Sunday, June 1, 2014

Thought of The Day: Sony SLT A77 II or Nikon D5300?

Following yesterday's post about the Sony SLT A77 II and Sony A6000, I wanted to compare the A77 II to the Nikon D5300. The two cameras are very similar, so what would make someone choose one over the other?

While they both have a Sony made 24 megapixel APS-C sized sensor, they are not the exact same sensor. The D5300 has slightly fewer megapixels, but the size of the individual pixels is slightly larger. Not a big deal, but worth noting because it demonstrates that the sensors are not exactly the same. However, they both provide excellent image quality, with similar scores over at DxOMark (the D5300 received a slightly higher score, but not enough higher to make any difference in overall image quality).

Here's a quick rundown on the differences between the two cameras:

- The SLT A77 II is weather sealed while the D5300 is not.
- The SLT A77 II has an electronic viewfinder while the D5300 has a pentamirror viewfinder.
- The SLT A77 II has a 79 point auto-focus system while the D5300 has a 39 point system.
- The SLT A77 II has built-in image stabilization while the D5300 does not.
- The SLT A77 II can continuously shoot 12 frames-per-second while the D5300 can shoot 5 fps.
- The SLT A77 II has two memory card slots while the D5300 has only one.
- The D5300 does not have an anti-aliasing filter while the SLT A77 II does.
- The D5300 has a slightly larger rear screen, while the SLT A77 II has a slightly higher resolution screen.
- The D5300 is smaller and lighter than the SLT A77 II.
- The D5300 has an MSRP of $800 (body only) and the SLT A77 II has an MSRP of $1,200 (body only).

Is the SLT A77 II $400 better than the Nikon D5300? It depends on how important having a weather sealed camera is to you, if 5 fps is sufficient or not, and if a 39 point auto-focus is good enough. Wedding photographers will prefer the security of a second memory card slot. For most photographers, the differences are not sufficient to justify the extra cost of the Sony camera.

The other important consideration is glass. I personally believe that Nikon has better overall lenses than Sony. I'm not putting down Sony because they do have some excellent lenses, going back to the Minolta days. But Nikon has a larger selection of better lenses than Sony.

The differences in lens quality is really very minor, outside of pixel-peepers who will point out stuff no one would ever notice on their own. However, when you combine an excellent prime lens with Nikon's non-anti-aliased sensor, you can get sharp results that the Sony camera is simply not capable of. This is not a big deal for most people, but for some it will be a huge deal.

In many aspects the Sony SLT A77 II is a better overall camera than the Nikon D5300. For most photographers the D5300 is plenty good and is probably the best choice. For some, the additional cost of the SLT A77 II is worth it for the higher-end extras.

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