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Nikon B500 vs Sony NEX-3

The Nikon Coolpix B500 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and May 2010. The B500 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 (B500) and an APS-C (NEX-3) sensor. The Nikon 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.

Headline Specifications
Nikon B500
versus
Sony NEX-3
Nikon B500   Sony NEX-3
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5 Sony E mount lenses
15.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor 14 MP – APS-C sensor
1080/60i Video 720/30p Video
ISO 80-6,400 ISO 200-12,800
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD – 921k dots 3.0" LCD – 920k dots
Tilting screen (no touchscreen) Tilting screen (no touchscreen)
7.4 shutter flaps per second 7 shutter flaps per second
600 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
114 x 78 x 95 mm, 541 g 117 x 62 x 33 mm, 297 g
Nikon B500:
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Sony NEX-3:
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon Coolpix B500 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.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Nikon B500 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 successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The B500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the NEX-3 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, red).

Size Nikon B500 vs Sony NEX-3
Compare B500 versus NEX-3 top
Comparison B500 or NEX-3 rear

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 notably smaller (18 percent) than the Nikon B500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the B500 nor the NEX-3 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the B500 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon B500 114 mm 78 mm 95 mm 541 g 600 n Jan 2016 299i
2.
 
Sony NEX-3 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599i
3.
 
Nikon B600 122 mm 82 mm 99 mm 500 g 280 n Jan 2019 349 i
4.
 
Nikon A1000 114 mm 72 mm 41 mm 330 g 250 n Jan 2019 429 i
5.
 
Nikon P1000 146 mm 119 mm 181 mm 1415 g 250 n Jul 2018 999 i
6.
 
Nikon W300 112 mm 66 mm 29 mm 231 g 280 Y May 2017 389 i
7.
 
Nikon B700 125 mm 85 mm 107 mm 565 g 350 n Feb 2016 499 i
8.
 
Nikon P900 140 mm 103 mm 137 mm 899 g 360 n Mar 2015 599i
9.
 
Nikon L840 113 mm 78 mm 96 mm 538 g 590 n Feb 2015 299i
10.
 
Panasonic FZ80 130 mm 94 mm 119 mm 616 g 330 n Jan 2017 399 i
11.
 
Sony HX80 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 245 g 390 n Mar 2016 349 i
12.
 
Sony A5100 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 n Aug 2014 549 i
13.
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499i
14.
 
Sony H200 123 mm 83 mm 87 mm 530 g 240 n Jan 2013 249 i
15.
 
Sony NEX-5R 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2012 749i
16.
 
Sony NEX-5N 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 269 g 460 n Aug 2011 699i
17.
 
Sony NEX-5 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 287 g 330 n May 2010 699i
Note: 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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The B500 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.

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Sensor comparison

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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon B500 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 B500 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-3 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Nikon B500 and Sony NEX-3 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon B500 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 B500 is much more recent (by 5 years and 8 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 B500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Nikon Coolpix B500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

B500 versus NEX-3 MP

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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Nikon B500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i20.311.781048
2.
 
Sony NEX-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068
3.
 
Nikon B600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.712.2109552
4.
 
Nikon A1000 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34564K/30p20.712.2109552
5.
 
Nikon P1000 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34564K/30p20.612.1104451
6.
 
Nikon W300 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34564K/30p20.512.093850
7.
 
Nikon B700 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p20.411.881848
8.
 
Nikon P900 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p20.211.672747
9.
 
Nikon L840 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i20.211.672147
10.
 
Panasonic FZ80 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36724K/30p20.511.990049
11.
 
Sony HX80 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p20.411.882248
12.
 
Sony A5100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
13.
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
14.
 
Sony H200 1/2.3 15.2 5184 2930720/30p19.911.252944
15.
 
Sony NEX-5R APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078
16.
 
Sony NEX-5N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977
17.
 
Sony NEX-5 APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

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 B500 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the Sony is limited to 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The B500 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon B500, the Sony NEX-3, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon B500none n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4/s Y Y
2.
 
Sony NEX-3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0/s n n
3.
 
Nikon B600none n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.4/s Y Y
4.
 
Nikon A10001166 n3.0 / 1036 tilting Y 1/4000s 7.0/s Y Y
5.
 
Nikon P10002359 n3.2 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 7.0/s Y Y
6.
 
Nikon W300none n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.0/s Y Y
7.
 
Nikon B700921 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y Y
8.
 
Nikon P900921 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 7.0/s Y Y
9.
 
Nikon L840none n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4/s Y Y
10.
 
Panasonic FZ801166 n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
11.
 
Sony HX80638 n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
12.
 
Sony A5100none n3.0 / 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0/s Y n
13.
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
14.
 
Sony H200none n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/1500s 0.8/s Y Y
15.
 
Sony NEX-5Roptional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0/s n n
16.
 
Sony NEX-5Noptional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0/s n n
17.
 
Sony NEX-5optional n3.0 / 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.

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The B500 has one, while the NEX-3 does not. While the built-in flash of the B500 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 B500 does not have a selfie-screen.

The B500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

Connectivity comparison

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 Nikon Coolpix B500 and Sony Alpha NEX-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon B500-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
2.
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Nikon B600-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Nikon A1000-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
5.
 
Nikon P1000Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y-Y
6.
 
Nikon W300-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
7.
 
Nikon B700-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
8.
 
Nikon P900-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Nikon L840-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
10.
 
Panasonic FZ80Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
11.
 
Sony HX80-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Sony A5100-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereo / mono--micro2.0---
14.
 
Sony H200-mono / mono---2.0---
15.
 
Sony NEX-5RYstereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
16.
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony NEX-5Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the B500 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 B500 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 B500 was followed by the Nikon B600. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon B500 and the Sony NEX-3? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon Coolpix B500:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/30p).
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-3 requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
  • 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.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 8 months of technical progress since the NEX-3 launch.

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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 selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (117x62mm vs 114x78mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • 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 individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (11 points each). 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.

B500 11:11 NEX-3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon B500 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the B500 or the NEX-3. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon B500..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2016 299i
2.
 
Sony NEX-3......70/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 599i
3.
 
Nikon B600..+....3.5/53/5 Jan 2019 349 i
4.
 
Nikon A1000..+ +3.5/5..3.5/53/5 Jan 2019 429 i
5.
 
Nikon P1000..+3.5/573/1003.5/53.5/5 Jul 2018 999 i
6.
 
Nikon W300..+....4/54/5 May 2017 389 i
7.
 
Nikon B700..+....4/54/5 Feb 2016 499 i
8.
 
Nikon P900......77/1004/54/5 Mar 2015 599i
9.
 
Nikon L840..+ +....3.5/54/5 Feb 2015 299i
10.
 
Panasonic FZ80..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 399 i
11.
 
Sony HX80............ Mar 2016 349 i
12.
 
Sony A51004.5/5+....4.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i
13.
 
Sony NEX-3N3/5......4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
14.
 
Sony H200........3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2013 249 i
15.
 
Sony NEX-5R........4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2012 749i
16.
 
Sony NEX-5N3/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699i
17.
 
Sony NEX-53/5+ +..71/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 699i
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Nikon B500:
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Sony NEX-3:
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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 your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Nikon B500 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 Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5 Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2016 May 2010
    Launch Price USD 299 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.5x
    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 1080/60i Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 6,400 ISO 200 - 12,800 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 68
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 830
    Screen Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 7.4 shutter flaps/s 7 shutter flaps/s
    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 no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Bluetooth Support Bluetooth built-in no Bluetooth
    Body Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3
    Battery Type 4xAA NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)600 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 114 x 78 x 95 mm
    (4.5 x 3.1 x 3.7 in)
    117 x 62 x 33 mm
    (4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 541 g (19.1 oz) 297 g (10.5 oz)
    Nikon B500:
    Check current offers at
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    Sony NEX-3:
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