Canon T4i vs Sony NEX-5
The Canon EOS Rebel T4i (called Canon 650D in some regions) and the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2012 and May 2010. The T4i 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 17.9 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 Rebel T4i 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon T4i and the Sony NEX-5 is provided 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the T4i 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 NEX-5 is considerably smaller (51 percent) than the Canon T4i. Moreover, the NEX-5 is substantially lighter (50 percent) than the T4i. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T4i 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 (T4i) 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. 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 T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|2.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699|
|3.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|4.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|5.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|6.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|7.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|8.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|10.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|11.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|12.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|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 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 NEX-5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the T4i, 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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 10 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (T4i) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon T4i offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 14 MP of the Sony NEX-5. 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 4.31μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-5). However, it should be noted that the T4i is much more recent (by 2 years) than the NEX-5, 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 Canon T4i implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the T4i for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony NEX-5 are 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The T4i has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS Rebel T4i 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 NEX-5 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 has a markedly higher DXO score than the T4i (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 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 |
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the NEX-5 provides a faster frame rate than the T4i. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the T4i 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 T4i, the Sony NEX-5, and comparable cameras.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The T4i has one, while the NEX-5 does not. While the built-in flash of the T4i is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
The T4i writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The T4i supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Rebel T4i and Sony Alpha NEX-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the T4i has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-5. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the T4i and the NEX-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-5 was replaced by the Sony NEX-5N, while the T4i was followed by the Canon T5i. 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? Is the Canon T4i better than the Sony NEX-5 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel T4i:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 14MP) with a 13% higher linear resolution.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- 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 920k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the NEX-5 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-5:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 133x100mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 288g or 50 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2010).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the T4i emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 9 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 T4i 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 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 T4i 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 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 T4i||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|2.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|3.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|4.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|5.||Canon T5i||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|6.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|7.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|8.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|10.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|11.||Canon XT||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|12.||Canon Rebel||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|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.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon T4i 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 T4i||Sony NEX-5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2012||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 849||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T4i||Sony NEX-5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.7||22.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||722||796|
|Screen Specs||Canon T4i||Sony NEX-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T4i||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||5 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon T4i||Sony NEX-5|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon T4i||Sony NEX-5|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
133 x 100 x 79 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||575 g (20.3 oz)||287 g (10.1 oz)|
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