Sony NEX-C3 Review

 
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Sony NEX-C3 Performance


Timing and Performance

The Sony NEX-C3's performance was a mixed bagged in our tests.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.2 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~2.0 seconds

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
5 seconds after 10 large/fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
6 seconds after 6 RAW files*
10 seconds after 6 RAW+ L/F JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup and shut-down times were much slower than those for most SLRs, but reasonable for a CSC. The dust reduction system runs at each shut-down, or can be activated manually. Buffer clearing times were somewhat slow considering the shallow buffers.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.8 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~2.3 seconds

Time to display a large/fine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~1.0 second

Time to display a large/fine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Play to Record delay was pretty good, but Record to Play was quite slow.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Wide Angle
0.430 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (Unless otherwise noted, AF timing performed with the Sony E18-55mm kit lens.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
Wide Angle
0.456 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Telephoto
0.424 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.

Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Auto Flash Enabled
0.710 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, TTL Auto flash enabled.

Continuous AF
0.499 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.226 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.114 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button. There was about 7% variation between iterations on this particular measurement.

The Sony NEX-C3 showed full-autofocus shutter lag (with the subject at a fixed distance) that ranged from 0.430 second at wide angle to 0.424 second at full telephoto when using the 18-55mm kit lens in Single-area AF mode. That's a little faster than the average CSC. Switching to Multi-area mode increased lag slightly to 0.456 second at wide angle.

With the flash enabled, the NEX-C3's full AF shutter lag increased to 0.710s, to account for the preflash metering. Shutter lag was 0.499 second in continuous mode AF. When manually focused, the Sony NEX-C3's lag time dropped to 0.226 second, which is a bit slower than most cameras in manual focus mode. The NEX-C3's prefocused lag time was 0.114 second, which is a bit slower than most CSC models.

While slower than most SLRs using an optical viewfinder, autofocus speeds and shutter lag are reasonable for a CSC, though not as fast as the latest generation of bodies and lenses from Olympus and Panasonic.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance. We also use the same Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with every camera (on all platforms except Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds, Samsung NX, Sony E-mount, and Nikon consumer models lacking an in-body focus motor), to further reduce variation, and because our tests showed that focus-determination time with this lens was close to the fastest, across multiple camera bodies from different manufacturers. Being an older design with a non-ultrasonic motor, it wouldn't be the fastest at slewing from one focus setting to another, but that's exactly the reason we measure focus determination speed, which is primarily a function of the camera body, vs focus adjustment speed, which is primarily a function of the lens.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.97 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20+ shots*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.94 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20+ shots*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + LF JPEG
0.95 second

Time per shot, averaged over 9 shots*.

Early shutter
penalty?

Yes

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous Hi Mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.18 second (5.52 frames per second);
10 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 10 shots, then slows to an average of about 0.58s or 1.71 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Hi Mode
RAW

0.18 second (5.56 frames per second);
6 frames total;
6 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 6 frames, then slows to an average of about 1.13s or 0.88 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Hi Mode
RAW + LF JPEG

0.18 second (5.49 frames per second);
6 frames total;
10 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 6 frames, then slows to 1.72s or 0.58 fps when buffer is full.

Flash Recycling

2.6 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were a bit sluggish for its class, ranging from 0.97 to 0.94 second for the file types and quality we tested (large/fine JPEG, RAW, and RAW+ large/fine JPEG). Continuous Hi mode was however quite fast, at about 5.5 frames per second no matter the file type and quality. A low speed continuous mode rated at 2.5 frames per second is also available, however we didn't test that.

Buffer depth for large/fine JPEGs was a bit shallow, at only 10 frames. Note, though, that our test target for this was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG burst lengths should be longer with typical subjects. When shooting with RAW files, buffer depth dropped to only 6 frames.

The flash was able to recycle from a full discharge in 2.6 seconds, which is pretty good.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

14,203 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were very fast, quick enough that you won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec SD card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Sony NEX-C3's performance was a mixed bagged. Full autofocus is a bit slow compared to most SLRs and the latest CSCs from Olympus and Panasonic, but pretty good for its class and on par with most digicams. Startup and single-shot cycle times were a bit slow, but Continuous Hi mode is pretty fast, making the NEX-C3 suitable for capturing most subjects including some action shots, as long as long bursts aren't required.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Good battery life for a Compact System Camera.

Operating Mode Battery Life
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard)
400 shots

The Sony NEX-C3 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The battery is rated for 400 shots per charge using the CIPA standard, which includes 50% flash shots with the detachable flash. Battery life is above average for a CSC, but we do recommend getting a second battery for your NEX-C3 if you plan any extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Sony NEX-C3 accepts Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo/PRO-HG HX Duo or SD/SDHC/SDHX memory cards, and does not ship with a card.

Image Capacity with
1GB Memory Card
Fine Normal RAW RAW +
Fine JPEG
4,912 x 3,264
Images
(Avg Size)
163
6.3 MB
230
4.4 MB
66
15.3 MB
47
21.7 MB
Approx.
Comp.
8:1
11:1
1.6:1
-
3,568x 2,368
Images
(Avg Size)
259
3.9 MB
357
2.9 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
6:1
9:1
-
-
2,448 x 1,624
Images
(Avg Size)
406
2.5 MB
506
2.0 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
5:1
6:1
-
-

We strongly recommend buying a fast, large capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo or SDHC/SDXC memory card at least a 4GB card, preferably 8GB or larger, to give yourself extra space for extended outings, or when shooting RAW or video files. (Check the shopping link above, memory cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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