Sony A6000 vs NEX-3
The Sony Alpha A6000 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2014 and May 2010. Both the A6000 and the NEX-3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The A6000 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the NEX-3 provides 14 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 Sony Alpha A6000 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3? 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 Sony A6000 and the Sony NEX-3 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The A6000 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the NEX-3 is also available in three color-versions, but different ones (black, silver, red).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-3 is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Sony A6000. Moreover, the NEX-3 is markedly lighter (14 percent) than the A6000. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the A6000 nor the NEX-3 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog. 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 power pack in the A6000 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999||ebay.com|
|4.||Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549||ebay.com|
|6.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329||ebay.com|
|7.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499||ebay.com|
|8.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|9.||Sony NEX-6||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||345 g||360||n||Sep 2012||999||ebay.com|
|10.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-3 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.
In terms of chip-set technology, the A6000 uses a more advanced image processing engine (BIONZ X) than the NEX-3 (BIONZ), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
With 24MP, the A6000 offers a higher resolution than the NEX-3 (14MP), but the A6000 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-3). However, the A6000 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 9 months) than the NEX-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A6000 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A6000 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-3 are 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A6000 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A6000 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the A6000 provides substantially higher image quality than the NEX-3, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 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.
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A6000 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the NEX-3 is limited to 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A6000 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A6000 and Sony NEX-3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Sony A6000||1440||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Sony A6300||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Sony A5000||none||n||3.0 / 461||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|5.||Sony A5100||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Sony A3000||202||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|7.||Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|9.||Sony NEX-6||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|11.||Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The A6000 has one, while the NEX-3 does not. While the built-in flash of the A6000 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The NEX-3 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 A6000 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the A6000 and the NEX-3 write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A6000 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-3 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 Sony Alpha A6000 and Sony Alpha NEX-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Sony A6000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Sony A6300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Sony A5000||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Sony A5100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Sony A3000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Sony NEX-6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Sony NEX-5N||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A6000 offers wifi support, while the NEX-3 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the A6000 and the NEX-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The NEX-3 was replaced by the Sony NEX-3N, while the A6000 was followed by the Sony A6300. Further information on the features and operation of the A6000 and NEX-3 can be found, respectively, in the Sony A6000 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony NEX-3 Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A6000 or the Sony NEX-3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A6000:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 14MP) with a 31% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (BIONZ X vs BIONZ).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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: Reflects 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the NEX-3 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-3:
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 47g or 14 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2010).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6000 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 3 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 Sony A6000 and the Sony NEX-3 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A6000 or the NEX-3 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||4.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||..||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999||ebay.com|
|4.||Sony A5000||3/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549||ebay.com|
|6.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329||ebay.com|
|7.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499||ebay.com|
|8.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|9.||Sony NEX-6||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||999||ebay.com|
|10.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Sony A6000 vs Sony NEX-3
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||Sony A6000||Sony NEX-3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2014||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A6000||Sony NEX-3|
|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||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||82||68|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.1||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.1||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1347||830|
|Screen Specs||Sony A6000||Sony NEX-3|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A6000||Sony NEX-3|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A6000||Sony NEX-3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Sony A6000||Sony NEX-3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
120 x 67 x 45 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 1.8 in)
117 x 62 x 33 mm
(4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||344 g (12.1 oz)||297 g (10.5 oz)|