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

Nikon D3 vs Sony Alpha NEX-5

Winner
Nikon D3

58

Sony Alpha NEX-5

43

Runner-up

Reasons to buy the Nikon D3

Weather sealed
Weather sealed
Shoot in extreme weather
Barely any delay taking photos
Shutter lag
88 ms shutter lag
Slightly more lenses available
Lens availability
152 lenses
Built-in focus motor
Badge
Autofocuses with more lenses
 

Reasons to buy the Sony Alpha NEX-5

Size
Really small
Compact 111x59x38 mm
Screen flips out
Flip-out screen
Great for movies
HDR
In-camera HDR
Combines multiple exposures
Panorama
In-camera panoramas
Stitches together multiple photos into a panorama

galleries

Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Nikon D3. Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Sony Alpha NEX-5.

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
Overall image quality
Better image quality
81.0 vs 69.0
Help
Around 20% better image quality
Weather sealed
Weather sealed
Yes vs No
Help
Sealed to shoot in the rain
Lens availability
Significantly more lenses available
152 lenses vs 21 lenses
Help
More than 7x more lenses available
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
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
Almost the same
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
3D
Takes 3D photos
Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple photos into a 3D image
Movie format
Shoots movies
1080p @ 30fps vs None
Help
Shoots Full HD (1080p) video as well as still pictures
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
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
Slightly 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 58
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      Color
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        43 Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony Alpha NEX-5
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          Style
            Color
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              similarities

              Compared to recent digital cameras

              Common Strengths
              Screen resolution High resolution screens Help
              D3922k dots
              NEX-5920k dots
              Interchangeable lenses Both support interchangeable lenses, which is uncommon in cameras similar to these Help
              Many lenses to choose from
              Startup delay Minimal startup delay Help
              D3300 ms
              NEX-51000 ms
              Supports RAW Supports RAW Help
              Better editing
              External flash Each supports an external flash Help
              Better lighting
              Common Weaknesses
              Built-in flash No built-in flash Help
              Professional
              Image stabilization No image stabilization Help
              Risk of blur
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $289 - $547 body only

              $447 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

              $354 body only

              $591 with 18-55mm, 55-200mm lenses

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

              Nikon D3 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D700

              Nikon D700

              Pro DSLR

              $3,935 body only

              Size Significantly smaller
              Sensor cleaning Has a self cleaning sensor
              Battery life Much shorter battery life
              Viewfinder coverage Much 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

              $2,521 - $2,623 body only

              Autofocus Video autofocus
              Movie format Shoots movies
              Battery life Much shorter battery life
              Shutter lag Significantly more shutter lag
              Nikon D4

              Nikon D4

              Pro DSLR

              $4,819 body only

              Autofocus Video autofocus
              Movie format Shoots movies
              Battery life Much shorter battery life
              Shutter lag Significantly more shutter lag
              Nikon D750

              Nikon D750

              Pro DSLR

              $1,997 body only

              $2,697 with 24-120mm lens

              Autofocus Video autofocus
              Size Much smaller
              Battery life Much shorter battery life
              Continuous shooting Shoots slightly slower

              Sony Alpha NEX-5 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Sony NEX-5N

              Sony NEX-5N

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $689 body only

              $803 with 16-50mm lens

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

              Sony Alpha A5000

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $291 body only

              $330 - $398 with 16-50mm lens

              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Overall image quality Better image quality
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos
              Screen resolution Significantly lower resolution screen
              Sony NEX-7

              Sony NEX-7

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $580 body only

              $498 - $589 with 18-55mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Overall image quality Better image quality
              Startup delay Slightly more startup delay
              Weight Slightly heavier
              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $192 body only

              $368 with 18-55mm 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

              $659 body only

              $887 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

              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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