Nikon D5500 versus Sony A6500
The Nikon D5500 and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2015 and October 2016. The D5500 is a DSLR, while the A6500 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 A6500
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D5500 and the Sony A6500. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions 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 side – the D5500 – represents the basis for the calculations 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 A6500 is considerably smaller (33 percent) than the Nikon D5500. However, the A6500 is markedly heavier (8 percent) than the D5500. It is noteworthy in this context that the A6500 is splash and dust-proof, while the D5500 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 (A6500). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A6500, 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 (⇒ rgt)||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||no||2015||899||discont.||check|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft)||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||YES||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||no||2016||979||latest||check|
|Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||no||2015||749||discont.||check|
|Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||no||2015||849||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||no||2016||499||latest||check|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||no||2016||699||latest||check|
|Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||no||2014||499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||no||2013||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||no||2012||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||no||2012||749||discont.||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||no||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||YES||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||YES||2016||999||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||YES||2013||1,699||discont.||check|
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 D5500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 36 percent) than the A6500, 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 A6500
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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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 A6500 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the A6500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 9 months) than the D5500, 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.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Nikon D5500 (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1438||84|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.4||12.4||1262||77|
|Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||22.7||12.0||919||71|
|Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70|
|Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||13.9||1192||86|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1306||84|
|Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.8||1385||82|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.9||1338||83|
|Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/30p||24.1||13.2||1131||81|
|Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||24.2||13.9||1284||84|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.4||13.7||1437||85|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A6500 provides a better video resolution than the D5500. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/60p.
Feature comparison: Nikon D5500 vs Sony A6500
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A6500 has an electronic viewfinder (2300k 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D5500 and Sony A6500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Nikon D5500 (⇒ rgt)||optical||no||3.2||1037||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||YES||4000||11.0||6||YES|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.2||1620||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||5||no|
|Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||fixed||no||4000||5.0||7||no|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||2359||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.2||1037||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||fixed||no||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.2||1037||swivel||no||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||fixed||no||4000||4.0||12||no|
|Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||swivel||no||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3686||no||3.0||1440||tilting||YES||8000||20.0||no||YES|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||no||4000||11.0||6||no|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
The A6500 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the D5500 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D5500 was succeeded by the Nikon D5600.
Review summary: Nikon D5500 vs Sony A6500
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D5500 or the Sony A6500 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5500:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- 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.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (820 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (36 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2015).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A6500:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- 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.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 9 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 comes out slightly ahead of the D5500 (9 : 8 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the D5500 and the A6500 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 expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Nikon D5500 (⇒ rgt)||Rec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||899||discont.||check|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft)||HiRec||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||2016||979||latest||check|
|Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2015||749||discont.||check|
|Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2015||849||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||499||latest||check|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||91/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||2016||699||latest||check|
|Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2014||499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||73/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2012||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2012||749||discont.||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||89/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||999||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,699||discont.||check|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. 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 your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.
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