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Sony A6000 versus Canon 5D

The Sony Alpha A6000 and the Canon EOS 5D are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2014 and August 2005. The A6000 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the 5D is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (A6000) and a full frame (5D) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 12.7 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 A6000 vs Canon 5D

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A6000 and the Canon 5D is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A6000 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony A6000 vs Canon 5D
A6000 versus 5D top view
A6000 and 5D rear side
Body view (A6000 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5D is considerably larger (114 percent) than the Sony A6000. Moreover, the 5D is substantially heavier (160 percent) than the A6000. It is noteworthy in this context that the 5D is splash and dust-proof, while the A6000 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 (A6000) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (5D). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony A6000, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the A6000 gets 360 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the 5D can take 400 images on a single charge of its BP-511A power pack.

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, just select a new right or left 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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 no 2014 599discont. check
Canon 5D (⇒ lft) 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 YES 2005 3,299discont. check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 YES 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 YES 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 YES 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 YES 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1565 g 1200 YES 2005 3,999discont. check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 49 mm 404 g 400 YES 2016 999discont. check
Sony A5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 no 2014 549 latest check
Sony A5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 269 g 420 no 2014 449discont. check
Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 no 2013 329discont. check
Sony NEX-3N (⇒ lft | rgt) 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 no 2013 499discont. check
Sony NEX-5T (⇒ lft | rgt) 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 2776 g 330 no 2013 699discont. check
Sony NEX-6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 345 g 360 no 2012 999discont. check
Sony NEX-F3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 no 2012 599discont. check
Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 400 g 430 no 2011 1,349discont. check
Sony NEX-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 no 2010 599discont. check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A6000 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 82 percent) than the 5D, 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 A6000 vs Canon 5D

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. 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 Sony A6000 features an APS-C sensor and the Canon 5D a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 5D 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 A6000 and Canon 5D sensor measures
Sensor size

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Sony A6000 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 12.7 MP of the Canon 5D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 8.25μm for the 5D). However, it should be noted that the A6000 is much more recent (by 8 years and 6 months) than the 5D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

A6000 versus 5D MP
Sensor resolution

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. Of the two cameras under review, the A6000 provides substantially higher image quality than the 5D, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, -0 stops of reduced 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 13.1 1347 82
Canon 5D (⇒ lft) Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912 no 22.9 11.1 1368 71
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 50.3 8688 5792 1080/60p 24.6 12.4 2308 86
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 23.8 12.1 2340 82
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 22.1 5760 3840 1080/30p 24 11.7 2293 81
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 1080/30p 23.7 11.9 1815 79
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 8.2 3504 2336 no 22.3 11.2 975 66
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.4 13.7 1437 85
Sony A5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.8 12.7 1347 80
Sony A5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 19.8 5456 3632 1080/60i 23.8 13.0 1089 79
Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 19.8 5456 3632 1080/60i 23.7 12.8 1068 78
Sony NEX-3N (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4912 3264 1080/60i 22.8 12.5 1067 74
Sony NEX-5T (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4912 3264 1080/60p 23.6 13.0 1015 78
Sony NEX-6 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4912 3264 1080/60i 23.7 13.1 1018 78
Sony NEX-F3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4912 3264 1080/60i 22.7 12.3 1114 73
Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60i 24.1 13.4 1016 81
Sony NEX-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 14.0 4592 3056 720/30p 22.1 12.0 830 68

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A6000 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the 5D does not. The highest resolution format that the A6000 can use is 1080/60p.

Feature comparison: Sony A6000 vs Canon 5D

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A6000 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the 5D has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A6000, the Canon 5D, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt) 1440 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Canon 5D (⇒ lft) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 3.0 no no
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 4.5 no no
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 6.0 no no
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 3.9 no no
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 8.5 no no
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Sony A5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 6.0 4 no
Sony A5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 461 tilting no 4000 3.5 4 no
Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 202 no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 2.5 6 no
Sony NEX-3N (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 460 tilting no 4000 4.0 4 no
Sony NEX-5T (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 10.0 no no
Sony NEX-6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 921 tilting no 4000 10.0 6 no
Sony NEX-F3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 tilting no 4000 5.5 6 no
Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 921 tilting no 4000 10.0 6 no
Sony NEX-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 tilting no 4000 7.0 no no

Both the A6000 and the 5D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the A6000 was followed by the Sony A6300.

Review summary: Sony A6000 vs Canon 5D

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A6000 or the Canon 5D – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6000:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 12.7MP) with a 37% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 152x113mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 551g or 62 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (82 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 5D launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D:

  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 360) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2005).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6000 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 6 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.

A6000 16:06 5D

In any case, 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 A6000 and the 5D 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 expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt) Rec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 599discont. check
Canon 5D (⇒ lft) 88/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2005 3,299discont. check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 79/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 - 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2005 3,999discont. check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 85/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 999discont. check
Sony A5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 549 latest check
Sony A5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2014 449discont. check
Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2013 329discont. check
Sony NEX-3N (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2013 499discont. check
Sony NEX-5T (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2013 699discont. check
Sony NEX-6 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 999discont. check
Sony NEX-F3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 74/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 599discont. check
Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 81/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2011 1,349discont. check
Sony NEX-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 70/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4/5 2010 599discont. check

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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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.


Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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