Nikon D3000 vs Sony A5000
The Nikon D3000 and the Sony Alpha A5000 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2009 and January 2014. The D3000 is a DSLR, while the A5000 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 19.8 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 D3000 and the Sony Alpha A5000? 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 Nikon D3000 and the Sony A5000 is provided 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The A5000 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the D3000 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 A5000 is considerably smaller (43 percent) than the Nikon D3000. Moreover, the A5000 is substantially lighter (50 percent) than the D3000. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3000 nor the A5000 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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D3000) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A5000). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A5000, 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 D3000 gets 500 shots out of its EN-EL9a battery, while the A5000 can take 420 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A5000 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|2.||Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449|
|3.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|4.||Fujifilm X100||126 mm||75 mm||54 mm||445 g||300||n||Sep 2010||1,199|
|5.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|6.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|7.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|8.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|9.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|10.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|11.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|12.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|13.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|14.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|16.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|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 A5000 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the D3000, 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. 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 A5000 is 4 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A5000 offers a higher resolution of 19.8 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the D3000. 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 4.25μm versus 6.11μm for the D3000). However, it should be noted that the A5000 is much more recent (by 4 years and 5 months) than the D3000, 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 Sony A5000 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A5000 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.3 x 18.2 inches or 69.3 x 46.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.8 x 14.5 inches or 55.4 x 36.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.1 inches or 46.2 x 30.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3000 are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inches or 32.8 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3000 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A5000 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (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 A5000 offers substantially better image quality than the D3000 (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 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 |
|13.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|14.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|15.||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. The A5000 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D3000 does not. The highest resolution format that the A5000 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3000 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the A5000 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3000 and Sony A5000 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
The D3000 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the A5000 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A5000 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D3000 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 Nikon D3000 and Sony Alpha A5000 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the D3000 has a hotshoe, while the A5000 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the D3000 and the A5000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3000 was replaced by the Nikon D3100, while the A5000 was followed by the Sony A5100. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D3000 better than the Sony A5000 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Nikon D3000:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 420) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2009).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A5000:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (19.8 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 41%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 230k 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 (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm vs 126x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 267g or 50 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D3000 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A5000 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 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 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 Nikon D3000 and the Sony A5000 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D3000 and the A5000 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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 D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|2.||Sony A5000||3/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449|
|3.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|4.||Fujifilm X100||3/5||..||75/100||4/5||5/5||Sep 2010||1,199|
|5.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|6.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|7.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|8.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|9.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|10.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|11.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|12.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|13.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|14.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|16.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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: Nikon D3000 vs Sony A5000
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 D3000||Sony A5000|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2009||January 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 449|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3000||Sony A5000|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||23.2 x 15.4 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||357.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||27.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||19.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3872 x 2592 pixels||5456 x 3632 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.11 μm||4.25 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.69 MP/cm2||5.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.3||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||13.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||563||1089|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3000||Sony A5000|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||461k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3000||Sony A5000|
|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||3 shutter flaps/s||3.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3000||Sony A5000|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3000||Sony A5000|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||420 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
126 x 97 x 64 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
110 x 63 x 36 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||536 g (18.9 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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