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Nikon D5 vs D6

The Nikon D5 and the Nikon D6 are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and February 2020. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20.7 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D5 VS Nikon D6
Nikon D5 Nikon D6
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
20.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor 20.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor
4K/30p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 100-102400 (50-3280000) ISO 100-102400 (50-3280000)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2" LCD, 2359k dots 3.2" LCD, 2359k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed touchscreen
14 shutter flaps per second 14 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
3780 shots per battery charge3580 shots per battery charge
160 x 159 x 92 mm, 1415 g 160 x 163 x 92 mm, 1270 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D6? 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

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D6 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D5 vs Nikon D6
Compare D5 versus D6 top
Comparison D5 or D6 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D6 is somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Nikon D5. However, the D6 is markedly lighter (10 percent) than the D5. 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

As can be seen in the images above, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5» 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499iNikon D5
 
Nikon D6« 160 mm 163 mm 92 mm 1270 g 3580 Y Feb 2020 6,499 iNikon D6
 
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999iCanon 1D X Mark II
 
Leica SL« » 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450iLeica SL
 
Nikon D780« » 144 mm 116 mm 76 mm 840 g 2260 Y Jan 2020 2,299 iNikon D780
 
Nikon D7500« » 136 mm 104 mm 73 mm 720 g 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 iNikon D7500
 
Nikon D500« » 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 iNikon D500
 
Nikon D7200« » 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199iNikon D7200
 
Nikon D4S« » 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1350 g 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499iNikon D4S
 
Nikon D610« » 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 iNikon D610
 
Nikon D4« » 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999iNikon D4
 
Nikon D3X« » 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999iNikon D3X
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the D6 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 6) than the D5 (EXPEED 5), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Nikon D5 and Nikon D6 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 20.7 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the D5 and the D6 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the D6 is much more recent (by 4 years and 1 month) than the D5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Nikon D5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 102400, which can be extended to ISO 50-3280000. The Nikon D6 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

D5 versus D6 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
 
Nikon D6 Full Frame 20.7 5568 37124K/30p........Nikon D6
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188Leica SL
 
Nikon D780 Full Frame 24.3 6048 40244K/30p........Nikon D780
 
Nikon D7500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386Nikon D7500
 
Nikon D500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
 
Nikon D7200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387Nikon D7200
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489Nikon D4S
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589Nikon D4
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288Nikon D3X

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

 

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D5 and the D6 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), as well as the same magnification (0.72x). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D5, the Nikon D6, and comparable cameras.

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
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n Nikon D5
 
Nikon D6optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n Nikon D6
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n Leica SL
 
Nikon D780optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 12.0 n n Nikon D780
 
Nikon D7500optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 1/8000s 8.0 Y n Nikon D7500
 
Nikon D500optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n Nikon D500
 
Nikon D7200optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D7200
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D4S
 
Nikon D610optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D4
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Nikon D3X

The Nikon D5 and the Nikon D6 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The D5 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the D6 uses CFexpress or XQD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

 

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 D5 and Nikon D6 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
 
Nikon D6YstereomonoYYmini3.1Y-YNikon D6
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--Leica SL
 
Nikon D780YstereomonoYYmini3.1Y-YNikon D780
 
Nikon D7500YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y-YNikon D7500
 
Nikon D500YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
 
Nikon D7200YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Nikon D7200
 
Nikon D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D4S
 
Nikon D610YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---Nikon D4
 
Nikon D3XYnonenone--mini2.0---Nikon D3X

It is notable that the D6 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D5 does not offer wifi capability.

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

The D6 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the D5 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D5 was succeeded by the Nikon D6. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D6? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2016).


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D6:

  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 6 vs EXPEED 5).
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D5 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D6 emerges as the winner of the match-up (4 : 1 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D5 01:04 D6

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D6 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing 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 D5 or the D6 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cam
era
  labs  
dp
re
  view  
e
photo
  zine  
ima
ging
resource
photo
graphy
  blog  
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499iNikon D5
 
Nikon D6....4.5/5..4.5/5 Feb 2020 6,499 iNikon D6
 
Canon 1D X Mark II..89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999iCanon 1D X Mark II
 
Leica SL..84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450iLeica SL
 
Nikon D780..87/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2020 2,299 iNikon D780
 
Nikon D7500+ +86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 iNikon D7500
 
Nikon D500+ +91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 iNikon D500
 
Nikon D7200+ +84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199iNikon D7200
 
Nikon D4S....4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499iNikon D4S
 
Nikon D610+ +87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 iNikon D610
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999iNikon D4
 
Nikon D3X..86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999iNikon D3X
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated 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 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.

Nikon D5:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D6:
Check Amazon price

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 your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Nikon D5 vs Nikon D6

    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 D5 Nikon D6
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2016 February 2020
    Launch Price USD 6499 USD 6499
    Sensor Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D6
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.9 x 23.9 mm 35.9 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 858.01 mm2 858.01 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.1 mm 43.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 20.7 Megapixels 20.7 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5588 x 3712 pixels 5568 x 3712 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.44 μm 6.44 μm
    Pixel Density 2.42 MP/cm2 2.41 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 4K/30p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100-102400 ISO 100-102400 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-3280000 ISO 50-3280000 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 5 EXPEED 6
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 88 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 25.1 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.3 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2343 ..
    Screen Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D6
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.72x 0.72x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2 inch 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 2359k dots 2359k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D6
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidNo Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000/s 1/8000/s
    Continuous Shooting 14 shutter flaps/s 14 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy400 000 actuations400 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XQD cards CFexpress or XQD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D6
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 3.0 USB 3.1
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D6
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL18a EN-EL18c
    Battery Life (CIPA)3780 shots per charge3580 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 160 x 159 x 92 mm
    (6.3 x 6.3 x 3.6 in)
    160 x 163 x 92 mm
    (6.3 x 6.4 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 1415 g (49.9 oz) 1270 g (44.8 oz)

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