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Introduction

Earlier it was the norm to opt for a DSLR camera if you wanted to get into photography as it offered the best photographs compared to other types of cameras. However, in recent years we have seen a large leap in technology and image quality in mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, and since they come in smaller bodies, they have become very attractive options.

Comparing two models from each type in the entry-level market is very difficult since most of these cameras come in pretty similar specs and features. So today I’m going to do my best of comparing two excellent entry-level cameras, one digital single-lens reflex, and the other mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, the Nikon D5500, and Sony A6000 respectively.

The Sony A6000 is one of Sony’s first entry-level mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras since it shed its NEX moniker, and it was released on April 2014. It resembles closely to its predecessor the NEX-6, but largely improves on it with a better sensor and a nice autofocus system. It is pretty affordable for the entry-level market, and on Amazon, you can find it in bundles with nice lenses, bags, and memory cards, so its worth a look.

On the other hand, the Nikon D5500 was released as an enthusiast-level digital single-lens reflex camera in February 2015. However, with the recent dips in price, this camera has been demoted to the entry-level market, but it is one of the best choices in that market. It has a great sensor, a wide selection of lenses and many more features. It is a little cheaper than the Sony model, but we’ll see if it compromises for the price.

While both of these cameras offer similar functionalities, features, and image quality, one of them is better than the other, so let’s try to differentiate between these two excellent cameras, and see who comes out on top, Sony A6000 or the Nikon D5500.

Head To Head Comparison

Sony A6000

Sony’s mirrorless cameras have been the gold standard in the market, both their entry-level and high-end devices, since they delivered exceptional performance and image quality for their price, and I can definitely say that they are well worth every last cent of their price. While there is plenty to choose from Sony in their mirrorless camera line up, for the entry-level market none is better than the A6000.

The Sony A6000 is the perfect camera for everybody, and it will be a strong addition to your arsenal if you choose to buy it. However, I think that the Sony A6000 makes up for a perfect first camera since it is very easy to use, has intuitive controls and it is very hard to take bad photographs with it. It is a tiny and well-designed camera, has a solid viewfinder, in-built WiFi and NFC, great sensor, fast performance, and a good autofocus system.

One of the most impressive selling points of the Sony A6000 is its design that closely resembles the higher-end A7 devices, and it is pretty small too. This device measures 4.8×2.9×1.9-inches and weighs just about 12 ounces in total, that is about half of the average DSLR camera. However, it doesn’t suffer from build quality, thanks to the premium choice in materials, and it has a pretty deep handgrip that lets you secure a good hold even for people with larger hands. It is worth stating that you can get the camera in 4 colors, including, Black, Silver, White and Graphite, I would personally prefer the black model since it is sharp and refined.

The controls on this device are very well placed and are the perfect ones that are great for beginners but still allowing them to further progress their skills. On the rear of the device, you will find a 3-inch tilting LCD panel with 921,600 dots, which is extra bright and colorful, but unfortunately, it lacks touchscreen capabilities. The electronic viewfinder is perfect though, as it is an OLED one, with 1.44 million dots and what you see is what you get, a great addition.

In the autofocus department, Sony has combined a contrast-detect sensor with a phase-detect system to deliver a powerful performance with 179 points that cover the majority of the image. It has also a lock-on focus system that works excellently and tracks the subject, you can also select a focus point manually and it even detects faces and people. It is coupled with countless autofocus modes and it delivers a tight performance all around.

For its excellent image quality, the Sony A6000 uses a 24MP Exmor HD CMOS sensor that delivers amazing performance combined with the Bionz X image processor. This sensor delivers amazing photographs, with great vibrant colors and sharpness, and on top of that, it has some dynamic range management feature called DRO+. It has a decent ISO range that spans from 100 to 25,600 and is expandable up to 51,200. It delivers great performance in high ISO levels, however, there was a little noise still visible.

This camera is also pretty fast as it can shoot 11 frames per second in burst shooting mode, for both JPEG and raw files, but has a lackluster battery life fo about 360 shots. It delivers great performance in burst shooting mode and it was capable of tracking the subject excellently.

 

Nikon D5500

Nikon’s D5000 series has been one of the most prominent line up of the company since it has delivered great cameras for the enthusiast-level photographers, that wanted a step up from the D3000 series but didn’t want to opt for their high-end models. However, the Nikon D5500 makes up for an excellent entry-level camera that offers enthusiast-level controls, without the price.

The Nikon D5500 is an awesome digital single-lens reflex camera that comes as a perfect option for beginners that have a bigger interest in photography, as this camera is capable of shooting great photographs. It is equipped with a great sensor, that has no anti-aliasing filter, built-in WiFi, a touch-capacitive rear display and many more. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look.

The Nikon D5500 is one of the smallest DSLR cameras on the market, and Nikon is great at this task. This device measures 5.4×4.2×3-inches in total and weighs 420 grams in total, while it is bigger than the Sony A6000 it is still a tiny device for a DSLR model. It has a great hand grip that delivers a sense of security, and the camera is very durable as it has felt pretty substantial and it is crash tested like all Nikon cameras.

This camera has a 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen panel with 1.04-million dots and can be rotated to about 270-degrees. The touchscreens controls are excellent as you can easily select focus points, take photos, adjust menu settings, preview images and many more. The controls as I told you to have an enthusiast-level control to them, however, they are extremely intuitive and convenient to use and find on the fly. It also has an optical viewfinder that delivers about 95% coverage of the scene with a magnification of 0.82x.

As for the autofocus system, the Nikon D5500 has a 39-point phase-detection system that is very quick and precise. It focuses excellently on the subject and it tracks it excellently even while moving, especially in good lighting. However, the autofocus system suffered a little in low light scenarios, but for the price, it was very acceptable.

The Nikon D5500 utilizes a 24.2MP DX APS-C sensor for amazing image quality, on top of that it is backed up by the Expeed 4 image processor. The colors came out pretty accurate and correct and the image was extremely sharp and natural, one of the most pleasing images you will see in the entry-level market, it has a wide range of modes you can choose from and they all work excellently. The ISO range spans from 100 to 25,600 and the performance is decent all around.

In the performance and speed department, it can achieve about 5 frames per second in JPEG and 4.1 frames per second for raw files. While it is not as good for sports and wildlife photography, it is pretty good for a wide range of scenarios, and it is coupled with a battery life of about 820 shots.

Feature Comparison

Sony A6000 Nikon D5500
Camera Type
Mirrorless
DSLR
Megapixels
24.0
24.2
ISO Range
100-25,600(51,200)
100-25,600
Flip-Out Screen
Yes
Yes
AF Points
179 AF points
39 AF Points
Viewfinder
Yes
Yes
Touchscreen
No
Yes
Video Recording
Yes
Yes
Sensor Size
CMOS
DX APS-C

Conclusion

If you read the reviews closely and took a look at the comparison table you will see that in the image quality, sensor, and ISO department these two cameras can’t be divided. However, there are some differences.

For example, the Nikon D5500 comes at a more affordable price point, has a touchscreen display and better controls, which make it an extremely valuable DSLR camera for the entry-level market. This one will be by your side for a long time.

However, the Sony A6000 has a better autofocus system and is faster in shooting, on top of that it is an extremely light device, and for a little more money it is a far more capable camera than the Nikon D5500.

So we have an outright winner here, the Sony A6000, however, if you lack the funds Nikon D5500 might be a better choice.