Updated (October, 2012): Compare the Nikon D5200 vs Sony NEX-7

Nikon D5100

Winner
Nikon D5100

81

vs

Sony Alpha NEX-5

47

Sony Alpha NEX-5

Runner-up
     
 

Reasons to buy the Nikon D5100

Dynamic range
Wide dynamic range
13 EV
Screen flips out
Flip-out screen
Great for movies
HDR
In-camera HDR
Combines multiple exposures
Movie continuous focus
Movie continuous focus
Makes it easy to get in-focus movies
 

Reasons to buy the Sony Alpha NEX-5

Size
Really small
Compact 111x59x38 mm
Light sensitivity
High ISO
12,800 ISO
Screen flips out
Flip-out screen
Great for movies
HDR
In-camera HDR
Combines multiple exposures
 
Differences | Recommendations | Cast your vote | Similarities | Competitors | Appearance | Discussion

differences

Advantages of the Nikon D5100

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Autofocus Faster autofocus Phase detection vs Contrast detection
Help
Catch candid moments easily
Shutter lag Much less shutter lag 273 ms vs 670 ms
Help
2.5x less delay when taking photos
Supports 24p Supports 24p Yes vs No
Help
Get that real film feel
Lens availability Much more lenses available 205 lenses vs 21 lenses
Help
Around 10x more lenses available
External mic jack Has an external mic jack Yes vs No
Help
Record high quality audio with an external microphone
Overall image quality Better image quality 80.0 vs 69.0
Help
Around 20% better image quality
Battery life Significantly longer battery life 660 shots vs 330 shots
Help
2x more shots per battery charge
Startup delay Less startup delay 500 ms vs 1000 ms
Help
2x less delay when turning on
Built-in flash Built-in flash Yes vs No
Help
A built-in flash is useful for taking indoor shots where there is little light
Low light performance Lower noise at high ISO 1,183 ISO vs 796 ISO
Help
The D5100 has a slight edge (0.6 f-stops) in low noise, high ISO performance
Viewfinder Has a viewfinder Pentamirror vs None
Help
A viewfinder can help save battery life by keeping the screen turned off
True resolution Higher true resolution 16.1 MP vs 14 MP
Help
Capture more than 10% more detail in your photos
Color depth Better color depth 23.5 bits vs 22.2 bits
Help
Distinguishes 1.3 more bits of color
Dynamic range More dynamic range 13 EV vs 12.2 EV
Help
0.8 f-stops more dynamic range
Light sensitivity (boost) Has boost ISO 25,600 ISO vs None
Help
Allows taking photos in darker situations, often at the cost of additional noise in the image
Cross type focus points Slightly more cross-type focus points 1 vs 0
Help
Grab focus in difficult situations
Lowest price Slightly cheaper $449.00 vs $565.00
Help
The best price we've seen is $116 cheaper (more than 20% less)
Nikon D5100 Learn more about
the Nikon D5100

Advantages of the Sony NEX-5

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Lens focus motor Has a built-in focus motor Yes vs No
Help
Autofocuses with all autofocus lenses
Size Significantly smaller 111x59x38 mm vs 127x96x78 mm
Help
3.9x smaller
3D Takes 3D photos Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple photos into a 3D image
Panorama Can create panoramas in-camera Yes vs No
Help
Stitches together multiple photos for a wide perspective
Light sensitivity Better maximum light sensitivity 12,800 ISO vs 6,400 ISO
Help
The NEX-5's maximum light sensitivity is 1 f-stop better
Thickness Significantly thinner 1.5" vs 3.1"
Help
2.1x thinner
Weight Significantly lighter 287 g vs 560 g
Help
Around 50% lighter
Continuous shooting Shoots faster 7 fps vs 4 fps
Help
Around 80% faster continuous shooting
Focus points More focus points 25 vs 11
Help
Set focus accurately within the frame
Sony Alpha NEX-5 Learn more about
the Sony NEX-5
vs

recommendations

Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent digital cameras, and ignoring price

Snapsort Recommends
Nikon D5100 Nikon D5100 81
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        vs

        47 Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony Alpha NEX-5
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          Style
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              similarities

              Compared to recent digital cameras

              Common Strengths Common Weaknesses
              Screen resolution High resolution screens Help
              920k dots
              Screen flips out Flip-out screens Help
              Great for movies
              Sensor size Large sensors Help
              D5100:APS-C 23.6x15.6mm
              NEX-5:APS-C 23.4x15.6mm
              Interchangeable lenses Both support interchangeable lenses, which is uncommon in cameras similar to these Help
              Many lenses to choose from
              HDR In-camera HDR Help
              Combines multiple exposures
              Supports RAW Supports RAW Help
              Better editing
              Sensor cleaning Self cleaning sensors Help
              Avoids dust in your photos
              External flash Each supports an external flash Help
              Better lighting
              Sensor type Better sensor types Help
              Better in low light
              Image stabilization No image stabilization Help
              Risk of blur
              Cross type focus points Few cross-type focus points Help
              D5100:1
              NEX-5:0
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $497 - $580 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Takes significantly higher resolution photos
              Thickness Is thicker
              Weight Is slightly heavier
              Canon Rebel T3i

              Canon Rebel T3i

              Entry-level DSLR

              $499 - $749 body only

              $550 - $600 with 18-55mm lens

              Thickness Is thicker
              Weight Is significantly heavier
              Nikon D3100

              Nikon D3100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $392 - $430 with 18-55mm lens

              Thickness Is thicker
              Weight Is slightly heavier
              Nikon D90

              Nikon D90

              Entry-level DSLR

              $629 - $700 body only

              $848 - $850 with 18-105mm lens

              Battery life Has a slightly longer battery life
              Thickness Is thicker
              Weight Is significantly heavier
              Canon Rebel T3

              Canon Rebel T3

              Entry-level DSLR

              $276 - $298 body only

              $399 - $450 with 18-55mm lens

              Sensor cleaning Lacks a self cleaning sensor
              Thickness Is thicker
              Canon EOS Rebel T2i

              Canon Rebel T2i

              Entry-level DSLR

              $575 body only

              $546 - $779 with 18-55mm lens

              Thickness Is thicker
              Weight Is slightly heavier

              Nikon D5100 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D5200

              Nikon D5200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $647 body only

              $747 with 18-55mm lens

              3D Takes 3D photos
              True resolution Significantly higher true resolution
              Battery life Shorter battery life
              Shutter lag Slightly more shutter lag
              Nikon D3300

              Nikon D3300

              Entry-level DSLR

              $636 - $647 with 18-55mm lens

              Lens focus motor Has a built-in focus motor
              Panorama Can create panoramas in-camera
              Screen flips out Screen does not flip out
              Lowest price More expensive
              Nikon D7000

              Nikon D7000

              Entry-level DSLR

              $749 - $1,050 body only

              $930 - $1,385 with 18-105mm lens

              Lens focus motor Has a built-in focus motor
              Weather sealed Weather sealed
              Screen flips out Screen does not flip out
              HDR Lacks in-camera HDR

              Sony Alpha NEX-5 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Sony Alpha NEX-3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              External mic jack Has an external mic jack
              Thickness Slightly thinner
              Movie format Lower resolution movies
              Dynamic range Less dynamic range
              Sony NEX-5N

              Sony NEX-5N

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $789 with 18-55mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Startup delay More startup delay
              Lowest price More expensive
              Sony Alpha NEX-6

              Sony Alpha NEX-6

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $493 - $748 body only

              $668 - $898 with 16-50mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos
              Startup delay Significantly more startup delay
              Sony Alpha A5000

              Sony Alpha A5000

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $498 with 16-50mm lens

              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              True resolution Significantly higher true resolution
              Screen resolution Significantly lower resolution screen
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos
              Sony NEX-7

              Sony NEX-7

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $815 body only

              $979 with 18-55mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Startup delay Slightly more startup delay
              Weight Heavier

              appearance

              Nikon D5100 Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Nikon D5100 Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Nikon D5100 Sony Alpha NEX-5

              discussion

              Nikon D5100
              D5100
              Nikon

              Report a correction
              Sony Alpha NEX-5
              Alpha NEX-5
              Sony

              Report a correction

              Showing 1 comments

              Meredith (0:51 PM, October 24, 2011)
              Snapsort, (or anyone)

              I'm a college student/graphic design, and I travel a lot. I really love the lightweight, small body of the mirrorless cameras and really don't see a big set back for me in terms of getting the sony. My main requirements are decent videos, ability to take multiple photos at once, easy to switch out lens b/c I have limited knowledge of camera (though I do have some, it's mostly with fil cameras), and overall great image quality. My budget is 400-800, and everything on snapsort points to the Nikon 5100--which I would definitely get over the 3100 because of the need for video, but I'm wondering, given my needs, if a smaller, easy to travel with camera would be smarter. I'm looking at the Sony and the Fuji X10 when it comes out. 

              Feedback? Opinions? Anything!