Sony Nex 3 vs Nex 5 Comparison

Sony Nex 3 vs. Nex 5 Comparison

Sony Nex 3 vs Nex 5: This article is an analysis of the differences between these two cameras: Sony Nex 3 vs. Nex 5. We have also a separate review article for both of them on our site, which was written later and that we updated with the latest firmware. This is the article for the Nex 3, this one for the Nex 5.

We also have this review article for the Sony Nex 5N.

So now let´s go to see how can we compare Sony Nex 3 vs. Nex 5 so we understand their similarities and differences.

As the fourth manufacturer after Panasonic, Olympus, and Samsung, Sony now presents its long-awaited new camera system. And that right away!

Sony Nex 3 vs Nex 5: Two cameras, three lenses, two attachment converters, lens adapters, attachable viewfinder, attachable flash, attachable microphone, GPS data logger, infrared remote release, power supply are the “hard” goods, supplemented by bags, carrying straps, wraps and much more.

Although the two camera novelties, Sony Nex 3 vs Nex 5, are also adorned with a small Alpha logo, the term is otherwise only used in connection with the lens adapter with which many Sony Alpha and Minolta lenses can be connected to the new system. “E-Mount” is the name of the new mount, “A-Bajonett” is the name of the previous lens mount taken over from Konica Minolta.

By the way, the “E” in “E-Mount” stands for “Eighteen”, in the English language, starting with the letter “E”.

This is because the so-called flange focal length of the new Sony system is only 18 millimeters (which is even less than the Micro Four Thirds system).

Of course, there is also an explanation by the marketing people for “NEX”: this stands for “New E-Mount X-perience (experience)”, i.e. “New E-Bayonet Experience” or “New E-Bayonet Experience”.

The new system will initially focus on the two digital cameras NEX-5 and NEX-3, which have hardly any technical differences, but which are mainly due to their different haptics that explains their price difference of 100 dollars: The NEX-5 has a magnesium die-cast housing and a metal front as well as particularly elegant controls, while the NEX-3 has a plastic housing: here there is an interesting differential point in this Sony Nex 3 vs Nex 5 discussion.

The electronic differences between the two models, Sony Nex 3 vs Nex 5, are quickly listed: The Sony NEX-5 can handle Full HD video (1080i) in AVCHD format, while the NEX-3 records normal MPEG-4 video at 720 pixels. And only the NEX-5 has an infrared receiver for the optional remote control.

When recording video, stereo sound is recorded using two built-in microphones, and Sony promises an especially quiet autofocus with all three lenses presented (which we will discuss in detail below).

By the way, a real semi-professional camcorder with an e-mount is available, which also delivers videos in DSLR quality.

Sony claims to have the NEX-5, currently the smallest and lightest interchangeable lens system camera. You’d like to believe that, because even the two smaller lenses – with 49 mm filter thread really no giants – protrude above and below the camera body, which is only 58.8 mm high, resulting in a very interesting design.

In terms of case depth, look at this difference in the Sony Nex 3 vs Nex 5 comparison. The NEX-5 is slightly deeper than its sister model NEX-3 (38.2 versus 33.4 mm) due to its more pronounced handle. The fact that the cameras look even slimmer in the photos is thanks to a clever design trick: both housings are slanted at the top rear in the shape of a desk. And of course, the product photographers have photographed all perspective views in such a way that nothing can be seen from the rear of the housing.

Either way, both cameras have a very nice, simple design that will also and especially appeal to American and European tastes. The NEX-5 is available in silver and black, the NEX-3 in silver, black and red.

In both cameras, a CMOS image sensor called Sony Exmor APS HD with 14.2 megapixels (effective, i.e. with a high image quality) is used.

In terms of image quality (including noise, light sensitivity, etc.), it will thus achieve SLR camera quality. In comparison to the 35 mm full format, this results in a conversion factor (“focal length extension factor”) of 1.5.

The autofocus is carried out by contrast autofocus based on 25 measuring fields, as is usual with mirrorless systems. The current BIONZ image processor should provide the necessary computing power and enable fast autofocus, as well as high-speed continuous shooting at up to seven frames per second.

The shortest exposure time is 1/4,000 second. The light sensitivity ranges from ISO 200 to ISO 1,600 in automatic mode and can even be set manually up to ISO 12,800.


Both cameras, Sony Nex 3 vs Nex 5, have a 3-inch LCD monitor in 16:9 format that can be swiveled vertically up to 80 degrees upwards and up to 54 degrees downwards. This adapts to the ambient light thanks to the integrated brightness sensor and should still provide a good picture even in direct sunlight.

With a display resolution of 921,600 pixels (307,200 pixels), it shows even fine image details. A built-in video viewfinder or external video plug-on viewfinder is not available on these NEX models.

The newly developed menu navigation should satisfy beginners and compact camera users as well as advanced hobby photographers and even professional users.

The operation is via the selector wheel and two buttons. The effects on the final image result are already shown in the preview.

With a wide range of auto shooting options, the Sony NEX-5 and NEX-3 have inherited both the Sony Alpha SLR and the current Sony compact cameras. These include the Auto-HDR function introduced with the Alpha 550, which has now been improved once again.

An exposure series consisting of three shots with different exposure values are combined into one photo already in the camera and thus enables brilliant colors and contrasts even with scenes with a contrast range that is actually too high for a single photo.

The Sweep Panorama mode allows you to take panoramic pictures with 23-megapixel resolution and a pan range of up to 226 degrees. All the photographer has to do is press the recording button and then pan the camera horizontally or vertically. The panorama is then calculated in the camera itself.

According to the latest firmware update , it should even be possible to take panoramic shots in 3D format with an E-Mount lens, whose three-dimensional effect can then be viewed on a 3D-capable Sony Bravia television.

For this purpose, the photographer makes a panoramic panning shot. The camera then converts the images into a 3D image according to the CIPA standard, which can be viewed on a 3D television as a three-dimensional panoramic image.

In parallel, a conventional two-dimensional image is stored. Both cameras have an HDMI interface for playback on television sets. Owners of a Sony Bravia TV benefit from additional comfort functions (Bravia Sync and Photo TV HD).


The cameras do not have a built-in flash, but the delivery includes the small attachable flash HVL-F7S with a guide number 7, which is hinged (see photo right below from the press release) and is hardly noticeable in the resting position so that it can remain on the camera unless other accessories should be placed in the accessory shoe.

There is no adapter to use existing large Sony flash units with the NEX cameras. A wireless flash control is also currently not yet available.


With the two new system cameras, Sony is initially introducing three E-mount lenses: a pancake, a standard zoom, and a superzoom lens.

Interestingly, an optical image stabilizer is built into both zoom lenses. With its DSLR models and compact cameras, Sony has so far relied on image stabilization by means of a movably mounted image sensor.

However, this requires some space and could not be integrated in the tiny camera housings with the large sensor size. The three lenses are partly made of plastic on the inside, but have an aluminum tube on the outside and therefore look noble. Also, the bayonet on the lens (and of course on the camera) is made of metal.

The pancake lens SEL 16F28 is a 16mm/F2.8 wide-angle lens, as the type designation indicates, which, with a conversion factor of 1.5, results in an equivalent 35mm focal length of 24mm.

The standard 3x zoom SEL 1855 (18 to 55 mm actual focal length at a speed of F3.5 to 5.6) covers a 35 mm focal length range from 27 to 82.5 mm. Both lenses are very small and light – corresponding to the small flange focal length of the mirrorless cameras: 62 mm diameter (49 mm filter thread) and 22.5 or 60 mm long and only 67 or 194 g in weight. Another “caliber” is the Superzoom SEL 18200, which weighs 524 grams.

For this purpose, the 11.1x zoom lens covers a focal length range of (converted to 35 mm) 27 to 300 mm (actually 18-200 mm at F3.5 to 6.3). Here the diameter is 75.5 mm (filter 67 mm) with an overall length of 99 mm.

All lenses have a focus ring for direct manual focusing and are optimized for video recording by quiet stepper motors.

It makes sense that the cameras do not exist as bodies alone, because the user needs a lens anyway. But there are almost all imaginable kits.

The following combinations were launched at the end of June 2010 (all prices were recommended retail prices at market launch more than a decade ago): the NEX-5 with pancake lens SEL 16F28 for 599 dollars, with the 3x zoom lens SEL1855 for 649 dollars and with both lenses together for 749 dollars.

The NEX-3 is 100 dollars cheaper in each case. Since around August 2010, the NEX-5 is also available in combination with the SEL18200 superzoom lens at a price of a thousand dollars.

The NEX-5 and NEX-3 are accompanied by a number of accessories from the start.

The HVL-F7S attachable flash is included in the scope of delivery. The same accessory shoe can also be used to mount the ECM-SST1 (RRP 149 dollars) stereo clip-on microphone, which provides better, low-noise sound without wind noise during video recording, or the FDA-SV1 (219 dollars) optical viewfinder, which can be used with the pancake lens. For the pancake lens, there will also be two lens adapters that are placed in front of the lens.

The VCL-ECU1 (159 dollars) ultra-wide-angle attachment with a factor of 0.75 reduces its 24 mm 35 mm focal length to 18 mm. Even more extreme is the fisheye converter VCL-ECF1 (179 dollars) – 16 mm focal length (x0.62) is the result.

If you want to use other lenses, you can use the LA-EA1 lens adapter (199 dollars) to connect all lenses with Sony Alpha or Konica Minolta bayonet, whose aperture is then controlled by the NEX camera. But then you have to do without the autofocus and focus manually. The LA-EA1 even has a removable tripod clamp to securely mount larger lenses on a tripod (and not just on the small NEX camera). Purely manual adapters are theoretically also conceivable for numerous other lens bayonets.


For the power supply there is a power supply AC-PW20 (100 dollars) for stationary use of the cameras, for example in the studio or at the photo table, and of course a spare or additional battery NP-FW50 (99 dollars).

It’s better to go straight to the ACC-FWCA accessory kit (129 dollars), which contains the battery, a carrying strap, a protective bag for the lens cap and a wrapping cloth for the camera. Carrying straps (shoulder straps) in different colors (STP-XH1 for 39 dollars) is also available separately.


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