Nikon D2Xs vs Sony A7
The Nikon D2Xs and the Sony Alpha A7 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2006 and October 2013. The D2Xs is a DSLR, while the A7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D2Xs) and a full frame (A7) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 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 Nikon D2Xs and the Sony Alpha A7? 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 Nikon D2Xs and the Sony A7 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7 is considerably smaller (50 percent) than the Nikon D2Xs. Moreover, the A7 is substantially lighter (62 percent) than the D2Xs. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D2Xs) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7, 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 D2Xs gets 3800 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the A7 can take 340 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D2Xs has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the A7, Sony provides the VG-C1EM vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay). The power pack in the A7 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|2.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|4.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|5.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|6.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|7.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|8.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|9.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|10.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|11.||Nikon D1H||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||4,499|
|12.||Nikon D1||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||..||Y||Jun 1999||5,499|
|13.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|14.||Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
|15.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|16.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|17.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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 A7 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 64 percent) than the D2Xs, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 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 Nikon D2Xs features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7 is 130 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24MP, the A7 offers a higher resolution than the D2Xs (12.2MP), but the A7 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 5.52μm for the D2Xs) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 4 months) than the D2Xs, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7 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 Nikon D2Xs are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A7 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon D2Xs has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 800-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-51200.
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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7 offers substantially better image quality than the D2Xs (overall score 31 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.6 bits higher color depth, 3.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.2 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 |
|2.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|5.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|13.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|14.||Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
|15.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|16.||Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|17.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A7 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D2Xs does not. The highest resolution format that the A7 can use is 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7 has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the D2Xs has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the A7 has a higher magnification than the one of the D2Xs (0.71x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D2Xs and Sony A7 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|13.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the D2Xs, but is missing on the A7 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The D2Xs writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the A7 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 Nikon D2Xs and Sony Alpha A7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D2Xs does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D2Xs (unlike the A7) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D2Xs and the A7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2Xs was replaced by the Nikon D3X, while the A7 was followed by the Sony A7 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D2Xs better than the Sony A7 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D2Xs:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (3800 versus 340) on a single battery charge.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2006).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 40%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (31 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.57x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 158x150mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 778g or 62 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (64 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D2Xs launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 6 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 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 Nikon D2Xs and the Sony A7 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D2Xs or the A7 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.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|2.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|4.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|5.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|6.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|7.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|8.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|9.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|10.||Nikon D2X||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|11.||Nikon D1H||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||4,499|
|12.||Nikon D1||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jun 1999||5,499|
|13.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|14.||Sony A7S||4/5||..||86/100||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|15.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|16.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|17.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D2Xs vs Sony A7
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||Nikon D2Xs||Sony A7|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2006||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 4,699||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D2Xs||Sony A7|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.7 mm||35.8 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.09 mm2||855.62 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.52 μm||5.97 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||2.80 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||800 - 3,200 ISO||50 - 51,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||90|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.2||24.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.9||14.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||489||2248|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D2Xs||Sony A7|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D2Xs||Sony A7|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D2Xs||Sony A7|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D2Xs||Sony A7|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||3800 shots per charge||340 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
158 x 150 x 86 mm
(6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
127 x 94 x 48 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
|Camera Weight||1252 g (44.2 oz)||474 g (16.7 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.