June 14, 2011: Sony Australia has announced the Alpha NEX-C3, which the company says is the world’s smallest, lightest interchangeable lens digital camera in its class (225g), along with a new macro lens and flash unit..
(Alas, it enjoyed that status for a mere six days, with Panasonic gazumping it this week with its new GF3 – just 3 grams lighter , but with a viewfinder to boot! Still, the C3 has a bigger sensor – APS Vs M43 – so there.)
The NEX-C3 will come in a range of colours and features a new body design that combines a solid metal top casing with an easy-to-use streamlined grip shape.
Resolution of the Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor is boosted to 16 megapixels. It shoots video at 720p.
The new ‘Photo Creativity’ interface dumbs down nasty technical terms like ‘aperture’, ‘exposure value’ and ‘white balance’ to ‘friendlier and more intuitive’ terms such as ‘background defocus’, ‘brightness’ and ‘colour’.
Users can use the camera’s rear-mounted control wheel and instantly see the effect of their settings previewed on screen. Two or more different settings can be combined to create more sophisticated effects.
A new in-camera ‘Picture Effect’ setting lets users add extra impact to stills or HD video during shooting, without the hassle of editing images afterwards. ‘Picture Effect’ options include Partial Colour, Retro Photo, Pop Colour, High Contrast Monochrome, Posterisation, High-key and Toy Camera. There’s also a ‘Soft Skin’ effect that removes wrinkles and blemishes from portrait subjects.
The tiltable, high contrast 3-inch Xtra Fine LCD features TruBlack screen technology for high-contrast images with rich, deep blacks.
3D Sweep Panorama captures extra-wide images in 3D to enjoy on your 3D TV. Auto HDR ‘stacks’ a high speed burst of three successive exposures to capture extreme shadow and highlight details in a single frame. Similarly, Handheld Twilight and Anti-Motion Blur modes automatically combine six exposures to capture smooth, low-noise images.
New macro lens, flash unit
Sony has also announced a new Carl Zeiss E-mount 30mm macro lens (E 30mm F3.5 Macro) and accessories.
This lens features a 1:1 magnification ratio and minimum working distance of just 2.4cm, making it ideal for capturing close-ups of small subjects like flowers and insects. It is supplied with a matching lens hood.
A new flash unit, the HVL-F20S clips onto the camera’s Smart Accessory Terminal. Powered directly by the camera, the flash requires no batteries, and is ultra-compact as a result.
It has a GN of 20 and an adjustable head, and can be used for creating natural fill-in and bounce flash effects with portraits and everyday shooting subjects.
A free firmware upgrade for existing NEX-5 and NEX-3 cameras will be available for download by registered users in late June 2011. The firmware adds the new ‘Picture Effect’ function as introduced on the new NEX-C3. It also adds a Peaking function to assist with more precise manual focusing.
The new NEX-C3 and HVL-F20S flash will be available in Australia from July 2011.
RRPS are $849 for the NEX-C3 with single lens, $999 in twins lens kit, $399 for the Carl Zeiss 30mm macro lens and $199 for the new flash unit.
COMMENT: Hats off to Sony for actually supplying RRPs for this new camera and accessories – even though it’s not due until next month. It’s a critical factor in the equation, but the camera suppliers are becoming more and more coy about revealing local pricing – which just encourages consumers to find the price from overseas sources and then get sticker shock when the product arrives in local stores!