Updated (October, 2012): Compare the Nikon D5200 vs Sony SLT-A65

Nikon D5100

Tie
Nikon D5100

71

vs

Sony SLT-A55

71

Sony SLT-A55

Tie
     
 

Reasons to buy the Nikon D5100

Low light performance
Low noise at high ISO
1,183 ISO
Overall image quality
Great image quality
80.0
Movie format
Full HD
1080p @ 30fps
Dynamic range
Wide dynamic range
13 EV
 

Reasons to buy the Sony SLT-A55

Movie format
Full HD
1080p @ 30fps
Viewfinder size
Large viewfinder
0.72x
Image stabilization
Image stabilization
Sensor shift
Continuous shooting
Rapid fire
10 fps
 
Differences | Recommendations | Cast your vote | Similarities | Competitors | Appearance | Discussion

differences

Advantages of the Nikon D5100

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Low light performance Significantly lower noise at high ISO 1,183 ISO vs 816 ISO
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The D5100 has a slight edge (0.5 f-stops) in low noise, high ISO performance
Supports 24p Supports 24p Yes vs No
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Get that real film feel
Overall image quality Better image quality 80.0 vs 73.0
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Around 10% better image quality
Viewfinder Has an optical viewfinder Pentamirror vs Digital
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Optical viewfinders save battery life and are more detailed
Lens availability Significantly more lenses available 205 lenses vs 123 lenses
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Around 70% more lenses available
Battery life Significantly longer battery life 660 shots vs 330 shots
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2x more shots per battery charge
Startup delay Less startup delay 500 ms vs 900 ms
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More than 40% less delay when turning on
Dynamic range More dynamic range 13 EV vs 12.4 EV
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0.6 f-stops more dynamic range
Color depth Better color depth 23.5 bits vs 23 bits
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Distinguishes 0.5 more bits of color
Lowest price Much cheaper $378.00 vs $1,059.61
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The best price we've seen is $682 cheaper (2.8x less)
Thickness Significantly thinner 3.1" vs 3.3"
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Around 10% thinner
Nikon D5100 Learn more about
the Nikon D5100

Advantages of the Sony SLT-A55

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Viewfinder size Much larger viewfinder 0.72x vs 0.51x
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Around 2x larger viewfinder
Continuous shooting Shoots much faster 10 fps vs 4 fps
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2.5x faster continuous shooting
Image stabilization Image stabilization Sensor shift vs None
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Helps eliminate blur caused by small camera movements
3D Takes 3D photos Yes vs No
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Combines multiple photos into a 3D image
Autofocus Faster video autofocus Phase detection vs Contrast detection
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Shoot videos without worrying about focus
Panorama Can create panoramas in-camera Yes vs No
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Stitches together multiple photos for a wide perspective
GPS Has a GPS Yes vs No
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Automatically geotags your photos when traveling
Shutter lag Less shutter lag 220 ms vs 273 ms
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Around 20% less delay when taking photos
Light sensitivity Better maximum light sensitivity 12,800 ISO vs 6,400 ISO
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The SLT-A55's maximum light sensitivity is 1 f-stop better
Cross type focus points More cross-type focus points 3 vs 1
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Grab focus in difficult situations
Focus points More focus points 15 vs 11
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Set focus accurately within the frame
Weight Lighter 500 g vs 560 g
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More than 10% lighter
Sony SLT-A55 Learn more about
the Sony SLT-A55
vs

recommendations

Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent entry-level DSLRs, and ignoring price

Nikon D5100 Nikon D5100 71
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    Style
      Color
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        vs

        71 Sony SLT-A55 Sony SLT-A55
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          Style
            Color
              You save

              similarities

              Compared to recent entry-level DSLRs

              Common Strengths Common Weaknesses
              Screen flips out Flip-out screens Help
              Great for movies
              Movie continuous focus Focus continuously recording movies Help
              Makes it easy to get in-focus movies
              External mic jack Have external mic jacks Help
              Record higher quality audio with a microphone
              Fastest shutter speed Slow max shutter speed Help
              1/4000 of a second
              Thickness Quite thick Help
              D5100:3.1"
              SLT-A55:3.3"
              True resolution Capture low resolution images Help
              D5100:16.1 MP
              SLT-A55:16 MP
              Cross type focus points Few cross-type focus points Help
              D5100:1
              SLT-A55:3
              Weather sealed Neither is weather sealed Help
              Need to shelter it from weather
              Movie format Both shoot high resolution HD movies Help
              1080p @ 30fps

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $319 body only

              $389 - $506 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Takes much higher resolution photos
              Size Is slightly smaller
              Light sensitivity (boost) Slightly lower boost light sensitivity
              Sensor size Has a marginally smaller sensor
              Canon Rebel T3i

              Canon Rebel T3i

              Entry-level DSLR

              $499 - $648 body only

              $200 - $579 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Takes slightly higher resolution photos
              Lowest price Is slightly less expensive
              Weight Is slightly heavier
              Light sensitivity (boost) Slightly lower boost light sensitivity
              Nikon D5200

              Nikon D5200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $547 body only

              $549 - $647 with 18-55mm lens

              Movie format Records higher quality movies
              True resolution Takes much higher resolution photos
              Lowest price Is slightly more expensive
              Shutter lag Has slightly more shutter lag
              Nikon D5300

              Nikon D5300

              Entry-level DSLR

              $747 body only

              $650 - $847 with 18-55mm lens

              Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
              Movie format Records higher quality movies
              Lowest price Is slightly more expensive
              Nikon D3100

              Nikon D3100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $285 body only

              $427 with 18-55mm lens

              Size Is slightly smaller
              Thickness Is thinner
              Light sensitivity (boost) Slightly lower boost light sensitivity
              Sensor size Has a marginally smaller sensor
              Nikon D90

              Nikon D90

              Entry-level DSLR

              $929 body only

              $848 - $940 with 18-105mm lens

              Viewfinder Has higher quality type of viewfinder
              Battery life Has a slightly longer battery life
              Lowest price Is significantly more expensive
              Weight Is significantly heavier
              Nikon D7000

              Nikon D7000

              Entry-level DSLR

              $640 body only

              $850 with 18-105mm lens

              Weather sealed Has a weather sealed body
              Viewfinder Has higher quality type of viewfinder
              Lowest price Is slightly more expensive
              Weight Is much heavier

              Nikon D5100 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3300

              Nikon D3300

              Entry-level DSLR

              $547 with 18-55mm lens

              Movie format Higher frame rate movies
              Low light performance Lower noise at high ISO
              Startup delay Much more startup delay
              HDR Lacks in-camera HDR
              Canon EOS Rebel T5

              Canon EOS Rebel T5

              Entry-level DSLR

              $681 - $700 body only

              $499 - $822 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Higher true resolution
              Weight Lighter
              Low light performance Significantly more noise at high ISO
              Overall image quality Much worse image quality

              Sony SLT-A55 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Sony SLT A57

              Sony SLT A57

              Entry-level DSLR

              $846 with 18-55mm lens

              Movie format Higher frame rate movies
              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              GPS No built-in GPS
              Low light performance Slightly more noise at high ISO
              Sony SLT-A65

              Sony SLT A65

              Entry-level DSLR

              $675 body only

              $772 with 18-55mm lens

              Movie format Higher frame rate movies
              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Startup delay Much more startup delay
              Low light performance More noise at high ISO
              Sony SLT-A77

              Sony SLT A77

              Pro DSLR

              $1,398 body only

              $1,298 with 16-50mm lens

              Movie format Higher frame rate movies
              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Startup delay Much more startup delay
              Size Much larger
              Sony SLT-A37

              Sony SLT-A37

              Entry-level DSLR

              $430 - $479 with 18-55mm lens

              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Shutter lag Significantly less shutter lag
              Screen resolution Much lower resolution screen
              Screen size Much smaller screen

              appearance

              Nikon D5100 Sony SLT-A55
              Nikon D5100 Sony SLT-A55
              Nikon D5100 Sony SLT-A55

              discussion

              Nikon D5100
              D5100
              Nikon

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              Sony SLT-A55
              SLT-A55
              Sony

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              Showing 13 comments

              Alex Sainz (7:22 PM, July 17, 2013)
              totally agree, the tene popularity does not mean it is better quality, this point always favors CANON and NIKON
               
              Britney Okeefe (10:52 PM, February 05, 2012)
              Thats actually not true. Most minolta and sigma, among other, lenses fit the sony body, one of its major selling points.
               
              Whits (6:21 PM, January 20, 2012)
              Solrac - mate, i think these are both good camera's, as you can see below, I was tossing up 7months ago (Whits) as to which one to buy.  I am a little down the track now after having purchased a Canon T3i - it is absolutely amazing.  For you - comparing the Nikon D5100 and the SONY @55, they are both extremely good cameras which capture extremely good images....  I dont know how advanced you are with photography (I am still a novice) but I would keep this as a rule-of-thumb:  You cant pass up a DSLR for the pure physics of its photography mechanics.. i.e. the @55 is technically NOT a DSLR, it is a hybrid.  In my mind the @55 has a mechanism which could potentially be added trouble down the track, the DSLR is pure.  The frames per second wont be a problem for you, you dont really need SONY's 10fps of burst if you are genuinely trying to take good photos (I dont mean that technically by any means I am not a master, but I have found that spraying photos for a beginner like me tends to compromise quality - you may be different) however the burst rate on my T3i is actually surprisingly amazing, so for me, I wouldnt let how fast the camera can take shots be a selling point.
              @google-6473e6521acee041e4ecb280919e588a:disqus 
              1st question:  Have you actually been to a shop and tangibly held these in your hand?  The camera(s) which sit more naturally should be where you start with looking at these... e.g. I was hell bent on getting the Nikon D5100, did NOT even have a T3i in the equation, then when I went to the shop and held it in my hand it fit so naturally that it was almost a deal, what made it a deal was that a good photographer showed the differences and the T3i and D5100 were nearly the same - I have not looked back.

              The Sony parts - bit of a deal breaker for me, parts are exclusive to Sony and are all at a Sony premium - "SONY only" was how said photograher described, I am pretty certain, and check this out to make sure, but you cant use 3rd party equipment such as a good third party Tamron lense etc on a Sony. (I have just been trying to Google that so forgive me if that is a bum-steer)

              The Nikon has a better ISO sensor - this will be crucial when you are playing around with your aperture and ISO in photo's.

              If I was picking from the 2 - I would be cutting a check to Nikon.
               
              solrac (3:55 PM, January 20, 2012)
              I am still trying to decide between the two, I already ruled Canon T3i out because of the lack of features like HDR (combining multiple photos into one) and the shutter lag on burst mode after holding down the button for a few seconds. I like both the nikon and a55 and have researched them both a lot. Why is the Nikon rated so much higher than the a55 when it seems that a lot of people like the Sony more. I am leaning toward the Nikon because I figured out how to reduce the focus noise during video, just add an external mic. I also like the low light performance for photos and video. Sony is not to be ruled out though, it seems pretty good at low light. I will be doing videos and photos regularly, probably half and half. Photos will be of everything, portraits to action to scenery. Opinions?
               
              Anooptheguy (11:58 AM, December 12, 2011)
              I went to the store to see the compatibility of the cameras with my hand.. i found Sony SLT a55 more worth for the money i pay .
               
              Avatar for Robert Anceski Robert Anceski (5:01 AM, June 19, 2011)
              I was hoping someone could tell me if the sony's low light photos are that devastating that one would think of buying the NIkon????
               
              Whits (2:43 AM, June 17, 2011)
              also - I have a very powerful PC, should I be buying something at the low end of the SLR range that doesnt have all the gadget bells and whistles and pay up for better lenses and let the computer do all the gadgetry work via good software???
               
              Whits (2:20 AM, June 17, 2011)
              If you look at sample images from other websites, the A55 seems to have a deal-making-difference in the image appearance/quality... would this not be the way to go?  I am in the same predicament of not being able to decide... also.. with a dSLR (specifically)... is it OK to just go with a cheaper/lower version model and step up the lenses..???  is that not what it is all about in SLRs?  thanks for any help as I would really like to own a quality camera...
               
              Aljoef (10:58 AM, June 13, 2011)
              if ur into video i recommened the a55.
               
              Avatar for wolfdoctor wolfdoctor (7:46 PM, May 31, 2011)
              I don't understand why popularity is weighted at 100 while image quality is only weighted at 45.5.  Image quality should obviously have the greatest weight.  In fact, why is popularity included at all?
               
              Avatar for nkalu nkalu (0:43 AM, April 27, 2011)
              Regular camera usage. Travel with it , shot events including sports. For Video also.
               
              Avatar for Snapsort Snapsort (1:16 PM, April 25, 2011)
              What will you be doing with your camera?
               
              Avatar for nkalu nkalu (7:29 PM, April 23, 2011)
              Cool cameras. I have difficulty deciding which one to buy.
              Can somebody help me out here?