Panasonic GX850 vs Sony NEX-3N
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 (called Panasonic GX800 in some regions) and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2017 and February 2013. Both the GX850 and the NEX-3N are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GX850) 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 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 GX850 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GX850 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, red), 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 somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Panasonic GX850. In terms of weight, the two cameras are very close. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GX850 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 (GX850) 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|Panasonic GX850||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||210||n||Jan 2017||549|
|Sony NEX-3N||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|Olympus E-PL5||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PM2||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|Panasonic GF7||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.4 oz||230||n||Jan 2015||499|
|Panasonic G6||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||13.8 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GF6||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||11.4 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||499|
|Panasonic G5||4.7 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||14.0 oz||320||n||Jul 2012||599|
|Panasonic GF5||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||9.4 oz||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic G3||4.5 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||11.9 oz||270||n||May 2011||599|
|Panasonic GF3||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic GX1||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||11.2 oz||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|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.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 NEX-3N was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the GX850 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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. 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 Panasonic GX850 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 GX850 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 GX850 (15.8MP), but the NEX-3N nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 3.77μm for the GX850) due to its larger sensor. However, the GX850 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 10 months) than the NEX-3N, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GX850 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 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).
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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73|
|Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|Panasonic GF6||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||20.7||10.6||622||54|
|Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the GX850 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-3N. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The GX850 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic GX850, the Sony NEX-3N, and comparable cameras.
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GX850 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 GX850 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 Panasonic GX850 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The GX850 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-3N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The GX850 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-GX850 and Sony Alpha NEX-3N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the GX850 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.
The GX850 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the NEX-3N has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the NEX-3N was succeeded 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 Panasonic and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GX850 and the Sony NEX-3N? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 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 (10 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 10 months of technical progress since the NEX-3N launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-3N:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
- 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 210) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2013).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GX850 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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 Panasonic GX850 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the GX850 or the NEX-3N perform in practice. 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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.
|Panasonic GX850||+||76/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||549|
|Sony NEX-3N||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|Olympus E-PL5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PM2||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|Panasonic GF7||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||499|
|Panasonic G6||+ +||..||5/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GF6||+ +||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|Panasonic G5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|Panasonic GF5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic G3||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|Panasonic GF3||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic GX1||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|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 above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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: Panasonic GX850 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 GX850||Sony NEX-3N|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2017||February 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GX850||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||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||73||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.2||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.3||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||586||1067|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GX850||Sony NEX-3N|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GX850||Sony NEX-3N|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/500s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|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 GX850||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|
|Body Specs||Panasonic GX850||Sony NEX-3N|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||210 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||269 g (9.5 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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