Sony Alpha NEX-C3 Ken McMahon, October 2011
 
 
Sony Alpha NEX-C3 vs Panasonic Lumix GF3 vs Olympus Pen E-PL3 Resolution

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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Sony Alpha NEX-C3, the Panasonic Lumix GF3, and the Olympus Pen E-PL3 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on each camera were set to approximately the same field of view and all three cameras were set to Aperture priority exposure mode.

The ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting, 200 ISO on the NEX-C3 and Pen E-PL3 and 160 ISO on the Lumix GF3.

  Sony Alpha NEX-C3
1 Alpha NEX-C3 Resolution
2 Alpha NEX-C3 Noise
3 Alpha NEX-C3 Sample Images

The image above was taken with the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 with the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens lens.The lens was zoomed in ever so slightly to 19mm to provide the same field of view as 14-42mm kit lenses on the two Micro Four Thirds cameras. In Aperture priority mode with f5.6 selected the camera metered a shutter speed of 1/1000 at 200 ISO. The original image size was 7.47MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%.

The NEX-C3 has ever so slightly overexposed this shot. The error is about a third of a stop at most, and there's very little highlight clipping, but the histogram is clipped on the right side with a little bit of vacant space on the left and you can see by comparing the crops it's a little lighter than the results from the Lumix GF3 and Pen E-PL3. Overall the colour looks a little bit undersaturated, but, if it isn't to your liking that can easily be fixed either by selecting the Vivid Creative style or boosting the saturation on the default Standard.

The detail in the NEX-C3 crops is larger than from the two Micro Four Thirds models at the same focal length and horizontal field of view because the NEX-C3's 16.2 megapixel sensor has a 4 Megapixel advantage. The NEX-C3's maximum image size has 4912 horizontal pixels compared with 4000 on the Lumix GF3 and Pen E-PL3. But is it any clearer? I think so, but there isn't a lot in it. In the first crop there is good detail in the chapel and you can clearly make out the doors and windows as well as the crosses on the roof.

In the second crop, the lighthouse is a clear and distinct white cylinder and you can also make out some detail in the rocks, but the windows and roofs of the foreground buildings look a little bit on the soft side. Moving to the third crop taken from the very edge of the frame, the detail here is a little soft as well and there's red fringing on the vertical edge of the window frame and the drainpipe.

The final crop is the best in terms of image detail and edge crispness. The balcony dividers, the roof skylight and the ridge tiles on the roofs in the foreground about halfway up the frame all show a very good level of detail. Overall, this is an excellent performance from the NEX-C3 and banishes any concerns that the hike from 14.2 to 16.2 Megapixels might have had a detrimental effect on image quality. I'd have preferred to see a slighly punchier result from the NEX-C3's processing which a little more contrast and saturation, but as I said earlier, you can always use the Creative Style options to tweak it to your own liking, or shoot RAW and do your own processing.

Compared with the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 the Panasonic Lumix GF3 crops hold their own very well. The NEX-C3's much bigger sensor allows it to capture more light and offer better noise performance. Sony has 'spent' some of this advantage on packing in more pixels, 16.2 compared with the GF3's 12.1 Megapixels, but you'd still expect a better result from the NEX-C3 and it delivers it, just about. Despite slight over-exposure, the image detail from the NEX-C3 crops is not only larger, but a little clearer than those of the Lumix G3. Like the GF3, the NEX-C3's kit lens suffers a little from softness at the frame adge as well as Chromatic aberration.

In terms of resolution of fine detail though, it's the Olympus E-PL3 that really shines in this comparison. Right from the off the Pen E-PL3 crops are punchier with sharper edge detail and none of the softness evident to a degree in both the Lumix GF3 and NEX-C3 crops. If you look closely you can see a small amount of purple fringing in the third Pen E-PL3 crop. It could also be argued that the high contrast and sharpness has come at the cost of a slight brittleness to the look of the E-PL3 crops, but you'd have to be really looking for something to criticise. Whichever way you look at it the Pen E-PL3 crops are very impressive indeed.

Now let's see how they compare at higher sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results.

 


Sony NEX-C3
 
Panasonic Lumix GF3
 
Olympus Pen E-PL3
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO


Sony Alpha NEX-C3 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise




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