NEX3 and NEX5 cameras being launched by Sony and a couple of days back I was actually lucky enough to get my hands on one to test and play with for a while. I had the gorgeous red NEX3 with the E 18-55 lens, and I thought it looked absolutely beautiful and took SUCH great pictures.
Before I go on any further, let me guys explain to you exactly what Sony has come out with here. The average Joe (or Jane) knows there are a lot of cameras out there promising a lot of things, so you're probably wondering what is the difference between this Sony as opposed to a lot of the other cameras out there. In very simple terms, without boring you with specifications, there are a new breed of cameras out there which are slightly bigger than the point and shoot cameras (the regular, digital cameras that come in various sizes) but much smaller than the SLR cameras (those large, bulky things that professional photographers or crazy enthusiasts carry around). In SLR's too, there are different models depending on how high end and pro you want to go, or if you want just a basic entry level model that takes nice photographs. You would still need a crash course in photography for someone to explain to you the Aperture and ISO, etc, as having an SLR and taking pictures on the auto mode is just a no no. They might even come out worse than they would on a point and shoot!
So back to these small format cameras. Right now there are 2 brands only that make such cameras- Panasonic and Olympus. The Olympus EP2 is the camera I'd taken and tested here and here and absolutely LOVED. I loved the small form factor as well as the art filters, and even though I didn't post the demo I loved the quality of the video recording that came with it. Now with all these cameras, especially SLR's, the video recording is absolutely amazing, and I had recently even written about how the season finale of House MD was shot on a Canon 5d. The downside to video recording is that the file size is very large and that the lens doesn't automatically autofocus. You need to move around the lens with your hand to get it to focus on the image if you zoomed or moved away from it. With me so far? Whew.
Now Sony has come out with this new form of Camera similar to the Panasonic and Olympus, which is small in size but if possible even BETTER in image quality. This small little camera gives you pictures as good as the entry level SLR's, or in some cases, maybe even better. The video quality in this camera is absolutely gorgeous too, and remember the autofocus problems that other cameras have? THIS ONE DOESN'T!! It's an amazing device and despite using it for only 2 days, I'm in love with it and am not liking the idea of giving it back.
Since I felt the same way about the EP2, you'd be right in wondering what sets this camera apart from the Olympus. The beauty is that this camera has an even thinner body and has all the advantages that come with a Sony camera. The lens quality is fabulous, the camera has the panoramic setting as seen here where you can take a sweep of a place at a 60 degree angle, and it also has the smile capture mode, where the camera automatically clicks when someone in front of it smiles. The two most unique things that I found about this camera though, are ease of use and it's picture quality in dark places. In a lot of ways this camera is a novice's answer to wanting to take amazing pictures as there are "tips" being given to the user at every turn, and has different pre-set options for landscape, sunset, portrait, etc. Ever seen pictures that focus in on the person or object in front of you while giving you a gorgeous blur in the background? Without needing to know about f-stops and aperture, the camera actually does it for you, with a sliding option on how blurred or how vivid you want the pictures! Like I said, incredible ease of use! And when it comes to images in dark places, the camera takes multiple pictures of the target image, and finally gives you an amazingly well-lit image of it. For example, the picture of the plant I took below, was in a darkened corridor, with me barely able to see the plant in front of me-
If you want to read more about the camera or want to see more sample pictures, read one of my favourite tech journalists, David Pogue from the New York Times, write about Sony's new home-run here
The NEX3 and NEX5 will be available in Jumbo stores in July