Sony Alpha NEX-3 & NEX-5: DSLR functionality & versatility in the palm of your hand

Carrie Sylvester
May 11, 2010

sony-nex-5In a move to bring DSLR-like functionality in an easy to use and carry form, Sony has introduced two new interchangeable lens cameras — the NEX-3 and NEX-5. The name hints that Sony sees these cameras as the next generation of cameras, they are mirrorless hybrid cameras the size of a typical high-end point and shoot camera. The removal of the bulky mirror box, as found in DSLRs, gives it a smaller form factor that can fit in the palm of a hand. The company reports that the camera bodies are just about an inch thick at their slimmest point.

Point and shoot cameras are the most popularly used camera in the consumer market today. Sony is banking on that familiarity and hopes these new cameras won’t intimidate the average photographer. These cameras are designed to appeal to the everyday snapshooter and the advanced amateur, as well. Many consumers want the performance and quality of a DSLR but in a more portable size. Although not “pocketable” they certainly are more portable and something one can carry with them in a purse or jacket pocket.

Both NEX cameras feature some impressive specs: an APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor, 14.2 megapixel resolution, tilting LCD, ISO selection up to 12,800, a new user interface that acts very much like a point & shoot camera’s menu structure, in-camera HDR capture, sweep panorama, and a new 3D sweep panorama mode (firmware update in July and 3D TV required for viewing).

Video has not been forgotten on these mirrorless models. The NEX-3 is capable of capturing 720p video and uses the MP4 file format. The NEX-5 uses the AVCHD standard to capture 1080p full-HD video. Optional accessories for the NEX product line include a clip-on flash, an optical viewfinder, and a stereo microphone, all attachable via the hot shoe mount.

Three new E-Mount lenses (Sony proprietary) were introduced: a 16mm prime lens ($250) and two zooms an 18-55 mm ($300) and an 18-200 mm ($800). The cameras ship in July and prices are $550 (NEX-3) and $650 (NEX-5) with a 16 mm lens, or $700 and $600, respectively, with an 18-55mm lens. The 18-200 mm lens will ship in the Fall.

Sony’s entrance into the mirrorless hybrid category is a strong signal that this category is gaining momentum. Olympus and Panasonic pioneered this category in 2008, but so far have not gained any real traction in the U.S. market (though mirrorless hybrid camera sales have been much stronger in Japan and Europe). A respected brand name and marketing power-house like Sony has the ability to teach the masses about the benefits of a mirrorless hybird camera and hopefully plans to spend some serious time and effort to educate and promote the technology to all levels of photographers.

Canon and Nikon continue to dominate the Digital SLR segment, and companies like Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and Samsung are attempting to carve out new segments within the interchangeable lens camera market for themselves. As this market gains consumer attention, it will just be a matter of time before Canon and Nikon turn their attention towards this space and then the competition really begins.

InfoTrends is currently conducting an extensive multi-client study which looks at the owners and potential buyers of DSLRs and mirrorless hybrid cameras. So stay tuned for more later this summer.

New InfoTrends Studies

More blogs from

2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux