Nikon D3300 vs Sony NEX-5
The Nikon D3300 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2014 and May 2010. The D3300 is a DSLR, while the NEX-5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3300 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3300 and the Sony NEX-5 is provided 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3300 can be obtained in three different colors (black, grey, red), while the NEX-5 is available in two color-versions (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5 is considerably smaller (46 percent) than the Nikon D3300. Moreover, the NEX-5 is markedly lighter (33 percent) than the D3300. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3300 nor the NEX-5 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 (D3300) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-5, 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 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, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699|
|Canon 200D||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|Canon M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||599|
|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.
(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 D3300 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 29 percent) than the NEX-5, which puts it into a different 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-5 is 1 percent smaller. 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.
With 24MP, the D3300 offers a higher resolution than the NEX-5 (14MP), but the D3300 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-5). However, the D3300 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 7 months) than the NEX-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D3300 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3300 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3300 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony NEX-5 are 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3300 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the D3300 provides substantially higher image quality than the NEX-5, with an overall score that is 13 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.1 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 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.
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D3300 provides a higher frame rate than the NEX-5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3300 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D3300 and Sony NEX-5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D3300 has one, while the NEX-5 does not. While the built-in flash of the D3300 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The NEX-5 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 D3300 does not have a selfie-screen.
The D3300 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The D3300 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5 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 D3300 and Sony Alpha NEX-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
It is notable that the D3300 has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-5. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the D3300 and the NEX-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-5 was replaced by the Sony NEX-5N, while the D3300 was followed by the Nikon D3400. 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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D3300 and the Sony NEX-5? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3300:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 14MP) with a 31% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- 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 (700 versus 330) 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (29 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 7 months of technical progress since the NEX-5 launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-5:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- 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 (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 124x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 143g or 33 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 around for much longer (launched in May 2010).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3300 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 8 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 Nikon D3300 and the Sony NEX-5 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D3300 or the NEX-5 perform in practice. 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 (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 D3300||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|Sony NEX-5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Canon 200D||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|Canon M3||o||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|Nikon D3500||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|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 D7200||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D5300||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D3200||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|Sony A6000||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|Sony NEX-5R||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|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-C3||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Sony NEX-3||..||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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 550D vs Sony NEX-5
- Canon SX60 vs Nikon D3300
- Canon T2i vs Sony NEX-5
- Canon XTi vs Sony NEX-5
- Fujifilm XP140 vs Nikon D3300
- Nikon 1 V1 vs Sony NEX-5
- Nikon D2Xs vs Nikon D3300
- Nikon D3300 vs Olympus E-30
- Nikon D3300 vs Panasonic G95
- Nikon D3300 vs Sony HX80
- Panasonic LX100 vs Sony NEX-5
- Sony A7 vs Sony NEX-5
Specifications: Nikon D3300 vs Sony NEX-5
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 D3300||Sony NEX-5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2014||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3300||Sony NEX-5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||82||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.3||22.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.8||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1385||796|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3300||Sony NEX-5|
|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 D3300||Sony NEX-5|
|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||5 shutter flaps/s||7 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 D3300||Sony NEX-5|
|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 D3300||Sony NEX-5|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||700 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
124 x 98 x 76 mm
(4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||430 g (15.2 oz)||287 g (10.1 oz)|
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