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Sony NEX-3 vs NEX-7

The Sony Alpha NEX-3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in May 2010 and August 2011. Both the NEX-3 and the NEX-7 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The NEX-3 has a resolution of 14 megapixels, whereas the NEX-7 provides 24 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Sony NEX-3 versus Sony NEX-7
Sony NEX-3 Sony NEX-7
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Sony E mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
14 MP, APS-C Sensor 24 MP, APS-C Sensor
720/30p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 200-12,800 ISO 100-16,000
Viewfinder optional Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Tilting screen (no touchscreen) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
7 shutter flaps per second 10 shutter flaps per second
330 shots per battery charge430 shots per battery charge
117 x 62 x 33 mm, 297 g 120 x 67 x 43 mm, 400 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha NEX-3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7? 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony NEX-3 and the Sony NEX-7. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The NEX-3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, red), while the NEX-7 is only available in black.

Size Sony NEX-3 vs Sony NEX-7
Compare NEX-3 versus NEX-7 top
Comparison NEX-3 or NEX-7 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-7 is notably larger (11 percent) than the Sony NEX-3. Moreover, the NEX-7 is substantially heavier (35 percent) than the NEX-3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the NEX-3 nor the NEX-7 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Sony NEX-3 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 330 n May 2010 599i
 
Sony NEX-7 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 14.1 oz 430 n Aug 2011 1,349i
 
Fujifilm X100 5.0 in 3.0 in 2.1 in 15.7 oz 300 n Sep 2010 1,199i
 
Sony A6400 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.0 in 14.2 oz 410 n Jan 2019 899 i
 
Sony A5100 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i
 
Sony A6000 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.1 oz 360 n Feb 2014 599i
 
Sony A3000 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329i
 
Sony NEX-3N 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499i
 
Sony NEX-5T 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2013 699i
 
Sony NEX-5R 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2012 749i
 
Sony NEX-6 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 12.2 oz 360 n Sep 2012 999i
 
Sony NEX-F3 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 11.1 oz 470 n May 2012 599i
 
Sony RX1 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony NEX-5N 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.5 oz 460 n Aug 2011 699i
 
Sony NEX-C3 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 7.9 oz 400 n Jun 2011 599i
 
Sony NEX-5 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 10.1 oz 330 n May 2010 699i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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-3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 percent) than the NEX-7, which puts it into a different 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.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony NEX-3 and Sony NEX-7 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the NEX-7 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 14 MP of the NEX-3. This megapixels advantage translates into a 31 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the NEX-7 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-3). However, it should be noted that the NEX-7 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the NEX-3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-7 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 Sony Alpha NEX-3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).

NEX-3 versus NEX-7 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the NEX-7 offers substantially better image quality than the NEX-3 (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 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.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Sony NEX-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068
 
Sony NEX-7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681
 
Fujifilm X100 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/30p22.912.4100173
 
Sony A6400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p2413.6143183
 
Sony A5100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
 
Sony A6000 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782
 
Sony A3000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
 
Sony NEX-5T APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60p23.613.0101578
 
Sony NEX-5R APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078
 
Sony NEX-6 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.1101878
 
Sony NEX-F3 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473
 
Sony RX1 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493
 
Sony NEX-5N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977
 
Sony NEX-C3 APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373
 
Sony NEX-5 APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the NEX-7 provides a better video resolution than the NEX-3. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the NEX-3 is limited to 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the NEX-7 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k 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 NEX-3 and Sony NEX-7 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Sony NEX-3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n
 
Sony NEX-72359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X1001440 n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Sony A64002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
 
Sony A5100none n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Sony A60001440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
 
Sony A3000202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-5Toptional n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
 
Sony NEX-5Roptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
 
Sony NEX-62359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-F3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n
 
Sony RX1optional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-5Noptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
 
Sony NEX-C3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
 
Sony NEX-5optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The NEX-7 has one, while the NEX-3 does not. While the built-in flash of the NEX-7 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The NEX-3 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the NEX-7 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the NEX-3 and the NEX-7 write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

Connectivity comparison

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 Sony Alpha NEX-7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-7YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Fujifilm X100Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Sony A6400YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYY
 
Sony A5100-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A6000Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A3000Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereomono--micro2.0---
 
Sony NEX-5TYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Sony NEX-5RYstereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Sony NEX-6Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Sony NEX-F3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony RX1YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-C3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-5Ystereomono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the NEX-7 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The NEX-3 does not feature such a mic input.

Both the NEX-3 and the NEX-7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-3 was replaced by the Sony NEX-3N, while the NEX-7 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Sony NEX-3 better than the Sony NEX-7 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-3:

  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 103g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2010).


Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-7:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 14MP), which boosts linear resolution by 31%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/30p).
  • 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.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (430 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 3 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-7 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 4 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.

NEX-3 04:11 NEX-7

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony NEX-3 and the Sony NEX-7 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 NEX-3 or the NEX-7 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.

Expert reviews

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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Sony NEX-3..70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599i
 
Sony NEX-7+ +81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349i
 
Fujifilm X100..75/1004/54/55/5 Sep 2010 1,199i
 
Sony A6400+85/1004.5/5..4/5 Jan 2019 899 i
 
Sony A5100+..4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i
 
Sony A6000+80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599i
 
Sony A3000+..4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329i
 
Sony NEX-3N....4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
 
Sony NEX-5T....4.5/5..4.5/5 Aug 2013 699i
 
Sony NEX-5R....4.5/5..4.5/5 Aug 2012 749i
 
Sony NEX-6+ +78/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 999i
 
Sony NEX-F3..74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599i
 
Sony RX1..79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony NEX-5N+ +79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699i
 
Sony NEX-C3+ +74/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
 
Sony NEX-5+ +71/1004.5/54/54/5 May 2010 699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Sony NEX-3:
Check Ebay offers
Sony NEX-7:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Sony NEX-3 vs Sony NEX-7

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Sony NEX-3 Sony NEX-7
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Sony E mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date May 2010 August 2011
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 1,349
    Sensor Specs Sony NEX-3 Sony NEX-7
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.4 x 15.6 mm 23.4 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 365.04 mm2 365.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.1 mm 28.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 14 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4592 x 3056 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.11 μm 3.90 μm
    Pixel Density 3.84 MP/cm2 6.57 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 16,000 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 68 81
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 24.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.0 13.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 830 1016
    Screen Specs Sony NEX-3 Sony NEX-7
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2359k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Sony NEX-3 Sony NEX-7
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 7 shutter flaps/s 10 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Sony NEX-3 Sony NEX-7
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Sony NEX-3 Sony NEX-7
    Battery Type NP-FW50 NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)330 shots per charge430 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 117 x 62 x 33 mm
    (4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    120 x 67 x 43 mm
    (4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 297 g (10.5 oz) 400 g (14.1 oz)

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