Nikon P950 vs Sony A6500
The Nikon Coolpix P950 and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2020 and October 2016. The P950 is a fixed lens compact, while the A6500 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (P950) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 Coolpix P950 and the Sony Alpha A6500? 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 P950 and the Sony A6500 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 width, height and depth measures 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 A6500 is considerably smaller (48 percent) than the Nikon P950. It is noteworthy in this context that the A6500 is splash and dust-proof, while the P950 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the P950 has a lens built in, whereas the A6500 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the A6500 and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the P950 gets 290 shots out of its EN-EL20a battery, while the A6500 can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon P950||140 mm||110 mm||150 mm||1005 g||290||n||Jan 2020||799|
|2.||Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||n||Sep 2010||849|
|4.||Nikon B600||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|5.||Nikon A1000||114 mm||72 mm||41 mm||330 g||250||n||Jan 2019||429|
|6.||Nikon P1000||146 mm||119 mm||181 mm||1415 g||250||n||Jul 2018||999|
|7.||Nikon B500||114 mm||78 mm||95 mm||541 g||600||n||Jan 2016||299|
|8.||Nikon P900||140 mm||103 mm||137 mm||899 g||360||n||Mar 2015||599|
|9.||Nikon L840||113 mm||78 mm||96 mm||538 g||590||n||Feb 2015||299|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||136 mm||97 mm||131 mm||810 g||350||n||Feb 2019||899|
|11.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|12.||Sony A6600||120 mm||67 mm||69 mm||503 g||810||Y||Aug 2019||1,399|
|13.||Sony HX99||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||449|
|14.||Sony HX95||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||429|
|15.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|16.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 P950 was launched at a lower price than the A6500, despite having a lens built in. 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. 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 P950 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony A6500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A6500 is 1211 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the P950 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A6500 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24MP, the A6500 offers a higher resolution than the P950 (15.9MP), but the A6500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 1.33μm for the P950) due to its larger sensor. However, the P950 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 3 months) than the A6500, 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 P950 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A6500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A6500 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 Nikon P950 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A6500 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon Coolpix P950 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A6500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-51200.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The P950 and the A6500 are similar in the sense that both feature an electronic viewfinder, which is helpful when framing images in bright sunlight. Moreover, their viewfinders offer an identical resolution of 2359k dots. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon P950, the Sony A6500, and comparable cameras.
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||2360||n||3.0||1240||swivel||Y||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The A6500 has a touchscreen, while the P950 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The P950 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 A6500 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 A6500 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 P950 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 P950 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A6500 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A6500 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the P950 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 Coolpix P950 and Sony Alpha A6500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
The P950 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the A6500 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A6500 was succeeded by the Sony A6600. 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 how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon P950 or the Sony A6500 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon Coolpix P950:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the A6500 requires a separate lens.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 3 months of technical progress since the A6500 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6500:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 140x110mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (350 versus 290) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2016).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A6500 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 9 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 P950 and the Sony A6500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the P950 or the A6500 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 why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 P950||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2020||799|
|2.||Sony A6500||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|3.||Leica V-LUX 2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2010||849|
|4.||Nikon B600||..||+||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|5.||Nikon A1000||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||429|
|6.||Nikon P1000||..||+||73/100||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2018||999|
|7.||Nikon B500||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2016||299|
|8.||Nikon P900||..||..||77/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2015||599|
|9.||Nikon L840||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||299|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||..||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||899|
|11.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|12.||Sony A6600||4/5||+||83/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2019||1,399|
|13.||Sony HX99||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||449|
|14.||Sony HX95||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2018||429|
|15.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|16.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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
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Specifications: Nikon P950 vs Sony A6500
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 P950||Sony A6500|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-2000mm f/2.8-6.5||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2020||October 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon P950||Sony A6500|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||85|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1405|
|Screen Specs||Nikon P950||Sony A6500|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||90%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon P950||Sony A6500|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon P950||Sony A6500|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon P950||Sony A6500|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||290 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
140 x 110 x 150 mm
(5.5 x 4.3 x 5.9 in)
120 x 67 x 53 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1005 g (35.5 oz)||453 g (16.0 oz)|
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