Canon 1D Mark II vs Sony NEX-5
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2004 and May 2010. The 1D Mark II is a DSLR, while the NEX-5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-H (1D Mark II) and an APS-C (NEX-5) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 14 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-5|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|8.2 MP, APS-H Sensor||14 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 3,200)||ISO 200-12,800|
|Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|2.0 LCD, 230k dots||3.0 LCD, 920k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|8.3 shutter flaps per second||7 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|1200 shots per battery charge||330 shots per battery charge|
|156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1535 g||111 x 59 x 38 mm, 287 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Sony Alpha NEX-5? 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 1D Mark II and the Sony NEX-5 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 1D Mark II is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5 is considerably smaller (73 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark II. Moreover, the NEX-5 is substantially lighter (81 percent) than the 1D Mark II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1D Mark II is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-5 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D Mark II) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-5, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark II gets 1200 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the NEX-5 can take 330 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D Mark II has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 1D Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1535 g||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499|
|Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699|
|Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999|
|Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|Canon 1Ds||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|Canon 1D||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1585 g||500||Y||Sep 2001||6,499|
|Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
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.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The NEX-5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 84 percent) than the 1D Mark II, which puts it into a different 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark II features an APS-H sensor and the Sony NEX-5 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5 is 33 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the NEX-5 offers a higher resolution of 14 megapixels, compared with 8.2 MP of the 1D Mark II. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.11μm versus 8.17μm for the 1D Mark II). However, it should be noted that the NEX-5 is much more recent (by 6 years and 3 months) than the 1D Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D Mark II are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The NEX-5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1D Mark II does not. The highest resolution format that the NEX-5 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 1D Mark II has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1D Mark II and Sony NEX-5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||n|
|Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5||n||n|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the 1D Mark II, but is missing on the NEX-5 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The NEX-5 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 1D Mark II does not have a selfie-screen.
The 1D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SD cards, while the NEX-5 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The 1D Mark II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the NEX-5 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-1D Mark II and Sony Alpha NEX-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon 1D Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 1D Mark II (unlike the NEX-5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 1D Mark II and the NEX-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D Mark II was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II N, while the NEX-5 was followed by the Sony NEX-5N. 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 what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark II or the Sony NEX-5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D Mark II:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2004).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (14 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 31%.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 1248g or 81 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (84 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 3 months of technical progress since the 1D Mark II launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the NEX-5 emerges as the winner of the match-up (13 : 11 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 1D Mark II and the Sony NEX-5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1D Mark II and the NEX-5 in practical situations. 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 1D Mark II||..||+ +||..||o||..||Jan 2004||4,499|
|Sony NEX-5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Canon 5DS||+||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS R||+||83/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||..||89/100||..||5/5||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||o||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999|
|Canon 5D||88/100||+ +||o||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|Canon 1Ds||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|Canon 1D||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2001||6,499|
|Sony NEX-5R||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony NEX-F3||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Sony NEX-3||..||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1D Mark II N vs Olympus E-3
- Canon 1D Mark II N vs Olympus E-450
- Canon 1D Mark II N vs Olympus E-M5
- Canon 1D Mark II N vs Sony H200
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Canon 5D Mark IV
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Leica CL
- Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony NEX-5
- Canon M6 vs Sony NEX-5
- Canon SX510 vs Sony NEX-5
- Fujifilm X70 vs Sony NEX-5
- Olympus E-1 vs Sony NEX-5
- Panasonic G80 vs Sony NEX-5
Specifications: Canon 1D Mark II vs Sony NEX-5
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 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2004||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 4,499||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-5|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||28.7 x 19.1 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||548.17 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||34.5 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.17 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.49 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC II||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.3||22.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1003||796|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8.3 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark II||Sony NEX-5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1200 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
156 x 158 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||1535 g (54.1 oz)||287 g (10.1 oz)|
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