Sony A6100 vs NEX-3
The Sony Alpha A6100 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2019 and May 2010. Both the A6100 and the NEX-3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The A6100 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 A6100 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 A6100 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 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 A6100 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 A6100. Moreover, the NEX-3 is markedly lighter (25 percent) than the A6100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the A6100 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 A6100 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 A6100||120 mm||67 mm||59 mm||396 g||420||n||Aug 2019||749|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|3.||Fujifilm X-T200||121 mm||84 mm||55 mm||370 g||270||n||Jan 2020||699|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T30||118 mm||83 mm||47 mm||383 g||380||n||Feb 2019||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A5||117 mm||68 mm||40 mm||361 g||450||n||Jan 2018||399|
|6.||Fujifilm X-E3||121 mm||74 mm||43 mm||337 g||350||n||Sep 2017||899|
|7.||Fujifilm X-T20||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||383 g||350||n||Jan 2017||899|
|8.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|9.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|10.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|11.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|12.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329|
|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-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
|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 obviously take relative prices into account. 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-3 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the A6100, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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.
With 24MP, the A6100 offers a higher resolution than the NEX-3 (14MP), but the A6100 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-3). However, the A6100 is a much more recent model (by 9 years and 3 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 A6100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A6100 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 A6100 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A6100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 32000, 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).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A6100 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-3. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, 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 A6100 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A6100 and Sony NEX-3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The A6100 has one, while the NEX-3 does not. While the built-in flash of the A6100 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.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 A6100 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 Sony A6100 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the A6100 and the NEX-3 write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A6100 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 A6100 and Sony Alpha NEX-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the A6100 has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-3. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The A6100 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the NEX-3 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the NEX-3 was succeeded by the Sony NEX-3N. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A6100 or the Sony NEX-3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6100:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 14MP) with a 31% higher linear resolution.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 7 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.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (420 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- 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.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 3 months of technical progress since the NEX-3 launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-3:
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 99g or 25 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2010).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6100 is the clear winner of the match-up (17 : 3 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 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 Sony A6100 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A6100 or the NEX-3 perform in practice. 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.||Sony A6100||..||..||82/100||4/5||5/5||Aug 2019||749|
|2.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|3.||Fujifilm X-T200||3.5/5||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||699|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T30||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A5||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2018||399|
|6.||Fujifilm X-E3||4.5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2017||899|
|7.||Fujifilm X-T20||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||899|
|8.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|9.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|10.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|11.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|12.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329|
|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-7||5/5||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|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 review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Sony A6100 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 A6100||Sony NEX-3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2019||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A6100||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||4K/30p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 32,000 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||68|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||830|
|Screen Specs||Sony A6100||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|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A6100||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|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A6100||Sony NEX-3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Sony A6100||Sony NEX-3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||420 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
120 x 67 x 59 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.3 in)
117 x 62 x 33 mm
(4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||396 g (14.0 oz)||297 g (10.5 oz)|
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