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Nikon D40 vs Sony A5000

The Nikon D40 and the Sony Alpha A5000 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2006 and January 2014. The D40 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 6 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.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D40 versus Sony A5000
Nikon D40 Sony A5000
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Nikon F mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 19.8 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 200-1,600 (200 - 3,200) ISO 100-16,000
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 461k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
470 shots per battery charge420 shots per battery charge
124 x 94 x 64 mm, 522 g 110 x 63 x 36 mm, 269 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D40 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D40 and the Sony A5000 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 A5000 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the D40 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D40 vs Sony A5000
Compare D40 versus A5000 top
Comparison D40 or A5000 rear

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 (41 percent) than the Nikon D40. Moreover, the A5000 is substantially lighter (48 percent) than the D40. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D40 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 (D40) 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 D40 gets 470 shots out of its EN-EL9 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. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D40 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 470 n Nov 2006 499i
 
Sony A5000 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 420 n Jan 2014 449i
 
Canon M10 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.6 oz 255 n Oct 2015 499i
 
Nikon D3400 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
 
Nikon D3300 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.2 oz 700 n Jan 2014 499i
 
Nikon D3100 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D3000 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D60 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D80 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999i
 
Nikon D50 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 21.9 oz 400 n Apr 2005 749i
 
Nikon D70s 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 500 n Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D70 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 400 n Jan 2004 999i
 
Sony RX100 IV 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999i
 
Sony A5100 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i
 
Sony NEX-3N 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The A5000 was somewhat cheaper (by 10 percent) than the D40 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 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 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.

Nikon D40 and Sony A5000 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A5000 offers a higher resolution of 19.8 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D40. 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 7.85μm for the D40). However, it should be noted that the A5000 is much more recent (by 7 years and 1 month) than the D40, 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 D40 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D40 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A5000 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).

D40 versus A5000 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 D40 (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.8 bits higher color depth, 2 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.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
 
Sony A5000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979
 
Canon M10 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Sony RX100 IV 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
 
Sony A5100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774

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 D40 does not. The highest resolution format that the A5000 can use is 1080/60i.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D40 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D40, the Sony A5000, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Sony A5000none n 3.0 461 tilting n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Canon M10none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.6 Y n
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Sony RX100 IV2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 1/2000s 16.0 Y Y
 
Sony A5100none n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
The A5000 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 D40 does not have a selfie-screen.

The D40 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 D40 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

Connectivity comparison

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 D40 and Sony Alpha A5000 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
 
Sony A5000-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon M10-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
 
Sony RX100 IV-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A5100-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereomono--micro2.0---

It is notable that the D40 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 D40 and the A5000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D40 was replaced by the Nikon D40X, 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.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D40 better than the Sony A5000 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D40:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (470 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 November 2006).

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A5000:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (19.8 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 81%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.8 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2 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.
  • 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 (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 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm vs 124x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 253g or 48 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 modern: Reflects 7 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D40 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A5000 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 4 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.

D40 04:18 A5000

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D40 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D40 or the A5000 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D4081/100+ +o5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
 
Sony A5000+..4.5/5o4.5/5 Jan 2014 449i
 
Canon M10......o4/5 Oct 2015 499i
 
Nikon D3400+76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
 
Nikon D3300+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499i
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D3000+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D6080/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
 
Nikon D5078/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
 
Nikon D70s......o5/5 Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999i
 
Sony RX100 IV+ +85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999i
 
Sony A5100+..4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i
 
Sony NEX-3N....4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Nikon D40:
Check Ebay offers
Sony A5000:
Check Ebay offers

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D40 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 Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D40 Sony A5000
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date November 2006 January 2014
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 449
    Sensor Specs Nikon D40 Sony A5000
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.2 x 15.4 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 357.28 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 27.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 19.8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 5456 x 3632 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 4.25 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 5.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 16,000 ISO
    ISO Boost 200 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 56 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.0 23.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.0 13.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 561 1089
    Screen Specs Nikon D40 Sony A5000
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 461k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D40 Sony A5000
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-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 D40 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 D40 Sony A5000
    Battery Type EN-EL9 NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)470 shots per charge420 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 124 x 94 x 64 mm
    (4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    110 x 63 x 36 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 522 g (18.4 oz) 269 g (9.5 oz)

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