Nikon B500 vs Sony NEX-3N
The Nikon Coolpix B500 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and February 2013. The B500 is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-3N is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (B500) and an APS-C (NEX-3N) sensor. The Nikon 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.
|Nikon B500||Sony NEX-3N|
|Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|22.5-900mm f/3-6.5||Sony E mount lenses|
|15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor||16 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 80-6400||ISO 200-16000|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0" LCD, 921k dots||3.0" LCD, 460k dots|
|Tilting screen (no touchscreen)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|7.4 shutter flaps per second||4 shutter flaps per second|
|600 shots per battery charge||480 shots per battery charge|
|114 x 78 x 95 mm, 541 g||110 x 62 x 35 mm, 269 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon Coolpix B500 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 Nikon B500 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 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-3N is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, white).
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 notably smaller (23 percent) than the Nikon B500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the B500 nor the NEX-3N 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-3N 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-3N 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.
|Nikon B500»||114 mm||78 mm||95 mm||541 g||600||n||Jan 2016||299||Nikon B500|
|Sony NEX-3N«||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499||Sony NEX-3N|
|Fujifilm X100F« »||127 mm||75 mm||52 mm||469 g||390||n||Jan 2017||1,299||Fujifilm X100F|
|Fujifilm X70« »||113 mm||64 mm||44 mm||340 g||330||n||Jan 2016||799||Fujifilm X70|
|Nikon B600« »||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349||Nikon B600|
|Nikon D5600« »||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon B700« »||125 mm||85 mm||107 mm||565 g||350||n||Feb 2016||499||Nikon B700|
|Nikon P900« »||140 mm||103 mm||137 mm||899 g||360||n||Mar 2015||599||Nikon P900|
|Nikon L840« »||113 mm||78 mm||96 mm||538 g||590||n||Feb 2015||299||Nikon L840|
|Panasonic FZ82« »||130 mm||94 mm||119 mm||616 g||330||n||Jan 2017||399||Panasonic FZ82|
|Sony HX80« »||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349||Sony HX80|
|Sony A5000« »||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100« »||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549||Sony A5100|
|Sony H200« »||123 mm||83 mm||87 mm||530 g||240||n||Jan 2013||249||Sony H200|
|Sony NEX-5R« »||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-3« »||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599||Sony NEX-3|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 B500 was launched at a lower price than the NEX-3N, despite having a lens built in. 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 Nikon B500 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony NEX-3N an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-3N 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-3N offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 16MP, the NEX-3N offers a higher resolution than the B500 (15.9MP), but the NEX-3N nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 1.33μm for the B500) due to its larger sensor. However, the B500 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 11 months) than the NEX-3N, 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 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-3N are ISO 200 to ISO 16000 (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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Nikon B500||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||..||..||..||..||Nikon B500|
|Sony NEX-3N||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.8||12.5||1067||74||Sony NEX-3N|
|Fujifilm X100F||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Fujifilm X100F|
|Fujifilm X70||APS-C||16.0||4896||3264||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Fujifilm X70|
|Nikon B600||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Nikon B600|
|Nikon D5600||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1306||84||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon B700||1/2.3||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Nikon B700|
|Nikon P900||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Nikon P900|
|Nikon L840||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||..||..||..||..||Nikon L840|
|Panasonic FZ82||1/2.3||18.0||4896||3672||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic FZ82|
|Sony HX80||1/2.3||18.0||4896||3672||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Sony HX80|
|Sony A5000||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.8||13.0||1089||79||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.8||12.7||1347||80||Sony A5100|
|Sony H200||1/2.3||15.2||5184||2930||720/30p||..||..||..||..||Sony H200|
|Sony NEX-5R||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||23.7||13.1||910||78||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.7||12.3||1114||73||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-3||APS-C||14.0||4592||3056||720/30p||22.1||12.0||830||68||Sony NEX-3|
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The B500 and the NEX-3N 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-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 Nikon B500, the Sony NEX-3N, and comparable cameras.
|Nikon B500||none||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.4||Y||Y||Nikon B500|
|Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Sony NEX-3N|
|Fujifilm X100F||2360||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||8.0||Y||n||Fujifilm X100F|
|Fujifilm X70||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||n||Fujifilm X70|
|Nikon B600||none||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||7.4||Y||Y||Nikon B600|
|Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon B700||921||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||Y||Nikon B700|
|Nikon P900||921||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||7.0||Y||Y||Nikon P900|
|Nikon L840||none||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.4||Y||Y||Nikon L840|
|Panasonic FZ82||1166||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y||Panasonic FZ82|
|Sony HX80||638||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y||Sony HX80|
|Sony A5000||none||n||3.0||461||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100||none||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Sony A5100|
|Sony H200||none||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/1500s||0.8||Y||Y||Sony H200|
|Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||Y||n||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-3|
The B500 writes its imaging data to SDXC 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 Nikon Coolpix B500 and Sony Alpha NEX-3N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon B500||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon B500|
|Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3N|
|Fujifilm X100F||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Fujifilm X100F|
|Fujifilm X70||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Fujifilm X70|
|Nikon B600||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Nikon B600|
|Nikon D5600||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon B700||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon B700|
|Nikon P900||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Nikon P900|
|Nikon L840||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Nikon L840|
|Panasonic FZ82||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic FZ82|
|Sony HX80||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony HX80|
|Sony A5000||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A5100|
|Sony H200||-||mono||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Sony H200|
|Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3|
It is notable that the B500 offers wifi support, while the NEX-3N does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the B500 and the NEX-3N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-3N was replaced by the Sony A5000, 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon B500 better than the Sony NEX-3N or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon Coolpix B500:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.4 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-3N requires a separate lens.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 versus 480) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- 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 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the NEX-3N launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-3N:
- 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 (110x62mm vs 114x78mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2013).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the B500 comes out slightly ahead of the NEX-3N (11 : 10 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 Nikon B500 and the Sony NEX-3N 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the B500 or the NEX-3N 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.
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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 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 90D vs Sony NEX-3N
- Canon G7 X vs Sony NEX-3N
- Leica S Typ 007 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Nikon B500 vs Panasonic GH2
- Nikon B500 vs Panasonic ZS200
- Nikon B500 vs Sony RX100 V
- Nikon B500 vs Sony RX100 VI
- Nikon Coolpix A vs Sony NEX-3N
- Panasonic GM1 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Panasonic ZS100 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Sony HX400V vs Sony NEX-3N
- Sony NEX-3N vs Sony NEX-5N
Specifications: Nikon B500 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||Nikon B500||Sony NEX-3N|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||22.5-900mm f/3-6.5||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||February 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon B500||Sony NEX-3N|
|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||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||80-6400 ISO||200-16000 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1067|
|Screen Specs||Nikon B500||Sony NEX-3N|
|Viewfinder Type||No viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon B500||Sony NEX-3N|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000/s||1/4000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||7.4 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in 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-3N|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro 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-3N|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||600 shots per charge||480 shots per charge|
114 x 78 x 95 mm
(4.5 x 3.1 x 3.7 in)
110 x 62 x 35 mm
(4.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||541 g (19.1 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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