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Samsung NX500 vs Sony A5100

The Samsung NX500 and the Sony Alpha A5100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2015 and August 2014. Both the NX500 and the A5100 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Samsung has a resolution of 28 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.

Headline Specifications
Samsung NX500
versus
Sony A5100
Samsung NX500   Sony A5100
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Samsung NX mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
28 MP – APS-C sensor 24 MP – APS-C sensor
4K/30p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-25,600 (100 - 51,200) ISO 100-25,600
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD – 1036k dots 3.0" LCD – 922k dots
Tilting touchscreen Tilting touchscreen
9 shutter flaps per second 6 shutter flaps per second
370 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
120 x 64 x 43 mm, 287 g 110 x 63 x 36 mm, 283 g
Samsung NX500:
Check Ebay offers
Sony A5100:
Check Amazon price

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Samsung NX500 and the Sony Alpha A5100? 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Samsung NX500 and the Sony A5100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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.

The A5100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the NX500 is only available in black.

Size Samsung NX500 vs Sony A5100
Compare NX500 versus A5100 top
Comparison NX500 or A5100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A5100 is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Samsung NX500. Moreover, the A5100 is slightly lighter (1 percent) than the NX500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the NX500 nor the A5100 are weather-sealed.

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 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Samsung NX500 120 mm 64 mm 43 mm 287 g 370 n Feb 2015 799i
2.
 
Sony A5100 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 n Aug 2014 549 i
3.
 
Canon M3 111 mm 68 mm 44 mm 366 g 250 n Feb 2015 679i
4.
 
Fujifilm X70 113 mm 64 mm 44 mm 340 g 330 n Jan 2016 799i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A3 117 mm 67 mm 40 mm 339 g 410 n Aug 2016 399i
6.
 
Nikon D5600 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
7.
 
Nikon D5500 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 470 g 820 n Jan 2015 899i
8.
 
Ricoh GR II 117 mm 63 mm 35 mm 251 g 320 n Jun 2015 699 i
9.
 
Samsung NX1 139 mm 102 mm 66 mm 550 g 500 Y Sep 2014 1,499i
10.
 
Samsung NX30 127 mm 96 mm 58 mm 375 g 360 n Jan 2014 999i
11.
 
Sony A5000 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 269 g 420 n Jan 2014 449i
12.
 
Sony A6000 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 n Feb 2014 599i
13.
 
Sony A3000 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 n Aug 2013 329i
14.
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499i
15.
 
Sony NEX-3 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599i
Note: 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 A5100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 31 percent) than the NX500, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A5100 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Samsung NX500 and Sony A5100 sensor measures

With 28MP, the NX500 offers a higher resolution than the A5100 (24MP), but the NX500 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.63μm versus 3.91μm for the A5100). However, the NX500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the A5100, 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 NX500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Samsung NX500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NX500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 32.4 x 21.6 inches or 82.3 x 54.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 21.6 x 14.4 inches or 54.9 x 36.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A5100 are 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Samsung NX500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A5100 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

NX500 versus A5100 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the NX500 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the A5100 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0 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.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Samsung NX500 APS-C 28.0 6480 43204K/30p24.813.9137987
2.
 
Sony A5100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
3.
 
Canon M3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972
4.
 
Fujifilm X70 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p23.713.0160880
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.813.1166481
6.
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
7.
 
Nikon D5500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884
8.
 
Ricoh GR II APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880
9.
 
Samsung NX1 APS-C 28.0 6480 43204K/30p24.213.2136383
10.
 
Samsung NX30 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.512.4101476
11.
 
Sony A5000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979
12.
 
Sony A6000 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782
13.
 
Sony A3000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878
14.
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
15.
 
Sony NEX-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the NX500 provides a higher video resolution than the A5100. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The NX500 and the A5100 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Samsung NX500, the Sony A5100, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Samsung NX500none n3.0 / 1036 tilting Y 1/6000s 9.0/s Y n
2.
 
Sony A5100none n3.0 / 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon M3optional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2/s Y n
4.
 
Fujifilm X70optional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0/s Y n
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A3none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0/s Y n
6.
 
Nikon D5600optical n3.2 / 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
7.
 
Nikon D5500optical n3.2 / 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
8.
 
Ricoh GR IIoptional n3.0 / 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
9.
 
Samsung NX12360 Y3.0 / 1036 tilting Y 1/8000s 15.0/s Y n
10.
 
Samsung NX302359 n3.0 / 1036 swivel Y 1/8000s 9.0/s Y n
11.
 
Sony A5000none n3.0 / 461 tilting n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
12.
 
Sony A60001440 n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/4000s 11.0/s Y n
13.
 
Sony A3000202 n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
14.
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
15.
 
Sony NEX-3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0/s n n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.
Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.

The Samsung NX500 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 NX500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A5100 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.

Connectivity comparison

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 Samsung NX500 and Sony Alpha A5100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Samsung NX500Ystereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
2.
 
Sony A5100-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
3.
 
Canon M3Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Fujifilm X70Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A3Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
6.
 
Nikon D5600Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YYY
7.
 
Nikon D5500Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
8.
 
Ricoh GR IIYstereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Samsung NX1Ystereo / monoYYmicro3.0YYY
10.
 
Samsung NX30Ystereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Sony A5000-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Sony A6000Ystereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Sony A3000Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereo / mono--micro2.0---
15.
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the NX500 has a hotshoe, while the A5100 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

The A5100 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the NX500 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the NX500 from Samsung. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Samsung and Sony websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Samsung NX500 and the Sony A5100? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Samsung NX500:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (28 vs 24MP) with a 8% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1036k vs 922k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/6000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 5 months after the A5100).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A5100:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (31 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2014).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NX500 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 3 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding 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.

NX500 12:03 A5100

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Samsung NX500 and the Sony A5100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the NX500 or the A5100 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Samsung NX5004.5/5....81/1005/54.5/5 Feb 2015 799i
2.
 
Sony A51004.5/5+....4.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i
3.
 
Canon M34/5o..75/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679i
4.
 
Fujifilm X704.5/5....76/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2016 799i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A3......74/1004.5/54/5 Aug 2016 399i
6.
 
Nikon D56004/5..4/579/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
7.
 
Nikon D55005/5+..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899i
8.
 
Ricoh GR II........4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699 i
9.
 
Samsung NX15/5....87/1005/55/5 Sep 2014 1,499i
10.
 
Samsung NX303/5....77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 999i
11.
 
Sony A50003/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 449i
12.
 
Sony A60005/5+4.5/580/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2014 599i
13.
 
Sony A30003/5+....4/54/5 Aug 2013 329i
14.
 
Sony NEX-3N3/5......4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
15.
 
Sony NEX-3......70/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Samsung NX500:
Check Ebay offers
Sony A5100:
Check Amazon price

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Samsung NX500 vs Sony A5100

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Samsung NX500 Sony A5100
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Samsung NX mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2015 August 2014
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 549
    Sensor Specs Samsung NX500 Sony A5100
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.5 x 15.7 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 368.95 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.3 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 28 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6480 x 4320 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.63 μm 3.91 μm
    Pixel Density 7.59 MP/cm2 6.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 4K/30p Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 25,600 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 51,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DRIMe Vs BIONZ X
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 87 80
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.8 23.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.9 12.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1379 1347
    Screen Specs Samsung NX500 Sony A5100
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1036k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Samsung NX500 Sony A5100
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/6000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 9 shutter flaps/s 6 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    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 UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Samsung NX500 Sony A5100
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in NFC built-in
    Bluetooth Support Bluetooth built-in no Bluetooth
    Body Specs Samsung NX500 Sony A5100
    Battery Type BP1130 NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 120 x 64 x 43 mm
    (4.7 x 2.5 x 1.7 in)
    110 x 63 x 36 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 287 g (10.1 oz) 283 g (10.0 oz)
    Samsung NX500:
    Check Ebay offers
    Sony A5100:
    Check Amazon price

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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