Canon M10 vs Sony A850
The Canon EOS M10 and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2015 and August 2009. The M10 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A850 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (M10) and a full frame (A850) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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 M10 and the Sony Alpha A850? 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 M10 and the Sony A850. 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.
The M10 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the A850 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 A850 is considerably larger (152 percent) than the Canon M10. Moreover, the A850 is substantially heavier (197 percent) than the M10. It is noteworthy in this context that the A850 is splash and dust-proof, while the M10 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. 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 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 M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|2.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|3.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon T6||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449|
|5.||Canon G9 X||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||209 g||220||n||Oct 2015||529|
|6.||Canon M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|7.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|8.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|9.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|10.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|11.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|12.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|13.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|14.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|15.||Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449|
|16.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|17.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The M10 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 75 percent) than the A850, 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.
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 M10 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A850 is 160 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the M10 (17.9MP), but the A850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.31μm for the M10) due to its larger sensor. However, the M10 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 1 month) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon M10 are 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The M10 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS M10 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 A850 offers substantially better image quality than the M10 (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 stops in additional 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 |
|2.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|5.||Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63|
|7.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|12.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|13.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|14.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|16.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|17.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The M10 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the M10 can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A850 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the M10 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon M10 and Sony A850 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|5.||Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The M10 has one, while the A850 does not. While the built-in flash of the M10 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The M10 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the A850 does not have a selfie-screen.
The M10 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M10 only has one slot.
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 M10 and Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon G9 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the M10 offers wifi support, while the A850 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A850 (unlike the M10) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the M10 and the A850 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M10 was replaced by the Canon M100, while the A850 does not have a direct successor. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon M10 or the Sony A850 – 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 M10:
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.6 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (108x67mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 594g or 66 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (75 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 1 month of technical progress since the A850 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 17%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 255) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (15 points each). 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 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 M10 and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M10 or the A850 perform in practice. 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 why expert reviews are important. 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 M10||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|2.||Sony A850||3/5||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|3.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon T6||4/5||o||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449|
|5.||Canon G9 X||3.5/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529|
|6.||Canon M3||4/5||o||75/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|7.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|8.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|9.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|10.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|11.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|12.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|13.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|14.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|15.||Sony A5000||3/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449|
|16.||Sony A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|17.||Sony A900||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|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. 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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon M10 vs Sony A850
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 M10||Sony A850|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2015||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M10||Sony A850|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||65||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.2||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.4||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||753||1415|
|Screen Specs||Canon M10||Sony A850|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M10||Sony A850|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4.6 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or MS cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M10||Sony A850|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Canon M10||Sony A850|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||255 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
108 x 67 x 35 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.4 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||301 g (10.6 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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