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Sony A5100 Comparison Review

The Sony Alpha A5100 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that was announced in August 2014 and is equipped with an APS-C sensor. It offers a resolution of 24 megapixel.

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Is the Sony A5100 a good camera? The A5100 has a Camera Elo of 2160. This rating puts the A5100 below average of all mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (APS cameras), the A5100 ranks among the top 40 percent. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 3-star performance rating.

Headline Specifications
Sony A5100
Mirrorless system camera
Sony E mount lenses
24 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60p Video
ISO 100-25600
No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD, 922k dots
Tilting touchscreen
6 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge
110 x 63 x 36 mm, 283 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Sony A5100 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Sony A5100 vs credit card front
A5100 versus credit card top view
A5100 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Sony A5100 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side 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
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
 
Sony RX100 IV« » 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 298 g 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« » 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 269 g 420 n Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« » 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 n Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« » 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 290 g 320 n May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« » 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 n Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« » 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« » 102 mm 58 mm 38 mm 281 g 350 n Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« » 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« » 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 240 g 330 n Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« » 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Sony A5100 was launched in the US market at a price of $549. 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.

Sony A5100:
Check Amazon price

Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

The Sony A5100 features an APS-C sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Sony A5100 among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability.

Sony A5100 sensor measures

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780Sony A5100
 
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« » APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068Sony NEX-3

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A5100 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the A5100 can use is 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The tables below summarize some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A5100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Sony A5100
 
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 1/2000s 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« »- n 3.0 461 tilting n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« »1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/4000s 11.0 Y n Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« »1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n Sony NEX-3

One convenient feature of the A5100 is the presence of an on-board flash. While this built-in flash is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light to brighten deep shadow areas.

 

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

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5100
 
Sony RX100 IV« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-3

It is notable that the A5100 offers wifi support. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

 

Expert reviews

While the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A5100 in practical situations. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100+-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
 
Sony RX100 IV« »+ +85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« »+-4.5/5o4.5/5 Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« »+80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« »+ +82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« »+-4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« »+ +79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« »-74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« »+ +78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« »-70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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.

Sony A5100 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the A5100.

What type of imaging sensor is used in the A5100?

The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Sony equipped the A5100 with the BIONZ X image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the A5100?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600.

Does the camera have a selfie-friendly screen?

Yes, the LCD-screen of the A5100 is flexible and can be turned to be front-facing for capturing selfies.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Sony Alpha A5100?

Sony does not publish a shutter rating for the A5100. Yet, shutters in comparable cameras from other manufacturers are said to be good for at least 100 000 actuations. It should be noted, though, that this number represents a Mean Time before Failure. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust an expected shutter life of 100 000 shots over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.

How do I find the shutter count on my Sony A5100?

Sony embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your A5100 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the online shutter count app.

Is it difficult to use manual focus lenses with the Sony A5100?

The A5100 offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid. This feature works by placing a colored highlight on in-focus zones within the image.

Does the Sony A5100 feature an autofocus assist light?

Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The A5100's flash sync speed is 1/160 sec.

Does the Sony A5100 support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?

Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-I cards (data transfer speed of up to 104 MB/s).

Which battery does the A5100 use?

The camera gets its power from the NP-FW50 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Where can I find the best deals for the A5100?

Grey imports from Asia, as found on eBay, are often very attractively priced. However, these cameras come without a warranty from Sony.

Camera to camera comparisons

If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, 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.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Sony A5100
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2014
    Launch Price USD 549
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.91 μm
    Pixel Density 6.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100-25600 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ X
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 80
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1347
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type No viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peaking
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in
    Body Specs
    Battery Type NP-FW50 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 110 x 63 x 36 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 283 g (10.0 oz)

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