Sony NEX-3 vs RX10 III
The Sony Alpha NEX-3 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2010 and March 2016. The NEX-3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX10 III is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (NEX-3) and an one-inch (RX10 III) sensor. The NEX-3 has a resolution of 14 megapixels, whereas the RX10 III provides 20 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 NEX-3 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III? 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 physical size and weight of the Sony NEX-3 and the Sony RX10 III are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, red), while the RX10 III is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX10 III is considerably larger (72 percent) than the Sony NEX-3. It is noteworthy in this context that the RX10 III is splash and dust-proof, while the NEX-3 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX10 III has a lens built in, whereas the NEX-3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the NEX-3 and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.
The power pack in the RX10 III can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Sony NEX-3||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599|
|Sony RX10 III||5.2 in||3.7 in||5.0 in||37.1 oz||420||Y||Mar 2016||1,499|
|Sony RX10 IV||5.2 in||3.7 in||5.7 in||38.6 oz||400||Y||Sep 2017||1,699|
|Sony RX0||2.3 in||1.6 in||1.2 in||3.9 oz||240||Y||Aug 2017||699|
|Sony RX100 V||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.5 oz||220||n||Oct 2016||999|
|Sony RX10 II||5.1 in||3.5 in||4.0 in||28.7 oz||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|Sony A5100||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony A6000||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.8 in||12.1 oz||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|Sony NEX-3N||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony NEX-5T||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.7 oz||330||n||Aug 2013||699|
|Sony RX10||5.1 in||3.5 in||4.0 in||28.7 oz||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Sony NEX-5R||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.7 oz||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony NEX-6||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||12.2 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||999|
|Sony NEX-F3||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||11.1 oz||470||n||May 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||7.9 oz||400||n||Jun 2011||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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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.
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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony NEX-3 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony RX10 III an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX10 III is 68 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the RX10 III offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 14 MP of the NEX-3. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.41μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-3). However, it should be noted that the RX10 III is much more recent (by 5 years and 10 months) than the NEX-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Sony RX10 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX10 III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 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 Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 64-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Sony RX10 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.1||12.6||472||70|
|Sony RX10 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony RX100 V||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||586||70|
|Sony RX10 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
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 RX10 III provides a better video resolution than the NEX-3. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the NEX-3 is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the RX10 III 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony NEX-3 and Sony RX10 III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Sony RX10 III||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||14.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX10 IV||2359||Y||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 V||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the RX10 III, but is missing on the NEX-3 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.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 RX10 III does not have a selfie-screen.
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 RX10 III 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).
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the NEX-3 and the RX10 III write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The RX10 III 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 NEX-3 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony RX10 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX10 IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX100 V||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the RX10 III offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the NEX-3 does not provide wifi capability.
The RX10 III 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 conclusions can be drawn? Is the Sony NEX-3 better than the Sony RX10 III or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-3:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- More compact: Is smaller (117x62mm vs 133x94mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in May 2010).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 14MP), which boosts linear resolution by 19%.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 920k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the NEX-3 necessitates an extra lens.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (420 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- 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 5 years and 10 months of technical progress since the NEX-3 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX10 III is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 6 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 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 Sony NEX-3 and the Sony RX10 III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Superzoom Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the NEX-3 and the RX10 III in practical situations. 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 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.
|Sony NEX-3||..||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Sony RX10 III||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2016||1,499|
|Sony RX10 IV||+||84/100||4.5/5||..||5/5||Sep 2017||1,699|
|Sony RX0||..||..||3.5/5||..||4/5||Aug 2017||699|
|Sony RX100 V||+ +||83/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||999|
|Sony RX10 II||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|Sony A5100||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony A6000||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|Sony NEX-3N||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony NEX-5T||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Aug 2013||699|
|Sony RX10||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Sony NEX-5R||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony NEX-6||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||999|
|Sony NEX-F3||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||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 review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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.
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.
- Canon 1Ds vs Sony RX10 III
- Canon 50D vs Sony RX10 III
- Canon T5i vs Sony NEX-3
- Leica CL vs Sony RX10 III
- Nikon A1000 vs Sony NEX-3
- Nikon P7800 vs Sony NEX-3
- Panasonic FZ82 vs Sony NEX-3
- Panasonic GH1 vs Sony NEX-3
- Panasonic LF1 vs Sony RX10 III
- Panasonic S1H vs Sony NEX-3
- Sony A5000 vs Sony RX10 III
- Sony RX10 III vs Sony RX1R II
Specifications: Sony NEX-3 vs Sony RX10 III
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 NEX-3||Sony RX10 III|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||24-600mm f/2.4-4.0|
|Launch Date||May 2010||March 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 1,499|
|Sensor Specs||Sony NEX-3||Sony RX10 III|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.4 x 15.6 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||365.04 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.1 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||14 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4592 x 3056 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.11 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.84 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||64 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||BIONZ||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||68||70|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||23.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||12.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||830||472|
|Screen Specs||Sony NEX-3||Sony RX10 III|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony NEX-3||Sony RX10 III|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||14 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|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||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony NEX-3||Sony RX10 III|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Sony NEX-3||Sony RX10 III|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||420 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
117 x 62 x 33 mm
(4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
133 x 94 x 127 mm
(5.2 x 3.7 x 5.0 in)
|Camera Weight||297 g (10.5 oz)||1051 g (37.1 oz)|
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