Canon G3 X vs Sony NEX-3N
The Canon PowerShot G3 X and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2015 and February 2013. The G3X is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-3N is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (G3X) and an APS-C (NEX-3N) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 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 PowerShot G3 X and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon G3 X and the Sony NEX-3N is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-3N can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the G3X 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-3N is notably smaller (28 percent) than the Canon G3 X. It is worth mentioning in this context that the G3X is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-3N does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G3X has a lens built in, whereas the NEX-3N is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the NEX-3N and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 G3 X||123 mm||77 mm||105 mm||733 g||300||Y||Jun 2015||999|
|2.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|3.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|4.||Canon G9 X||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||209 g||220||n||Oct 2015||529|
|5.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|6.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|7.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|8.||Sony RX10 III||133 mm||94 mm||127 mm||1051 g||420||Y||Mar 2016||1,499|
|9.||Sony RX100 V||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||299 g||220||n||Oct 2016||999|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|11.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|12.||Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449|
|13.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|14.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|15.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G3 X features an one-inch sensor and the Sony NEX-3N an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-3N is 215 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon G3 X offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 16 MP of the Sony NEX-3N. 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 2.41μm versus 4.78μm for the NEX-3N). However, it should be noted that the G3X is much more recent (by 2 years and 3 months) than the NEX-3N, 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 Canon G3 X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the G3X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony NEX-3N are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot G3 X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 125 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 125-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are ISO 200 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the NEX-3N offers substantially better image quality than the G3X (overall score 11 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon G3 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||521||63|
|4.||Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63|
|5.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|8.||Sony RX10 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.1||12.6||472||70|
|9.||Sony RX100 V||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||586||70|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
|11.||Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the G3X provides a higher frame rate than the NEX-3N. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The G3X and the NEX-3N are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. However, optional viewfinders – the EVF-DC1 for the G3X and the FDA-SV1 for the NEX-3N – are available as accessories. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon G3 X and Sony NEX-3N along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon G3 X||optional||n||3.2||1620||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|8.||Sony RX10 III||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||14.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Sony RX100 V||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The G3X has a touchscreen, while the NEX-3N has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
The G3X writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-3N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The G3X supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-3N cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 PowerShot G3 X and Sony Alpha NEX-3N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon G3 X||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G9 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Sony RX10 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Sony RX100 V||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the G3X has a hotshoe, while the NEX-3N does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The G3X is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the NEX-3N has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the NEX-3N was succeeded by the Sony A5000. 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 what is the bottom line? Is the Canon G3 X better than the Sony NEX-3N or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot G3 X:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 16MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.9 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-3N requires a separate lens.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 3 months of technical progress since the NEX-3N launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-3N:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x62mm vs 123x77mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (480 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2013).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the G3X is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 8 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 G3 X and the Sony NEX-3N place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom 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 G3X or the NEX-3N. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 G3 X||3.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||999|
|2.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|3.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|4.||Canon G9 X||3.5/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529|
|5.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|6.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|7.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|8.||Sony RX10 III||5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2016||1,499|
|9.||Sony RX100 V||4.5/5||+ +||83/100||4/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||999|
|10.||Sony RX10 II||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|11.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|12.||Sony A5000||3/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449|
|13.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|14.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|15.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 G3 X vs Sony NEX-3N
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 G3 X||Sony NEX-3N|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-600mm f/2.8-5.6||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2015||February 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 999||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon G3 X||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sensor Format||1" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||13.2 x 8.8 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||116.16 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||15.9 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.41 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||17.18 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||125 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||125 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.4||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||521||1067|
|Screen Specs||Canon G3 X||Sony NEX-3N|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1620k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon G3 X||Sony NEX-3N|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5.9 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon G3 X||Sony NEX-3N|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Canon G3 X||Sony NEX-3N|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||300 shots per charge||480 shots per charge|
123 x 77 x 105 mm
(4.8 x 3.0 x 4.1 in)
110 x 62 x 35 mm
(4.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||733 g (25.9 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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