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Sony NEX-3N digital camera image
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Sony NEX-3N

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Sony NEX-3N Performance


Timing and Performance

The Sony NEX-3N's performance ranges from very fast to sluggish.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~2.2 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~1.3 seconds

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
5 seconds after 14 large/fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
5 seconds after 6 RAW files*
5 seconds after 4 RAW+ L/F JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/sec UHS-1 SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup time was much slower than most DSLRs, and slower than most CSCs as well these days. Buffer clearing times were pretty good (and consistent) with a fast card, though.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~1.0 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~2.1 seconds

Time to display a large/fine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.7 second

Time to display a large/fine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Play to Record delay was okay for a CSC, but Record to Play was quite slow.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.272 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All AF timing performed with Sony E 16-50mm kit lens.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.270 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Auto Flash Enabled
0.389 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, TTL Auto flash enabled.

Continuous AF
0.316 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.108 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.022 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button. There was about 7% variation between iterations on this particular measurement.

The Sony NEX-3N's full-autofocus shutter lag (with the subject at a fixed distance) was about 0.27 second in both Single-area (center) and Multi-area AF modes with the 16-50mm kit lens. That's faster than average for a CSC these days, but a bit slower than the typical consumer DSLR. With the flash enabled, the NEX-3N's full AF shutter lag increased to 0.39s, to account for the preflash metering. Shutter lag was 0.316 second in continuous mode AF. When manually focused, the Sony NEX-3N's shutter lag dropped to 0.108 second, which is good. The NEX-3N's prefocused shutter lag was only 0.022 second, much faster than most CSCs -- we likely have the 3N's electronic front curtain shutter to thank for that.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.79 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.90 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing.

Single Shot mode
RAW + LF JPEG
1.42 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Speed Priority Continuous Mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.25 second (4.00 frames per second);
12 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 12 shots, then slows to an average of about 0.43s or 2.35 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.40 second (2.50 frames per second);
14 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 14 frames, then slows to an average of about 0.55s or 1.81 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Mode
RAW

0.40 second (2.50 frames per second);
6 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 6 frames, then slows to an average of about 0.89s or 1.12 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Mode
RAW + LF JPEG

0.40 second (2.50 frames per second);
4 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 4 frames, then slows to an average of about 1.28s or 0.78 fps when buffer is full.

Flash Recycling

1.8 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec UHS-1 SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were about average for a CSC when shooting just JPEGs, but slowed down with RAW or RAW+JPEG files, increasing from 0.79 second for large/fine JPEGs to 0.90 second for RAW and 1.42 seconds for RAW+ large/fine JPEG files.

Speed Priority Continuous mode performance was fair for an entry-level model, matching Sony's specification at about 4 frames per second for Large/Fine JPEGs, however focus is locked at the first frame of a burst in this mode. Standard continuous mode (where Continuous AF is available) was rather pedestrian at 2.5 frames per second no matter the file type, also matching Sony's spec.

Buffer depth for large/fine JPEGs was decent, at 14 frames in standard continuous mode and 12 frames in Speed Priority. Note, though, that our test target for this was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG burst lengths should be longer with typical subjects. When shooting with RAW files, buffer depth dropped to only 6 frames in standard continuous mode, and 4 frames with RAW+JPEG. This is typical for an entry-level model, though.

The flash was able to recycle from a full discharge in 1.8 seconds, which is very fast.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

11,456 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were fast, quick enough that you likely won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Pro 95MB/sec UHS-1 card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Sony NEX-3N's performance is a mixed bagged. Startup and single-shot cycle times with RAW files are slow, but full autofocus is faster than average for a CSC, and prefocused shutter lag is very fast. Continuous modes speeds aren't impressive and buffers are shallow with RAW files, but that's no surprise for an entry-level model.

Battery

Battery Life
Excellent battery life for a Compact System Camera.

Operating Mode Battery Life
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard)
480 shots

The Sony NEX-3N uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and a USB charger (for in-camera charging). The battery is rated for 480 shots per charge using the CIPA standard, which includes 50% flash shots with the built-in flash. Battery life is well above average for a CSC, but as always, we recommend getting a second battery for your NEX-3N if you plan any extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))