Nikon D3200 vs Sony NEX-C3
The Nikon D3200 and the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2012 and June 2011. The D3200 is a DSLR, while the NEX-C3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24.1 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 D3200||Sony NEX-C3|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor||16 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800)||ISO 100-12,800|
|Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0 LCD, 921k dots||3.0 LCD, 920k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4 shutter flaps per second||5.5 shutter flaps per second|
|540 shots per battery charge||400 shots per battery charge|
|125 x 96 x 77 mm, 505 g||110 x 60 x 33 mm, 225 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3200 and the Sony Alpha NEX-C3? 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 D3200 and the Sony NEX-C3 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3200 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the NEX-C3 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, pink).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-C3 is considerably smaller (45 percent) than the Nikon D3200. Moreover, the NEX-C3 is substantially lighter (55 percent) than the D3200. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3200 nor the NEX-C3 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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D3200) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-C3). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-C3, 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, 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 D3200||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-C3||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||7.9 oz||400||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Nikon D5600||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||16.4 oz||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D3400||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.7 oz||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|Nikon D5500||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||14.8 oz||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|Nikon D3300||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.2 oz||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|Nikon D5300||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||16.9 oz||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D5200||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|Nikon D5100||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.8 oz||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|Nikon D3100||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|Nikon D3000||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|Sony A58||5.1 in||3.7 in||3.1 in||17.4 oz||690||n||Feb 2013||599|
|Sony NEX-3N||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony NEX-F3||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||11.1 oz||470||n||May 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-3||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599|
|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.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 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-C3 is 2 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Nikon D3200 offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixels, compared with 16 MP of the Sony NEX-C3. 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 3.85μm versus 4.78μm for the NEX-C3). However, it should be noted that the D3200 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the NEX-C3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3200 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3200 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inches or 50.9 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony NEX-C3 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3200 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the D3200 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the NEX-C3 (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D3200 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-C3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Sony is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D3200 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-C3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-C3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3200 and Sony NEX-C3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D3200 has one, while the NEX-C3 does not. While the built-in flash of the D3200 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The NEX-C3 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 D3200 does not have a selfie-screen.
The D3200 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-C3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The D3200 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-C3 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 D3200 and Sony Alpha NEX-C3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
It is notable that the D3200 has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-C3. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the D3200 and the NEX-C3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3200 was replaced by the Nikon D3300, while the NEX-C3 does not have a direct successor. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D3200 better than the Sony NEX-C3 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3200:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 16MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (540 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 10 months after the NEX-C3).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-C3:
- 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 (5.5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x60mm vs 125x96mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 280g or 55 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3200 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 D3200 and the Sony NEX-C3 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D3200 and the NEX-C3 in practical situations. 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 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 (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.
|Nikon D3200||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-C3||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Nikon D5600||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D3400||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|Nikon D5500||+||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|Nikon D3300||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|Nikon D5300||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D5200||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|Nikon D5100||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|Nikon D3100||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|Nikon D3000||+||72/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|Sony A58||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||599|
|Sony NEX-3N||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony NEX-F3||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-3||..||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Sony NEX-5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D C vs Nikon D3200
- Fujifilm GFX 50R vs Sony NEX-C3
- Leica C-LUX vs Nikon D3200
- Leica D-LUX 5 vs Sony NEX-C3
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Nikon D3200
- Nikon D3200 vs Olympus E-PM2
- Nikon D3200 vs Pentax MX-1
- Nikon D3200 vs Sony A7 II
- Olympus E-500 vs Sony NEX-C3
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Sony NEX-C3
- Panasonic FZ82 vs Sony NEX-C3
- Panasonic G5 vs Sony NEX-C3
Specifications: Nikon D3200 vs Sony NEX-C3
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 D3200||Sony NEX-C3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2012||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3200||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.2 x 15.4 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||357.28 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27.8 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.1 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6016 x 4000 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.85 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.74 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 3||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.1||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.2||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1131||1083|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3200||Sony NEX-C3|
|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||921k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3200||Sony NEX-C3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||5.5 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||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3200||Sony NEX-C3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3200||Sony NEX-C3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||540 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
125 x 96 x 77 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
110 x 60 x 33 mm
(4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||505 g (17.8 oz)||225 g (7.9 oz)|
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