Nikon D3500 vs Sony NEX-C3
The Nikon D3500 and the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2018 and June 2011. The D3500 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 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 Nikon D3500 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 D3500 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 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 NEX-C3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, pink), while the D3500 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-C3 is considerably smaller (45 percent) than the Nikon D3500. Moreover, the NEX-C3 is substantially lighter (38 percent) than the D3500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3500 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 (D3500) 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 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.
|1.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|2.||Sony NEX-C3||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A7||119 mm||68 mm||41 mm||320 g||440||n||Sep 2019||499|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A5||117 mm||68 mm||40 mm||361 g||450||n||Jan 2018||399|
|7.||Fujifilm XF10||113 mm||64 mm||41 mm||279 g||330||n||Jul 2018||499|
|8.||Fujifilm X-E3||121 mm||74 mm||43 mm||337 g||350||n||Sep 2017||899|
|9.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|10.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|11.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|12.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||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.|
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 D3500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 28 percent) than the NEX-C3, 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 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-C3 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.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24MP, the D3500 offers a higher resolution than the NEX-C3 (16MP), but the D3500 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.78μm for the NEX-C3). However, the D3500 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 2 months) than the NEX-C3, 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 D3500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3500 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-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 D3500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
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 D3500 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-C3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Sony is limited to 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3500 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 D3500 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 D3500 has one, while the NEX-C3 does not. While the built-in flash of the D3500 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 D3500 does not have a selfie-screen.
The D3500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-C3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The D3500 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 D3500 and Sony Alpha NEX-C3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
The D3500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the NEX-C3 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the NEX-C3 from Sony. 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 D3500 and the Sony NEX-C3? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D3500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 16MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/30p).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1550 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (28 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 2 months of technical progress since the NEX-C3 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-C3:
- 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.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x60mm vs 124x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 140g or 38 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 June 2011).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3500 emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 7 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 D3500 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D3500 and the NEX-C3 in practical situations. 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.||Nikon D3500||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|2.||Sony NEX-C3||3/5||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A7||3/5||..||81/100||4/5||3.5/5||Sep 2019||499|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A5||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2018||399|
|7.||Fujifilm XF10||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2018||499|
|8.||Fujifilm X-E3||4.5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2017||899|
|9.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|10.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|11.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|12.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|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.
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.
Specifications: Nikon D3500 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 D3500||Sony NEX-C3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2018||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 429||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3500||Sony NEX-C3|
|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||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1083|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3500||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 D3500||Sony NEX-C3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5.5 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||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3500||Sony NEX-C3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3500||Sony NEX-C3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1550 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
124 x 97 x 70 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
110 x 60 x 33 mm
(4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||365 g (12.9 oz)||225 g (7.9 oz)|
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