Sony NEX-F3 preview: entry-level APS-C shooter adds pop-up flash, comfy grip, and 1080p video for $599.99


NEX-F3

Last month, we heard that Sony had a redesigned entry-level NEX camera on the way, and the leak was spot-on: today, the company’s introducing the NEX-F3. It’s a $599.99 interchangable lens shooter with a 16.1 megapixel APS-C sensor, the pop-up flash previously only available on the pricy NEX-7, a brand-new 180-degree tilting LCD screen for self-portraits, 1080p24 video recording, and plenty of internal upgrades. In other words, it’s a feature-packed replacement for the NEX-C3, which Sony is phasing out immediately.

We spent an afternoon shooting with the camera, and we discovered it’s actually far more akin to the excellent NEX-5N than its forebear, right down to the vertical power switch and sizable new grip. It doesn’t come with an external charger for the battery, though you can buy one if you want: rather, it charges over Micro USB, which Sony says will take perhaps about five hours with a 1.5 amp charger. In fact, except for the build and a few features which stay exclusive to the higher-end 5N, it’s not very inferior camera as far as the specs go. While there’s no touchscreen, it can’t record 1080p video at 60 frames per second like the 5N, and it shoots a bit slower in general, it’s much the same everywhere else, including the 3-inch, 921k LCD screen, 1/4000 shutter speed, 16,000 max ISO, and accessory hotshoe.You can attach the same external EVF as other NEX models.

Sony NEX F3 Hands On Pics

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We took a whole bunch of pictures with a production model, and here they are, including shots with three different lenses and some ISO samples. Noise seems to be controlled well through ISO 1600, but ramps up significantly after ISO 3200. Not bad for the price, not bad at all.

While there’s no touchscreen on the NEX-F3, the 180-degree tilt lets it perform a pretty neat trick: when you flip it up all the way, it engages “Mirror Mode,” which lets you frame a self-portrait that’s reversed just as if you were in front of a mirror. Once you take the image, though, the image flips the other way, so the text on your clothing should be as legible as it is in reality. You can take a look at the feature at the end of our video below. Speaking of video, 1080p24 footage looked pretty crisp and clear. We filmed the first half of this video of Sony’s new Alpha SLT-A37 with the NEX-F3, and the second half using the SLT-A37 to show off the NEX-F3 itself.

Though the menu-driven software of the NEX series is mostly unintuitive as ever if you want to tweak settings, some of the biggest innovations are actually in software this time around: like Sony’s latest Alpha translucent mirror cameras, the NEX-F3 has a host of 15 filters and 11 modes, including some pretty nifty-sounding ones: auto portrait framing uses the Rule of Thirds to frame your subject with a theoretically pleasing crop, and the company’s proprietary By Pixel Super Resolution will then interpolate the picture data to generate a full, 16-megapixel resolution crop by “filling in” the missing pixels according to an internal database. We weren’t able to try that one, but Sony uses the same interpolation technique to provide a 2x digital zoom that appears far clearer than most others (called Clear Image Zoom) and it worked fairly well in conjunction with our lens zoom.

Sony NEX F3 Press Pics:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Speaking of lenses, Sony’s introducing a new superzoom: the SEL18200LE is a 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens with optical stabilization, priced at a hefty $849.99. We gave it a try, and for the amount of range it provides, it looks and feels quite good. It’s well-built, zooms smoothly (though with a bit of effort) and images seemed a good bit sharper than with the 18-55mm kit lens in our very brief experience, though we didn’t get to test it methodically. Sony already had a 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 OSS lens, mind you, but this one’s a bit lighter, smaller, and painted black.

After a couple of hours shooting with the NEX-F3, half in full auto to experience the ease of use and half tweaking settings to see how good pictures could be, it definitely seems like a great way to move up from point-and-shoot photography. That 18-200mm lens is a bit out of reach, but the 18-55mm kit lens is a nice start. The biggest question is whether the NEX-5N, priced only $50 higher at the moment, is a better option. At that kind of minimal price difference, we expect the 5N will also get replaced before long. The NEX-F3 should ship in silver, white, and black this June, with the 18-200mm lens arriving in July.

-(via Sean Hollister,Verge)

Sony Tablet S Press Release:


PRESS RELEASE

Sony Announces Market Launch of Sony Tablet
Two Optimally Designed Android™ Devices Deliver Portability, Easy Handling and an Immersive Entertainment Experience

SAN DIEGO, August 31, 2011 — Sony today announced the market launch of its first two Sony Tablet™ devices. The Android-powered Sony Tablet S and Sony Tablet P devices combine unique hardware, content and network services with seamless usability to create a world of engaging networked entertainment experiences.

Available for pre-sale today and on shelves next month, the Sony Tablet S device is optimized for rich media entertainment on its 9.4-inch touchscreen display. With a powerful NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 mobile processor, the Sony Tablet S device lets you enjoy the web as well as your favorite content and applications on its large, high-resolution screen. Weighing in at just about 1.33 lbs., its unique asymmetric design allows for hours of comfortable use and built-in Wi-Fi® compatibility means Internet connectivity virtually anywhere there’s a hotspot.

Available later this year, the Sony Tablet P device is ideal for mobile communication and entertainment. With its innovative folding design, two 5.5-inch displays and weight at about 0.83 lbs., it can easily fit into a pocket, purse or backpack. It features the same NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 mobile processor and is both Wi-Fi compatible and 4G capable exclusively on AT&T’s mobile broadband network,1 offering users access to digital content including videos, games, and e-mail, while on the go, nearly anytime.

Both devices run on Android, Android 3.1 on Sony Tablet S devices 2 and Sony Tablet P devices will be equipped with Android 3.2 by the time they ship. Both models feature front and rear facing cameras that allow for video recording and capturing still images. The devices also support micro USB interface and SD card.

Sony Tablet devices are also distinguished by four key features that set them apart from any other tablets on the market. These include: optimally designed hardware and software, a “swift and smooth” experience, network entertainment services and cross-device functionality.

“These devices truly represent the best of everything Sony has to offer,” said Mike Lucas, senior vice president of Sony Electronics’ Networked Technology and Services Division. “From hardware to software and services, Sony Tablet devices embody all our innovations rolled into one.”

Optimally Designed Hardware and Software
Unlike other tablet devices, Sony Tablet S device has an ergonomic, asymmetric design which allows it to be easily held or carried for long periods of time. The unique form factor shifts the device’s weight closer to your palm, making it feel lighter and more comfortable while reading an e-book or watching a video. The screen is sloped when placed on a flat surface, enhancing visibility and making typing more comfortable. Placing a Sony Tablet S device onto a specialized charging cradle (sold separately) converts the device into a digital photo frame, a digital clock that displays customizable information or chumby with access to over 1,500 fun and entertaining apps.

Software taking advantage of the unprecedented design of the Sony Tablet P device allows its dual screens to be used for different functions simultaneously such as playing video on one screen while using the other as a controller or reading email on one screen while using the other as a virtual keyboard. The displays can also be combined to form a single large screen for Internet browsing and more. By holding the device vertically, you can also read eBooks much in the same manner you would a physical book.

Both Sony Tablet devices are equipped with Sony’s TruBlack™ displays which reduce reflection and glare from sunlight or fluorescent light for high-contrast visibility both indoors and out.

Swift and Smooth Experience
A combination of Sony technologies, Quick view and Quick touch, allow for faster loading of web pages, a highly responsive and fluid touch screen as well as an exceptionally intuitive user interface. The large keys of the virtual keyboard take full advantage of screen real estate while automatically adjusting to the task at hand. A numeric keypad pops up when inputting passwords and word suggestions or auto word complete make email and texting a breeze.

Networked Entertainment
Both Sony Tablet devices come complete with access to a full suite of Sony’s network entertainment services.

• Sony Entertainment Network services: Video Unlimited is your ticket to the latest releases from every major movie studio to rent or own. A pre-open campaign for the Sony Tablet devices will be offered at device launch with limited content and more content will continue to be released over time. Music Unlimited, available in October, offers instant access to a global catalog of over 10 million songs from every major record label (numbers vary by country). Simply sync to the cloud and enjoy the music you love on Sony Tablet devices or any other Internet-enabled Sony device. A six month trial basic membership from Music Unlimited and a free movie download from Video Unlimited come with the purchase of each device.

• PlayStation® Certified: Sony Tablet devices are the first PlayStation® Certified tablets that provide out-of-the-box gaming with included favorites “Crash Bandicoot” and “Pinball Heroes.”

• Reader™ Store: Access bestsellers, new releases, classics, magazines and more from more than 2.5 million titles at Reader™ Store by Sony. The store’s intuitive reading interface is ideal for on-the-go reading, allowing book lovers to set bookmarks, make highlights and adjust font sizes as they read. A free eBook download is included with the purchase of the device.

• Personal Space™ by Sony: This free service allows you to easily share pictures and videos captured on Sony Tablet devices. You can also access albums that were previously uploaded from other devices.

Video, music, games and other content can be directly accessed by way of the “Favorites” menu without the need to re-launch any of the respective applications.

Cross Device Connectivity
Control your home entertainment system and enjoy content in new ways. With Sony Tablet devices, you can “throw” personal pictures and video to DLNA compatible televisions such as BRAVIA® HDTVs with the touch of a button. You can also throw music to compatible wireless speakers such as Sony’s HomeShare™ speakers. The Sony Tablet S device, which is equipped with infrared technology, can act as a remote control for multiple home entertainment components such as TVs, Blu-ray Disc™ players, cable and satellite boxes, and more. The built-in Universal remote not only controls your Sony products, but other brands as well. Sony Tablet S device is the world’s first Android Tablet running Honeycomb with a built-in A/V remote control. Both Sony Tablet devices are compatible with the Media Remote™ app which allows you to control Sony devices, including BRAVIA televisions, through Wi-Fi® technology.

Wide Range of Applications
A variety of applications add to the entertainment options. With access to the Android Market™, you can browse thousands of useful time-saving and fun apps. Sony Tablet devices also provide instant access to Google™ mobile services and applications, including 3D maps and easy web search with Google Voice Search. To make app discovery even easier, Sony offers its Select App site which highlights new and unique Android applications in a number of categories, recommended for Sony Tablet devices. Recommended applications will be spotlighted at launch with more to come in the following weeks and months.

Accessories, Pricing, Availability
A range of optional accessories includes a cradle, AC adapter, LCD screen protector, carrying case and USB adaptor cable for Sony Tablet S devices, and a rechargeable battery pack, AC adapter, LCD screen protector, carrying case and detachable panels for Sony Tablet P devices. A Bluetooth keyboard is also available for both models.

The Sony Tablet S device is available in both a 16GB and 32 GB version and will be sold at Sony Stores including online and other authorized retailers nationwide for about $499 and $599, respectively. For more information, please visit http://www.sony.com/tablet or check out http://www.sony.com/tabletvideo for a video unboxing.

Panasonic Officially Announces G3 Micro Four Thirds Camera With Touch Control


It kind of leaked yesterday, but now Panasonic made the Lumix DMC-G3 official. The micro four-thirds camera is the  successor to the DMC-G2, and apart from improving just about every technical feature, the new model is more compact and now boasts a touch-based UI.

The G3 features an all-new 16MP Live MOS sensor, full HD video recording, stereo sound in AVCHD, 66% less noise thanks to higher ISOs, and burst shooting at 4FPS in full resolution. Sized at 115.2 x 83.6 x 46.7 mm and weighing 336g (body only), the G3 is Panasonic’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera to date (it’s 25% smaller than the G2).

The biggest selling point should be the 3-inch LCD touchscreen. It allows users to not only browse through menus and adjust settings (exposure, white balance etc.) by touch but also to focus on the subject by touching it on the display.

Make sure to head over to Ephotozine for a first (and very detailed) hands-on with the camera (they like it, especially the touchscreen).

Panasonic plans to start selling the G3 next month for $700, 14-42mm zoom lens included (in white, black, red, and brown).