Nikon D5100 vs Sony ZV-1
The Nikon D5100 and the Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2011 and May 2020. The D5100 is a DSLR, while the ZV-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D5100) and an one-inch (ZV-1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 20 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 D5100 and the Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1? 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 D5100 and the Sony ZV-1 are illustrated 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony ZV-1 is considerably smaller (49 percent) than the Nikon D5100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5100 nor the ZV-1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZV-1 has a lens built in, whereas the D5100 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D5100 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D5100 gets 660 shots out of its EN-EL14 battery, while the ZV-1 can take 260 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the ZV-1 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 would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|2.||Sony ZV-1||105 mm||60 mm||44 mm||294 g||260||n||May 2020||799|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||111 mm||61 mm||46 mm||340 g||230||n||Jul 2019||899|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||105 mm||61 mm||41 mm||304 g||235||n||Jul 2019||749|
|5.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|6.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|7.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|8.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|9.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|10.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|11.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|12.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|13.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|14.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|15.||Sony RX100 VII||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||302 g||260||n||Jul 2019||1,199|
|16.||Sony RX100 III||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||n||May 2014||799|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||102 mm||58 mm||38 mm||281 g||350||n||Jun 2013||749|
|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. 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 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D5100 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony ZV-1 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the ZV-1 is 69 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the ZV-1 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the D5100. 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 2.41μm versus 4.80μm for the D5100). However, it should be noted that the ZV-1 is much more recent (by 9 years and 1 month) than the D5100, 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 ZV-1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the ZV-1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D5100 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D5100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1 are ISO 125 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|15.||Sony RX100 VII||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||21.8||12.4||418||63|
|16.||Sony RX100 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the ZV-1 provides a better video resolution than the D5100. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D5100 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the ZV-1 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 D5100, the Sony ZV-1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|2.||Sony ZV-1||none||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||Y||1/2000s||24.0||n||Y|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D5200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|15.||Sony RX100 VII||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||Y||1/2000s||90.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony RX100 III||1440||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D5100 has one, while the ZV-1 does not. While the built-in flash of the D5100 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 reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the ZV-1 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Nikon D5100 and the Sony ZV-1 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 D5100 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the ZV-1 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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 D5100 and Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony ZV-1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||-||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 550D||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D5600||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Nikon D5500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D3200||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D5200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony RX100 VII||-||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony RX100 III||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the ZV-1 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D5100 does not provide wifi capability.
The ZV-1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the D5100 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D5100 was succeeded by the Nikon D5200. 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 is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D5100 better than the Sony ZV-1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5100:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (660 versus 260) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2011).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (24 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D5100 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (105x60mm vs 128x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D5100).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- 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.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D5100 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the ZV-1 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 6 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D5100 and the Sony ZV-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D5100 or the ZV-1. 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.
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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|2.||Sony ZV-1||4/5||..||4.5/5||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||May 2020||799|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||4/5||+||4/5||82/100||..||4/5||Jul 2019||899|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||..||+ +||4/5||81/100||4/5||..||Jul 2019||749|
|5.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|6.||Canon 550D||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|7.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||4/5||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|8.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|9.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|10.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|11.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|12.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|13.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|14.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|15.||Sony RX100 VII||4.5/5||..||4/5||..||4/5||5/5||Jul 2019||1,199|
|16.||Sony RX100 III||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||5/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||749|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 800D vs Sony ZV-1
- Fujifilm X100V vs Nikon D5100
- Leica S3 vs Sony ZV-1
- Nikon D3300 vs Sony ZV-1
- Nikon D5100 vs Nikon P1000
- Nikon D5100 vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon D5100 vs Sony A7S II
- Nikon D5100 vs Sony NEX-7
- Nikon D5100 vs Sony NEX-F3
- Nikon Z fc vs Sony ZV-1
- Olympus E-PL9 vs Sony ZV-1
- Ricoh WG-6 vs Sony ZV-1
Specifications: Nikon D5100 vs Sony ZV-1
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 D5100||Sony ZV-1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||24-70mm f/1.8-2.8|
|Launch Date||April 2011||May 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D5100||Sony ZV-1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.34 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||125 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 2||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.6||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1183||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D5100||Sony ZV-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D5100||Sony ZV-1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||24 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-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||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D5100||Sony ZV-1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D5100||Sony ZV-1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||660 shots per charge||260 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
128 x 97 x 79 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
105 x 60 x 44 mm
(4.1 x 2.4 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||560 g (19.8 oz)||294 g (10.4 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.