Sony NEX-3NL Mirror less Interchangeable Lens Camera Review

Sony NEX-3NL Mirror less Interchangeable Lens Camera Review

Camera’s today are evolving at great speed where everything looks to be going compact. A portable device which is easy to carry and capable of capturing memories forever. Photography is a great habit for everyone. At any moment you can just pick up a camera and went out to capture best moments. The confusion lies here is with choosing the right model. There are various type cameras available like point-to-shoot, dslr, camcorder, etc. Which one to choose for? When I go out in market to buy camera my first preference is to find something which can give me everything. Good video capture, smart photo stills, photo enhancements, great flash and online sharing. All this looks to be blended well on Sony NEX-3NL DSLR Camera. This camera belongs to Interchangeable Lens product line where you can add different lenses on it. This is for serious photographers who are loaded with different lenses to capture different moments perfectly. The entire NEX series by Sony comes under the same thing. This series is typically designed for amateur and professional photographers.

Even if you know nothing about photography, I am sure enough that with this you can capture some of the best photos you had ever seen. Due to interchangeable lens, professionals have options to buy different lens kits from Sony. This series has huge range of cameras based on different requirements with different lens and accessories choice. In this article we are going to test and review Sony NEX-3NL. This one is the most starting model of NEX series or better to say the lowest one. Other comes with better lenses and kits. Sony NEX-3NL is a feature rich camera offering 16.1MP Exmore APS HD CMOS Sensor, 180 degree flip screen, interchangeable lens, flash, auto object framing and lot more feature. Ideal for both indoor and outdoor shoot this camera is loaded with all you need. Packed with rich features it useful for all kinds of photographers. Sony NEX-3NL is mirror less camera that comes with a single lens kit only. It supports Sony E-Mount Lens only.

So if you are planning to get new one do not forget to check out the lens specification. It is a great camera with wide range of different options available. First when I saw this camera it looks really professional to me. The first thing that un-satisfy me was the LCD screen. It is not a touch screen. Whichever camera I had tested came with Touch Screen LCD panel due to which it is a bit comfortable to use them. Sony NEX-3NL completely relies on the control wheel at the backside. The camera comes with inbuilt flash and standard lens kit loaded with zooming ring and lever. The lens looks to be great for portrait shots. But if you want to take long distance image then it is better to go with more powerful lens.  We will test out more aspect of this camera in detail below. First let’s have a look on its features:


  • 16.1MP Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor
  • 180 degree Flip LCD Screen
  • Auto Object Framing
  • Comfortable Self Shoot
  • Image Composer
  • Handy Zoom Lever
  • Built in Flash
  • Compact Body
  • Image Resolution: Up to 4,912 x 3,264 @ 3:2 & 4,912 x 2,760 @ 16:9 Aspect Ratio (JPEG/RAW)
  • Video Resolution: Up to 1920×1080@AVCHD, 1440×1080@MP4 & 640×380@VGA
  • Audio: Dolby Digital/MPEG-4


Under NEX series Sony tried to provide a pocket size solution for advance photography over bulky DSLR cameras. With single standard lens you can expect to get the perfect image or video. But if you not happy then Sony E-Mount lenses are available for sale. This camera does not work with any other lens kit. Sony NEX-3NL looks compact in size. It is neither bulky nor big in size. Ample of weight lies on the front size when it pops out. It is a bit essential that you must use it with care. The design looks to be ideal for single hand shooting. Most of the DSLR features similar designs where lenses are shifted towards the left, giving you maximum space on the right to hold it firmly. Sony NEX-3NL looks really classic and impressive in look. It is for sure that people will notice when you are carrying it in your hand. Complete black color gives it a luxurious look with popup flash on the top side. The flash part looks weak as it is not fixed on the body. It pops out form the top side. The lens covers most of the part at the front. The power zoom lens kit comes with Zoom Lever and Zoom ring on it. It looks complete for amateur shooting. In total there are three different options available for zooming. The first two are on the lens and a separate zoom lever lies with the shutter button. AF illuminator also lies on the front below Sony logo. The illuminator is also the self timer & smile shutter lamp. At the left lies a rubber pad that adds more to the grip.

Below the lens lies Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor. Compare to other camera Sony NEX-3NL has a bigger size CMOS Sensor that simply delivers unmatched image quality. It is not only large, but much better compare to other sensors in the market. Being a proprietary technology of Sony, Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor is capable of giving you some of the best image and video output compare to high end DSLR cameras.  Developed by Sony, Exmor is a really high speed CMOS Sensor. This sensor is responsible to give you a more clear and detailed image. Images are sharper and crisp reducing maximum amount of noise. Sony somehow manages to give a mixture of speed and quality at the same time. That makes NEX-3NL a really effective camera in terms of photography. For amateur users this camera is complete Swiss knife to capture detailed images instantly without messing with manual settings.

Sony NEX-3NL Power Zoom Lens Kit:

Under interchangeable lenses Sony offers two type of lens kit. Among them the first is A-Mount and the second is E-Mount. Sony NEX-3NL belongs to E-Mount Lens series. Now there are 3 types of lenses available which are Fixed Focal Length, Zoom Lens and Macro Lens. Among which the one you can see in the above image belongs to Zoom Lens. Different lens provides you different jobs. I had added a short description of each of them below so that in future if you are willing to buy some more lenses then you can choose them wisely. The zoom lens that comes with Sony NEX-3NL is one of the most compact lense. It s light and easy to use. It is designed to give you maximum image stability.  The lens features Extra-low Dispersion Glass and Aspherical Lens elements. Making your images better and better. The lens also comes with inbuilt image stabilization which simply tries to give you proper image of moving objects. The zoom lens kit offer wide angle focal length that looks to be enough for outdoor photography. I will not stay it is simply great but it can fulfill your needs. For advance photographers this might fell short. But for amateur this would be enough. The zoom ring is extremely comfortable to use compare to the zoom liver on shutter button. While power zoom instantly allows you to reach nearby objects.

It is a pop up lens kit. When you turn the camera on the central part comes out. Where you have a wider angle and length control. You can control the zoom in three ways. The fist via zoom lever lies with the shutter button. This zoom lever and power zoom lever on the lens kit does the same job. While zoom ring goes slowly to get more accurate short. For taking the right picture it is really necessary that your length with object must proper. Through zoom lever you can instant zoom in or zoom out which is a bit helpful for moving objects, while with the zoom ring you can go slowly to get the best shot. Here you are getting benefits of fixed focal length and macro photography. Adding a zoom lens made this camera better. Now if you are not really serious about the focal length then you just have to pick up the camera and start shooting. The lens comes with a tiny lens cover also which is really easy to lose. It must be attached with something to the lens of camera body so that it remains with the camera. You have to keep it safely somewhere.

Lens Specification:
1. Dimensions (Diameter x Length) –  66.7 x 30.2mm
2. Weight (approx.) – 116g
3. Focal Length

  • 35mm equivalent focal-length (on APS-C) –  24 – 75mm
  • Lens groups / elements –  8 / 9
  • Angle of view (on APS-C) –  83° – 32°

4.    Aperture:

  • Minimum aperture (F) –  22 – 36
  • Number of aperture blade –  7
  • Circular aperture – Yes
  • Minimum focus distance –  0.25m
  • Maximum magnification ratio –  0.215x
  • Filter diameter –  40.5m

1. Fixed Focal Length: Also called as Prime Lenses this is ideal for capturing sharper images. The lens offers you to get awesome image quality from fixed focal length. These lenses are bit cheaper compare to Zoom lenses and offer you wider aperture. Does not come with any zoom lever, great for capture nearby picture with clear and detailed output.

2.  Zoom Lens: Capture nearby images with more creativity. This lens comes with zoom liver through which you can get different focal lengths. They allow you to get images with blurry background.

3. Macro Lens: Through this you can get extremely sharp image through closers length. The lenses are designed to offer you clear and crisp picture of nearby and tiny objects.

At the top side lies flash packed inside the body. It is a pop out flash that has a separate button. When you press that it pops out really fast with noise. The flash looks to be placed well over the lens so that it can spread maximum light. But sometime it really adds much light when you are taking a photo of nearby object. Also for some seconds it can blind people. Next to that lies a play button that plays images and videos you captured. Just next to that lies the shutter button accompanies by zoom liver and on/off switch. Below that you can see a button with red dot. This one is for movie recording.

At the backside lies all the controls and LCD screen. The screen size lies around 7.5cm which is a TFT screen. As I said before I am really disappointed with the LCD. It is not a touch screen due to which sometime manual adjustment really takes long time. The screen looks to be enough big to capture photos. But sometime I had seen blurry output under low light. This screen flips to 180degree so that you can also take portrait photos from the front side. One this Sony did wrong is improper way of handling when you are taking self portrait. To take photo you can turn the camera towards front and press the shutter button which is really risky. So it is essential to add the shoulder strap and hook the same in your hands where there will be minimum chances of damage. The camera looks to be extremely uncomfortable for portrait shots. Flash light is more disturbing. What you can do is simply place the camera at some safe place press the shutter button which starts a 3second time and sit back to get your portrait photo. I would not recommend you to take the same buy your own self, as the camera does not offers great grip taking your own photos. This feature usually beings to mobile phones or point to shoot cameras. I do not think this feature is good enough for DSLR.

Next to the LCD screen lies a set of keys through which you can control the camera. The first one is Soft Key. That takes you the camera menu where you can find more additional options. Below that lies a Control Wheel which is also 4 way key. This control wheel is for navigation, photo zoom along with a center button that act as OK. Through the Control key you can access different shooting mode with Display settings, ISO settings, etc. Settings changes as per the mode selected. Below that lies another soft key which is the return key and also used for deleting files.

On the left side lies the connectivity panel covered and should strap holder. It is very important that you must attach the shoulder strap before using camera. In connectivity the camera offers you a MicroUSB slot on the top which is used for data transfer and charging. Next that lies a Memory card slot and at the bottom a single hdmi output. This is a MicroHDMI port. Inside the package you will an hdmi cable also which can be used for streaming videos and images directly from the camera to a HDTV. There is nothing else present. So in terms of connectivity you can see it looks to have basic options only.

At the bottom we had a battery compartment. Sony NEX-3NL runs on 1080mAH Lithium battery. the battery deliver enough power when charged fully. Support for standard tripod is also available through which you can get more steady shot. Buying a reasonable size tripod will be better here. Because there are ample of disturbance when you are trying to get a steady shot and operating the camera through single hand is bit complicated. You cannot apply different settings continuously as with one hand you will also need to hold the camera properly. While if it is fixed on tripod it is more easy to rotate it and get a firm angle.

Sony NEX-3NL looks to be good in terms of look. It has attractive look, which does not looks cheaper from any side. The front lens unit is interchangeable through which you can add other lenses also. For which you will need to by Sony compatible E-Mount lenses only.

Operation & Controls:

In this section we will test out the camera operations and different mode of photography along with video shooting. Under this section you will also came to know why to go for this camera. In terms of features I found Sony NEX-36NL more than satisfaction. Some modes are simply over my head, while some really helped me to get the best images which are not possible with Smartphone’s or regular point to shoot cameras. In terms of precision this camera has some really serious features. But some of them are just useless and will never be used. We will test out the camera menu one by one and checkout.

Also we will test camera control. Almost all cameras come with tradition type of controls. That means a shutter button to capture photos, and control key to change options. Due to non touch screen LCD sometime navigation is time consuming. Because you cannot jump to different section instantly.  Ignoring those other things looks to be useful. Camera OS looks relatively simply to use with a mixture of simple and advance features. 7.5inch LCD screen is big enough to make adjustment, to zoom and to capture standard photos. I found the LCD as entry level. I think it lacks a good resolution due to which when you are engaged in macro photography you will get the right output on the screen, but images captured will be better. So first thing you have to do is not to trust the LCD.

Shoot Mode: Shoot Mode is the first section from where you can choose from various shooting mode. You can begin with anything here. It is essential that you capture some sample photos in each of them so that you can understand how it works. The same mode is also accessible via Control Key. When you are on the camera screen you can see a Mode on the left side. To access that you just need to press the OK button and you will land into menu of different shooting mode. Overall there are 8 modes available. We will check each of them one by one and also see additional settings available in it. Also I am adding a sample picture taken under image mode so that you can get a more general ideal about the same.

Manual: Dedicated for advance photographers. When you keep the camera on Manual mode you have to manually adjust the Shutter and Aperture Speed. This part can take test of your real photography talent. Under this mode you can adjust the shutter speed, focal length and iso manually to get the perfect nearby or portrait shot. And if you want to avoid that then you can switch to Macro settings from Camera Menu > ShootMode. Manual mode is identical to that, but under Macro you get pre-configured settings to take the best nearby photo and blurring the background. The Control Key allows you to adjust the focal and shutter speed. You just have to press the down key, choose from Focal Length and Shutter Speed by rotating it.

Shutter Priority:  Dedicated to capture still images of moving objects. When you are trying to capture a photo of moving bus or train or water, then you can switch to shutter mode. Under this mode, the camera automatically puts the shutter speed to minimum in order to get perfect stills. The best thing you can do is put the camera on tripod. You will need extremely stable hand to capture photos at low shutter speed. The camera shutters opens and closes very slowly and in the meantime if you move your hand the photo gets blurry. You can also adjust the exposure composition under this via Control Key. Hit the down button and you set the exposure value to gain maximum brightness.

Aperture Priority: Dedicated to capture awesome images with blur background. Ideal for portrait or macro photography. The mode allows you to add the amount of blur in the image background. This one of the best mode to play with. Control keys options are similar to Shutter Priority mode. So if you are trying to capture a photo of nearby images and do not want the background you can simply use this mode. It is essential that you maintain a proper focal length to get the right image. Also to get maximum blurred background there must be reasonable distance between the object and background. This setting is great for serious photography. If you love to capture photos of flowers, insects or tiny objects this mode can give you crisp photos with more enhancement.

Program Auto: Bit helpful for those are not aware about Aperture and Shutter settings. You can hook the camera on Program Auto and capture desired images. When you capture images in this mode, the camera makes necessary adjustment for you. You can adjust Exposure manually from here. It is essential that you keep flash on under this mode. So that images can be brighter. But if you are capturing images outdoor then flash can be avoided.

Superior Auto: Dedicated to capture some really awesome photos on automatic settings. The mode works with mixture of camera effects. If you do not want to mess with all settings, and not completely sure which settings can give you great photo output then switch this mode. The camera automatically keeps the settings on maximum to give you the best settings. Along this there are certain set of effects that you can add instantly and capture photos. The mode allows you to capture photos in 11 different modes with mix of 4 different settings. The mode available under this are Toy Camera, Pop Color, Posterization Color, Posterization Black & White, Retro Photo, Soft High Key, Partial Color:Red, Partial Color:Green, Partial Color:Blue, Partial Color:Yellow & High Contrast Mono. Along with these settings you can modify Background Defocus, Brightness, Color and Vividness. The mode has ample of adjustment to use for taking proper photos under all kind of scenario.

Intelligent Auto: Dedicated to capture instant photos without going for settings changes. Now ample of time it happens that you have to capture a photo instantly and you do not have time to play with settings. At that point you can switch your camera on Intelligent Auto. The mode allows you to capture smarter images. More brightness is added to the portrait mode giving out a prefect image. The mode does not offer you to add any photo effects but you can instantly via control key can modify Background Defocus, Brightness, Color and Vividness. Most of the settings are kept on auto, but still if you believe that you are not getting the right output you can manually adjust the same.

Scene Selection: Scene’s are present in almost in every camera. It is one of the most important features that allow you to get pre-configured settings based on different scene. In total Sony NEX-3NL offers around 8 different scene modes. From which you can choose the get the best images. Checkout the below list of scene mode with small description of each.

  • Portrait:  Get the best front facing photos with blurred background. It is supported by Soft Skin Tone that enhances portrait shot. There is not much difference but still face looks more clean and clear. Portrait is dedicated for capturing focused images.
  • Landscape: this mode gives you more Focal Length and Shutter speed. You can capture large scene instantly with it. It is extremely useful for capturing wide angle photos. Here the cameras tires to keep everything in focus so that you get sharper images. Photos comes great if you are using the camera on tripod.
  • Macro: If you love to take close up shots of small objects then switch to this mode. Under this the camera settings are applied in such a way that it only focus on the object. Everything around it blurred. It is one of the best ways to impress your friends. It is helpful for capturing photo of tiny objects. You need to focus well on that. Tripod makes your job easier, because if you hand shake the pictures will be blurry.
  • Sports Action: Ideal for capturing photos of moving images. You can use this mode to get the perfect still image of moving object. All you have to do is keep holding the shutter button for some seconds to capture a set of different images. Images are great in bright light.
  • Sunset: The mode adds sunset type of effect in every photo you capture under this mode. It just adds more reddish color giving out warm color output.
  • Night Portrait: Great for parties. The mode is dedicated to those who love to capture night life and wants a natural environment in them. Most of the time when you keep the camera on auto mode the flash spoils the thrill. To get more natural images you can just set the camera on Night Portrait mode. Here the camera will generate images with more natural surrounds and lights.
  • Night Scene: This is a bit similar to Night Portrait but used for larger area. Night scene allows you to get crisp and clear picture in extremely low light. Images can be best if you are using a tripod.
  • Sweep Panorama: This mode is for the famous Panorama images. The mode where you can capture large scenery through the camera. I found it is really complicated to capture Panorama images in Sony NEX-3NL. Each time when I try to move the camera it gives me error that you are moving it too fast. I think this would work great while you are keeping it on a tripod. Because there the camera is more stabilize.

So this was the menu of Sony NEX-3NL where you can see there are ample of things available. All modes look to be well to capture different kind of photographs. In terms of operation Sony NEX-3NL is simple. It can help an amateur photographer also to get good amount of photos. Now if are really looking for better and sharper images then you can try adding different lens kit. The zoom looks to be working well with all modes and flash is really impressive here. In the camera menu you can modify other more settings. Like through Camera which is the second option in Menu offers you to modify different camera settings. Like you can set the camera on multiple image shooting modes. That allows you to capture more images at single time and choose the best one among them. You can also turn on/off flash, auto focus, face detection, smile shutter, soft skin, etc.  Here detection, smile shutter and soft skin are great for portrait photos. You can keep them on all the time. Under Image Size you can change the image size by adjusting the camera megapixel. There are only 3 options available here. You can choose from 16M which is the biggest and largest image size, 8.4 which offers you medium size images and 4 which gives small size images. The same section also helps you to adjust the aspect ratio and photo quality. You can manage video settings also from here.

Brightness and Color is separately added in Sony NEX-3NL. Once the settings are configured it is applied for all modes. Things which you can modify from here are exposure, iso, white balance, metering mode, flash intensity, hdr, picture effect and creative style. This is all photo enhancer and you will take some time to understand each of them. It looks more than enough to me for anyone. The Playback section allows you to modify settings for slideshow, movie and printing. There is no typical image editor available here. The last one is the setup section where you can find all primary settings of your camera like date, grid line, zoom, factory settings, memory card format, etc. The camera also features a Auto Object Framing feature where it crops photos for you. The menu makes the camera more easy to use for anyone.

Sony Play Memories:

Unlike all manufacturers Sony also provide you dedicated camera software. Sony NEX-3NL is a plug and play camera. You do not require installing any driver for the same. Via Sony Play Memories you can simply have your all images imported in your picture gallery along with online viewing support. Right now it offers you a 5GB of free online space where you can keep your photos. The download size is just around 2.17mb. This is a very lightweight application which allows you to stream photos and videos directly from the camera and upload the online. Actually it is a part of SEN (Sony Entertainment Network). You can create a composite account here and use the same on different Sony Devices. You just need to install SEN application and type the login details. Whatever images/videos uploaded will be visible to on different Sony devices. Under this you can add three types of devices like HDTVs, Home Audio & Video Devices and Playstation systems. So that looks you cannot use it on Sony Smartphone’s. I checked on Google Play also where I cannot find any applications for using SEN on Smartphone’s like Xperia Z. While recently we had tested Sony BDV-E3100 Blu-Ray player which has SEN application pre-installed on it. Just by adding the login details all images will be streamed via cloud server. PlayMemories tool looks a bit helpful for desktop pc. Being a Sony’s media manager the tool just has a cross platform support on different devices.

Now there is an image or video editor available here. This is not really great but allows you to create some basic timeline videos, images, postcard and also a map view of photos. It is effective to organize the photos and video you have in your camera. Under image editing you can remove red eye, adjust brightness, crop photos, rotate, add image, and improve curve and sharpness. This looks to be basic settings but enough to fix any image. For videos Play Memories Home offers you options to trim and combine videos. You can simply drag videos in the tool and then simply edit them as per your need. Also you can capture a snap from any videos. The tool is really basic but it is the only way through which you can manage your online PlayMemories account. The tool is also very helpful in uploading all the files on your online account. You can also download Image DATA convertor tool from to get an image convertor tool to work with RAW files.

The best part of using this tool is you can create albums and postcard. It does not upload all your files. You can manually drag them which are bit better. Once your files are uploaded you can create your own postcard. You can also instantly share the same link with your fiends through email. Whatever images uploaded lies in your account and are only shared through email. That makes this tool a bit limited but it is also good for privacy. We had created a album of photos that are capture from Sony NEX-3NL. You can check them at the below link with all type of effects.

Storage & Battery:

Sony NEX-3NL supports SDHC memory card. The package comes with a free 4GB card init so that you can instantly start shooting. For storage I will recommend you to buy at least 16GB. When you take images on maximum settings, a regular image can be around 5MB or higher. A 4GB memory card can be limited. You can keep that as spare and add a 16GB card to the camera. That allows you peace of mind to capture ample of photos and videos without worrying about space. In a 4GB card you can store up to 590 images set on fine settings, and 215 RAW files. Checkout the below tablet for finding quantity of photos you can store in different cards.

IMAGES STORING CAPACITY – Mode: Large 16MP on Aspect ratio of 3:2

4GB Storage:

  • Standard: 410
  • Fine:590
  • RAW & JPEG: 160
  • RAW : 215

8GB Storage:

  • Standard: 1650
  • Fine:1150
  • RAW & JPEG: 320
  • RAW : 435

16GB Storage:

  • Standard: 3350
  • Fine:2400
  • RAW & JPEG: 640
  • RAW : 880

32GB Storage:

  • Standard: 6700
  • Fine:4800
  • RAW & JPEG:1300
  • RAW : 1750

While for battery it works on InfoLithium battery pack. It is just a regular Lithium battery. But this battery simply works with the OS of camera telling it about charge remaining. The battery model used in Sony NEX-3NL is NP-FW50. It is a portable high stamina battery that gives you long time output. Being a 1080 mAh battery I found it less powerful. Once fully charged you can use the camera for entire day without worrying about power. But when you are travelling it is worth to keep some spare batteries with you. It is a fixed type rechargeable battery completely optimized to work well with the camera.

Package Content:

  • Sony NEX-3NL Camera
  • Standard Zoom Lens kit (E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS) with Zoom Liver.
  • Lens Cover
  • HDMI Cable
  • Micro USB Cable
  • AC Adapter
  • 1080 Rechargeable Battery Pack
  • Should Strap
  • 3 set of power cables with for different power socket.

Conclusion :

Sony NEX-3NL comes for Rs.28, 990/-.  It comes in the entry level list of Sony Interchangeable lens cameras. For entry level dSLR features this camera is bit costly according to me. The lens kit that comes with it is standard and great for portrait, macro and nearby photography. While for landscape you have to stay in the right place. The camera offers rich features and very easy to use modes. 16.MP looks great enough to record hd videos also. Large size Exmor APS HD Cmos Sensor is perfect enough to capture every moment vibrantly. There are more high end models available with better features. But still if you are looking for a simple camera that can offer you a mixture of amateur and advance photography then Sony NEX-3NL is a great choice here. Thing this camera seriously lack is a touch screen lcd on the backside and more proper handling while taking self photos. It also allows you to save your favorite memories in HD quality with simple online streaming solution on different Sony platforms through Play Memories. You upload all your videos and photos on a 5GB free space by SEN.

I am really satisfy with the image and video output. You will need to get yourself adjust with the camera settings that is time consuming. Advance DSLR camera comes with a simple control wheel that instantly allows you to set the camera on different modes. There is no need to look on the screen. In Sony NEX-3NL ample of configuration and changes are only done via screen. That makes it a bit low on accessibility. For handling the design looks to be great. Sony NEX-3NL really has a rich camera look. It is recommended to use it with shoulder strap and avoid keeping your fingers in the way of pop out lens.


  • Easy to Use
  • Great Camera Effects
  • Great Photo/Video Quality
  • Rich Design
  • Good Battery Life


  • Complicated for Panorama
  • No Touch Screen Display
  • Costly Lens Kit


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