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Canon 1Ds versus Sony A5100

The Canon EOS-1Ds and the Sony Alpha A5100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2002 and August 2014. The 1Ds is a DSLR, while the A5100 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (1Ds) and an APS-C (A5100) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 11 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 1Ds vs Sony A5100

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds and the Sony A5100 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 side – the 1Ds – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 1Ds vs Sony A5100
Compare 1Ds versus A5100 top
Compare 1Ds and A5100 rear

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 1Ds. Moreover, the A5100 is substantially lighter (78 percent) than the 1Ds. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1Ds 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 (1Ds) 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.

Concerning battery life, the 1Ds gets 600 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the A5100 can take 400 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 1Ds» 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
Sony A5100« 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D C« » 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999- i Canon 1D C
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark III« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II N« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon 1D Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Nikon D2Xs« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony A6000« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.1 oz 360 n Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
Sony A5000« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 420 n Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
Sony NEX-3N« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
Sony RX100« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 A5100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 94 percent) than the 1Ds, 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 1Ds vs Sony A5100

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 1Ds features a full frame sensor and the Sony A5100 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A5100 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 1Ds and Sony A5100 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the A5100 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 11 MP of the 1Ds. 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 8.83μm for the 1Ds). However, it should be noted that the A5100 is much more recent (by 11 years and 10 months) than the 1Ds, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

1Ds versus A5100 MP

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 A5100 offers substantially better image quality than the 1Ds (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 1Ds» Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704-21.811.095463Canon 1Ds
Sony A5100« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780Sony A5100
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D C« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p----Canon 1D C
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark III« » APS-H 10.1 3888 2592-22.711.7107871Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon 1D Mark II« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.1100366Canon 1D Mark II
Nikon D2Xs« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959Nikon D2Xs
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
Sony A6000« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782Sony A6000
Sony A5000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979Sony A5000
Sony NEX-3N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774Sony NEX-3N
Sony RX100« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066Sony RX100

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A5100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1Ds does not. The highest resolution format that the A5100 can use is 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 1Ds vs Sony A5100

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 1Ds 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1Ds and Sony A5100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 1Ds»optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 1Ds
Sony A5100«- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n Sony A5100
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D C« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n Canon 1D C
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon 1D Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 8.3 n n Canon 1D Mark II
Nikon D2Xs« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2Xs
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
Sony A6000« »1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6000
Sony A5000« »- n 3.0 461 tilting n 4000 3.5 Y n Sony A5000
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100

The A5100 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the 1Ds has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 1Ds was succeeded by the Canon 1Ds Mark II.

Review summary: Canon 1Ds vs Sony A5100

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1Ds or the Sony A5100 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS-1Ds:

  • 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 (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 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 2002).

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A5100:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 11MP), which boosts linear resolution by 48%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm vs 156x157.6mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 982g or 78 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 (94 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 11 years and 10 months of technical progress since the 1Ds launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A5100 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 6 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.

1Ds 06:17 A5100

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1Ds or the A5100. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 1Ds»-HiRec--- Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
Sony A5100«Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D C« »----- Apr 2012 14,999- i Canon 1D C
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-HiRec--- Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon 1D Mark II« »-HiRec-rev- Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Nikon D2Xs« »---rev- Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony A6000« »Rec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
Sony A5000« »Rec-4.5/5rev4.5/5 Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
Sony NEX-3N« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
Sony RX100« »HiRec78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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