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Nikon D5500 versus Sony RX100 V

The Nikon D5500 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2015 and October 2016. The D5500 is a DSLR, while the RX100 V is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D5500) and an one-inch sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 20 MP.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D5500 and the Sony RX100 V 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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).

Nikon D5500 vs Sony RX100 V front
D5500 versus RX100 V top view
D5500 and RX100 V rear side
Body view (D5500 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX100 V is considerably smaller (51 percent) than the Nikon D5500. Cameras that are aimed at professionals or semi-pros tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary environmental and shock resistance. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5500 nor the RX100 V are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 V has a lens build in, whereas the D5500 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the D5500 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

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 comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D5500 (⇒ rgt) 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 14.8 oz 820 no 2015 899discont. check
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 220 no 2016 999 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 no 2016 979 latest check
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.4 oz 220 no 2015 529discont. check
Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 no 2015 749discont. check
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 no 2015 849discont. check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 YES 2015 999 latest check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 no 2016 499 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 no 2016 699 latest check
Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 YES 2015 1,199discont. check
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.2 oz 700 no 2014 499discont. check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 no 2013 799discont. check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 no 2015 999discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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. 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 D5500 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony RX100 V an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 V is 68 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.

Nikon D5500 and Sony RX100 V sensor measures
Sensor size

With 24MP, the D5500 offers a higher resolution than the RX100 V (20MP), but the D5500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 2.41μm for the RX100 V) due to its larger sensor. However, the RX100 V 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 that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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.

D5500 versus RX100 V MP
Sensor resolution

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"). Of the two cameras under review, the D5500 provides substantially higher image quality than the RX100 V, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 1.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D5500 (⇒ rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1438 84
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.4 586 70
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.4 12.4 1262 77
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.5 12.3 495 63
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
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.4 12.3 521 63
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 D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.5 14.6 1333 87
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
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.6 591 70

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the RX100 V 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

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the RX100 V has an electronic viewfinder (2359k 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 RX100 V along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D5500 (⇒ rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft) 2359 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 24.0 10.2 no
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 4000 9.0 5 no
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 6.0 6 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
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 2000 5.9 6.8 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 D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 fixed no 8000 6.0 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
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1228 tilting no 2000 16.0 10.2 no

The RX100 V 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.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D5500 better than the Sony RX100 V or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5500:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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.
  • Faster shutter: Has a higher mechanical shutter speed (4000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (820 versus 220) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2015).

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V:

  • 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.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1037k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (24 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D5500 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 124x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens build in (unlike the D5500).
  • 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 D5500 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 9 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.

D5500 14:09 RX100 V

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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D5500 or the RX100 V. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D5500 (⇒ rgt) Rec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 899discont. check
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 999 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 979 latest check
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec - 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 529discont. check
Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt) - 75/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 749discont. check
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 849discont. check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 3.5/5 4/5 2015 999 latest 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 D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 1,199discont. check
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 499discont. check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 799discont. check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 999discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Other comparisons

If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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