Olympus E-3 vs Sony NEX-F3
The Olympus E-3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-F3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2007 and May 2012. The E-3 is a DSLR, while the NEX-F3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-3) and an APS-C (NEX-F3) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 10 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 Olympus E-3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-F3? 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 Olympus E-3 and the Sony NEX-F3 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-F3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the E-3 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-F3 is considerably smaller (52 percent) than the Olympus E-3. Moreover, the NEX-F3 is substantially lighter (64 percent) than the E-3. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-3 is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-F3 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-3) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-F3). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-F3, 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. 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.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|2.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|3.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|4.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|5.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|6.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|7.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|8.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|9.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|10.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|11.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|12.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-F3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the E-3, which puts it into a different market segment. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-F3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-F3 is 62 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-F3 offers a 3:2 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 16MP, the NEX-F3 offers a higher resolution than the E-3 (10MP), but the NEX-F3 nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 4.74μm for the E-3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the NEX-F3 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 7 months) than the E-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-F3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-F3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-3 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus E-3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-F3 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the NEX-F3 offers substantially better image quality than the E-3 (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 1.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|4.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|5.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|6.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|7.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|8.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|9.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|10.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|11.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|12.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The NEX-F3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-3 does not. The highest resolution format that the NEX-F3 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-3 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-F3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-F3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1S. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-3, the Sony NEX-F3, and comparable cameras.
One feature that is present on the E-3, but is missing on the NEX-F3 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
The E-3 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the NEX-F3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The E-3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the NEX-F3 only has one slot.
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 Olympus E-3 and Sony Alpha NEX-F3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-3 (unlike the NEX-F3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-3 and the NEX-F3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-3 was replaced by the Olympus E-5, while the NEX-F3 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 Olympus and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-3 and the Sony NEX-F3? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-3:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 470) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-F3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 29%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (117x67mm vs 142x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 562g or 64 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-3 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the NEX-F3 emerges as the winner of the match-up (13 : 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 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 Olympus E-3 and the Sony NEX-F3 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-3 and the NEX-F3 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|2.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|3.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|4.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|5.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|6.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|7.||Olympus E-30||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|8.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|9.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|10.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|11.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|12.||Olympus E-1||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|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 ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Olympus E-3 vs Sony NEX-F3
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||Olympus E-3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2007||May 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.6||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.5||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||571||1114|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-3||Sony NEX-F3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
142 x 116 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
117 x 67 x 42 mm
(4.6 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||876 g (30.9 oz)||314 g (11.1 oz)|
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