Panasonic GF7 vs Sony NEX-3N
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2015 and February 2013. Both the GF7 and the NEX-3N are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GF7) and an APS-C (NEX-3N) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 15.8 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.
|Panasonic GF7||Sony NEX-3N|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|15.8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||16 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 200-25600||ISO 200-16000|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0" LCD, 1040k dots||3.0" LCD, 460k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5.8 shutter flaps per second||4 shutter flaps per second|
|230 shots per battery charge||480 shots per battery charge|
|107 x 65 x 33 mm, 266 g||110 x 62 x 35 mm, 269 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Panasonic GF7 and the Sony NEX-3N. 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 GF7 can be obtained in two different colors (black, pink), while the NEX-3N is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (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 somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Panasonic GF7. However, the NEX-3N is slightly heavier (1 percent) than the GF7. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GF7 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 (GF7) 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 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.
|Panasonic GF7»||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.4 oz||230||n||Jan 2015||499||Panasonic GF7|
|Sony NEX-3N«||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499||Sony NEX-3N|
|Panasonic GX850« »||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||210||n||Jan 2017||549||Panasonic GX850|
|Panasonic G7« »||4.9 in||3.4 in||3.0 in||14.5 oz||350||n||May 2015||649||Panasonic G7|
|Panasonic GM5« »||3.9 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||7.4 oz||220||n||Sep 2014||749||Panasonic GM5|
|Panasonic GF6« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||11.4 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||499||Panasonic GF6|
|Panasonic G5« »||4.7 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||14.0 oz||320||n||Jul 2012||599||Panasonic G5|
|Panasonic GF5« »||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||9.4 oz||360||n||Apr 2012||499||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic G3« »||4.5 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||11.9 oz||270||n||May 2011||599||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GF3« »||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||549||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic GX1« »||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||11.2 oz||320||n||Nov 2011||699||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic GF2« »||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549||Panasonic GF2|
|Sony A5000« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||420||n||Jan 2014||449||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549||Sony A5100|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||11.1 oz||470||n||May 2012||599||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-3« »||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5« »||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||10.1 oz||330||n||May 2010||699||Sony NEX-5|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 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. 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. 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 Panasonic GF7 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 GF7 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 GF7 (15.8MP), but the NEX-3N nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 3.77μm for the GF7) due to its larger sensor. However, the GF7 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the NEX-3N, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are ISO 200 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic GF7|
|Sony NEX-3N||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.8||12.5||1067||74||Sony NEX-3N|
|Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73||Panasonic GX850|
|Panasonic G7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic G7|
|Panasonic GM5||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.1||11.7||721||66||Panasonic GM5|
|Panasonic GF6||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||20.7||10.6||622||54||Panasonic GF6|
|Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic G5|
|Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54||Panasonic GF2|
|Sony A5000||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.8||13.0||1089||79||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.8||12.7||1347||80||Sony A5100|
|Sony NEX-F3||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.7||12.3||1114||73||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-3||APS-C||14.0||4592||3056||720/30p||22.1||12.0||830||68||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5||APS-C||14.0||4592||3056||1080/60i||22.2||12.2||796||69||Sony NEX-5|
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 GF7 provides a higher frame rate than the NEX-3N. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The GF7 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. That said, the NEX-3N can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic GF7 and Sony NEX-3N along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Panasonic GF7||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/500s||5.8||Y||n||Panasonic GF7|
|Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Sony NEX-3N|
|Panasonic GX850||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/500s||10.0||Y||n||Panasonic GX850|
|Panasonic G7||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0||Y||n||Panasonic G7|
|Panasonic GM5||1166||n||3.0||921||fixed||Y||1/500s||5.8||n||n||Panasonic GM5|
|Panasonic GF6||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n||Panasonic GF6|
|Panasonic G5||1440||n||3.0||920||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Panasonic G5|
|Panasonic GF5||none||n||3.0||920||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GF3||none||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2||Y||n||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic GF2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic GF2|
|Sony A5000||none||n||3.0||461||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100||none||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Sony A5100|
|Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||Y||n||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GF7 has a touchscreen, while the NEX-3N has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.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 reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the GF7 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The GF7 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-3N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The GF7 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7 and Sony Alpha NEX-3N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Panasonic GF7||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic GF7|
|Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3N|
|Panasonic GX850||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic GX850|
|Panasonic G7||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic G7|
|Panasonic GM5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic GM5|
|Panasonic GF6||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic GF6|
|Panasonic G5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G5|
|Panasonic GF5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic G3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GF3||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic GF2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF2|
|Sony A5000||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A5100|
|Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-5|
It is notable that the GF7 offers wifi support, while the NEX-3N does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the GF7 and the NEX-3N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-3N was replaced by the Sony A5000, while the GF7 was followed by the Panasonic GX850. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GF7 and the Sony NEX-3N? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.8 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 10 months after the NEX-3N).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-3N:
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/500s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (480 versus 230) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2013).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GF7 comes out slightly ahead of the NEX-3N (9 : 8 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 Panasonic GF7 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 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 GF7 and the NEX-3N 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
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. 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1200D vs Sony NEX-3N
- Canon 1D C vs Sony NEX-3N
- Canon G12 vs Panasonic GF7
- Canon T5i vs Sony NEX-3N
- Fujifilm X30 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Nikon B700 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Nikon D200 vs Panasonic GF7
- Panasonic FZ330 vs Panasonic GF7
- Panasonic GF7 vs Panasonic S1R
- Panasonic GH1 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Ricoh GR III vs Sony NEX-3N
- Sony A850 vs Sony NEX-3N
Specifications: Panasonic GF7 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||Panasonic GF7||Sony NEX-3N|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2015||February 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GF7||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||15.8 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4592 x 3448 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.77 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.04 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200-25600 ISO||200-16000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-25600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1067|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GF7||Sony NEX-3N|
|Viewfinder Type||No viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GF7||Sony NEX-3N|
|Autofocus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/500/s||1/4000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||5.8 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|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||Panasonic GF7||Sony NEX-3N|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Panasonic GF7||Sony NEX-3N|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||230 shots per charge||480 shots per charge|
107 x 65 x 33 mm
(4.2 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
110 x 62 x 35 mm
(4.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||266 g (9.4 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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