Canon 850D vs Sony A5100
The Canon EOS 850D (called Canon T8i in some regions) and the Sony Alpha A5100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2020 and August 2014. The 850D is a DSLR, while the A5100 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixels.
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 850D and the Sony Alpha A5100? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 850D and the Sony A5100. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The A5100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the 850D 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 A5100 is considerably smaller (49 percent) than the Canon 850D. Moreover, the A5100 is substantially lighter (45 percent) than the 850D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 850D nor the A5100 are weather-sealed.
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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (850D) 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 850D gets 800 shots out of its LP-E17 battery, while the A5100 can take 400 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A5100 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 850D||131 mm||103 mm||76 mm||515 g||800||n||Feb 2020||749|
|2.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|3.||Canon RP||133 mm||85 mm||70 mm||485 g||250||n||Feb 2019||1,299|
|4.||Canon 250D||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||111 mm||61 mm||46 mm||340 g||230||n||Jul 2019||899|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||105 mm||61 mm||41 mm||304 g||235||n||Jul 2019||749|
|7.||Canon 2000D||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|8.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|9.||Canon 200D||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|10.||Canon 800D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|11.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|12.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|13.||Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449|
|14.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|15.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329|
|16.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|17.||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.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 A5100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 27 percent) than the 850D, 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. 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A5100 is 11 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (850D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Even though the A5100 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixels. This implies that the A5100 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 3.72μm for the 850D), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the 850D is much more recent (by 5 years and 5 months) than the A5100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Canon EOS 850D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A5100 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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.
| DXO |
|3.||Canon RP||Full Frame||26.2||6240||4160||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the 850D provides a higher video resolution than the A5100. It can shoot video footage at 4K/24p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 850D 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 850D and Sony A5100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
The Canon 850D has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 850D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A5100 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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 850D and Sony Alpha A5100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the 850D has a hotshoe, while the A5100 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the 850D and the A5100 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The A5100 replaced the earlier Sony A5000, while the 850D followed on from the Canon 800D. 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 850D or the Sony A5100 – 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.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 850D:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/24p vs 1080/60p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.5 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 5 months of technical progress since the A5100 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A5100:
- More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm vs 131x103mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 232g or 45 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 device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (27 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2014).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 850D is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 850D and the Sony A5100 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 850D and the A5100 in practical situations. 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 summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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 850D||4/5||+||80/100||4/5||3.5/5||Feb 2020||749|
|2.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|3.||Canon RP||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||1,299|
|4.||Canon 250D||..||o||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Canon G5 X Mark II||4/5||+||82/100||..||4/5||Jul 2019||899|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark III||..||+ +||81/100||4/5||..||Jul 2019||749|
|7.||Canon 2000D||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|8.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|9.||Canon 200D||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|10.||Canon 800D||4.5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|11.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|12.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|13.||Sony A5000||3/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449|
|14.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|15.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329|
|16.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||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 are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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. 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? 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.
Specifications: Canon 850D vs Sony A5100
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 850D||Sony A5100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2020||August 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 850D||Sony A5100|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/24p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 8||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1347|
|Screen Specs||Canon 850D||Sony A5100|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 850D||Sony A5100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7.5 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 850D||Sony A5100|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon 850D||Sony A5100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||800 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
131 x 103 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
110 x 63 x 36 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||515 g (18.2 oz)||283 g (10.0 oz)|
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