Canon R vs Sony NEX-3
The Canon EOS R and the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2018 and May 2010. Both the Canon R and the NEX-3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (Canon R) and an APS-C (NEX-3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 30.1 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 R 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 physical size and weight of the Canon R and the Sony NEX-3 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, red), while the Canon R 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 (47 percent) than the Canon R. Moreover, the NEX-3 is substantially lighter (55 percent) than the Canon R. It is worth mentioning in this context that the Canon R 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the Canon R gets 370 shots out of its LP-E6N battery, while the NEX-3 can take 330 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the Canon R can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon R||139 mm||98 mm||84 mm||660 g||370||Y||Sep 2018||2,299|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|3.||Canon R6||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||680 g||360||Y||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Canon 90D||141 mm||105 mm||77 mm||701 g||1300||Y||Aug 2019||1,199|
|5.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|6.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|7.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|8.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|10.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|11.||Panasonic GH5s||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||660 g||440||Y||Jan 2018||2,499|
|12.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-C3||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||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.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The NEX-3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 74 percent) than the Canon R, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 R features a full frame sensor and the Sony NEX-3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-3 is 58 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 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.
With 30.1MP, the Canon R offers a higher resolution than the NEX-3 (14MP), but the Canon R nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.36μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the Canon R is a much more recent model (by 8 years and 3 months) than the NEX-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon R implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Canon R for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 33.6 x 22.4 inches or 85.3 x 56.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 26.9 x 17.9 inches or 68.3 x 45.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 22.4 x 14.9 inches or 56.9 x 37.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony NEX-3 are 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon R has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS R has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 40000, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the Canon R provides substantially higher image quality than the NEX-3, with an overall score that is 21 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.4 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 R||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.5||13.5||2742||89|
|3.||Canon R6||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4k/60p||24.2||14.3||3394||90|
|5.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|7.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|8.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|9.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|10.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|11.||Panasonic GH5s||Four Thirds||9.9||3680||2700||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the Canon R provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-3. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the Canon R has an electronic viewfinder (3690k dots), which can be very helpful 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon R, the Sony NEX-3, and comparable cameras.
|5.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|12.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the Canon R, 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.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 reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the Canon R is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Canon R writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The Canon R supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the NEX-3 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 EOS R and Sony Alpha NEX-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|12.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the Canon R has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-3. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The Canon R is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the NEX-3 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the NEX-3 was succeeded 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon R and the Sony NEX-3? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS R:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (30.1 vs 14MP) with a 46% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (21 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- 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.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- 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 (2100k vs 920k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (370 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards.
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 3 months of technical progress since the NEX-3 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-3:
- More compact: Is smaller (117x62mm vs 139x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 363g or 55 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (74 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2010).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the Canon R is the clear winner of the match-up (26 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 R and the Sony NEX-3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the Canon R or the NEX-3 perform in practice. 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 R||4/5||o||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2018||2,299|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|3.||Canon R6||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Canon 90D||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2019||1,199|
|5.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|6.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|7.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|8.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|10.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|11.||Panasonic GH5s||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2018||2,499|
|12.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-C3||3/5||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 R 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 R||Sony NEX-3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon RF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2018||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 2,299||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon R||Sony NEX-3|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||30.1 Megapixels||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6720 x 4480 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.36 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.48 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 40,000 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 8||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||89||68|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.5||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.5||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2742||830|
|Screen Specs||Canon R||Sony NEX-3|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3690k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon R||Sony NEX-3|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||no E-Shutter|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon R||Sony NEX-3|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon R||Sony NEX-3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||370 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
139 x 98 x 84 mm
(5.5 x 3.9 x 3.3 in)
117 x 62 x 33 mm
(4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||660 g (23.3 oz)||297 g (10.5 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.