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Sony A6000 versus Canon 5D Mark II

The Sony Alpha A6000 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2014 and September 2008. The A6000 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the 5D Mark II is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (A6000) and a full frame (5D Mark II) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 21 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 Mark II

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A6000 and the Canon 5D Mark II is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions 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 side – the A6000 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony A6000 vs Canon 5D Mark II
Compare A6000 versus 5D Mark II top
Compare A6000 and 5D Mark II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5D Mark II is considerably larger (116 percent) than the Sony A6000. Moreover, the 5D Mark II is substantially heavier (147 percent) than the A6000. It is noteworthy in this context that the 5D Mark II 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 Mark II). 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 Mark II can take 850 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 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
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)
Sony A6000» 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.1 oz 360 n Feb 2014 599- i
Canon 5D Mark II« 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A5100« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony A5000« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 420 n Jan 2014 449- i
Sony A3000« » 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329- i
Sony NEX-3N« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499- i
Sony NEX-5T« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 97.9 oz 330 n Aug 2013 699- i
Sony NEX-6« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 12.2 oz 360 n Sep 2012 999- i
Sony NEX-F3« » 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 11.1 oz 470 n May 2012 599- i
Sony NEX-7« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 14.1 oz 430 n Aug 2011 1,349- i
Sony NEX-3« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 330 n May 2010 599- i

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 83 percent) than the 5D Mark 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 A6000 vs Canon 5D Mark II

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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A6000 features an APS-C sensor and the Canon 5D Mark II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 5D Mark 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 A6000 and Canon 5D Mark II sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Sony A6000 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 21 MP of the Canon 5D Mark II. 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 6.41μm for the 5D Mark II). However, it should be noted that the A6000 is much more recent (by 5 years and 4 months) than the 5D Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

A6000 versus 5D Mark II MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. 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
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A6000» APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782
Canon 5D Mark II« Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785
Sony A5100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
Sony A5000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979
Sony A3000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878
Sony NEX-3N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
Sony NEX-5T« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60p23.613.0101578
Sony NEX-6« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.1101878
Sony NEX-F3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473
Sony NEX-7« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681
Sony NEX-3« » APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A6000 provides a higher frame rate than the 5D Mark II. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A6000 vs Canon 5D Mark II

Apart from 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 Mark II 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A6000 and Canon 5D Mark II along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera 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
Sony A6000»1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n
Canon 5D Mark II«optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n
Sony A5100« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n
Sony A5000« »- n 3.0 461 tilting n 4000 3.5 Y n
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 4.0 Y n
Sony NEX-5T« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n
Sony NEX-6« »2359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 4000 10.0 Y n
Sony NEX-F3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 5.5 Y n
Sony NEX-7« »2359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 4000 10.0 Y n
Sony NEX-3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 7.0 n n

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

Review summary: Sony A6000 vs Canon 5D Mark II

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A6000 and the Canon 5D Mark II? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Sony Alpha A6000:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 21MP) with a 7% higher linear resolution.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 152x114mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 506g or 60 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 (83 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 4 months of technical progress since the 5D Mark II launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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 (850 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 September 2008).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A6000 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 7 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.

A6000 12:07 5D Mark II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A6000 or the 5D Mark II. 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 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). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony A6000»Rec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i
Canon 5D Mark II«91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A5100« »Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony A5000« »Rec-4.5/5rev4.5/5 Jan 2014 449- i
Sony A3000« »Rec-4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329- i
Sony NEX-3N« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499- i
Sony NEX-5T« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2013 699- i
Sony NEX-6« »HiRec78/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 999- i
Sony NEX-F3« »-74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599- i
Sony NEX-7« »HiRec81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349- i
Sony NEX-3« »-70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, 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. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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