Canon XSi vs Sony NEX-3N
The Canon EOS Rebel XSi (called Canon 450D in some regions) and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2008 and February 2013. The XSi is a DSLR, while the NEX-3N is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12.2 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 EOS Rebel XSi 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon XSi and the Sony NEX-3N 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-3N can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the XSi 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 considerably smaller (46 percent) than the Canon XSi. Moreover, the NEX-3N is substantially lighter (49 percent) than the XSi. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the XSi nor the NEX-3N 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 (XSi) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-3N). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-3N, 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|2.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|3.||Canon T6i||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|6.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|7.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|8.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon XS||126 mm||98 mm||65 mm||502 g||500||n||Jun 2008||449|
|10.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|11.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|12.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|13.||Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449|
|14.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|15.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|16.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-3N was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the XSi, which puts it into a different market segment. 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. 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-3N is 11 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (XSi) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 16MP, the NEX-3N offers a higher resolution than the XSi (12.2MP), but the NEX-3N has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 5.19μm for the XSi). Yet, the NEX-3N is a much more recent model (by 5 years) than the XSi, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-3N implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-3N for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon XSi are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.3 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inches or 36.2 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS Rebel XSi has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are ISO 200 to ISO 16000 (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 consideration, the NEX-3N offers substantially better image quality than the XSi (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 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 |
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The NEX-3N indeed provides for movie recording, while the XSi does not. The highest resolution format that the NEX-3N can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the XSi has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-3N relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-3N 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 XSi, the Sony NEX-3N, and comparable cameras.
The XSi writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the NEX-3N 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 EOS Rebel XSi and Sony Alpha NEX-3N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the XSi 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.
Both the XSi and the NEX-3N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XSi was replaced by the Canon T1i, while the NEX-3N was followed 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 how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon XSi or the Sony NEX-3N – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel XSi:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2008).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-3N:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k 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 burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x62mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 255g or 49 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years of technical progress since the XSi launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-3N is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 3 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 XSi and the Sony NEX-3N 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the XSi or the NEX-3N. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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 XSi||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|2.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|3.||Canon T6i||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|4.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|6.||Canon T3||..||80/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|7.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|8.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon XS||..||82/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2008||449|
|10.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|11.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|12.||Canon XT||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|13.||Sony A5000||3/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449|
|14.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|15.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|16.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 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 XSi 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 XSi||Sony NEX-3N|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2008||February 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon XSi||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.2 x 14.8 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||328.56 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.7 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4272 x 2848 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.19 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.70 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 16,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 3||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||61||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||692||1067|
|Screen Specs||Canon XSi||Sony NEX-3N|
|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||230k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon XSi||Sony NEX-3N|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon XSi||Sony NEX-3N|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon XSi||Sony NEX-3N|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||480 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
110 x 62 x 35 mm
(4.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||524 g (18.5 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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