Sony NEX-3N vs NEX-7
The Sony Alpha NEX-3N and the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2013 and August 2011. Both the NEX-3N and the NEX-7 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The NEX-3N has a resolution of 16 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.
|Sony NEX-3N||Sony NEX-7|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|16 MP, APS-C Sensor||24 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 200-16000||ISO 100-16000|
|Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|3.0" LCD, 460k dots||3.0" LCD, 921k dots|
|Tilting screen (no touchscreen)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|480 shots per battery charge||430 shots per battery charge|
|110 x 62 x 35 mm, 269 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-3N 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony NEX-3N and the Sony NEX-7 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-3N can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the NEX-7 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 NEX-7 is notably larger (18 percent) than the Sony NEX-3N. Moreover, the NEX-7 is substantially heavier (49 percent) than the NEX-3N. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the NEX-3N 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. 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-3N»||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony NEX-7«||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||14.1 oz||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349||Sony NEX-7|
|Fujifilm X100« »||5.0 in||3.0 in||2.1 in||15.7 oz||300||n||Sep 2010||1,199||Fujifilm X100|
|Sony A6400« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.0 in||14.2 oz||410||n||Jan 2019||899||Sony A6400|
|Sony A5000« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||420||n||Jan 2014||449||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549||Sony A5100|
|Sony A6000« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.8 in||12.1 oz||360||n||Feb 2014||599||Sony A6000|
|Sony A3000« »||5.0 in||3.6 in||3.3 in||14.5 oz||470||n||Aug 2013||329||Sony A3000|
|Sony NEX-5T« »||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||97.9 oz||330||n||Aug 2013||699||Sony NEX-5T|
|Sony NEX-5R« »||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.7 oz||330||n||Aug 2012||749||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-6« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||12.2 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||999||Sony NEX-6|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||11.1 oz||470||n||May 2012||599||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony RX1« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.0 oz||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799||Sony RX1|
|Sony NEX-5N« »||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sony NEX-C3« »||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||7.9 oz||400||n||Jun 2011||599||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-3« »||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5« »||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||10.1 oz||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.|
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-3N was launched at a markedly lower price (by 63 percent) than the NEX-7, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the NEX-7 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 16 MP of the NEX-3N. This megapixels advantage translates into a 22 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 4.78μm for the NEX-3N). Moreover, it should be noted, that the NEX-3N is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the NEX-7, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.
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 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inch or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inch or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony NEX-3N are 24.6 x 16.3 inch or 62.4 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.6 x 13.1 inch or 49.9 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inch or 41.6 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Sony Alpha NEX-3N has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 16000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
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 consideration, the NEX-7 has a markedly higher DXO score than the NEX-3N (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops of reduced 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.
|Sony NEX-3N||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.8||12.5||1067||74||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony NEX-7||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||24.1||13.4||1016||81||Sony NEX-7|
|Fujifilm X100||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/30p||22.9||12.4||1001||73||Fujifilm X100|
|Sony A6400||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24||13.6||1431||83||Sony A6400|
|Sony A5000||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.8||13.0||1089||79||Sony A5000|
|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 A3000||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.7||12.8||1068||78||Sony A3000|
|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-6||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||23.7||13.1||1018||78||Sony NEX-6|
|Sony NEX-F3||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.7||12.3||1114||73||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93||Sony RX1|
|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-3||APS-C||14.0||4592||3056||720/30p||22.1||12.0||830||68||Sony NEX-3|
|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 can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
Beyond 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-3N relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-3N can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony NEX-3N and Sony NEX-7 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n||Sony NEX-7|
|Fujifilm X100||1440||n||2.8||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Fujifilm X100|
|Sony A6400||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n||Sony A6400|
|Sony A5000||none||n||3.0||461||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100||none||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 A3000||202||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Sony A3000|
|Sony NEX-5T||optional||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5T|
|Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-6||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n||Sony NEX-6|
|Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||Y||n||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0||1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Sony RX1|
|Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sony NEX-C3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the NEX-3N and the NEX-7 write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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-3N and Sony Alpha NEX-7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-7|
|Fujifilm X100||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Fujifilm X100|
|Sony A6400||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A6400|
|Sony A5000||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A5000|
|Sony A5100||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A5100|
|Sony A6000||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A6000|
|Sony A3000||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A3000|
|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-6||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Sony NEX-6|
|Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony RX1||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony RX1|
|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-3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-5|
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-3N does not feature such a mic input.
Both the NEX-3N and the NEX-7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-3N was replaced by the Sony A5000, 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.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony NEX-3N or the Sony NEX-7 – 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 NEX-3N:
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x62mm vs 120x67mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 131g or 33 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (480 versus 430) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (63 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 5 months after the NEX-7).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-7:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 16MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
- 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.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2011).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-7 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 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 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 NEX-3N 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the NEX-3N or the NEX-7. 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.
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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 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.
- Canon 1Ds vs Sony NEX-3N
- Canon G1 X Mark II vs Sony NEX-7
- Epson R-D1 vs Sony NEX-7
- Fujifilm XP120 vs Sony NEX-7
- Leica M Typ 240 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Nikon D3 vs Sony NEX-7
- Nikon D810 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Olympus E-5 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Panasonic FZ80 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Panasonic GX850 vs Sony NEX-7
- Sony A58 vs Sony NEX-7
- Sony NEX-3N vs Sony RX100 V
Specifications: Sony NEX-3N 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 Model||Sony NEX-3N||Sony NEX-7|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2013||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 1349|
|Sensor Specs||Sony NEX-3N||Sony NEX-7|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||16 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4912 x 3264 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.78 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.39 MP/cm2||6.57 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200-16000 ISO||100-16000 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||74||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||24.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.5||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1067||1016|
|Screen Specs||Sony NEX-3N||Sony NEX-7|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony NEX-3N||Sony NEX-7|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000/s||1/4000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in 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-3N||Sony NEX-7|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Sony NEX-3N||Sony NEX-7|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||480 shots per charge||430 shots per charge|
110 x 62 x 35 mm
(4.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
120 x 67 x 43 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||269 g (9.5 oz)||400 g (14.1 oz)|
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