Sony has redefined its most junior NEX proposition with the NEX-3N, the smallest compact system camera to offer an APS-C sensor. Matt Golowczynski puts it to the test
Sony NEX-3N review – Build and handling
The NEX-3N’s dimensions aren’t too dissimilar to those of the previous NEX-C3, although the grip is now defined and separate from the body, rather than flowing more organically into a bulge as before. While this does make the camera somewhat easier to handle, its right strap lug is positioned exactly where the forefinger would naturally lie when holding the camera in a conventional manner. This issue is often encountered on small cameras such as this, where positioning a strap lug anywhere else is usually even more impractical.
There are few surprises in terms of overall build quality, though. Although the camera is a largely plastic affair, it feels as robust as would be expected in this price category. Indeed, in some areas it exceeds expectations – the 16-50mm Power Zoom kit lens, for example, is ended with a metal mount for durability, something that is missing from kit lenses of many other compact system cameras.
Being only around 1in long, the lens makes a perfect partner to the NEX-3N, and as the camera’s grip only protrudes from the body by a few millimetres, the lens ring can be operated with comfort, unlike when it is paired with one of the other NEX-series bodies with more substantial grips. As the ring moves the lens electronically rather than mechanically, it can take a steady hand and a degree of patience when using it to zoom to a particular focal length (this is the same when using either the Power Zoom control on the side of the lens barrel or the Power Zoom control on the camera body itself for zooming).
The flash button isn’t quite as recessed as on other models, which allows the flash to be released from the top-plate with only a little pressure. It’s a shame, however, that the playback button has returned to the position it occupied on the NEX-C3, on the top-plate next to the shutter release button – for the sake of convenience, such a control really belongs next to the display with which it’s used.