Canon 10D vs Sony A850
The Canon EOS 10D and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2003 and August 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (10D) and a full frame (A850) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 6.3 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 10D and the Sony Alpha A850? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 10D and the Sony A850 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A850 is notably larger (14 percent) than the Canon 10D. Moreover, the A850 is markedly heavier (5 percent) than the 10D. It is noteworthy in this context that the A850 is splash and dust-proof, while the 10D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Canon 10D||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Sony A850||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Canon T5||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||16.9 oz||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon SL1||4.6 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||14.4 oz||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|Canon T4i||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.3 oz||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|Canon 7D||5.8 in||4.4 in||2.9 in||30.3 oz||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 40D||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 30D||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.9 in||27.7 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|Canon 20D||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Canon Rebel||5.6 in||3.9 in||2.8 in||22.9 oz||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|Canon D60||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.2 oz||620||n||Feb 2002||2,999|
|Nikon D750||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||26.5 oz||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D100||5.7 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||27.5 oz||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Sony A7 II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Sony A99||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony A900||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 10D features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A850 is 151 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the 10D (6.3MP), but the A850 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 7.38μm for the 10D). Yet, the A850 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 6 months) than the 10D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 10D are 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm for good quality, 12.3 x 8.2 inches or 31.2 x 20.8 cm for very good quality, and 10.2 x 6.8 inches or 26 x 17.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 10D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A850 offers substantially better image quality than the 10D (overall score 22 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.7 bits higher color depth, 1.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 10D and the A850 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the A850 offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the 10D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A850 has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.55x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 10D and Sony A850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 10D has one, while the A850 does not. While the built-in flash of the 10D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The 10D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 10D only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 10D and Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 10D and the A850 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 10D was replaced by the Canon 20D, while the A850 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 10D and the Sony A850? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 10D:
- More compact: Is smaller (150x107mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2003).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 6.3MP), which boosts linear resolution by 97%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (22 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.7 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.55x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 118k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 10D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A850 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 3 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 10D and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 10D or the A850. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Canon 10D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Sony A850||..||75/100||..||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Canon T5||+||..||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon SL1||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|Canon T4i||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|Canon 7D||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 40D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 30D||+ +||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|Canon 20D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Canon Rebel||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2003||899|
|Canon D60||..||+ +||o||..||..||Feb 2002||2,999|
|Nikon D750||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D100||..||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7||+ +||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Sony A99||..||84/100||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony A900||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Canon 10D vs Sony A850
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 10D||Sony A850|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2003||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 10D||Sony A850|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.7 x 15.1 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||342.77 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27.3 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6.3 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3072 x 2048 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.38 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.84 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||57||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.9||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||571||1415|
|Screen Specs||Canon 10D||Sony A850|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||118k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 10D||Sony A850|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or MS cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 10D||Sony A850|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 10D||Sony A850|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
150 x 107 x 75 mm
(5.9 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||850 g (30.0 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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