Sony NEX5 vs. Canon 60D

During the past days I was considering in replacing my Nikon D90 with a new digital camera. Only three requirements had to be met; Interchangeable lens system and a image sensor equal or bigger than APS-C and more video capabilities compared to the D90. After reading some news on dpreview my interest fall onto the Sony NEX-5 and Canon 60D. Based on few small tests, I wanted to make my own opinion. It’s important to know that I used camera raw images without much post processing.

Sony NEX-5Canon 60D
TypeDigital System CameraDSLR
BodyMagnesium AlloyPlastic
SensorAPS-C @14MPixelAPS-C @18MPixel
ISOAuto: 200 - 1600 (no control)
Manual: 200 - 12800
Auto: 100 - 3200
Manual: 100 - 12800
VideoFullHD (AVCHD) with continous autofocusFullHD (H.264) with manual autofocus
Continuous shooting rate6 - 10 fps5.3 fps
Weight287g (10oz, 0.63lb)775g (1.6lb)

Resolution comparison:

As you can see, both cameras or should I say both lenses renders fairly the same amount of details. Only the Canon 60D renders slightly more detail.

ISO/Noise comparison:

In this test the Canon 60D outperformed the NEX-5. Starting wit ISO 800 the noise level of the NEX-5 is more visible as the Canon 60D. But anyway, high ISO levels are still usable and can be compensated using luminance denoise functions of your favorite RAW processing application.

Optical comparison:

As typically for APS-C lenses, the resolution on corners falls down significantly. This is especially a problem for most kit lenses around there, also in this case. The Sony lens is much more blurry in corners compared to the Canon lens. On the center both lenses are visibly on par. Personally I like the metal look’n feel of the Sony lens, giving it a high quality touch.


Video :

Both cameras can record FullHD footage with their internal microphone. Both cameras can be equipped with a external microphone, on the Canon using a 3.5mm stereo jack and on the Sony you can only use the accessory Sony microphone ECM-SST1. Again, in terms of quality the Canon 60D generates higher quality video footage. I think this comes from the higher bit rate during recording. The Canon 60D records up to a file size 4GB at FullHD, giving you about 12 minutes recoding time. The Sony records up to 29 minutes and splits files into 2GB chunks. But the cameras can suffer from a overheating while recording, especially in hot regions. A nice feature is the continuous autofocus of the Sony, giving you a camcorder feeling. But only exposure can be changed during the recording. The Canon offers you much more control while recurring, exposure, shutter, speed but no continous autofocus.


Controls :

Both cameras are made for different people. The Sony is made for people wanting more control and freedom over a point’n shoot camera. The Canon is definitely made for enthusiast or semi-profi  and you can see on the controls. Direct access to ISO, AF, exposure settings, a clean an fast menu. And not to forget the genius scroll wheel. Overall excellent control. I couldn’t believe to say this a a long Nikon user 😉

The Sony lacks a lot of button accessing most important settings. Ok, Sony made a lot changes with the firmware 4, giving you custom settings for using the buttons near the jog dial, but it’s not comparable to the Canon. The Sony jog dial goes into the same direction as the Canon but not as ergonomically.


The clear winner is the Canon 60D in terms of image and build quality. But if you honor the price/value aspect, the Sony is quite interesting. Giving you a really good image quality with a growing  number of lenses. Some Zeiss lenses should also come up in future. I was really close to keep the Sony camera, but two things kept me away from this. First thing was the missing viewfinder (OVF or EVF) and the last thing was a problem with the contrast autofocus on night shots. On night shots, the contrast AF wasn’t working. This is no surprise but without a viewfinder it was nearly impossible to focus even manually.