Nikon D5500 versus Sony A6000
The Nikon D5500 and the Sony Alpha A6000 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2015 and February 2014. The D5500 is a DSLR, while the A6000 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Nikon D5500 vs Sony A6000
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D5500 and the Sony A6000 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D5500 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6000 is considerably smaller (33 percent) than the Nikon D5500. Moreover, the A6000 is markedly lighter (18 percent) than the D5500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5500 nor the A6000 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D5500) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6000). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A6000, 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.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Nikon D5500»||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||14.8 oz||820||n||Jan 2015||899||-|
|Sony A6000«||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.8 in||12.1 oz||360||n||Feb 2014||599||-|
|Canon M5« »||4.6 in||3.5 in||2.4 in||15.1 oz||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|Canon T6i« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||749||-|
|Canon T6s« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.9 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||849||-|
|Nikon D3400« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.7 oz||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|Nikon D500« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||30.3 oz||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon D5600« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||16.4 oz||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D3300« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.2 oz||700||n||Jan 2014||499||-|
|Nikon D5300« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||16.9 oz||600||n||Oct 2013||799||-|
|Nikon D3200« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||540||n||Apr 2012||599||-|
|Nikon D5200« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||500||n||Nov 2012||749||-|
|Sony A6300« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.9 in||14.3 oz||400||Y||Feb 2016||999||-|
|Sony A5100« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony A5000« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||420||n||Jan 2014||449||-|
|Sony A3000« »||5.0 in||3.6 in||3.3 in||14.5 oz||470||n||Aug 2013||329||-|
|Sony NEX-6« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||12.2 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||999||-|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A6000 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 percent) than the D5500, which puts it into a different 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: Nikon D5500 vs Sony A6000
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 24 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the D5500 and the A6000 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the D5500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the A6000, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D5500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon M5« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.4||12.4||1262||77|
|Canon T6i« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||22.7||12.0||919||71|
|Canon T6s« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70|
|Nikon D3400« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||13.9||1192||86|
|Nikon D500« »||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83|
|Nikon D5600« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1306||84|
|Nikon D3300« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.8||1385||82|
|Nikon D5300« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.9||1338||83|
|Nikon D3200« »||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/30p||24.1||13.2||1131||81|
|Nikon D5200« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||24.2||13.9||1284||84|
|Sony A6300« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.4||13.7||1437||85|
|Sony A5100« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.8||12.7||1347||80|
|Sony A5000« »||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.8||13.0||1089||79|
|Sony A3000« »||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.7||12.8||1068||78|
|Sony NEX-6« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||23.7||13.1||1018||78|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. 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 (1080/60p).
Feature comparison: Nikon D5500 vs Sony A6000
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A6000 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the D5500 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D5500 and Sony A6000 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Canon M5« »||2360||n||3.2||1620||tilting||Y||4000||9.0||Y||n|
|Canon T6i« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Canon T6s« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D3400« »||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D500« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||n|
|Nikon D5600« »||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||Y||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D3300« »||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D5300« »||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||n||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D3200« »||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||4000||4.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D5200« »||optical||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Sony A6300« »||2300||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||4000||11.0||Y||n|
|Sony A5100« »||-||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||4000||6.0||Y||n|
|Sony A5000« »||-||n||3.0||461||tilting||n||4000||3.5||Y||n|
|Sony A3000« »||202||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||4000||2.5||Y||n|
|Sony NEX-6« »||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||4000||10.0||Y||n|
Both the D5500 and the A6000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A6000 was replaced by the Sony A6300, while the D5500 was followed by the Nikon D5600.
Review summary: Nikon D5500 vs Sony A6000
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D5500 or the Sony A6000 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5500:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (820 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 10 months after the A6000).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A6000:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 124x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 76g or 18 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2014).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5500 comes out slightly ahead of the A6000 (9 : 8 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D5500 or the A6000 handle or 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Nikon D5500»||Rec||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899||-|
|Sony A6000«||Rec||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599||-|
|Canon M5« »||Rec||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|Canon T6i« »||-||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749||-|
|Canon T6s« »||Rec||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||849||-|
|Nikon D3400« »||Rec||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|Nikon D500« »||HiRec||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon D5600« »||-||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D3300« »||Rec||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499||-|
|Nikon D5300« »||HiRec||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799||-|
|Nikon D3200« »||HiRec||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599||-|
|Nikon D5200« »||HiRec||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749||-|
|Sony A6300« »||Rec||85/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999||-|
|Sony A5100« »||Rec||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony A5000« »||Rec||-||4.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449||-|
|Sony A3000« »||Rec||-||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329||-|
|Sony NEX-6« »||HiRec||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||999||-|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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