Sony A6000 versus Nikon D3
The Sony Alpha A6000 and the Nikon D3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2014 and August 2007. The A6000 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D3 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (A6000) and a full frame sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 12.1 MP.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A6000 and the Nikon D3. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. 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 A6000 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3 is considerably larger (212 percent) than the Sony A6000. Moreover, the D3 is substantially heavier (278 percent) than the A6000. It is noteworthy in this context that the D3 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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D3). 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.
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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||no||2014||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||..||YES||2007||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||no||2017||499||latest||check|
|Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||no||2015||679||discont.||check|
|Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt)||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||no||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||156.6 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||YES||2007||4,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||no||2015||899||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||no||2014||499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||..||YES||2012||5,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||YES||2009||5,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||YES||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt)||157.5 mm||149.5 mm||86 mm||1252 g||1150||YES||2006||4,699||discont.||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||YES||2016||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt)||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||299 g||220||no||2016||999||latest||check|
|Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||no||2015||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||no||2014||799||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||no||2013||2,799||discont.||check|
The listed 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 88 percent) than the D3, 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.
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 are more costly to manufacture and tent 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 Nikon D3 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3 is 134 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Sony A6000 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 12.1 MP of the Nikon D3. 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 8.43μm for the D3). However, it should be noted that the A6000 is much more recent (by 6 years and 5 months) than the D3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||13.1||1347||82|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||no||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.5||12.9||1272||78|
|Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.8||11.8||1169||72|
|Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1438||84|
|Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.8||1385||82|
|Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||no||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||no||22.2||10.9||489||59|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.4||13.7||1437||85|
|Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||586||70|
|Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A6000 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D3 does not. The highest resolution format that the A6000 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A6000 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the D3 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 Nikon D3, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt)||1440||no||3.0||922||tilting||no||4000||11.0||6||no|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||6.1||5||no|
|Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||4.2||5||no|
|Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||2000||6.5||7||YES|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.2||1037||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||fixed||no||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||921||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||8.0||12||no|
|Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||no||4000||11.0||6||no|
|Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||2000||24.0||10.2||YES|
|Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||1228||tilting||no||2000||16.0||10.2||YES|
|Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||2000||10.0||YES||YES|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1229||fixed||no||4000||5.0||6||no|
Both the A6000 and the D3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D3 was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the A6000 was followed by the Sony A6300.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Sony A6000 better than the Nikon D3 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6000:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 12.1MP) with a 41% higher linear resolution.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.9 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.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 956g or 74 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 (88 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D3 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 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.
- 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 2007).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A6000 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 6 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.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A6000 and the D3 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. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt)||Rec||80/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||-||HiRec||5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||..||4/5||..||3.5/5||2017||499||latest||check|
|Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||reviewed||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||2015||679||discont.||check|
|Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||reviewed||-||2007||4,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||899||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2014||499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||2012||5,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2009||5,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||89/100||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||reviewed||-||2006||4,699||discont.||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||83/100 Silver||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||999||latest||check|
|Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2015||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2014||799||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2013||2,799||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
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