Last year, Sony's peculiar move to beef up its entry-level NEX left us puzzled, and generally unimpressed. The NEX-F3 was a fine mirrorless camera by most accounts, but its larger footprint left us hoping for a next-gen offering more in line with its predecessor, the NEX-C3 -- a tried-and-true shooter that many Engadget staffers still turn to for review photos and trade shows, thanks to its consistent performance and light weight. We were quite relieved, then, to see that this year's device represented a return to the 2011 design, with a few very compelling additions, to boot.
Like last year's model and even the C3, the Sony NEX-3N packs a 16.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. The chip is physically larger than what you'll find in a Micro Four Thirds camera, and it's comparable in size to the sensors that ship in many full-size DSLRs. That imager is the key to the 3N's success -- it enables the camera to offer DSLR-like performance in a body that's much smaller, and even less expensive. Speaking of which, the 3N kit carries an MSRP of $500, though you may be able to find it for a bit less, including the 16-50mm retractable zoom lens -- we'll touch on that a bit more after the break.
Gallery: Sony NEX-3N review