In this post we are going to take a look at the Sony NEX-3N. I personally really like Sony NEX cameras, especially when it comes to image quality. Sony has proven itself has one of the leaders when it comes to mirrorless cameras, and earned its place by releasing cameras that answer the demands of enthusiast photographers. In this article I will talk about the NEX-3N key features in more details, and help you figure out whether the 3N is the camera for you. I will also compare the NEX-3N vs NEX-F3 and NEX-5R – Let’s Begin!
NEX-3N Place in the NEX Lineup
The first think some of you might want to know is where the 3N stands in Sony NEX camera’s lineup? – as you can see in Sony’s website, the cameras are clasified into four categories: NEX-7, NEX-6, NEX-5 and NEX-3 – with NEX-7 representing the more advanced and expensive cameras and NEX-3 with the least advanced and expensive CSC.
- NEX-F3 – $498 (18-55mm) / May 17, 2012
- NEX-3N – $498 (16-50mm) / February 20, 2013
- NEX-5R – $648 (18-55mm) / August 29, 2012
- NEX-6 – $848 (body), $998 (16-50mm) / September 12, 2012
- NEX-7 – $998 (body), $1148 (18-55mm) / August 24, 2011
* Amazon prices for 3/13/2013. Prices might change, visit Amazon.com for latest prices. Sony SELP1650 costs $348 and SEL1855 costs $298 (Again, as for the time of writing this article, via Amazon.com)
As you can see, the NEX-F3 and NEX-3N belong to the NEX-3 series and they are the least expensive ones. Worth mentioning that there are older models that I haven’t mentioned here, I only listed the latest models. You can see that the NEX-3N is the newest model and was announced about a year after the NEX-F3.
If you are interested in buying the NEX-3N, you probably want to compare it versus the Sony NEX-F3 and probably vs the 5R. The NEX-6 and NEX-7 are of course much more expensive, so I assume that you don’t intend to purchase one of the higher-end models. So I will spend more time talking about the differences between the 3N and the F3 and 5R.
Summary: So bottom line: NEX-3N belong to the lower-end models in the NEX-3 series of Sony’s Compact System Cameras lineup. It’s the latest NEX camera and was announced on February 20, 2013.
Watch the next NEX-3N introduction video:
Sony NEX-3N vs NEX-F3
So what are the differences between the NEX-3N and the NEX-F3?
First of all, the NEX-3N is the successor for the NEX-F3. It was announced around one year after and it’s an update model. The first thing that you’ll notice is that the NEX-3N is much smaller than the NEX-F3
Sony NEX-3N is 6% (7.4 mm) narrower and 7% (4.6 mm) shorter than Sony NEX-F3.
Sony NEX-3N is 16% (6.7 mm) thinner than Sony NEX-F3.
Sony NEX-3N [269 g] weights 14% (45 grams) less than Sony NEX-F3 [314 g] (*inc. batteries and memory card).
Sony NEX-3N dimensions: 109.9x62x34.6 mm (camera body only, excluding protrusion)
Sony NEX-F3 dimensions: 117.3×66.6×41.3 mm (camera body only, excluding protrusion)
The 3N grip is also much smaller but improved one (anti-slip)
What the NEX-3N has that the NEX-F3 doesn’t?
- Smaller size factor
- 16-50mm as a Kit Lens instead of the 18-55mm (with wider angle and optical image stabilization)
- Zoom lever on the camera body (takes advantage of the 16-50mm power zoom feature and also great for one-hand shooting)
- Revised flip-up screen, but doesn’t tilt backwards (both however tilt 180 degrees for self-portrait shots)
- SD slot is not at the side of the camera instead of the bottom
- Auto object framing – like an auto composition, auto-recognize the scene and crops the image automatically. Fills the frame with your subject
- Area based noise reduction (more precise noise reduction algorithm, reduce noise in certain areas, while not touching other areas that do not have noise)
- Dedicated ISO button
- Lower resolution screen compare to the F3 (921K dots vs 460K dots)
- Flash position on top of the lens mount
- No accessory port (can’t mount an optical viewfinder or external flash)
- Lower ISO 100-16000 range (F3: 100-25600)
- Slower continuous shooting (4 fps vs 5.5 fps)
- Better battery life (480 vs 410 shots / CIPA rating)
- Newly designed anti-slip grip
- Weight 45 g less
No doubt that the NEX-3N added some very nice features over the NEX-F3. Note, the NEX-3N doesn’t have a touch screen (petty). Also note that you need a power-zoom lens to take advantage of the zoom lever. The 16-50mm Kit lens is a power-zoom lens.
How good is the new 16-50mm Lens?
The Sony E 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Power Zoom lens is an excellent lens. At the widest angle it’s very sharp overall (less at the edges). Best performance at f/5.6 aperture but overall very good performance across the focal length range. It’ has a good build quality, it’s very compact in design, has a power-zoom, lightweight, has a very useful optical image stabilization and the price is just right.
16-50mm vs 18-55mm size comparison image (via camerasize.com):
Now you can see what I am talking about. The combination of a smaller camera body and a much smaller kit lens, makes the NEX-3N a much smaller package overall – I LIKE!
NEX-5R vs NEX-3N
OK, What About the NEX-5R – But it instead of the NEX-3N? – It’s a good question.
The NEX-5R is a step forward both in terms of price and features. The 5R belongs to the NEX-5 series, more advanced cameras. Some people don’t mind paying more, but enjoying some features that you won’t get with a budget model.
Differences – NEX-5R vs NEX-3N:
- Different body design, thinner and looks less bulky, although the actual size volume is not big
- has larger grip
- is more expensive
- higher ISO sensitivity range (up to 25,600 vs 16,000)
- higher resolution display (920K vs 460K)
- faster Autofocus system (phase detection vs contrast detection)
- accessory port, so you can attach an EVF or other accessories to it
- doesn’t have a pop-up flash
- has a touch sensitive screen
- has an external mic jack
- faster continuous shooting (10 fps vs 4 fps)
- have 1080p24
Overall the NEX-5R is the more advanced camera. It doesn’t mean that you will take advantage of all its more advanced features. Understanding the differences and asking yourself whether you need them or not can save you quite a lot of money. Make sure you understand the differences and ask yourself whether you need them or not, that’s something that only you can decide.
Image Quality & High ISO Performance
If you are an image quality fanatic, you can rest assured that any of the three cameras that we compared here can satisfy your needs. The NEx-3N high ISO performance is amazing!
At ISO 800 there is virtually no noise, I mean there is a bit in the dark areas, but barely noticeable. ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 looks great, there is not, but details are well preserved overall. I compared the NEX-3N versus the NEX-F3 images and the NEX-3N image quality is better overall. There is less aggressive noise reduction and it seems that the area-based noise reduction really does a good job by applying noise reduction only in the areas that need attention. This also means that it it will be easier to remove the noise using noise reduction software as well.
Colors are very well saturated and each image have that punch to it, that 3D look that I love to see in image so much. Of course the image quality depends on the lens that you use. Remember that this is a Compact System Camera, and that means that you can attach various E-mount lenses on this camera. The 16-50mm Kit lens is a great lens for beginners and will give you excellent results. Faster lenses (small f-number) will give you the option to shoot in low light with lower ISO, and that means less noise. Of course the combination of a fast image stabilized lens and high ISO performance will lead to better low-light results. Image stabilization doesn’t help stop fast moving subject, but it is very useful for shooting static subjects with low shutter speed and still get a sharp image.
I love the Sony NEX-3N and I love the changes that Sony put into this one. This is an amazing Compact System Camera and is selling for a very competitive price. If you don’t need the extra features that you get in the 5R, I would highly recommend getting the 3N instead. If you are searching for a highly recommended mirrorless camera but don’t want to pay a premium price for a mid-range model, get the NEX-3N, it’s a wonderfully designed camera and I highly recommend it for both beginners and enthusiasts alike.
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