Canon SX520 vs Sony NEX-F3
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Sony Alpha NEX-F3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2014 and May 2012. The SX520 is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-F3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX520) and an APS-C (NEX-F3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 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 SX520 HS and the Sony Alpha NEX-F3? 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 SX520 and the Sony NEX-F3 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-F3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the SX520 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-F3 is notably smaller (20 percent) than the Canon SX520. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX520 nor the NEX-F3 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX520 has a lens built in, whereas the NEX-F3 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-F3 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. 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 SX520||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||441 g||210||n||Jul 2014||399||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 1300D||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX530||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||210||n||Jan 2015||429||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX700||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||250||n||Feb 2014||349||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon SX510||104 mm||70 mm||80 mm||349 g||250||n||Aug 2013||249||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon B600||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349||amazon.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 SX520 was launched at a lower price than the NEX-F3, 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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 SX520 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony NEX-F3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-F3 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 SX520 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-F3 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 16MP, the NEX-F3 offers a higher resolution than the SX520 (15.9MP), but the NEX-F3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 1.33μm for the SX520) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX520 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 2 months) than the NEX-F3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX520 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-F3 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
In terms of underlying technology, the SX520 is build around a BSI-CMOS sensor, while the NEX-F3 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|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 are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the NEX-F3 provides a faster frame rate than the SX520. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SX520 and the NEX-F3 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-F3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1S. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX520 and Sony NEX-F3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon SX520||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||1.6/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 4000D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 1300D||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon SX540||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX530||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||1.6/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon SX710||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon SX700||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||8.5/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon 1200D||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon SX60||922||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/2000s||6.4/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Canon SX510||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/1600s||3.8/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Nikon B600||none||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||7.4/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The SX520 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-F3 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 SX520 HS and Sony Alpha NEX-F3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon SX520||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 4000D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon 1300D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon SX540||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon SX530||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon SX710||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon SX700||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Canon 1200D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon SX60||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Canon SX510||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Nikon B600||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the NEX-F3 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The SX520 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
Both the SX520 and the NEX-F3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The SX520 was replaced by the Canon SX530, while the NEX-F3 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the SX520 and NEX-F3 can be found, respectively, in the Canon SX520 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony NEX-F3 Manual.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX520 and the Sony NEX-F3? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-F3 requires a separate lens.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the NEX-F3 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-F3:
- 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.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- 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 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 1.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More compact: Is smaller (117x67mm vs 120x82mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (470 versus 210) 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 2012).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-F3 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 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 SX520 and the Sony NEX-F3 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 SX520 or the NEX-F3. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 SX520||..||+||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2014||399||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 1300D||4/5||o||4/5||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX530||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||429||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX700||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||349||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon SX510||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2013||249||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon B600||..||+||..||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||349||amazon.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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. 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.
- Canon M50 vs Canon SX520
- Canon SX520 vs Canon T5i
- Canon SX520 vs Leica T
- Canon SX520 vs Nikon 1 J4
- Canon SX520 vs Panasonic G10
- Canon SX520 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Nikon Df vs Sony NEX-F3
- Olympus E-P1 vs Sony NEX-F3
- Panasonic LX15 vs Sony NEX-F3
- Pentax 645Z vs Sony NEX-F3
- Sony NEX-F3 vs Sony RX1
- Sony NEX-F3 vs Sony RX100 VI
Specifications: Canon SX520 vs Sony NEX-F3
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 SX520||Sony NEX-F3|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.4-6||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2014||May 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX520||Sony NEX-F3|
|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||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1114|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX520||Sony NEX-F3|
|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 SX520||Sony NEX-F3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.6 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX520||Sony NEX-F3|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon SX520||Sony NEX-F3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||210 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
120 x 82 x 92 mm
(4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
117 x 67 x 42 mm
(4.6 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||441 g (15.6 oz)||314 g (11.1 oz)|
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