Canon 1D versus Sony A5100
The Canon EOS-1D and the Sony Alpha A5100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2001 and August 2014. The 1D is a DSLR, while the A5100 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-H (1D) and an APS-C (A5100) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 4.1 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Canon 1D vs Sony A5100
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D and the Sony A5100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1D – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A5100 is considerably smaller (72 percent) than the Canon 1D. Moreover, the A5100 is substantially lighter (82 percent) than the 1D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1D is splash and dust resistant, while the A5100 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A5100). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A5100, 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.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Canon 1D»||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||55.9 oz||500||Y||Sep 2001||6,499||-|
|Sony A5100«||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||5.9 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||31.4 oz||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 5DS R« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 1D C« »||6.2 in||6.5 in||3.3 in||54.5 oz||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999||-|
|Canon 1D X« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||5.9 in||6.3 in||3.1 in||48.9 oz||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999||-|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||55.2 oz||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999||-|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||54.1 oz||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499||-|
|Canon 1Ds« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999||-|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.5 oz||280||n||Jun 2015||999||-|
|Sony A6000« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.8 in||12.1 oz||360||n||Feb 2014||599||-|
|Sony A5000« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||420||n||Jan 2014||449||-|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499||-|
|Sony RX100« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.4 in||8.5 oz||330||n||Jun 2012||649||-|
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 A5100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 92 percent) than the 1D, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison: Canon 1D vs Sony A5100
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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units 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 features an APS-H sensor and the Sony A5100 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A5100 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 A5100 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 4.1 MP of the 1D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 11.56μm for the 1D). However, it should be noted that the A5100 is much more recent (by 12 years and 10 months) than the 1D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|Canon 5DS R« »||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Canon 5DS« »||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Canon 1D C« »||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||-||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D X« »||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||-||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||-||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||-||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|Canon 1Ds« »||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||-||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|Sony A6000« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||13.1||1347||82|
|Sony A5000« »||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.8||13.0||1089||79|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.8||12.5||1067||74|
|Sony RX100« »||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.6||12.4||390||66|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The A5100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1D does not. The highest resolution format that the A5100 can use is 1080/60p.
Feature comparison: Canon 1D vs Sony A5100
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 1D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the A5100 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1D, the Sony A5100, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||7.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||16.0||n||n|
|Canon 5DS R« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 5DS« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D C« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||14.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D X« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||14.0||n||n|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||8000||8.5||n||n|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||8000||8.3||n||n|
|Canon 1Ds« »||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||8000||3.0||n||n|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||2000||16.0||Y||Y|
|Sony A6000« »||1440||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||4000||11.0||Y||n|
|Sony A5000« »||-||n||3.0||461||tilting||n||4000||3.5||Y||n|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||-||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||4000||4.0||Y||n|
|Sony RX100« »||-||n||3.0||1229||fixed||n||2000||10.0||Y||Y|
The A5100 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the 1D has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 1D was succeeded by the Canon 1D Mark II.
Review summary: Canon 1D vs Sony A5100
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1D and the Sony A5100? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (16000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2001).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A5100:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 4.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 140%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p 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 (922k vs 120k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 1302g or 82 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (92 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 12 years and 10 months of technical progress since the 1D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A5100 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 7 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1D or the A5100. 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Canon 1D»||-||HiRec||-||-||-||Sep 2001||6,499||-|
|Sony A5100«||Rec||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 5DS R« »||Rec||83/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS« »||Rec||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 1D C« »||-||-||-||-||-||Apr 2012||14,999||-|
|Canon 1D X« »||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||-||HiRec||4.5/5||-||-||Aug 2007||7,999||-|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||-||-||-||-||-||Aug 2005||3,999||-|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||-||HiRec||-||rev||-||Jan 2004||4,499||-|
|Canon 1Ds« »||-||HiRec||-||-||-||Sep 2002||8,999||-|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||HiRec||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999||-|
|Sony A6000« »||Rec||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599||-|
|Sony A5000« »||Rec||-||4.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449||-|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||-||-||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499||-|
|Sony RX100« »||HiRec||78/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||Jun 2012||649||-|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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