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Sony A5100 versus Sony A7R II

The Sony Alpha A5100 and the Sony Alpha A7R II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2014 and June 2015. Both the A5100 and the A7R II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (A5100) and a full frame (A7R II) sensor. The A5100 has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the A7R II provides 42.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Sony A5100 vs Sony A7R II

The physical size and weight of the Sony A5100 and the Sony A7R II are illustrated 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 you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A5100 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony A5100 vs Sony A7R II
Compare A5100 versus A7R II top
Compare A5100 and A7R II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7R II is considerably larger (76 percent) than the Sony A5100. Moreover, the A7R II is substantially heavier (121 percent) than the A5100. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7R II is splash and dust-proof, while the A5100 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A5100) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7R II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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» 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
Sony A7R II« 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony A7R III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
Sony A7S II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A5000« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 420 n Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
Sony A6000« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.1 oz 360 n Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
Sony RX100 III« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony A3000« » 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
Sony NEX-3N« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
Sony RX100 II« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 n Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
Sony NEX-F3« » 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 11.1 oz 470 n May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3
Sony RX100« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
Sony NEX-3« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 330 n May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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 A5100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 83 percent) than the A7R II, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony A5100 vs Sony A7R II

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A5100 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7R II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R II 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.

Sony A5100 and Sony A7R II sensor measures

With 42.2MP, the A7R II offers a higher resolution than the A5100 (24MP), but the A7R II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 3.91μm for the A5100) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7R II is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the A5100, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A7R II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

A5100 versus A7R II 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 consideration, the A7R II offers substantially better image quality than the A5100 (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.2 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.4 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.

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 A7R II« Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498Sony A7R II
Sony A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100Sony A7R III
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792Sony A99 II
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385Sony A7S II
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II
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 A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R
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 two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7R II provides a better video resolution than the A5100. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the A5100 is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A5100 vs Sony A7R II

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7R II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the A5100 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A5100, the Sony A7R II, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Sony A5100»- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n Sony A5100
Sony A7R II«2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7R II
Sony A7R III« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Sony A7R III
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y Sony A99 II
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7S II
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II
Sony A5000« »- n 3.0 461 tilting n 4000 3.5 Y n Sony A5000
Sony A6000« »1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6000
Sony RX100 III« »1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 III
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Sony A3000
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 II
Sony NEX-F3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 5.5 Y n Sony NEX-F3
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100
Sony NEX-3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 7.0 n n Sony NEX-3

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The A5100 has one, while the A7R II does not. While the build-in flash of the A5100 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Both the A5100 and the A7R II write their imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

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 A7R II«YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R II
Sony A7R III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7R III
Sony A99 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A99 II
Sony A7S II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S II
Sony RX100 IV« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II
Sony A5000« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5000
Sony A6000« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A6000
Sony RX100 III« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 III
Sony A7R« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R
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

The A5100 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the A7R II has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R II was succeeded by the Sony Alpha A7R III.

Review summary: Sony A5100 vs Sony A7R II

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A5100 or the Sony A7R II – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A5100:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm vs 127x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 342g or 55 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (83 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2014).


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7R II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 33%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 922k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (9 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R II is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 9 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.

A5100 09:16 A7R II

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A5100 or the A7R II. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

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»Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
Sony A7R II«HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony A7R III« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
Sony A7S II« »Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A5000« »Rec-4.5/5rev4.5/5 Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
Sony A6000« »Rec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
Sony RX100 III« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony A3000« »Rec-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« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 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« »HiRec78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
Sony NEX-3« »-70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

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. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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