Canon SX510 vs Sony NEX-3
The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2013 and May 2010. The SX510 is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX510) and an APS-C (NEX-3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 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.
|Canon SX510||Sony NEX-3|
|Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|24-720mm f/3.4-5.8||Sony E mount lenses|
|15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor||14 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/24p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO 80-3,200||ISO 200-12,800|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0 LCD, 461k dots||3.0 LCD, 920k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.8 shutter flaps per second||7 shutter flaps per second|
|250 shots per battery charge||330 shots per battery charge|
|104 x 70 x 80 mm, 349 g||117 x 62 x 33 mm, 297 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX510 and the Sony NEX-3 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-3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, red), while the SX510 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 Canon SX510 and the Sony NEX-3 are of equal size. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX510 nor the NEX-3 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX510 has a lens built in, whereas the NEX-3 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-3 and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.
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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Canon SX510||4.1 in||2.8 in||3.1 in||12.3 oz||250||n||Aug 2013||249|
|Sony NEX-3||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599|
|Canon SX420||4.1 in||2.7 in||3.3 in||11.5 oz||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|Canon SX410||4.1 in||2.7 in||3.3 in||11.5 oz||185||n||Feb 2015||279|
|Canon SX520||4.7 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||15.6 oz||210||n||Jul 2014||399|
|Canon SX700||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||250||n||Feb 2014||349|
|Canon SX600||4.1 in||2.4 in||1.0 in||6.6 oz||290||n||Jan 2014||249|
|Canon SX400||4.1 in||2.7 in||3.1 in||11.0 oz||190||n||Jul 2014||249|
|Canon SX60||5.0 in||3.7 in||4.5 in||22.9 oz||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|Canon SX500||4.1 in||2.8 in||3.1 in||12.0 oz||195||n||Aug 2012||329|
|Nikon A1000||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.6 in||11.6 oz||250||n||Jan 2019||429|
|Sony A5100||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony NEX-3N||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony H200||4.8 in||3.3 in||3.4 in||18.7 oz||240||n||Jan 2013||249|
|Sony NEX-5R||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.7 oz||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
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 SX510 was launched at a lower price than the NEX-3, despite having a lens built in. 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. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX510 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony NEX-3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-3 is 1204 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the SX510 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-3 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX510 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 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 1.33μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-3). However, it should be noted that the SX510 is much more recent (by 3 years and 3 months) 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. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX510 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the SX510 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/24p, while the Sony is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX510 and the NEX-3 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. 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 SX510 and Sony NEX-3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX510 has one, while the NEX-3 does not. While the built-in flash of the SX510 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.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 SX510 does not have a selfie-screen.
The SX510 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 SX510 HS and Sony Alpha NEX-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
It is notable that the SX510 offers wifi support, while the NEX-3 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the SX510 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 SX510 was followed by the Canon SX520. 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 SX510 or the Sony NEX-3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/24p vs 720/30p).
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-3 requires a separate lens.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 3 months of technical progress since the NEX-3 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-3:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 461k 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.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 3.8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (330 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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 NEX-3 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 8 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 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 SX510 and the Sony NEX-3 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 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 SX510 or the NEX-3 perform in practice. 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon SX510||+ +||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Aug 2013||249|
|Sony NEX-3||..||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|Canon SX410||o||..||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|Canon SX520||+||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Jul 2014||399|
|Canon SX700||+ +||..||4/5||..||4/5||Feb 2014||349|
|Canon SX600||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||Jan 2014||249|
|Canon SX400||+||..||..||..||..||Jul 2014||249|
|Canon SX60||+ +||75/100||4/5||..||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|Canon SX500||+ +||..||4/5||..||4/5||Aug 2012||329|
|Nikon A1000||+ +||..||3.5/5||..||3/5||Jan 2019||429|
|Sony A5100||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony NEX-3N||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony H200||..||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Jan 2013||249|
|Sony NEX-5R||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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 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? 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.
- Canon SX510 vs Nikon D5200
- Canon SX510 vs Nikon D810
- Canon SX510 vs Olympus TG-5
- Canon SX510 vs Olympus XZ-1
- Canon SX510 vs Panasonic FZ330
- Canon SX510 vs Panasonic GH3
- Canon SX510 vs Panasonic GM5
- Canon SX510 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Canon T7 vs Sony NEX-3
- Nikon D610 vs Sony NEX-3
- Nikon D7100 vs Sony NEX-3
- Panasonic FZ1000 II vs Sony NEX-3
Specifications: Canon SX510 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 SX510||Sony NEX-3|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-720mm f/3.4-5.8||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2013||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 249||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX510||Sony NEX-3|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/24p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||68|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||830|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX510||Sony NEX-3|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX510||Sony NEX-3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.8 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-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||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX510||Sony NEX-3|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon SX510||Sony NEX-3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
104 x 70 x 80 mm
(4.1 x 2.8 x 3.1 in)
117 x 62 x 33 mm
(4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||349 g (12.3 oz)||297 g (10.5 oz)|
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