Saturday, 18 January 2014

Day 165 - People and Motorbikes

The day started with rain, a lot of rain again so the NEX-3N got wet on it's first proper outing. It was nice however to have a zoom available, meant I could take photos of people on their motorbikes without having to stand in the middle of the road.

In the afternoon the weather cleared up and the sun came out so it made for a nicer walk around to take photos.

My first impressions of the NEX-3N are quite positive, it i a pretty decent camera and the controls are not that bad once you get used to them and spend some time configuring the controls and options in the menu. The menu is very basic and not always well thought out so some options might be locked or placed under a different submenu from where you would expect it.

There are a few customization option and you can turn the movie button off, but not re-purpose for any other function, you can customize the ISO button and the lower hot-key button, but again they have different options and not all are useful depending on the mode you are in.
You can use the zoom rocker around the shutter button to zoom the lens, the zoom lever on the lens or the zoom ring around the lens. This is all cool and gives you plenty of options, however you can't re-purpose any of these to change the aperture or any other setting for example. You can however use the zoom ring around the lens for manual focus in MF mode or DMF mode.

The camera has also some other quirks, the Auto ISO can't be configured and only goes up to ISO 3200 rather than the maximum ISO of 160,000.
The MF mode only gives you a zoomed in view but no distance scale so its impossible to pre-focus on any given distance and there is of course no DOF scale either. Why manufacturers think a MF mode is any use without a distance scale is beyond me.

The kit lens is nice and small and gives a useful zoom range with the 24-75mm but it's (like all kit lenses) quite slow with an aperture of f3.5-f5.6 so not ideal for low light, the very good high ISO does a lot to alleviate this problem though.
The AF is not super fast but faster than on the GR even in low light and only fails in extreme situations or when pressing the shutter too fast for the camera to achieve focus. It is not great but pretty usable.

The bokeh is pretty nice and the lens can focus quite close although it's no macro lens.
It is quite sharp in the center but the corners suffer at most focal lengths and when shooting wide open. At the widest setting of 24mm it's especially bad (see below) and you not only get soft corners, you also get vignetting and massive distortion thrown in if you look at the RAW files. The camera JPG engine does a good job at correcting most of this but it's clear that this is not a very good lens optically. Then again, I did not expect it to be but at least it's small enough and sharp enough if you zoom in a bit and shoot at f8.0 or just look at the center part of the image.

These are my first impressions of the NEX-3N but overall it's a very nice and capable camera given the price and it's target market. Sue, a metal build, more customization options and a better lens would all be welcome but these would make the camera a lot more expensive and then it would be the NEX-7.

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