Sony NEX C3 or 5N?

Biro

Super Moderator
Aug 7, 2011
124
Jersey Shore
Steve
The answer I'm looking for might not be as simple as that string title suggests. I posted in the NEX forum on this site (no responses - it's not too busy there) about my sudden interest in the NEX C3 with the 16mm pancake, which can now be had for $499. I'm not really interested in building a big NEX kit - but I wouldn't mind trying something new for not too much money.

Responses from NEX users on sister site mu-43.com indicate almost all NEX cameras are quite good with excellent IQ, but tend to be let down by mediocre kit lenses and difficult user interfaces (although the newest cameras are better on this last point).

But I wonder if the new Sigma 19mm and 30mm primes for the NEX series will be better. It sounds like it won't take much to beat the Sony kit lenses and the Sigmas aren't expected to be expensive.

So...my question is: C3 with 16mm pancake for $499... or 5N body-only for $599 and wait for the Sigma primes to hit the store shelves? Understand that while I'm sure the NEX-7 is wonderful (especially with all those controls and built-in viewfinder), I am not looking for spend anything close to that amount of money and would probably have only two lenses (19 and 30 sounds great to me) for whatever NEX I might purchase.

Your thoughts and suggestions are welcome. This not a purchase that's necessary, given the other cameras and lenses I own. But the NEX system is quite interesting and I wouldn't mind a little adventure into NEX-land if I can keep costs under control.
 

Chris2500dk

Top Veteran
Dec 22, 2011
104
Copenhagen, Denmark
Found this thread on DPReview discussing differences between the two. Hopefully you can use some of it.
NEX C3 vs. NEX 5N IQ...See Below...And..: Sony NEX Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

Personally I'd go for the NEX5N, the price is very close and the 5N has a newer sensor. I'd wait for the new Sigma lenses to get reviewed before investing though, it would be a bummer to buy a NEX and then find out the lenses aren't as good as you expected.
 

davect01

Hall of Famer
I am rocking an original NEX-3. I personally choose the 3 over the 5 because I liked how it felt in my hands better and the few options on the 5 were not worth the extra price to me. I still like the smaller hand grip on the current C3 over the much larger 5N, but this is a personal choice.

As to the C3 and the 5N one of the big differences is the touch screen. If you like/want a touch screen the 5N is your choice.

You also get up to 60fps on the 5N versus 30fps on the C3.

Side by Side Comparison: Digital Photography Review

As to the lenses, the 16mm is not as bad as people say it is. I have seen some amazing shots come out of the 16mm. That being said, the 16mm is not perfect and if you are very particular, then the 16mm might be disappointing, but only when you are pushing it's limits.

You can always buy the 16mm for now and pick up a Sigma later and if you are unhappy resale the 16mm. Since you already have several other lenses there are adapters that will allow you to use your lenses on the NEX in manual focus mode.
 

Biro

Super Moderator
Aug 7, 2011
124
Jersey Shore
Steve
Thanks for both of your responses. I'm going to have the check the specs on both cameras a bit more closely because I thought the C3 has the same sensor and imaging engine as the 5N. If they're not the same then the decision might be more clear-cut.
 

olli

Super Moderator Emeritus
Sep 28, 2010
123
Sofia, Bulgaria
olli
You are correct - the C3 and 5N both use the same sensor.

Regarding the kit lenses, I don't think mu-43 is a great place to get reasoned views on their quality:) Unfortunately, internet forums are one of the main reasons why the word 'mediocre' has lost all meaning. There are plenty of review sites with balanced reviews of these lenses so I would check there first before writing anything off on the basis of a few forum comments. Look at the reviews, look at images taken with these lenses here or on other forums and image sites and then decide.

In my experience the kit zoom which I own is a good example of a typical kit zoom. That is to say, spend twice or three times as much money and you'll certainly get better results in some situations, but that is true for any and every kit zoom. The 16 is quirky - you need to learn how to use it effectively. (David Kilpatrick, from photoclubalpha and someone who knows what he's talking about has had images from the NEX/16mm - and also 18-55mm - accepted by Alamy for stock, which suggests that it's a great deal better than it's detractors would have you believe.) I've been using a borrowed one for a few weeks now and I'm going to order it as soon as it appears in stock anywhere.

As for the interface, 'difficult' is a subjective judgement. Personally, I think it's fine.
 

Biro

Super Moderator
Aug 7, 2011
124
Jersey Shore
Steve
Hi Olli. Most of the people who responded to my inquiry over at mu-43.cm are NEX users, believe it or not. I think there's quite a bit of cross-pollenization with micro four thirds. :) But I also read the professional reviews at SLR gear.com. I've been around long enough to wait until I have enough information before making a judgement. And I'll checking out David Kilpatrick's thoughts.

Meanwhile, I just got back from my local Best Buy, where I handled both the C3 and 5N. I could probably get by with either but found the 5N a bit more comfortable. I plan to check them out some more at B&H while on my way into work sometime this week. The security mounts and cables that Best Buy has it cameras locked to don't help.
 

olli

Super Moderator Emeritus
Sep 28, 2010
123
Sofia, Bulgaria
olli
Most of the people who responded to my inquiry over at mu-43.cm are NEX users, believe it or not.
Fair enough, but I would still suggest you treat comments that these lens are 'mediocre' with considerable scepticism.

I know that DK wrote a very lengthy piece on a forum explaining his take on the 16mm but I can no longer find it so here is a brief comment from his review of the A-Mount 24mm lens:

But I would like to show you something surprising. I am a great fan of the 16mm NEX f/2.8 pancake, which is one of the few such lenses made to have a positive (pincushion) simple distortion pattern and a cup not cap shaped field of focus. It is a revolutionary inverted telephoto design of great simplicity, with only 5 elements, enabling the lens to be 16mm focal length yet have a rear node position over 20mm from the sensor – thus avoiding all kinds of vignetting and colour shift problems.

People who don’t understand how to use a focus plane where the corners are focused FURTHER than the centre – the exact opposite of the CZ 24mm f/2 where the corners are focused CLOSER than the centre – do tests like landscapes wide open and wonder why the grass either side of their feet dissolves into blur. Actually all the little 16mm needs is modest stopping down, as would be applied by any professional using a Super Angulon for that matter, to f/8.
Just found some similar forum comments on the Alamy forum.
 

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