Canon 1D Mark II vs Sony NEX-3
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2004 and May 2010. The 1D Mark II is a DSLR, while the NEX-3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-H (1D Mark II) and an APS-C (NEX-3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 14 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Sony Alpha NEX-3? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark II and the Sony NEX-3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, red), while the 1D Mark II is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-3 is considerably smaller (71 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark II. Moreover, the NEX-3 is substantially lighter (81 percent) than the 1D Mark II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1D Mark II is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-3 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D Mark II) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-3). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-3, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark II gets 1200 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the NEX-3 can take 330 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D Mark II has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||54.1 oz||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599|
|3.||Canon 5DS||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||43.4 oz||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||5.9 in||6.3 in||3.1 in||48.9 oz||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||55.2 oz||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999|
|9.||Canon 5D||6.0 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||31.6 oz||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||42.9 oz||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|12.||Canon 1D||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||55.9 oz||500||Y||Sep 2001||6,499|
|13.||Sony A5100||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|14.||Sony NEX-3N||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|15.||Sony NEX-5R||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.7 oz||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|16.||Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||10.1 oz||330||n||May 2010||699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The NEX-3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 87 percent) than the 1D Mark II, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark II features an APS-H sensor and the Sony NEX-3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-3 is 33 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the NEX-3 offers a higher resolution of 14 megapixels, compared with 8.2 MP of the 1D Mark II. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.11μm versus 8.17μm for the 1D Mark II). However, it should be noted that the NEX-3 is much more recent (by 6 years and 3 months) than the 1D Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D Mark II are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|3.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|9.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The NEX-3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1D Mark II does not. The highest resolution format that the NEX-3 can use is 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the 1D Mark II has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D Mark II and Sony NEX-3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||n|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the 1D Mark II, but is missing on the NEX-3 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The NEX-3 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 1D Mark II does not have a selfie-screen.
The 1D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SD cards, while the NEX-3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The 1D Mark II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the NEX-3 only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and Sony Alpha NEX-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 1D Mark II (unlike the NEX-3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 1D Mark II and the NEX-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D Mark II was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II N, while the NEX-3 was followed by the Sony NEX-3N. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark II or the Sony NEX-3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2004).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (14 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 31%.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (117x62mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 1238g or 81 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (87 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 3 months of technical progress since the 1D Mark II launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-3 emerges as the winner of the match-up (13 : 10 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D Mark II and the Sony NEX-3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1D Mark II or the NEX-3. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||4,499|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|3.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||5/5||..||89/100||..||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|6.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|7.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|8.||Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999|
|9.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|12.||Canon 1D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2001||6,499|
|13.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|14.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|15.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|16.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 1D Mark II vs Sony NEX-3
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2004||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 4,499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-3|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||28.7 x 19.1 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||548.17 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||34.5 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.17 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.49 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC II||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||68|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.3||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1003||830|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||8.3 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-3|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1200 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
156 x 158 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
117 x 62 x 33 mm
(4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||1535 g (54.1 oz)||297 g (10.5 oz)|
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