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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hi-Tech Studio: Daily Drivers

Big on style and capability, these cameras are the ideal off-duty tools when you don’t want to carry the big DSLR


This Article Features Photo Zoom

Sony NEX-C3
Sony NEX-C3
Featuring the latest incarnation of the 16.2-megapixel Sony sensor that captured several top places among APS-C sensors in the DxOMark.com RAW image-sensor ratings, the tiny NEX-C3 is the smallest of the cameras described here. Because the relatively large sensor requires larger-diameter lenses than smaller-sensor cameras, the NEX-C3’s lenses seem disproportionately large on the body, but the whole package actually feels great in the hands.

While aimed mainly at “consumers,” the NEX-C3 has a solid feel that pros will appreciate, and it turns out excellent image quality. The control layout consists of three buttons and a dial next to the 3.0-inch, 921,600-dot LCD monitor on the camera back. It takes a little getting used to, but this arrangement actually works quite well, and the buttons are now programmable, making it easier to call up desired features. The NEX-C3 is the only one of the cameras featured here to provide a tilting monitor.

The NEX-C3 offers a number of useful features. Auto HDR combines the best data from three bracketed images to expand dynamic range. Anti-Motion Blur mode combines data from six quickly taken images, using separate algorithms for still and moving parts of the scene, to produce an image with minimized blur, while Handheld Twilight mode uses a similar technique to minimize blur due to camera shake in images of stationary subjects. And Sony’s Sweep Panorama mode makes it simple to create in-camera stitched panoramic images in horizontal or vertical format.

Sony offers a series of E-mount lenses for the NEX cameras, and an adapter lets you mount Sony A-mount DSLR lenses. The NEX cameras don’t provide in-camera sensor-shift stabilization like Sony’s DSLRs, but a number of the E-mount lenses have built-in Optical SteadyShot stabilizers.

“DAILY DRIVER” CAMERAS

  FUJIFILM X100 LEICA X1 OLYMPUS E-P3 SAMSUNG NX100 SIGMA DP2x SONY NEX-C3
Sensor 12.3 MP APS-C 12.2 MP APS-C 12.3 MP 4/3 14.6 MP APS-C 4.7x3 MP APS-C 16.2 MP APS-C
Lens Lens 23mm ƒ/2 24mm ƒ/2.8 nterchangeable Interchangeable 24.2mm ƒ/2.8 Interchangeable
Viewfinder Hybrid opt./EVF Optional optical Optional EVF Optional EVF Optional optical Optional optical
LCD Monitor 2.8/460K 2.7/230K 3.0/614K OLED 3.0 AMOLED 2.5/230K 3.0/921K tilt
Normal ISO Range 200-6400 100-3200 200-12,800 100-3200 100-800 200-12,800
RAW Capability Yes/RAF Yes/DNG Yes/ORF Yes/SRW Yes/X3F Yes/X3F
Max. Drive Rate 5 fps 3 fps 3 fps 3 fps 3 fps 2.5 fps*
Top Video Mode 720/24p No Video 1080/60i 720p 320x240/30p 720/30p
Approx. Shots/Chg.1 300 260 330 420 250 400
Dimensions (in.) 5.0x2.9x2.1 4.9x2.3x1.3 4.8x2.7x1.4 4.7x2.8x1.4 4.5x2.3x2.2 4.3x2.4x1.3
Weight (oz.) 4.3 10.1 11.3 9.9 9.2 7.9
Street Prize $1,199 $1,995 $899 $549** $699 649***
*5.5 fps with focus and exposure locked ** With 20-50mm kit lens *** With 18-55mm kit lens
1Operating in Live View all the time, and using smaller batteries to keep camera size down, none of these cameras approaches the shots-per-charge figures you’re used to with DSLRs; you’ll want to carry a spare battery (which easily fits in a pocket).


 

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