Updated (January, 2012): Compare the Nikon D4 vs Sony NEX-5N

Nikon D3

Winner
Nikon D3

61

vs

Sony Alpha NEX-5

46

Sony Alpha NEX-5

Runner-up
     
 

Reasons to buy the Nikon D3

Weather sealed
Weather sealed
Shoot in extreme weather
Startup delay
Almost no delay when powering up
300 ms startup delay
Sensor size
Large sensor
Full frame 36.0x24.0mm
Shutter lag
Barely any delay taking photos
88 ms shutter lag
 

Reasons to buy the Sony Alpha NEX-5

Movie format
Full HD
1080p @ 30fps
Size
Really small
Compact 111x59x38 mm
Screen flips out
Flip-out screen
Great for movies
HDR
In-camera HDR
Combines multiple exposures
 
Differences | Recommendations | Cast your vote | Similarities | Competitors | Appearance | Discussion

differences

Advantages of the Nikon D3

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Battery life Much longer battery life 4300 shots vs 330 shots
Help
More than 13x more shots per battery charge
Shutter lag Much less shutter lag 88 ms vs 670 ms
Help
7.6x less delay when taking photos
Built-in focus motor Has a built-in focus motor Yes vs No
Help
Autofocuses with all autofocus lenses
Autofocus Faster autofocus Phase detection vs Contrast detection
Help
Catch candid moments easily
Weather sealed Weather sealed Yes vs No
Help
Sealed to shoot in the rain
Sensor size Much larger sensor Full frame 36.0x24.0mm vs APS-C 23.4x15.6mm
Help
Around 2.5x larger sensor
Overall image quality Better image quality 81.0 vs 69.0
Help
Around 20% better image quality
Low light performance Significantly lower noise at high ISO 2,290 ISO vs 796 ISO
Help
The D3 has excellent image quality 1.5 f-stops higher ISO than the NEX-5
Lens availability Significantly more lenses available 152 lenses vs 21 lenses
Help
More than 7x more lenses available
Storage slots Has more storage slots 2 vs 1
Help
More slots allows storing more images without switching memory cards
Startup delay Less startup delay 300 ms vs 1000 ms
Help
3.3x less delay when turning on
Cross type focus points More cross-type focus points 15 vs 0
Help
Grab focus in difficult situations
Viewfinder Has a viewfinder Pentaprism vs None
Help
A viewfinder can help save battery life by keeping the screen turned off
Focus points More focus points 51 vs 25
Help
Set focus accurately within the frame
Color depth Better color depth 23.5 bits vs 22.2 bits
Help
Distinguishes 1.3 more bits of color
Continuous shooting Shoots slightly faster 9 fps vs 7 fps
Help
Around 30% faster continuous shooting
Light sensitivity (boost) Has boost ISO 25,600 ISO vs None
Help
Allows taking photos in darker situations, often at the cost of additional noise in the image
Nikon D3 Learn more about
the Nikon D3

Advantages of the Sony NEX-5

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Size Much smaller 111x59x38 mm vs 160x157x88 mm
Help
8.9x smaller
Movie format Shoots movies 1080p @ 30fps vs None
Help
Shoots Full HD (1080p) video as well as still pictures
3D Takes 3D photos Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple photos into a 3D image
Weight Much lighter 287 g vs 1,300 g
Help
4.5x lighter
Screen flips out Has a flip-out screen Yes vs No
Help
Flip-out screens can be helpful when composing tricky shots or taking movies
Lowest price Much cheaper $498.00 vs $7,995.00
Help
The best price we've seen is $7,497 cheaper (16.1x less)
Panorama Can create panoramas in-camera Yes vs No
Help
Stitches together multiple photos for a wide perspective
HDR Has in-camera HDR Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple exposures to capture high dynamic range
Thickness Significantly thinner 1.5" vs 3.5"
Help
2.3x thinner
Sensor cleaning Has a self cleaning sensor Yes vs No
Help
Removes dust from the sensor automatically, avoiding spots in photos
True resolution Higher true resolution 14 MP vs 12.1 MP
Help
Capture around 20% more detail in your photos
Light sensitivity Better maximum light sensitivity 12,800 ISO vs 6,400 ISO
Help
The NEX-5's maximum light sensitivity is 1 f-stop better
Sony Alpha NEX-5 Learn more about
the Sony NEX-5
vs

recommendations

Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent digital cameras, and ignoring price

Snapsort Recommends
Nikon D3 Nikon D3 61
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      Color
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        46 Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony Alpha NEX-5
        Retailer
          Style
            Color
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              similarities

              Compared to recent digital cameras

              Common Strengths Common Weaknesses
              Screen resolution High resolution screens Help
              D3:922k dots
              NEX-5:920k dots
              Sensor size Large sensors Help
              D3:Full frame 36.0x24.0mm
              NEX-5:APS-C 23.4x15.6mm
              Interchangeable lenses Both support interchangeable lenses, which is uncommon in cameras similar to these Help
              Many lenses to choose from
              Supports RAW Supports RAW Help
              Better editing
              External flash Support external flash Help
              Better lighting
              Sensor type Better sensor types Help
              Better in low light
              Built-in flash No built-in flash Help
              Professional
              Image stabilization No image stabilization Help
              Risk of blur

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $319 body only

              $389 - $506 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Takes significantly higher resolution photos
              Supports 24p Records movies in 24p
              Thickness Is thicker
              Weight Is slightly heavier
              Nikon D5100

              Nikon D5100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $378 - $415 body only

              $495 - $564 with 18-55mm lens

              Supports 24p Records movies in 24p
              External mic jack Has an external mic jack
              Thickness Is thicker
              Weight Is significantly heavier

              Nikon D3 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D700

              Nikon D700

              Pro DSLR

              Size Significantly smaller
              Built-in flash Built-in flash
              Battery life Much shorter battery life
              Viewfinder coverage Significantly less viewfinder coverage
              Nikon D3S

              Nikon D3S

              Pro DSLR

              $4,995 body only

              Movie format Shoots movies
              Low light performance Lower noise at high ISO
              Shutter lag More shutter lag
              Battery life Shorter battery life
              Nikon D800

              Nikon D800

              Pro DSLR

              $3,160 body only

              Movie format Shoots movies
              True resolution Much higher true resolution
              Battery life Much shorter battery life
              Shutter lag More shutter lag
              Nikon D4

              Nikon D4

              Pro DSLR

              $6,744 - $6,827 body only

              Movie format Shoots movies
              Autofocus Video autofocus
              Battery life Much shorter battery life
              Shutter lag More shutter lag
              Nikon D7100

              Nikon D7100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $1,047 body only

              $1,347 with 18-140mm lens

              Movie format Shoots movies
              Size Much smaller
              Battery life Much shorter battery life
              Sensor size Much smaller sensor

              Sony Alpha NEX-5 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Sony NEX-5N

              Sony NEX-5N

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $598 body only

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Startup delay Significantly more startup delay
              Lowest price Slightly more expensive
              Sony Alpha A5000

              Sony Alpha A5000

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $448 - $450 with 16-50mm lens

              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Overall image quality Better image quality
              Screen resolution Significantly lower resolution screen
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos
              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $400 with 16-50mm lens

              External mic jack Has an external mic jack
              Thickness Slightly thinner
              Movie format Lower resolution movies
              Dynamic range Less dynamic range
              Sony Alpha NEX-6

              Sony Alpha NEX-6

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $430 body only

              $749 - $890 with 16-50mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos
              Startup delay Significantly more startup delay
              Sony NEX-7

              Sony NEX-7

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $1,074 body only

              $1,080 with 18-55mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Startup delay Slightly more startup delay
              Weight Heavier

              appearance

              Nikon D3 Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Nikon D3 Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Nikon D3 Sony Alpha NEX-5

              discussion

              Nikon D3
              D3
              Nikon

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              Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Alpha NEX-5
              Sony

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