In August, Sony plans to replace its Alpha NEX-3 interchangeable-lens camera with the smaller, but not tremendously different, NEX-C3. Now in its second generation, the NEX line has proven to be popular; I generally liked the NEX-5 (we never reviewed the NEX-3) thanks to excellent photo quality and an attractive, compact design, though I still think the line is a bit expensive for people seeking to upgrade from a point and shoot. Sony also announced a replacement model in its SLT lineup, the Alpha SLT-A35.
Overall, I enjoy shooting with the NEX-C3. It's thinner than its predecessor, with the same width and height, but because anything other than a small prime lens tends to overwhelm the tiny body, you generally have to hold the camera in your left hand under the lens. Because it's so narrow, it's a bit difficult to hold and shoot single handed, despite the small grip.
Sony didn't, um, overwhelm the C3 with new features. There's a new Photo Creativity interface in its intelligent auto mode, which provides friendlier ways of accessing advanced settings, such as background defocus, color vividness, and brightness, that we've seen in a lot of cameras. Sony also adds Picture Effects, with the same sort of filters we're used to seeing from other cameras, including selective-color R, Y, G or B; toy camera (vignetting); and posterizing, pop art (vivid color), and retro (faded). You can layer the effects together before shooting, which is nice, but you can't adjust the quality or intensity of the effects like you can with Olympus' models, and I found the results rather ho-hum. It also pulls in the Soft Skin effect from the Cybershots. … Read more