Olympus E-P3 vs Sony NEX-3N
The Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2011 and February 2013. Both the E-P3 and the NEX-3N are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-P3) and an APS-C (NEX-3N) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 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.
|Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-3N|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||16 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 200-12,800||ISO 200-16,000|
|Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0 LCD, 614k dots||3.0 LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||4 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|330 shots per battery charge||480 shots per battery charge|
|122 x 69 x 34 mm, 369 g||110 x 62 x 35 mm, 269 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-P3 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P3 and the Sony NEX-3N 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-P3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the NEX-3N is available in two color-versions (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 (19 percent) than the Olympus E-P3. Moreover, the NEX-3N is markedly lighter (27 percent) than the E-P3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P3 nor the NEX-3N 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. 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 Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P3) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-3N). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
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.
|Olympus E-P3||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.0 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|Sony NEX-3N||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|Olympus E-P5||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-PL5||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PL2||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||12.8 oz||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus E-PL1||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||11.8 oz||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Olympus E-P1||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|Olympus E-P2||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|Panasonic GX1||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||11.2 oz||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|Panasonic G10||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||13.7 oz||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|Sony A5000||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||420||n||Jan 2014||449|
|Sony A5100||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony NEX-F3||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||11.1 oz||470||n||May 2012||599|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-3N was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the E-P3, 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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-P3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-3N an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-3N 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-P3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-3N offers a 3:2 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 16MP, the NEX-3N offers a higher resolution than the E-P3 (12.2MP), but the NEX-3N nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 4.29μm for the E-P3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the NEX-3N is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the E-P3, and its sensor might 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-3N implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-3N 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-P3 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus PEN E-P3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are ISO 200 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the NEX-3N offers substantially better image quality than the E-P3 (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 2.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 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.
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-P3 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. However, optional viewfinders – the VF-3 for the E-P3 and the FDA-SV1 for the NEX-3N – are available as accessories. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-P3 and Sony NEX-3N in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One feature that differentiates the E-P3 and the NEX-3N is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-P3 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the NEX-3N offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The NEX-3N 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 E-P3 does not have a selfie-screen.
The E-P3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-3N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The E-P3 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-3N 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 Olympus PEN E-P3 and Sony Alpha NEX-3N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
It is notable that the E-P3 has a hotshoe, while the NEX-3N does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the E-P3 and the NEX-3N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P3 was replaced by the Olympus E-P5, while the NEX-3N was followed by the Sony A5000. 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 how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-P3 better than the Sony NEX-3N or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-P3:
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (614k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-3N:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 17%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- 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 (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x62mm vs 122x69mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 100g or 27 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (480 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 7 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-3N is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 6 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 Olympus E-P3 and the Sony NEX-3N place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 E-P3 and the NEX-3N 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 expert reviews are important. 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.
|Olympus E-P3||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|Sony NEX-3N||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|Olympus E-P5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-PL5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PL2||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus E-PL1||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Olympus E-P1||+||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|Olympus E-P2||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|Panasonic GX1||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|Panasonic G10||..||70/100||4/5||..||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|Sony A5000||+||..||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449|
|Sony A5100||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony NEX-F3||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|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 assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 your choice using the following search menu. 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 1000D vs Sony NEX-3N
- Canon 5D Mark IV vs Olympus E-P3
- Canon SX50 vs Olympus E-P3
- Fujifilm GFX 50S vs Sony NEX-3N
- Nikon D5200 vs Olympus E-P3
- Olympus E-P3 vs Panasonic FT7
- Olympus E-P3 vs Ricoh GR III
- Olympus E-P3 vs Sony A6100
- Olympus E-P3 vs Sony H200
- Panasonic G90 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Panasonic GF7 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Sony NEX-3N vs Sony RX1
Specifications: Olympus E-P3 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||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-3N|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2011||February 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-3N|
|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||12.2 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 16,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||51||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.8||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.1||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||536||1067|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-3N|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||614k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-3N|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|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||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-3N|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony NEX-3N|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||480 shots per charge|
122 x 69 x 34 mm
(4.8 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
110 x 62 x 35 mm
(4.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||369 g (13.0 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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