Nikon Z5 vs Sony A77
The Nikon Z5 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2020 and August 2011. The Z5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A77 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (Z5) and an APS-C (A77) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24.2 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 Z5 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon Z5 and the Sony A77. 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 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 A77 is notably larger (10 percent) than the Nikon Z5. Moreover, the A77 is markedly heavier (8 percent) than the Z5. 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 power pack in the Z5 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon Z5||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||470||Y||Jul 2020||1,399|
|2.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|3.||Fujifilm X-T4||135 mm||93 mm||64 mm||607 g||500||Y||Feb 2020||1,699|
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||420||Y||Oct 2020||2,999|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|6.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|7.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|8.||Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|9.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|10.||Panasonic G9||137 mm||97 mm||92 mm||658 g||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699|
|11.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|12.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|13.||Sony A6600||120 mm||67 mm||69 mm||503 g||810||Y||Aug 2019||1,399|
|14.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|15.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||647 g||480||Y||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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.
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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon Z5 features a full frame sensor and the Sony A77 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A77 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.2MP, the Z5 offers a slightly higher resolution than the A77 (24MP), but the Z5 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.95μm versus 3.91μm for the A77) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the Z5 is a much more recent model (by 8 years and 10 months) than the A77, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Z5 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon Z5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon Z5||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/60p||26.3||14.7||2841||100|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|7.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|9.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Panasonic G9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|12.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|14.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|16.||Sony A77 II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the Z5 provides a higher video resolution than the A77. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the Z5 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A77 (3690k vs 2359k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon Z5 and Sony A77 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A77 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Z5 has a touchscreen, while the A77 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The A77 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the Z5 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 Z5 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 Z5 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 Z5 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A77 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The Z5 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A77 only has one slot. The Z5 supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the A77 can use UHS-I 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 Z5 and Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|12.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A77 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the Z5 has a headphone jack, which is not present on the A77 This port makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A77 (unlike the Z5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A77 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The Z5 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the A77 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A77 was succeeded by the Sony A77 II. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon Z5 or the Sony A77 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Nikon Z5:
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3690k vs 2359k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.80x vs 0.73x).
- 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 (1040k vs 921k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 10 months of technical progress since the A77 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A77:
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex 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.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 4.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- 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 2011).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Z5 is the clear winner of the match-up (22 : 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. 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 Z5 and the Sony A77 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the Z5 and the A77 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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 Z5||4/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jul 2020||1,399|
|2.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|3.||Fujifilm X-T4||5/5||+ +||..||5/5||5/5||Feb 2020||1,699|
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||4.5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||2,999|
|5.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|6.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|7.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|8.||Nikon D7500||4.5/5||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|9.||Olympus E-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|10.||Panasonic G9||..||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699|
|11.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|12.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|13.||Sony A6600||4/5||+||83/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2019||1,399|
|14.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|15.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Nikon Z5 vs Sony A77
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 Z5||Sony A77|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon Z mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2020||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,399||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Z5||Sony A77|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.2 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6016 x 4016 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.95 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.82 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||801|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Z5||Sony A77|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3690k dots||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Z5||Sony A77|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.5 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||Dual UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Z5||Sony A77|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon Z5||Sony A77|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||470 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
134 x 101 x 67 mm
(5.3 x 4.0 x 2.6 in)
143 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||675 g (23.8 oz)||732 g (25.8 oz)|
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