Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thought Of The Day: Sony NEX-7 or Nikon D3200?

The Sony NEX-7 is a popular compact interchangeable-lens digital camera while the Nikon D3200 is a soon-to-be DSLR. These two cameras are much different, but they do have one thing in common: the same 24 megapixel APS-C sized Sony sensor.

Since they both have the exact same sensor, it is logical that if one is considering the NEX-7, they might also be considering the D3200, and vice versa. So let's take a look.

With digital cameras there are three important factors: the sensor, the software and the lens. Now forget all of the bells and whistles and marketing nonsense--those things come after what is truly important (sensor, software, lens). What you are truly interested in is actual image quality. How do the photographs look? Extra features don't add to that. Yes, they can make "getting the shot" slightly easier sometimes, but they don't contribute to the quality of the final print.

The Sony NEX-7 and the Nikon D3200 have the same sensor, so neither camera has an advantage here. They're both the same, just in different bodies.

Software is next, and Nikon has the advantage. The D3200 has built-in Expeed 3, which is arguably the best software found in any digital camera. There is no argument that Expeed 3 is better than Sony's software. What this means is that Nikon can maximize the data from the sensor better than Sony can. The differences won't be significant, but you'll see less noise, more details and more accurate colors from the D3200 with a close study (the key words being "close study").

Lenses are where the D3200 really has an advantage over the NEX-7. Nikon has a large selection of high quality lenses that you can purchase. Sony has a small selection of not-bad-but-not-great lenses that you can purchase. Nikon's 18-55mm kit lens is a little better than Sony's 18-55mm kit lens. Lenses are just as important as the camera body, and Nikon is the clear winner here, both in quality and quantity.

One advantage the NEX-7 has over the D3200 is size and weight. The NEX-7 is much smaller, and, with a "pancake" lens, can even fit in a large pocket. If you are strictly looking for a compact camera with a powerful punch, you are not even considering the D3200. You are only comparing these cameras if you are interested in high resolution images for less money than what a full-frame DSLR will cost you.

Perhaps the biggest reason one might choose the D3200 over the NEX-7 is the cost. Supply has caught up to demand, and the Sony NEX-7 can finally be had for the MSRP of $1,350 (with a lens)--for a little while you couldn't find one for less than $1,800. The D3200 has an MSRP of only $700, which means you get better image quality than the NEX-7 for half the cost. Talk about a deal!

Again, if you are strictly looking for a compact camera, you would not choose the D3200. If you are looking for a compact camera but the NEX-7 is out of your budget (or if you just feel it's overpriced), consider the Samsung NX200. If you are looking for a digital camera with a lot of value that can deliver high quality images, the D3200 might just be what you are looking for.



  1. Great post! What about the extra features like shooting speed, ISO and all?

  2. The NEX-7 does have one higher ISO sensitivity (not a full stop, though) over the D3200, but who uses ISO 16,000? It's not even good for "emergency" use.
    Ten frames-per-second (NEX-7) vs four frames-per-second (D3200) could be significant if you are a sports or action photographer. Most people, however, don't need and will never use four fps.
    By-the-way, thanks for your reply!

  3. From a photographer and client point of view, would you take a photographer seriously if he turned up to a photoshoot, event with a Nex-7 though?

    Whilst the D3200 is an "entry level" dslr, it looks serious and quality permits to be used seriously. Does the Sony adapter for lens do away with the lens inferiority once you start considering extra lenses?

    I know many photographers that would consider a Nex-7 for a secondary camera but not as a one and only or prime shooter.

    1. Neill, thanks for the comment!

      I think whether or not the client would take the photographer seriously with a compact interchangeable lens (like the NEX-7) depends on the quality of the portfolio and/or the photographers ability to ease the client.

      I used a similar camera to the NEX-7 (the Samsung NX200) for professional work and the client didn't care whatsoever the type of camera that I used.

  4. Thanks for providing such a great article, it was excellent and very informative.
    as a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed.
    thank you :)

  5. Hi,

    Thank you for the article...I am actually trying to make up my mind b/w Nikon3200 and Sony Nex5R.
    Since sensor scores are same and software difference is seen only on "close study" the only thing left is lens range. Sony nex 5R has focus peaking function which allows easier manual focusing as per what I read. With cheap adapters you get to use a really wide range of lens.

    Since price difference b/w 5R and Nikon D3200 is not much what is your view considering the above?

    Thank You


    1. Thank you for your comment. I'd go with whatever your gut instinct is. Personally, I recently got rid of my DSLR and am happy with that choice. Size and weight matter sometimes. I've found that I'm more willing to bring a camera with me if it isn't bulky. Either way, though, you can't go wrong.