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Sony announces the NEX-3 and NEX-5 cameras

Mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses

Sony NEX-3

Sony Alpha NEX-3

Sony has announced the NEX-3 and the NEX-5, two new portable digital cameras with changeable lenses.

The Sony Alpha NEX-5, at 24.2mm thick, is described by Sony as being the ‘world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens digital camera’.

The camera is mirrorless, similar to the micro-four-thirds system cameras from Panasonic and Olympus. With no internal mirror built in, the body of the camera can be smaller and lighter. 

Both the NEX-3 and the NEX-5 have 14.2Mp Exmor APS HD CMOS sensors, which are more akin to sensors found on digital SLR than compact cameras, and should therefore reduce the effect of graininess in pictures – particularly when shooting in low light.

Sony NEX-3 and NEX5 lenses

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Both cameras will launch in June alongside three compatible lenses from Sony. The SEL16F28 is a fixed 16mm pancake lens, while the SEL1855 is a more versatile zoom. The new cameras will be available to buy with one or both of these lenses.

The SEL18200 lens will also be available offering an 11x optical zoom, however this will need to be purchased separately. An ultra wide len converter (VCL-ECU1) and a fisheye lens converter (VCL-ECF1) will be available to mount to the pancake lens.

HD video on the Sony NEX cameras

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The LA-EA1 lens mount will be available, which will allow users to connect a number of digital SLR lenses to the NEX-3 and NEX-5.

Both models can capture HD video at 1920×1080 resolution and the NEX-3 can capture HD video at 720p, which is more suitable for uploading to video-hosting sites on the internet.

Sony claims that the NEX-3 and the NEX-5 can both capture seven still frames per seconds at full resolution, and have an on-screen guide to help users become more familiar with manual photography.

HDR mode on the Sony NEX

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Both models feature a high dynamic range (HDR) mode. This mode captures three shots at high-speed with slightly different exposures and then creates a single image. This is an automatic version of a technique designed to ensure that details are visible in both dark and light areas of the photograph.

The cameras also feature the Sony Sweep Panorama setting, which allows users to sweep the camera in an arc and take a series of shots which are then automatically stitched together to create a 226 degree, 23Mp panoramic image. This can be done both vertically and horizontally.

Optional extras for the Sony NEX range

The three-inch LCD screen can be tilted upwards or downwards for a more comfortable viewing angle when shooting above your head or low to the ground. Both the NEX-3 and the NEX-5 have an ISO range between 200 and 12,800.

The ECM-SST1 stereo microphone and the FDA-SV1 optical viewfinder will be available as optional extras, but both models will come supplied with a clip-on flash. Being Sony devices they both recognise Memory Stick Pro Duo cards, but they’re also compatible with SD and SDHC memory cards.

Pricing of these models has not yet been announced.

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