Nikon D7100 vs Sony A850
The Nikon D7100 and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2013 and August 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D7100) and a full frame (A850) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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 D7100 and the Sony Alpha A850? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D7100 and the Sony A850 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions 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 A850 is notably larger (25 percent) than the Nikon D7100. Moreover, the A850 is markedly heavier (17 percent) than the D7100. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999||amazon.com|
|6.||Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999||amazon.com|
|10.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799||amazon.com|
|13.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|14.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D7100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the A850, 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 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 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D7100 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A850 is 135 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.
With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the D7100 (24MP), but the A850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.91μm for the D7100) due to its larger sensor. However, the D7100 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 5 months) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D7100 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Nikon D7100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the D7100 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the A850 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops of reduced 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.
|2.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|7.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|9.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|10.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|12.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|13.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|15.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|16.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D7100 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the D7100 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D7100 and the A850 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the D7100 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the A850 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the A850 has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.63x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D7100 and Sony A850 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Nikon D7100||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Nikon D7500||optical||Y||3.2 / 922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D500||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Nikon D7200||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D600||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Sony A7C||2360||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|14.||Sony RX10||1440||Y||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A900||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D7100 has one, while the A850 does not. While the built-in flash of the D7100 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D7100 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 D7100 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
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 D7100 and Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D7100||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A850||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 70D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D7500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Nikon D500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Nikon D7200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D3300||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D600||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Sony A7C||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony RX10||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony A900||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A850 (unlike the D7100) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D7100 and the A850 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D7100 was replaced by the Nikon D7200, while the A850 does not have a direct successor. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D7100 and the Sony A850? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D7100:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- 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 (1229k vs 922k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (136x107mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 130g or 15 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the A850 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A850:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.63x).
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D7100 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 D7100 and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D7100 or the A850. 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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 D7100||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A850||3/5||..||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D7500||4.5/5||+ +||4.5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||4.7/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999||amazon.com|
|6.||Nikon D7200||4/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999||amazon.com|
|10.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799||amazon.com|
|13.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||4.5/5||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|14.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A900||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring 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.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 60D vs Sony A850
- Canon G12 vs Nikon D7100
- Canon G7 X vs Sony A850
- Canon XS vs Sony A850
- Fujifilm X-E2S vs Sony A850
- Fujifilm X-Pro2 vs Nikon D7100
- Fujifilm X20 vs Sony A850
- Kodak AZ901 vs Nikon D7100
- Leica M Typ 240 vs Nikon D7100
- Leica V-LUX 1 vs Nikon D7100
- Nikon D7100 vs Panasonic FZ1000
- Sony A7 III vs Sony A850
Specifications: Nikon D7100 vs Sony A850
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 D7100||Sony A850|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2013||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 1,199||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D7100||Sony A850|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||83||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.2||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.7||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1256||1415|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D7100||Sony A850|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1229k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D7100||Sony A850|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or MS cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D7100||Sony A850|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D7100||Sony A850|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||950 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
136 x 107 x 76 mm
(5.4 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||765 g (27.0 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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