Canon SL1 vs Sony A5100
The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (called Canon 100D in some regions) and the Sony Alpha A5100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2013 and August 2014. The SL1 is a DSLR, while the A5100 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 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 Rebel SL1 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 physical size and weight of the Canon SL1 and the Sony A5100 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, white).
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 (35 percent) than the Canon SL1. Moreover, the A5100 is markedly lighter (30 percent) than the SL1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SL1 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 (SL1) 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 SL1 gets 380 shots out of its LP-E12 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|2.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|3.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon T6||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449|
|6.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|7.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|9.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|10.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|11.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|12.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|13.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|14.||Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449|
|15.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|16.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|17.||Sony RX100||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||240 g||330||n||Jun 2012||649|
|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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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. 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. 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 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 A5100 is 11 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (SL1) 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 24MP, the A5100 offers a higher resolution than the SL1 (17.9MP), but the A5100 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.31μm for the SL1). Yet, the A5100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the SL1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A5100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A5100 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 SL1 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 Canon EOS Rebel SL1 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 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 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 A5100 offers substantially better image quality than the SL1 (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 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.
| DXO |
|13.||Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A5100 provides a faster frame rate than the SL1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, 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 SL1 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 SL1 and Sony A5100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|13.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
The SL1 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 Rebel SL1 and Sony Alpha A5100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|13.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the SL1 has a hotshoe, while the A5100 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The A5100 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the SL1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SL1 was succeeded by the Canon SL2. 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 SL1 or the Sony A5100 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel SL1:
- 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).
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2013).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A5100:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (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 (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- 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 (6 vs 4.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm vs 117x91mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 124g or 30 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 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 modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 4 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A5100 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 5 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 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 SL1 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 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 SL1 or the A5100. 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 SL1||4/5||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|2.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|3.||Canon T100||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon T6||4/5||o||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449|
|6.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|7.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|9.||Canon T5i||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|10.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|11.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|12.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|13.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|14.||Sony A5000||3/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449|
|15.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|16.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|17.||Sony RX100||5/5||+ +||78/100||4/5||5/5||Jun 2012||649|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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? 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.
Specifications: Canon SL1 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 SL1||Sony A5100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2013||August 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SL1||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||17.9 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.8||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||12.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||843||1347|
|Screen Specs||Canon SL1||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||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SL1||Sony A5100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.9 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-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 SL1||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||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SL1||Sony A5100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||380 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
117 x 91 x 69 mm
(4.6 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
110 x 63 x 36 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||407 g (14.4 oz)||283 g (10.0 oz)|
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