Canon SL2 vs Sony NEX-3
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (called Canon 200D in some regions) and the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2017 and May 2010. The SL2 is a DSLR, while the NEX-3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 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 Rebel SL2 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 SL2 and the Sony NEX-3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The SL2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the NEX-3 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, red).
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 (36 percent) than the Canon SL2. Moreover, the NEX-3 is markedly lighter (34 percent) than the SL2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SL2 nor the NEX-3 are weather-sealed.
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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (SL2) 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.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|3.||Canon SL3||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|4.||Canon T7||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|5.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||206 g||235||n||Jan 2017||529|
|7.||Canon M6||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|8.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|9.||Canon T7i||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|10.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|11.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|12.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|13.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|14.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|15.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|16.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|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 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 SL2 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the NEX-3 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-3 is 10 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (SL2) 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 SL2 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 14 MP of the Sony NEX-3. 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 3.72μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-3). However, it should be noted that the SL2 is much more recent (by 7 years and 1 month) than the NEX-3, 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 SL2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SL2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 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 SL2 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. 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 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 SL2 provides substantially higher image quality than the NEX-3, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.9||12.5||522||65|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the SL2 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Sony is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the SL2 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SL2, the Sony NEX-3, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon SL2||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon SL3||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T7||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 77D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||8.2||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon M6||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|8.||Canon M100||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T7i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon M5||2360||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|11.||Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Canon SL1||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9||Y||n|
|13.||Sony A5100||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|14.||Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|15.||Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n|
|16.||Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SL2 has one, while the NEX-3 does not. While the built-in flash of the SL2 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.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 Canon SL2 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The SL2 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The SL2 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 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 Rebel SL2 and Sony Alpha NEX-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon SL2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon SL3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon T7||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 77D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon M6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon M100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon T7i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon M5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Canon T6s||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Canon SL1||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony A5100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Sony NEX-5N||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the SL2 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.
Both the SL2 and the NEX-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-3 was replaced by the Sony NEX-3N, while the SL2 was followed by the Canon SL2. 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 SL2 better than the Sony NEX-3 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel SL2:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 14MP) with a 31% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p 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.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k 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.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (650 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 1 month of technical progress since the NEX-3 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-3:
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (117x62mm vs 122x93mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 156g or 34 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2010).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL2 is the clear winner of the match-up (20 : 5 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 SL2 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SL2 or the NEX-3 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 SL2||4/5||+ +||4/5||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|3.||Canon SL3||..||o||4.5/5||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|4.||Canon T7||..||o||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|5.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||4/5||..||4/5||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529|
|7.||Canon M6||..||..||..||80/100||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|8.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|9.||Canon T7i||4.5/5||..||3.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|10.||Canon M5||4/5||+||4/5||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|11.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|12.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||..||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|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.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, 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.
- Canon 1D X Mark III vs Sony NEX-3
- Canon 400D vs Canon SL2
- Canon R vs Canon SL2
- Canon SL2 vs Nikon D3100
- Canon SL2 vs Olympus E-M5 III
- Canon SL2 vs Panasonic LX15
- Canon SL2 vs Pentax Q
- Canon T3i vs Sony NEX-3
- Nikon D3 vs Sony NEX-3
- Nikon D700 vs Sony NEX-3
- Panasonic ZS80 vs Sony NEX-3
- Sony NEX-3 vs Sony RX100 II
Specifications: Canon SL2 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 SL2||Sony NEX-3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2017||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SL2||Sony NEX-3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 7||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||79||68|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.6||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.4||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1041||830|
|Screen Specs||Canon SL2||Sony NEX-3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SL2||Sony NEX-3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||Built-in 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-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SL2||Sony NEX-3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon SL2||Sony NEX-3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||650 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
122 x 93 x 70 mm
(4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
117 x 62 x 33 mm
(4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||453 g (16.0 oz)||297 g (10.5 oz)|
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