Nikon D5500 vs Sony A7S II
The Nikon D5500 and the Sony Alpha 7S II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2015 and September 2015. The D5500 is a DSLR, while the A7S II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D5500) and a full frame (A7S II) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Nikon D5500||Sony A7S II|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|24 MP, APS-C Sensor||12 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-25,600||ISO 100-102,400 (50 - 409,600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)|
|3.2 LCD, 1037k dots||3.0 LCD, 1229k dots|
|Swivel touchscreen||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|820 shots per battery charge||370 shots per battery charge|
|124 x 97 x 70 mm, 420 g||127 x 96 x 60 mm, 627 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D5500 and the Sony Alpha 7S II? 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 D5500 and the Sony A7S II 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D5500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the A7S II is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7S II is somewhat larger (1 percent) than the Nikon D5500. Moreover, the A7S II is substantially heavier (49 percent) than the D5500. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7S II 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D5500) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7S II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7S II, 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 D5500 gets 820 shots out of its EN-EL14a battery, while the A7S II can take 370 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A7S II 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, 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.
|Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|Canon G5 X||112 mm||76 mm||44 mm||353 g||210||n||Oct 2015||799|
|Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|Samsung NX30||127 mm||96 mm||58 mm||375 g||360||n||Jan 2014||999|
|Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
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.
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. The D5500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 70 percent) than the A7S II, 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.
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. 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 D5500 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7S II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7S II is 131 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon D5500 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the Sony A7S II. 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 3.91μm versus 8.40μm for the A7S II). Moreover, it should be noted that the A7S II is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the D5500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D5500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D5500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A7S II are 21.2 x 14.2 inches or 53.8 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.1 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.1 x 9.4 inches or 35.9 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D5500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha 7S II are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-409600.
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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Canon G5 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7S II provides a better video resolution than the D5500. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7S II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 viewfinder in the A7S II offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D5500 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A7S II has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D5500, the Sony A7S II, and comparable cameras.
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D5500 has one, while the A7S II does not. While the built-in flash of the D5500 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The D5500 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the A7S II does not have a selfie-screen.
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 A7S II 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 D5500 has 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 D5500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7S II 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 D5500 and Sony Alpha 7S II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon G5 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7S II has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The D5500 lacks such a headphone port.
Both the D5500 and the A7S II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5500 was replaced by the Nikon D5600, while the A7S II was followed by the Sony A7S III. 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 D5500 better than the Sony A7S II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 12MP) with a 41% higher linear resolution.
- 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 (0.7 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 flexible LCD: Has a 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 207g or 33 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (820 versus 370) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (70 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2015).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha 7S II:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.57x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1037k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7S II comes out slightly ahead of the D5500 (15 : 14 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 D5500 and the Sony A7S II 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 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 D5500 or the A7S II. 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 (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.
|Nikon D5500||+||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|Sony A7S II||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Canon M5||+||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|Canon G5 X||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||799|
|Nikon D5600||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D500||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon D3400||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|Nikon D3300||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|Nikon D5300||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D3200||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|Nikon D5200||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|Samsung NX30||..||77/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||999|
|Sony A7S III||..||..||..||..||..||Jul 2020||3,499|
|Sony A7R III||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7S||..||86/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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 SX610 vs Nikon D5500
- Canon SX730 vs Nikon D5500
- Nikon 1 V1 vs Sony A7S II
- Nikon D5500 vs Nikon D800E
- Nikon D5500 vs Olympus E-M1
- Nikon D5500 vs Olympus E-M5 III
- Nikon D5500 vs Panasonic G7
- Nikon D5500 vs Panasonic G80
- Nikon D5500 vs Panasonic S1R
- Nikon D5500 vs Sony A7
- Nikon D70 vs Sony A7S II
- Panasonic FZ150 vs Sony A7S II
Specifications: Nikon D5500 vs Sony A7S II
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 D5500||Sony A7S II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2015||September 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 899||USD 2,999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D5500||Sony A7S II|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4240 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||8.40 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||1.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 409,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||84||85|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.1||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.0||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1438||2993|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D5500||Sony A7S II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D5500||Sony A7S II|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-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 D5500||Sony A7S II|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D5500||Sony A7S II|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||820 shots per charge||370 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
124 x 97 x 70 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
127 x 96 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)
|Camera Weight||420 g (14.8 oz)||627 g (22.1 oz)|
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