Sony NEX-F3 Review

 
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Sony NEX-F3 Performance


Timing and Performance

The Sony NEX-F3's performance was a mixed bagged in our tests.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.5 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~0.2 second

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

Buffer clearing time
5 seconds after 12 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 7 RAW files*
7 seconds after 6 RAW+ L/F JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-1 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 time was much slower than most SLRs, but still reasonable for a CSC. Shutdown was very fast. Buffer clearing times were pretty good with a fast card, but buffer depths weren't very deep.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~1.0 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~2.2 seconds

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

Display
recorded image

~0.5 second

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

Play to Record delay was okay for a CSC, but Record to Play was quite slow.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.314 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All AF timing performed with Sony E18-55mm kit lens.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.311 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
0.436 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
0.360 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.060 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

0.021 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-F3's full-autofocus shutter lag (with the subject at a fixed distance) was about 0.31 second in both Single-area (center) and Multi-area AF modes with the 18-55mm kit lens. That's about average for a CSC these days, and a bit slower than the typical consumer SLR. With the flash enabled, the NEX-F3's full AF shutter lag increased to 0.44s, to account for the preflash metering. Shutter lag was 0.360 second in continuous mode AF. When manually focused, the Sony NEX-F3's shutter lag dropped to 0.060 second, which is very fast. The NEX-F3's prefocused shutter lag was only 0.021 second, much faster than most CSCs -- we have the F3's electronic front curtain shutter, which is enabled by default, to thank for that.

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

0.68 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20+ shots*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.91 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20+ shots*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + LF JPEG
1.41 second

Time per shot, averaged over 15 shots*.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

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.

Speed Priority Continuous Mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.18 second (5.53 frames per second);
12 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 12 shots, then slows to an average of about 0.43s or 2.35 fps when buffer is full.

Speed Priority Continuous Mode
RAW

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

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 7 frames, then slows to an average of about 0.94s or 1.06 fps when buffer is full.

Speed Priority Continuous Mode
RAW + LF JPEG

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

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 6 frames, then slows to 1.31s or 0.76 fps when buffer is full.

Flash Recycling

2.7 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45 MB/sec UHS-1 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 good for JPEGs, but a bit sluggish with RAW files, increasing from 0.60 second for large/fine JPEGs, 0.91 second for RAW and 1.14 seconds for RAW+ large/fine JPEG files. Speed Priority Continuous mode performance was good, matching Sony's spec, at about 5.5 frames per second no matter the file type and quality, though autofocus and exposure are locked at the first frame in this mode. We didn't test the F3's standard continuous mode.

Buffer depth for large/fine JPEGs was okay, at 12 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 7 frames, and 6 frames with RAW+JPEG. This is about par for an entry-level model, though.

The flash was able to recycle from a full discharge in 2.7 seconds, which is pretty good.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

12,320 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 likely won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Pro 45MB/sec UHS-1 card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Sony NEX-F3'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 average for its class and on par with most digicams. Startup and single-shot cycle times with RAW files are slow, but Speed Priority Continuous mode is not bad, making the NEX-F3 suitable for general photography including some action, so long as long bursts and focus tracking aren't required.

Battery

Battery Life
Excellent battery life for a Compact System Camera.

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

The Sony NEX-F3 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and a USB charger. The battery is rated for 470 shots per charge using the CIPA standard, which includes 50% flash shots with the built-in flash. Battery life is well above average for a CSC, but as always, we recommend getting a second battery for your NEX-F3 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))

Sony NEX-F3

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