Canon 5D vs Sony A77
The Canon EOS 5D and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2005 and August 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (5D) and an APS-C (A77) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12.7 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.
|Canon 5D||Sony A77|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|12.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor||24 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 3,200)||ISO 100-16,000 (50 - 25,600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|2.5 LCD, 230k dots||3.0 LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||12 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|400 shots per battery charge||470 shots per battery charge|
|152 x 113 x 75 mm, 895 g||143 x 104 x 81 mm, 732 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77? 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 5D and the Sony A77 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 dimensions 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 A77 is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Canon 5D. Moreover, the A77 is markedly lighter (18 percent) than the 5D. 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. 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 5D||6.0 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||31.6 oz||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|Sony A77||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Canon 6D Mark II||5.7 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|Canon 5DS||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS R||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5D Mark III||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||33.5 oz||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||5.7 in||4.4 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon 5D Mark II||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||55.2 oz||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||42.9 oz||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|Canon 1Ds||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|Nikon D700||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Pentax K-3||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Sony A6500||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.1 in||16.0 oz||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Sony A7 II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A77 II||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||22.8 oz||480||Y||May 2014||1,199|
|Sony A99||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
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 obviously take relative prices into account. 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 A77 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 58 percent) than the 5D, 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.
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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D features a full frame sensor and the Sony A77 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A77 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.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the A77 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 12.7 MP of the 5D. 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 8.25μm for the 5D). However, it should be noted that the A77 is much more recent (by 6 years) than the 5D, 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 A77 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A77 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 are 21.8 x 14.6 inches or 55.5 x 37 cm for good quality, 17.5 x 11.6 inches or 44.4 x 29.6 cm for very good quality, and 14.6 x 9.7 inches or 37 x 24.7 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 5D 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 SLT-A77 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A77 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 5D (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 2.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|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 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|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|
|Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A77 II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A77 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 5D does not. The highest resolution format that the A77 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A77 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the 5D 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 A77 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 5D (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A77 has a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.71x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D, the Sony A77, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||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|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A77 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the A77 and the 5D is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A77 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the 5D offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The A77 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 does not have a selfie-screen.
The 5D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the A77 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 and Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A77 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A77 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the 5D and the A77 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the A77 was followed by the Sony A77 II. 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 the Canon 5D better than the Sony A77 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2005).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha SLT-A77:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12.7MP), which boosts linear resolution by 37%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.1 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- 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 96%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.71x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (143x104mm vs 152x113mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 163g or 18 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (470 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (58 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the 5D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A77 is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 3 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 and the Sony A77 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 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 5D and the A77 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 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 5D||88/100||+ +||o||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|Sony A77||91/100||81/100||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Canon 6D Mark II||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|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 5D Mark III||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon 5D Mark II||91/100||79/100||4/5||5/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|Canon 1Ds||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|Nikon D700||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Pentax K-3||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Sony A6500||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A77 II||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||May 2014||1,199|
|Sony A99||..||84/100||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Sony A77
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Panasonic GM5
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Panasonic GX85
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Sony A6100
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Sony NEX-7
- Canon 5D Mark IV vs Leica M Typ 262
- Fujifilm X100T vs Sony A77
- Leica X Typ 113 vs Sony A77
- Nikon P7800 vs Sony A77
- Olympus E-620 vs Sony A77
- Olympus E-PL7 vs Sony A77 II
- Sony A77 vs Sony NEX-5
Specifications: Canon 5D vs Sony A77
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||Sony A77|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2005||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 3,299||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5D||Sony A77|
|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||12.7 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4368 x 2912 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.25 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.47 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,200 ISO||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 2||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||71||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.9||24.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1368||801|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5D||Sony A77|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5D||Sony A77|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|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||Sony A77|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 5D||Sony A77|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
152 x 113 x 75 mm
(6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 in)
143 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||895 g (31.6 oz)||732 g (25.8 oz)|
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