Sony NEX-3N mirrorless camera, translucent-mirror based Sony A58 come to the USA


posted Monday, February 25, 2013 at 9:40 AM EDT

Last year's Sony Alpha NEX-F3 mirrorless camera revisited the earlier NEX-C3 design, adding both a built-in flash and a self-portrait friendly tilting LCD, but unfortunately also added significantly to the camera's weight and size. Now, the Sony NEX-3N -- recently launched in Europe -- has been unveiled in the US market, and while it's a direct followup to the NEX-F3, in some ways it also marks a return to the ethos of the NEX-C3.

Compactness is key, and the Sony NEX-3N's newly-designed body is almost exactly the same size as that of the C3, while retaining the F3's built-in flash and forward-tilting LCD. And in a first for an Alpha-series camera, the NEX-3N also includes a zoom lever on the camera body, easing the transition from a compact camera for consumers. Some compromises have been made to achieve all this, though. Key among them is the removal of Sony's proprietary accessory port. Sony also had to dial back the LCD resolution, flash output, and burst-shooting performance.

The Sony NEX-3N mirrorless camera has a lighter, more compact body and -- in a first for an Alpha-series camera -- a brand-new on-camera zoom control for Power Zoom lenses.

Available from April 2012, the Sony NEX-3N will sell in the US market for just US$500 -- and that's in a kit including the company's E PZ 16-50mm F3.5–5.6 OSS lens. The lens is a nice pairing for two reasons. Not only is it a power zoom, compatible with the NEX-3N's on-camera zoom lever. It's also significantly more compact than the 18-55mm kit lens bundled with most of the NEX-3N's siblings. The Sony NEX-3N will be available in two body colors: black, or white.

For much more information, read our hands-on preview of the Sony NEX-3N and browse our gallery and lab images.

The Sony Alpha SLT-A58 has a higher-res sensor, an Organic LED viewfinder, and a Multi-Interface hotshoe. It also sports much-improved battery life.

Alongside the latest NEX-series model, Sony USA is also debuting a new Alpha-series Translucent Mirror camera that was also recently unveiled in Europe. Following on from the A37 and A57 that launched around ten months ago, the Sony A58 has several key changes. These include a higher-resolution image sensor, an Organic LED-based electronic viewfinder, Sony's proprietary Multi-Interface hot shoe, and a significant improvement in battery life.

Accompanying these improvements are a plastic lens mount, a reduction in the burst shooting rate and the specification of the LCD monitor, plus a video mode that lacks the higher-bitrate 1080p60 Full HD option of the Sony A57. Of course, these are only the most significant differences; there are a number of other changes, as you'll find in our Sony A58 preview.

The Sony Alpha SLT-A58 goes on sale in the US market from April 2013. Kit pricing for a bundle including an updated DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II zoom lens is expected to be in the region of US$600. The new lens is said to offer quieter autofocus, and better-controlled flare and ghosting.

As well as the camera, Sony is also unveiling a couple of new accessories, and several new lenses. A wired remote commander, the RM-VPR1, will connect to the multi-terminal USB port, and will be priced at around US$65 when it ships this April. For the multi-interface hot shoe, there will be a new on-camera flash strobe, the HVL-F20M, offering wireless flash control, bounce capability, auto white balance compensation, and the ability to enable or disable flash by raising or lowering the flash head. The HVL-F20M flash strobe will cost US$150, and ship from May 2013.

Finally, there are three new Alpha-mount lens options. From most affordable to most expensive, these are the aforementioned DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II zoom (US$220), the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM prime (US$1,500), and the updated 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II with faster autofocus and reduced flare / ghosting (US$2,200).