camera.

Larger sensors have a greater surface area available for reacting with light, which should improve performance at high sensitivities and dynamic range in high contrast situations. Having more surface area available also enables higher pixel counts to be achieved.

A decent number of additional lenses are available for the NEX system, with third-party lens manufacturers such as Tamron beginning to support the E-mount. Owners of Sony Alpha cameras can purchase an adaptor to enable A-mount lenses to be used with the cameras too.

1. Sony NEX-F3

Price: £410/AU$700/US$600

Spec: 16.1MP, 1080p video, 3-inch tiltable LCD screen, strong high ISO performance

The Sony NEX-C3 has been revised and replaced by the Sony NEX-F3, which has an APS-C sizedCMOS sensor, a resolution of 16.1MP and maximum sensitivity setting of IS0 16000.
A bulkier body and decent finger grip make controls easier to access. All the usual metering modes and manual functions are included too, along with two fully automatic picture-taking modes for those who wish to simply point and shoot.

Read Sony NEX-F3 review

2. Sony NEX-5R

Price: £670/AU$800/US$650

Spec: 16.1MP, 1080p video, 3-inch tilting touchscreen, Wi-Fi

The NEX-5R is the first Sony CSC with Wi-Fi connectivity, and is a significant upgrade on the Sony NEX-5N. The inclusion of downloadable apps enables quick and easy customisation, and the new hybrid AF system works well.

The Sony NEX-R5 shows how compact system cameras are really coming into their own. The design doesn’t have to rely on retro chic, but instead uses modern research and development to create a compact body shape that both fits the electronics and also feels comfortable to hold.

Read Sony NEX-5R review

3. Sony NEX-7

Price: £950/AU$1,500/US$1,350

Spec: 24.3MP, 1080p video, 3-inch tiltable LCD screen, EVF, direct manual control

A compact system camera with professional ambition. The Sony NEX-7 is the flagship model in the Sony CSC range, sporting a 24.3MP CMOS sensor, Full HD video recording and direct manual controls. The high pixel count should enable really large prints to be produced.
A 3-inch tiltable LCD screen provides extra flexibility when shooting, and the lightweight magnesium body feels reassuringly rugged.

A high-resolution OLED electronic viewfinder is included, enabling you to choose your preferred method for composing images. ISO sensitivities up to ISO 16000 are available, enabling images to be taken in very dark conditions.

The Sony NEX-7 wins our Best advanced CSC award.

Read Sony NEX-7 review

4. Sony NEX-5N

Price: £600/AU$1,100/US$700

Spec: 16.1MP, 1080p video, 3-inch tiltable LCD touchscreen, 10fps continuous shooting

With a more modest pixel count than its bigger brother, the NEX 5N sits in the middle of the Sony CSC range. Customisable controls on the rear enable the way the camera behaves to be set just how you prefer, and a tiltable 3-inch touchscreen makes navigating menus and shooting from awkward angles a breeze.

An improved Bionz processing engine has enabled Sony to raise the maximum ISO setting to an impressive ISO 25600, which will be ideal for taking images without flash in dimly-lit conditions. Full HD video at 30fps can be recorded at up to 50fps, which should produce smoother footage than standard 25fps footage.

The slim, compact body has a deep finger grip to provide a secure hold over the camera, which is dwarfed by the 18-55mm kit lens. Packages with a 16mm f/2.8 pancake lens are also available, making a more pocket-friendly kit for travel and nights out on the town.

Read Sony NEX 5N review

Sony Camera/Camcorder workflow on Mac

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