Canon Rebel vs Sony NEX-5
The Canon EOS Digital Rebel (called Canon 300D in some regions) and the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2003 and May 2010. The Rebel is a DSLR, while the NEX-5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 6.3 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 14 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 Digital Rebel and the Sony Alpha NEX-5? 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 Rebel and the Sony NEX-5. 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 NEX-5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the Rebel is only available in silver.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5 is considerably smaller (53 percent) than the Canon Rebel. Moreover, the NEX-5 is substantially lighter (56 percent) than the Rebel. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Rebel nor the NEX-5 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 (Rebel) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-5, 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.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|2.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699|
|3.||Canon T7i||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|4.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|6.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|7.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|8.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|9.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|10.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|11.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-C3||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||599|
|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 obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 22 percent) than the Rebel, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 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 more expensive and 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 NEX-5 is 6 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (Rebel) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 14MP, the NEX-5 offers a higher resolution than the Rebel (6.3MP), but the NEX-5 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.11μm versus 7.38μm for the Rebel). Yet, the NEX-5 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 8 months) than the Rebel, 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 NEX-5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon Rebel are 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm for good quality, 12.3 x 8.2 inches or 31.2 x 20.8 cm for very good quality, and 10.2 x 6.8 inches or 26 x 17.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS Digital Rebel has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
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 NEX-5 offers substantially better image quality than the Rebel (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 1.4 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.
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The NEX-5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the Rebel does not. The highest resolution format that the NEX-5 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the Rebel has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon Rebel, the Sony NEX-5, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon Rebel||optical||n||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|2.||Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon T7i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|7.||Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n|
|8.||Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|9.||Canon XT||optical||n||1.8 / 115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 20D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 10D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D70||optical||n||1.8 / 130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||Y||n|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||Y||n|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n|
|16.||Sony NEX-C3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The Rebel has one, while the NEX-5 does not. While the built-in flash of the Rebel is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The NEX-5 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 Rebel does not have a selfie-screen.
The Rebel writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the NEX-5 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 Digital Rebel and Sony Alpha NEX-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon Rebel||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T7i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon T6s||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon T4i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon T3i||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon T1i||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon XTi||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon XT||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 20D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 10D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D70||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony NEX-C3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the Rebel and the NEX-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The Rebel was replaced by the Canon XT, while the NEX-5 was followed by the Sony NEX-5N. 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 Rebel or the Sony NEX-5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Digital Rebel:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2003).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (14 vs 6.3MP), which boosts linear resolution by 49%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.4 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 1080/60i video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 118k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 142x99mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 362g or 56 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (22 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 8 months of technical progress since the Rebel launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 4 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 Rebel and the Sony NEX-5 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the Rebel and the NEX-5 in practical situations. 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 Rebel||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|2.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|3.||Canon T7i||4.5/5||..||3.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|4.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|6.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|7.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|8.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|9.||Canon XT||..||80/100||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|10.||Canon 20D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|11.||Canon 10D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D70||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|14.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-C3||3/5||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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 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.
- Canon 500D vs Canon Rebel
- Canon Rebel vs Canon XSi
- Canon Rebel vs Fujifilm X-A5
- Canon Rebel vs Olympus E-5
- Canon Rebel vs Panasonic G2
- Canon Rebel vs Sony RX0 II
- Fujifilm X-E2 vs Sony NEX-5
- Hasselblad X1D II vs Sony NEX-5
- Leica D-LUX Typ 109 vs Sony NEX-5
- Nikon D50 vs Sony NEX-5
- Olympus E-5 vs Sony NEX-5
- Panasonic GF1 vs Sony NEX-5
Specifications: Canon Rebel vs Sony NEX-5
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 Rebel||Sony NEX-5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2003||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 899||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony NEX-5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.7 x 15.1 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||342.77 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27.3 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6.3 Megapixels||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3072 x 2048 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.38 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.84 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||55||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.0||22.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||544||796|
|Screen Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony NEX-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||118k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony NEX-5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony NEX-5|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon Rebel||Sony NEX-5|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
142 x 99 x 72 mm
(5.6 x 3.9 x 2.8 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||649 g (22.9 oz)||287 g (10.1 oz)|
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