May 12, 2010: As expected, Sony formally announced their new mirror-less digicams, the Nex-3 and Nex-5 on Tuesday. Both cameras carry the Alpha brand, but aside from the Alpha logo and sensor size, they don’t share anything with the Sony dSLR models.
Both EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens)Â models use the same 14.2 mp, APS-C Exmor sensor. The primary difference between the two models is video. The Nex-3 captures 720p MP4 High Definition video, while the Nex-5 can record AVCHD files in Full HD (1920 x 1080i).
The body on the Nex-3 is polycarbonate, while the Nex-5 is crafted from magnesium alloy.
The new cameras share a new lens system, while Sony has dubbed the E-Mount. Sony hasn’t forgotten A-Mount Alpha users, however, as there will be an extra cost adapter that will mate A-Mount lenses to the Nex models.
The adapter is far more advanced than the adapters used to mount MD/MC and M42 lenses on Alpha dSLRs. Because the Alpha mount lenses have no manual aperture control, the adapter has to send signals from the camera to the lens to regulate the f/stop. Sony hasn’t provided full details on the adapter as yet, but the release suggests that legacy A-mount images will be manual focus only.
They have shown the adapter, however. It incorporatesÂ a solid tripod mount, so you will be able to use your heaviest A-Mount lenses on the Nex twins without fear of straining the tiny camera body. No word on whether auto-diaphragm will operate with A-Mount lenses.
Sony has announced three E-Mount lenses: a 16mm f/2.8 pancake prime, a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom and a nice 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 zoom. Apparently rumors that the new cameras will use in-lens stabilization is true as the zooms offer Sony’s Optical Steady Shot, similar to what is used in Sony Handicam camcorders.
There are many situations where composing on the rear LCD won’t cut it, especially if you have to use manual focus with legacy glass. I recently had to chance to play with the extra-cost, eye-level viewfinder on an Olympus 4/3 camera, and it made a huge difference in usability. I was afraid that Sony might ignore this need, but Nex accessories include the FDA-SV1 Optical Viewfinder. Sony isn’t offering much info on the optical viewfinder, but I will be hugely disappointed if it doesn’t equal the one Olympus offers.
Flash options are a bit of a mystery. Some of the press images show a flash above the lens, but there are no flashes shown in the accessory options. Will there be a popup flash? How will an auxiliary flash attach to the camera? Can you use off-camera flash? Sony isn’t saying, so we will have determine this as the Nex models become available.
Other accessories include an auxiliary stereo microphone and an AC adapter. Both camera’s include built-in stereo recording abilities, but the accessory mic apparently provides superior sound quality.
Equipped with the SEL16F28 lens, the Nex-3 will list about $550, with the Nex-5 selling for about $100 more. NEX-5K and NEX-3K cameras, come with the SEL1855 lens will list around $700 and $600 respectively. Sony has not published prices for the lens mount adapter, auxiliary viewfinder and the other accessories.