Sony NEX-F3 Review

 
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Sony NEX-F3 Optics


Below are the results of our optical tests with the Sony NEX-F3 and the bundled E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens. The test images shown on most other pages of this review were taken with very sharp references lenses, so we use this page to explore kit lens quality.

Lens Test Results

Zoom
A typical 3x zoom ratio, with average performance.

18mm @ f/8 55mm @ f/8

The Sony NEX-F3 is available bundled with an E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS "kit" lens. This optically stabilized lens possesses a typical optical zoom ratio of about 3x, with a 35mm equivalent focal range of about 27-83mm. Sharpness and contrast at wide-angle are good (but not great) at f/8, and chromatic aberration isn't an issue since the camera suppresses it (see below), however some flare is visible around the building's white surfaces. Results at the 55mm setting are also fairly good at f/8 over most of the frame, though corners are soft. See below for comments on macro, geometric distortion, performance wide-open, chromatic aberration, etc.

Macro
An average sized minimum coverage area, with good detail. Flash throttled down well.

Macro with 18-55mm
kit lens (55mm @ f/8)
Macro with Flash

As with zoom performance, the Sony NEX-F3's macro performance will depend entirely on the lens mounted. However with the E 18-55mm kit lens set to 55mm, the NEX-F3 captured an average sized minimum area measuring 3.01 x 2.00 inches (77 x 51 millimeters). Detail is good in the center at f/8, just a touch soft, though corners and edges of the frame are much softer. (Most lenses have some softening in the corners at macro distances.) The flash did a very good job throttling down, resulting in a good exposure. The flash also had no trouble clearing the lens as there is no detectable shadow, though coverage is a little uneven with the bottom and corners of the image a little dimmer than the rest.

Geometric Distortion
Higher than average geometric distortion at wide-angle and telephoto.

Barrel distortion at 18mm is 1.1 percent
Pincushion distortion at 55mm is 0.5 percent

The Sony NEX-F3's E 18-55mm kit lens produced about 1.1 percent barrel distortion at wide-angle, which is higher than average and noticeable in some of its images. At the telephoto end, there's about 0.5% pincushion distortion, also higher than average but not quite as noticeable. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide-angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Note that the Sony NEX-F3 offers automatic Distortion Correction. See below for details.

Chromatic Aberration and Corner Sharpness
Low levels of C.A. (the camera suppresses it). The lens produces some pretty soft corners wide-open.

Aperture: maximum
18mm@f/3.5: Lower left
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Moderate blurring
18mm@f/3.5: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
55mm@f/5.6: Upper right
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Moderately high blurring
55mm@f/5.6: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Fairly sharp, but lower contrast

Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration in the corners with the NEX-F3's 18-55mm kit lens at wide-angle (18mm) is moderately low at wide-angle with just minor magenta fringing, and the center of the image shows very little C.A. The camera does a pretty good job at suppressing much of the lateral C.A. produced by the lens (see below). At full telephoto (55mm), C.A. is very low and muted.

Corner Softness. Wide-open at full wide-angle, the 18-55mm lens that came with our NEX-F3 is a little soft in all corners, with the lower left corner being the softest. Softness extends pretty far into the frame as well. The center of the image was pretty sharp, though, with very good contrast. Some minor vignetting (corner shading) is also noticeable at full wide-angle, as indicated by the darker corner crop, even with automatic vignetting correction enabled (see below). At full telephoto, all four corners are quite soft, though the center is reasonably sharp. Softness extends quite far into the frame from the left side, but not so much from the right. The lens also has lower contrast overall at full telephoto compared to wide-angle.

Aperture: f/8
18mm@f/8: Lower left
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Minor blurring
18mm@f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
55mm@f/8: Upper right
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Moderate blurring
55mm@f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp

"Stopped-down" to f/8, corner sharpness at wide-angle improved compared to wide-open at f/3.5. At full telephoto, sharpness also improved at f/8 versus wide-open at f/5.6, but corners were still noticeably soft with lower contrast.

Overall, mediocre performance, even for a kit lens.

Lens Corrections

When shooting in JPEG mode, the Sony NEX-F3 includes the ability to automatically correct for geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and lens shading (vignetting), as images are captured. Only E-mount lenses are supported, and raw files are not corrected.

Geometric Distortion

Barrel distortion at 18mm is 0.3 percent
Pincushion distortion at 55mm is <0.1 percent

Above, you can see with Distortion Correction enabled (set to Auto), the kit lens shows significantly less distortion (+0.3% at wide-angle, <-0.1% at telephoto) than with it disabled (+1.1% at wide-angle, -0.5% at telephoto), though extreme edges are cropped away in the process. The default Distortion Correction setting is Off.

Chromatic Aberration

CA Correction Auto CA Correction Off
18mm@f/3.5: Upper right
C.A.: Moderately low
18mm@f/3.5: Upper right
C.A.: Higher and brighter
55mm@f/5.6: Upper right
C.A.: Low
55mm@f/5.6: Upper right
C.A.: Also low

Above, you can see significantly higher lateral Chromatic Aberration at wide-angle with Chromatic Aberration Correction disabled, though the difference at telephoto is minimal because C.A. is low at telephoto to begin with. The default for this setting is Auto.

Lens Shading

18mm @ f3.5
Auto Off

Mouse-over the links above to see the difference Lens Shading correction makes at wide-angle when wide-open at f/3.5 (the worst-case scenario for most lenses). As you can see, corners are brightened without affecting brightness at the center. The default setting is also Auto.


Sony NEX-F3 Viewfinder Accuracy

Viewfinder Test Results

Coverage
Excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor.

Click to see NEXF3hVFAL.JPG
LCD Monitor

The Sony Alpha NEX-F3's LCD monitor showed essentially 100% coverage with our Sigma 70mm f/2.8 prime lens. This is excellent performance, though not a surprise given its image is derived from the main imaging sensor.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Alpha NEX-F3 Photo Gallery.

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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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