The Sony Alpha NEX-3 is the less expensive version of the Sony Alpha NEX-5 (Discontinued), Sony's top-of-the-line mirrorless camera. Like the Micro Four Thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, the Sonys put interchangeable lenses onto a pocket-sized body, but the Sonys are even smaller than the others. The two Sonys are nearly identical, except that the NEX-3 shoots 720p HD video (the NEX-5 shoots 1080i HD), omits the NEX-5s infrared remote receiver and substitutes a polycarbonate body for the NEX-5's magnesium alloy. Image quality is identical, and experts say it's good -- some going so far as to say it rivals the photos you can take with a traditional digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera. We priced the Sonys with their 18 mm to 55 mm, 3x zoom lens, but you can also buy the body only. Sony offers only three lenses for this type of camera so far, with more promised in 2011 and 2012 (an adapter makes it possible to attach other types of lenses). Professional reviewers are more likely to recommend the full-featured NEX-5 than the NEX-3; among cheaper compact interchangeable lens cameras, the Olympus PEN E-PL1 (Discontinued) gets the most recommendations. Still, a close inspection of the reviews shows that the Sony Alpha NEX-3 performs comparably in tests.
Imaging-Resource.com and DPReview.com test both the Sony Alpha NEX-3 and pricier NEX-5, presenting an exhaustive array of test data and boiling down their opinions into easy-to-digest buying advice. PCMag.com's review isn't quite so detailed, but it hits all of the high points and is based on testing. Amazon.com prints both positive and negative reviews by owners.
The Sony Alpha NEX-3's image quality is just as impressive as its pricier sibling, the NEX-5, Imaging-Resource.com says. Both are judged smaller and better than their rivals.
Review: Sony Alpha NEX-3, Dave Etchells, Shawn Barnett, Zig Weidelich and Mike Tomkins, Updated July 9, 2010
DPReview.com recommends both the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5. Richard Butler says the two are nearly identical (he outlines the major differences), both with good image quality and a more compact footprint than other interchangeable-lens cameras.
Review: Sony NEX-3/NEX-5 Review, Richard Butler, Updated October 2010
PCMag.com declares the Sony Alpha NEX-3 "the compact interchangeable-lens camera to beat." It combines outstanding performance and design with a low price.
Review: Sony Alpha NEX-3, PJ Jacobowitz, May 20, 2010
The new Sony Alpha NEX-3 has about 10 user reviews at Amazon. It rates an average of 4 stars out of 5, but poor battery life is a common complaint.
Review: Sony Alpha NEX-3, Contributors to Amazon.com