Sony NEX-3 Comparison Review
The Sony Alpha NEX-3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that was officially introduced in May 2010 and is equipped with an APS-C sensor. It offers a resolution of 14 megapixel.
Is the Sony NEX-3 a good camera? The NEX-3 has a Camera Elo of 1553. This rating puts the NEX-3 below average of all mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (APS cameras), the NEX-3 also ranks below average. – Well, the Sony NEX-3 is more than 9 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2010.
|Mirrorless system camera|
|Sony E mount lenses|
|14 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|3.0" LCD, 920k dots|
|Tilting screen (no touchscreen)|
|7 shutter flaps per second|
|330 shots per battery charge|
|117 x 62 x 33 mm, 297 g|
Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.
Body comparison with a credit card
The physical dimensions of the Sony NEX-3 relative to a credit card are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Sony NEX-3 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599||-||Sony NEX-3|
|Panasonic G3« »||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599||-||Panasonic G3|
|Sony A5100« »||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549||Sony A5100|
|Sony A6000« »||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599||-||Sony A6000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499||-||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony NEX-5T« »||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||2776 g||330||n||Aug 2013||699||-||Sony NEX-5T|
|Sony NEX-5R« »||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749||-||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-5N« »||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699||-||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sony NEX-C3« »||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||599||-||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-5« »||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||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.|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Sony NEX-3 was launched in the US market at a price of $599. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
The Sony NEX-3 features an APS-C sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Sony NEX-3 among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Sony NEX-3||APS-C||14.0||4592||3056||720/30p||22.1||12.0||830||68||Sony NEX-3|
|Panasonic G3« »||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56||Panasonic G3|
|Sony A5100« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.8||12.7||1347||80||Sony A5100|
|Sony A6000« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||13.1||1347||82||Sony A6000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.8||12.5||1067||74||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony NEX-5T« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60p||23.6||13.0||1015||78||Sony NEX-5T|
|Sony NEX-5R« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||23.7||13.1||910||78||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.7||12.3||1114||73||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-5N« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||23.6||12.7||1079||77||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sony NEX-C3« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||720/30p||22.7||12.2||1083||73||Sony NEX-C3|
|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. The NEX-3 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the NEX-3 can use is 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The tables below summarize some of the other core capabilities of the Sony NEX-3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony NEX-3||-||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-3|
|Panasonic G3« »||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic G3|
|Sony A5100« »||-||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Sony A5100|
|Sony A6000« »||1440||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n||Sony A6000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||-||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony NEX-5T« »||-||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5T|
|Sony NEX-5R« »||-||n||3.0||920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||-||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||Y||n||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-5N« »||-||n||3.0||920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sony NEX-C3« »||-||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-5« »||-||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5|
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 NEX-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3|
|Panasonic G3« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G3|
|Sony A5100« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A5100|
|Sony A6000« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A6000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony NEX-5T« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony NEX-5T|
|Sony NEX-5R« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-5N« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sony NEX-C3« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-5« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-5|
While the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the NEX-3. 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 summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).
|Sony NEX-3||-||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599||-||Sony NEX-3|
|Panasonic G3« »||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599||-||Panasonic G3|
|Sony A5100« »||+||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549||Sony A5100|
|Sony A6000« »||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599||-||Sony A6000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||-||-||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499||-||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony NEX-5T« »||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Aug 2013||699||-||Sony NEX-5T|
|Sony NEX-5R« »||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749||-||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||-||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-5N« »||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699||-||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sony NEX-C3« »||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||-||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-5« »||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||May 2010||699||-||Sony NEX-5|
|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. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Sony NEX-3 FAQ
Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the NEX-3.
What type of imaging sensor is used in the NEX-3?
The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.
Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?
Sony equipped the NEX-3 with the BIONZ image processor.
What is the ISO sensitivity range of the NEX-3?
The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800.
Can the camera be equipped with an optional viewfinder?
Yes, Sony provides the FDA-SV1 as an accessory (here on amazon) that can be mounted on the hotshoe.
Does the camera have a selfie-friendly screen?
Yes, the LCD-screen of the NEX-3 is flexible and can be turned to be front-facing for capturing selfies.
What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Sony Alpha NEX-3?
Sony does not publish a shutter rating for the NEX-3. Yet, shutters in comparable cameras from other manufacturers are said to be good for at least 100 000 actuations. It should be noted, though, that this number represents a Mean Time before Failure. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust an expected shutter life of 100 000 shots over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.
How do I find the shutter count on my Sony NEX-3?
Sony embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your NEX-3 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the online shutter count app.
Does the Sony NEX-3 feature an autofocus assist light?
Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.
What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?
The NEX-3's flash sync speed is 1/160 sec.
Which battery does the NEX-3 use?
The camera gets its power from the NP-FW50 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.
Camera to camera comparisons
If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon G1 X Mark III vs Sony NEX-3
- Canon G5 X vs Sony NEX-3
- Canon SX720 vs Sony NEX-3
- Canon T100 vs Sony NEX-3
- Fujifilm X10 vs Sony NEX-3
- Fujifilm X70 vs Sony NEX-3
- Leica X2 vs Sony NEX-3
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Sony NEX-3
- Panasonic GX850 vs Sony NEX-3
- Panasonic TS7 vs Sony NEX-3
- Panasonic ZS70 vs Sony NEX-3
- Panasonic ZS80 vs Sony NEX-3
|Camera Model||Sony NEX-3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 599|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200-12800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||68|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||830|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen|
|Autofocus System||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||no E-Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi|
|Battery Type||NP-FW50 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge|
117 x 62 x 33 mm
(4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||297 g (10.5 oz)|
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