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Sony NEX-7 vs NEX-C3

The Sony Alpha NEX-7 and the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2011 and June 2011. Both the NEX-7 and the NEX-C3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The NEX-7 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the NEX-C3 provides 16 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Sony NEX-7 versus Sony NEX-C3
Sony NEX-7 Sony NEX-C3
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Sony E mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
24 MP, APS-C Sensor 16 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60i Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-16,000 ISO 100-12,800
Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots) Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 921k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Tilting screen (no touchscreen) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
10 shutter flaps per second 5.5 shutter flaps per second
430 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
120 x 67 x 43 mm, 400 g 110 x 60 x 33 mm, 225 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha NEX-7 and the Sony Alpha NEX-C3? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony NEX-7 and the Sony NEX-C3 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The NEX-C3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, pink), while the NEX-7 is only available in black.

Size Sony NEX-7 vs Sony NEX-C3
Compare NEX-7 versus NEX-C3 top
Comparison NEX-7 or NEX-C3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-C3 is notably smaller (18 percent) than the Sony NEX-7. Moreover, the NEX-C3 is substantially lighter (44 percent) than the NEX-7. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the NEX-7 nor the NEX-C3 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.

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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-7 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 400 g 430 n Aug 2011 1,349i
 
Sony NEX-C3 110 mm 60 mm 33 mm 225 g 400 n Jun 2011 599i
 
Sony A6400 120 mm 67 mm 50 mm 403 g 410 n Jan 2019 899 i
 
Sony A6300 120 mm 67 mm 49 mm 404 g 400 Y Feb 2016 999i
 
Sony A6500 120 mm 67 mm 53 mm 453 g 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399i
 
Sony A5000 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 269 g 420 n Jan 2014 449i
 
Sony A5100 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 n Aug 2014 549 i
 
Sony A6000 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 n Feb 2014 599i
 
Sony A3000 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 n Aug 2013 329i
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499i
 
Sony RX1R 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Jun 2013 2,799i
 
Sony NEX-6 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 345 g 360 n Sep 2012 999i
 
Sony NEX-F3 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599i
 
Sony RX1 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony NEX-5N 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 269 g 460 n Aug 2011 699i
 
Sony NEX-3 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599i
 
Sony NEX-5 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 287 g 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.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-C3 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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.

Sony NEX-7 and Sony NEX-C3 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 16 MP of the NEX-C3. 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-C3). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.

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-C3 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Sony Alpha NEX-7 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 16000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-C3 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

NEX-7 versus NEX-C3 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the NEX-7 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the NEX-C3 (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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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-7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681
 
Sony NEX-C3 APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373
 
Sony A6400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p2413.6143183
 
Sony A6300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785
 
Sony A6500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
 
Sony A5000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979
 
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 RX1R Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791
 
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-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068
 
Sony NEX-5 APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the NEX-7 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-C3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the NEX-C3 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-C3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-C3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony NEX-7 and Sony NEX-C3 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-72359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-C3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
 
Sony A64002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
 
Sony A63002359 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
 
Sony A65002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
 
Sony A5000none n 3.0 461 tilting n 1/4000s 3.5 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 RX1Roptional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y 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-3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 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-C3 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-C3 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the NEX-7 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the NEX-7 and the NEX-C3 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-7 and Sony Alpha NEX-C3 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-7YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-C3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony A6400YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYY
 
Sony A6300YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A6500YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A5000-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A5100-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A6000Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A3000Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereomono--micro2.0---
 
Sony RX1RYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-6Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Sony NEX-F3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony RX1YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-5Ystereomono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the NEX-7 has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-C3. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Both the NEX-7 and the NEX-C3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Sony. 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 how do things add up? Is the Sony NEX-7 better than the Sony NEX-C3 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-7:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 16MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 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 5.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-C3:

  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x60mm vs 120x67mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 175g or 44 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-7 is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 4 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding 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.

NEX-7 09:04 NEX-C3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony NEX-7 and the Sony NEX-C3 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the NEX-7 and the NEX-C3 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.

Expert reviews

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.

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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-7+ +81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349i
 
Sony NEX-C3+ +74/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
 
Sony A6400+85/1004.5/5..4/5 Jan 2019 899 i
 
Sony A6300+85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999i
 
Sony A6500+ +85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399i
 
Sony A5000+..4.5/5o4.5/5 Jan 2014 449i
 
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 RX1R....4/5o4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799i
 
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-3..70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599i
 
Sony NEX-5+ +71/1004.5/54/54/5 May 2010 699i
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. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Sony NEX-7:
Check Ebay offers
Sony NEX-C3:
Check Ebay offers

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 your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Sony NEX-7 vs Sony NEX-C3

    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-7 Sony NEX-C3
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Sony E mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2011 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 1,349 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Sony NEX-7 Sony NEX-C3
    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 24 Megapixels 16 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6000 x 4000 pixels 4912 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.90 μm 4.78 μm
    Pixel Density 6.57 MP/cm2 4.39 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 16,000 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 81 73
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.1 22.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.4 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1016 1083
    Screen Specs Sony NEX-7 Sony NEX-C3
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    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 921k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Sony NEX-7 Sony NEX-C3
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 10 shutter flaps/s 5.5 shutter flaps/s
    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 no no
    Connectivity Specs Sony NEX-7 Sony NEX-C3
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Sony NEX-7 Sony NEX-C3
    Battery Type NP-FW50 NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)430 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 120 x 67 x 43 mm
    (4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
    110 x 60 x 33 mm
    (4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 400 g (14.1 oz) 225 g (7.9 oz)

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