April 28, 2010: Website SonyAlphaRumors has posted photos they say they received from an anonymous reader. The source claims to have snapped the images in a bar in Asia. While the story sounds a bit like the recent Gizmoto-Apple iPhone dustup, apparently the Nex3 was not left at the bar and no one tried to sell the prototype to anyone.
Like any prototype/rumor story, there is no way to confirm that the camera in the photos will resemble the final product, but I would guess it is pretty close. The word is that Sony will introduce the new cameras on May 11, so it would seem that any real-world testing would involve prototypes that are very close to the real deal.
SonyAlphaRumors expects there will be two models at launch, the Nex3 and Nex5. The principle difference between the two will be the video capabilities, with the Nex5 shooting at 1080p, and the Nex3 limited to 720p. Both cameras will use a APS-C size, 14mp ExmorHD sensor.
SAR is also claiming that unlike the Sony Alpha dSLRs, the Nex models will not have image stabilization in the body. They claim the 16mm 2.8 lens shown in the photos has image stabilization built in to it. SAR theorizes that this will make it easier to add stabilization for video recording.
While most commentators are obsessed with the lens, I was much more intrigued by the flash unit. I had assumed that the new cameras would have some sort of pop-up flash, but the camera in the bar shots is using what appears to be a small, detachable external flash. The flash doesn’t resemble any current Sony Alpha flash, so it will apparently be a new design. Since the mockups at the PMA show did not have a hot shoe, I’m not sure how the flash attaches to the Nex3 and Nex5.
There may still be a small pop-up flash on the cameras, with the external flash providing better flash range. On the other hand, it is possible that there is no popup flash and you will need an external flash for any auxiliary illumination. If so, I hope Sony offers an off-camera cord so users can move the flash away from the camera.
Finally, I am really hoping Sony will offer an external viewfinder, similar to the one Olympus sells for their micro four-thirds models. I was able to play with one of these recently and the extra-cost viewfinder made a real difference when shooting in direct sunlight.
Time will tell, as May 11 is less than two weeks away. Bring it!
Visit the Nex3 and Nex5 pages at SonyAlphaRumors.