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Archive 2011 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions

  
 
denoir
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


I got my NEX-C3 today. As I know that there aren't many out there yet and as there are many NEX shooters here, I thought I'd write down some first impressions.

Before I do that however, I think that many current NEX shooters will be interested
in this:

--------------
The NEX-C3 shows no signs of color casts when using wide angle or ultra wide angle lenses. I've tried it with the ZM 18, ZM 25, 28 Cron ASPH & 35 Lux ASPH and I've found no traces of the red/cyan cast that was a problem with the NEX-3 & 5. It looks like there is no need for CornerFix with this camera.

Now before y'all go rioting in front of the nearest camera store to get one, a word of warning. C3 RAW files are not supported yet in neither ACR (Photoshop & Lightroom) nor Aperture. So you have to use the supplied Sony RAW converter. Scientific studies on rats have shown that users of the Sony RAW converter are 500% more likely to commit suicide than those that use other RAW developers. You have been warned.
-------------------

Finally, before I start, a disclaimer so that I don't get lynched. I got this camera as a light back up for my Leica M9 and I'll be using M mount lenses on it. My point of reference for comparison will be the M9 which of course is ridiculously unfair as the C3 is less than a tenth of the price of the M9. These are also just initial impressions. I'll be doing proper technical comparisons later and post the results in this thread. The first impressions here are based on a couple of snaps I took at the office and during a 30 minute walk home. So don't expect an exhaustive test.

Thereís nothing worse than a sharp picture of a fuzzy concept..except for a picture with no ducks ĖAnsel Adams

Leica APO-Summicron-M 90/2 ASPH, Sony NEX-C3:
http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-001.jpg


http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-002.jpg


Alright. First the physical attributes. The NEX-C3 is ridiculously tiny. The old NEX-3 & 5 were small cameras, but the C3 brings this to a new level.

http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-000.jpg
^^
Pentax 67, Canon 5DII, Canon 350D, Leica M9 and the NEX-C3.

We're talking Cybershot P&S size here. Without a lens it will easily fit into a trouser pocket.

The small size that makes it convenient also makes it an ergonomic disaster - especially when coupled with a heavy M lens. There is no comfortable way of holding the camera as it becomes extremely front heavy. At the same time I think that is unavoidable when there is a serious mismatch between lens & body weight. In my case as this is supposed to be a backup camera the light weight and small size is perfect. For somebody considering using this as their main camera it will probably be problematic.

Ergonomically ridiculous, the 90 Cron AA on the NEX-C3:
http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-000b.jpg


The display is high resolution which is welcome for a camera that only has live view although the colors aren't the best. You get a sort of VHS tape vibe from the image preview. The display tilts which is very useful. You can use it for Hasselblad style waist level shooting which is an interesting experience. Of course Hasselblad used a square format whereas the C3 has a 3:2 aspect ratio. That means that the tilt function is useful when shooting in landscape mode only. Or if you want to check around corners for snipers or similar. Still, the tilt function is nice.


Leica APO-Summicron-M 90/2 ASPH:
http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-003.jpg


Leica Summilux-M 50/1.4 ASPH:
http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-004.jpg


http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-005.jpg


Leica APO-Summicron-M 90/2 ASPH:
http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-007.jpg


Leica Summilux-M 50/1.4 ASPH:
http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-012.jpg


The general user interface, both hardware and software is very dumbed down. Clearly the primary target audience for this camera are not only the people that upgrade from a regular P&S but also stupid people. Fortunately however you can configure it in such a way that you never have to deal with that. You can for instance assign four different buttons to custom functions and chances are that after youíve configured the camera you wonít have to see any of the pointless beginner functions.

Unfortunately it seems that certain functions were designed by a moderately gifted monkey. For instance the camera informs you that you are in AUTO ISO mode, but wonít inform you what ISO is actually chosen when you do the metering. Other clearly monkey-designed features are that the exceptionally loud and whining shutter mechanism that sounds like a squirrel getting caught in a bear trap. A more serious issue is that when you remove the lens the shutter does not close to cover the sensor. The sensor is completely exposed and you can in real-time enjoy watching dust covering its surface.


Leica Summilux-M 50/1.4 ASPH:
http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-006.jpg


http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-009.jpg


http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-013.jpg


http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-010.jpg

As for the metering, itís excellent. It has been dead on in just about every situation Iíve tried it so far. Very impressive.

The peek function is excellent as well. It really speeds up the process of manual focusing. Itís not always 100% reliable though in all situations. It requires high contrast edges. When everything is low contrast then it can give you misleading information.

When it comes to lenses one thing one has to deal with is the 1.5x crop factor. Thereís no other way of putting it Ė that sucks. When you are used to FF itís a traumatic experience to see your whole wide angle arsenal wiped out. Thatís the price you have to pay. Ultimately however itís lower than getting another M9 as a backup camera - that if you are lucky you wonít use.

Zeiss Distagon 18/4 ZM:
http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-018.jpg


http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-015.jpg

Finally we get to image quality. Iíd like to get ACR RAW support before I make any detailed statements, but any comparisons to the M9 would be, perhaps not surprisingly, quite unfavorable. That of course is not a fair comparison to make given the price difference between those two, but I have to make it as Iíll be using it as an emergency backup for the M9. I would say that at low ISO it is comparable to a Canon 7D, but Iíll have to do some side by side comparisons to confirm that. Itís good enough.

Zeiss 35/2 Biogon ZM:
http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-019.jpg



http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-017.jpg



http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-016.jpg




http://peltarion.eu/img/nex3c/nex-014.jpg

Preliminary conclusion: Itís pretty much what I expected so I think I made the correct decision in getting it. The only big surprise was that theyíve seem to have fixed the color cast problem, which is a very good thing.



Jul 27, 2011 at 03:24 PM
corposant
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


Nice write-up, Luka. I am interested to see what you conclude with regard to the dynamic range of the sensor in the C3. I know there are a lot of M shooters who are interested in the results.


Jul 27, 2011 at 03:55 PM
millsart
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


Luke, isn't the ZM18 a retrofocus design ? If so I wouldn't expect to see much of a color cast issue with. I think the major problem, at least with the 3/5 was things like a Biogon design like the 21G etc had.

Haven't really heard anything about using the 18 on the NEX5 though, so maybe it really is an improvement, not sure. Probably not a popular choice amongst NEX shooters due to the size and cost of the ZM18, which only gives a kind of boring 27mm f4 equiv. Naturally if you've got a M camera, its a totally different story then!

Its interesting as well to see from your samples how different the cameras look even with the same glass. Overall color and clarity doesn't seem to match the M9 though perhaps you just don't have a workflow yet to optimize the NEX images.

From the time I had the 5, I found that the RAW's would get significantly better color than Sony's JPEG engine.

As a compact and pretty affordable M backup I think the NEX can't be beat.



Jul 27, 2011 at 03:58 PM
sebboh
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


that's very exciting to hear about the color cast problem! did you shoot any shots with the 18mm near infinity (that is where the problem appears to be most severe. there's always the chance that the sony raw converter is blurring it away too. as far as ergonomics go, my advice is to shoot from the waist whenever you can. don't hold it like a traditional camera. support the lens (and camera base for small lenses) with your left hand, focus with the left hand, and use your right thumb rather than your index finger to trigger the shutter. after getting used to it, i often find this more comfortable than an slr (unless i need to shoot at eye level or in portrait orientation). with regard to image quality, i found the old NEX-3 to be very slightly superior to the canon 7D in dynamic range and per pixel sharpness, didn't shoot the 7D at high enough iso to make any judgements in that regard, so i'll be interested to hear how they compare once the NEX-C3 has lightroom support.

that 50 lux is quite tempting, i particularly like the statue shot and leaf shot that follows it. i'd be interested to hear how the zm 18mm, 25mm, and 28mm cron perform on if you end up doing much shooting with them.



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:13 PM
denoir
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


millsart wrote:
Luke, isn't the ZM18 a retrofocus design ? If so I wouldn't expect to see much of a color cast issue with. I think the major problem, at least with the 3/5 was things like a Biogon design like the 21G etc had.


On the M9, the ZM18, the ZM25 and the 28 Cron produce pretty extreme color casts - the ZM18 being the worst. I don't remember specifically about the 18 on the NEX, but I know that users have had trouble with the ZM25 - and there's no trace of a color cast on the C3.


Its interesting as well to see from your samples how different the cameras look even with the same glass. Overall color and clarity doesn't seem to match the M9 though perhaps you just don't have a workflow yet to optimize the NEX images.


Yes, I want ACR support before I'll feel comfortable to make definitive statements. I'm using Sony's RAW converter now. The default settings seem to apply quite a bit of saturation, but it seems to be at the expense of color separation . Where I think I should see variation in shades of a color, I'm getting a more or less solid color. Also the saturation seems to be pretty thin - you don't get those deep shades that the M9 CCD can produce. That's a first impression but I don't have much to go on yet so I may be woefully wrong.



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:17 PM
douglasf13
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


Very exciting about the color shift.

If you're on Mac, you may want to try RPP for better color and detail. Iliah Borg does the color profiling for that program.

Edited on Jul 27, 2011 at 04:25 PM · View previous versions



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:22 PM
edwardkaraa
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


As a user of the Sony raw converter for over 2 1/2 years, I have effectively tried to kill myself every time I tried to use any other converter, especially ACR. The color balance of Sony cameras is quite special, and it's beyond my abilities to replicate it with other converters. Latest attempt was this evening. I currently use IDC for all my conversions, followed up in PS for whatever I cannot do in IDC.

Btw, excellent mini-review! Thanks for that! Makes me look forward even more to the Nex 7 and Zeiss 24mm.

Edited on Jul 27, 2011 at 04:24 PM · View previous versions



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:22 PM
philber
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


Millsart, I tried Boris' (bobu's) ZM 18 on my NEX5, and there definitely was a colour cast. So this piece of info from Luka is as promising as it is unexpected. Just today I was going to offer my Contax G 21mm for sale, but now that is on hold.
Thanks, Luka! And one question: how do you rate the IQ of your C3 with a ZM compared to that of the Leica X-1?



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:23 PM
edwardkaraa
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


Luka, did you try neutral style? I find it to give the best color, much better than the standard style.


Jul 27, 2011 at 04:27 PM
denoir
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


sebboh wrote:
that's very exciting to hear about the color cast problem! did you shoot any shots with the 18mm near infinity (that is where the problem appears to be most severe. there's always the chance that the sony raw converter is blurring it away too.


Yes, I have actually quite a few infinity focus shots with the ZM 18. There was one problem though - there was a smudge on the rear element which sort of did not improve the lens performance.

that 50 lux is quite tempting, i particularly like the statue shot and leaf shot that follows it. i'd be interested to hear how the zm 18mm, 25mm, and 28mm cron perform on if you end up doing much shooting with them.

The 50 Lux ASPH is really an amazing lens.

Speaking of lenses, I ended up buying a novoflex adapter as I did not have the patience to wait for the ones I ordered from ebay to arrive. The build quality is very good but all lenses focus beyond infinity. I don't consider it to be a critical issue though.



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:28 PM
johnahill
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


What about smearing in the corners with the zm/rangefinder wides, I think that was a problem with the nex-3/5.


Jul 27, 2011 at 04:30 PM
denoir
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


philber wrote:
Millsart, I tried Boris' (bobu's) ZM 18 on my NEX5, and there definitely was a colour cast. So this piece of info from Luka is as promising as it is unexpected. Just today I was going to offer my Contax G 21mm for sale, but now that is on hold.
Thanks, Luka! And one question: how do you rate the IQ of your C3 with a ZM compared to that of the Leica X-1?


If my memory serves me correctly (no guarantees) I'd say that the X1 is far superior in resolution. I have to do more tests with the C3 though. The X1 is currently in Solms getting repaired after bits of it started falling off.

edwardkaraa wrote:
Luka, did you try neutral style? I find it to give the best color, much better than the standard style.


Neutral? I've got Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset and B&W to choose from.

Edited on Jul 27, 2011 at 04:52 PM · View previous versions



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:32 PM
denoir
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


johnahill wrote:
What about smearing in the corners with the zm/rangefinder wides, I think that was a problem with the nex-3/5.


Definitely not with 35 & 28mm. Not sure about the ZM 18 - I'll have to do some proper tests tomorrow. What I shot today was with very quick and approximate handheld focusing.

Edit: After looking through the ZM18 images, my preliminary answer is that there is no smearing.



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:35 PM
sebboh
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


denoir wrote:
I'd say that the X1 is far superior in resolution. I have to do more tests with the C3 though. The X1 is currently in Solms getting repaired after bits of it started falling off.


that is quite surprising, the shots i've seen from zm 25mm on other NEX seem to outresolve the sensor. does the X1 not have a AA filter?



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:43 PM
denoir
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


sebboh wrote:
that is quite surprising, the shots i've seen from zm 25mm on other NEX seem to outresolve the sensor. does the X1 not have a AA filter?


I think that the X1 has a very weak AA filter.

And I also think that my claim about the X1 may have been wrong. I just looked at a couple of pictures and was surprised about the relatively poor per pixel image quality. I haven't used the X1 since I got the M9 and clearly my memory of the X1's image quality was exaggerated.

Here is a full rez image from the X1 - f/5.6 and infinity.



Jul 27, 2011 at 04:52 PM
johnahill
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


Great review Luka, love the humour too ;-)


Jul 27, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Morfeus
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


I kind of read some excitement between the lines and some surprise, Luka. Am I wrong?


Jul 27, 2011 at 05:16 PM
crazeazn
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


luka do u ever even take a bad photo? great review!


Jul 27, 2011 at 05:22 PM
ken.vs.ryu
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


nice write up.

it looks like raw photo processor can handle the nex-c3 but it's not officially listed. would love to see what you think of rpp and the c3.

is the shutter quieter than the nex-5?



Jul 27, 2011 at 06:20 PM
joe88
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Sony NEX-C3 first impressions


Luka, nice write up. Thanks for sharing. I'm also thinking of getting one of these as a backup.

Pics looks a little soft but I'm sure you'll work it out with a new sharpening workflow.

BTW, until ACR support is available, please try to refrain yourself and not shoot in RAW mode, we still want you here at FM



Jul 27, 2011 at 06:31 PM
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