Canon 5D Mark II vs Sony A6400
The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Sony Alpha A6400 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2008 and January 2019. The 5D Mark II is a DSLR, while the A6400 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (5D Mark II) and an APS-C (A6400) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 21 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 5D Mark II and the Sony Alpha A6400? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark II and the Sony A6400 are illustrated 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 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 A6400 is considerably smaller (54 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark II. Moreover, the A6400 is substantially lighter (53 percent) than the 5D Mark II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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 (5D Mark II) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6400). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A6400, 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 5D Mark II gets 850 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the A6400 can take 410 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A6400 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|2.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|3.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|6.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|7.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|8.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|9.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|11.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|12.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|14.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|15.||Sony A6100||120 mm||67 mm||59 mm||396 g||420||n||Aug 2019||749|
|16.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|17.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The A6400 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 74 percent) than the 5D Mark II, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 5D Mark II features a full frame sensor and the Sony A6400 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A6400 is 58 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the A6400 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 21 MP of the 5D 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 3.91μm versus 6.41μm for the 5D Mark II). However, it should be noted that the A6400 is much more recent (by 10 years and 4 months) than the 5D 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 A6400 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A6400 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 5D Mark II are 28.1 x 18.7 inches or 71.3 x 47.5 cm for good quality, 22.5 x 15 inches or 57.1 x 38 cm for very good quality, and 18.7 x 12.5 inches or 47.5 x 31.7 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A6400 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A6400 are ISO 100 to ISO 32000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-102400.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 A6400 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 5D Mark II (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.3 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops of reduced 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|8.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|9.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|11.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|14.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A6400 provides a better video resolution than the 5D Mark II. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A6400 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the 5D Mark II has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A6400 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 5D Mark II (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the 5D Mark II has a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.70x), 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 5D Mark II and Sony A6400 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|9.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the 5D Mark II, but is missing on the A6400 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 A6400 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 5D Mark II does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A6400 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The 5D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the A6400 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.
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 5D Mark II and Sony Alpha A6400 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A6400 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 5D Mark II does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5D Mark II (unlike the A6400) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The A6400 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the 5D Mark II has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 5D Mark II was succeeded by the Canon 5D Mark III. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 5D Mark II or the Sony A6400 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D Mark II:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.70x).
- 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.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (850 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2008).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A6400:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 21MP), which boosts linear resolution by 7%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- 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 selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 152x114mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 447g or 53 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- 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.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (74 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 10 years and 4 months of technical progress since the 5D Mark II launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A6400 is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 5D Mark II and the Sony A6400 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 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 5D Mark II or the A6400. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|2.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|3.||Canon M50||..||+||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|4.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|6.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|7.||Canon M5||4/5||+||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|8.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|9.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|11.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|12.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|13.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|14.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|15.||Sony A6100||..||..||82/100||4/5||5/5||Aug 2019||749|
|16.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|17.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon 5D Mark II vs Sony A6400
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 5D Mark II||Sony A6400|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2008||January 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 3,499||USD 899|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Sony A6400|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||21 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5616 x 3744 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.41 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 32,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||79||83|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.7||24|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.9||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1815||1431|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Sony A6400|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Sony A6400|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.9 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Sony A6400|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Sony A6400|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||850 shots per charge||410 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
152 x 114 x 75 mm
(6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0 in)
120 x 67 x 50 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.0 in)
|Camera Weight||850 g (30.0 oz)||403 g (14.2 oz)|
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