When it comes to choosing a new camera, most photographers will look to the very latest models to make their choice. Generally speaking, this is a sensible option as you’ll get the most up to date specification and latest technologies, but you’ll also pay a higher price. If your budget is more limited, it’s more viable to look at models that are 2-3 years old. You’ll still get a perfectly capable camera and your money will go further. With this in mind, we compared the three-year old Sony A6300 and the two-and-a-half-year old Nikon D5600 discovering that both models have much to offer today’s photographer.
Very different designs, but both models have a 24.2 megapixel APS-C sensor
Design and build
There’s a very obvious difference between these two cameras: the Nikon is a DSLR while the Sony is mirrorless. This means that the D5600 has an optical viewfinder and is notably taller and deeper than the A6300 which has an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Despite the larger physical size, however, the Nikon isn’t that much heavier than the Sony; the A5600 body, plus battery and card tip the scales at 465g, compared to the 404g A6300.
Regardless of what anyone may tell you, an optical viewfinder is superior to an EVF when it comes to framing up. Using actual light rather than electronic dots to show you what the lens can see means you can assess the scene in front of you with ease, although the Nikon’s finder does only show you 95% of what appears on the final image. The Sony’s EVF, meanwhile, shows the full 100% and you can get to see the effect of changing exposure settings before you take the photograph. The pay off is an image that doesn’t look quite like it does in real life.
At this price point you wouldn’t expect a weather resistant body, but that’s what you get with the Sony. The Nikon doesn’t offer this protection, but still feels solid enough in the hand and gives a more assured hold by virtue of the larger handgrip. The D5600 also has the edge on LCD versatility. It boasts a vari-angle touchscreen LCD with 1.037 million, the A6300 on the other hand has a non-touchscreen tilting LCD with 921,600 dots.
The fully-articulated LCD on the Nikon offers a greater level of versatility
While the designs of these two cameras may be very different, the internal specs are much more similar. Both models feature a 24.2 megapixel APS-C sized sensor, have native ISO ranges running from 100-25,600 and offer shutter speeds from 30 seconds to 1/4000sec. Even the metering options are the same, with multi-pattern, centre-weighted and spot available on both.
To unearth differences, you have to delve a little deeper at which point you’ll discover that the Sony offers modest gains with an ISO expansion option to 51,200 and a more sensitive metering range down to EV-2 (EV0 on the Nikon).
The Sony does move ahead in terms of focusing points, however, with a total of 425 on offer right across the frame. The Nikon offers less than 10% of the Sony’s points, but its 39 AF spots are still well distributed and you can access them using the touchscreen when shooting in Live View. Having an internal mirror does slow down the Nikon’s capability to shoot really quickly, but its five frames-per-second offering is still perfectly usable for most fast-moving subjects. Compared to the Sony’s 11 frames-per-second capability, it’s not in the same league, though.
The Nikon hits back when it comes to lens choice. The D5600 uses the F mount so virtually any Nikon lens ever made will fit and work on the camera. Naturally older AF and manual focus lenses will only offer limited functionality. The Sony offers over 40 lens options from its own lens lineup so there’s still plenty of choice, plus you can buy an adaptor to use A mount lenses if you’re switching from a Sony DSLR/T.
There’s a clear winner when it comes to video functionality
If you’re serious about moviemaking, there really is only one option here – the Sony. It offers 4K capture at 30p and Full HD at 120p to give you plenty of versatility. You also get more advanced movie functions such as Log shooting and support for pro-quality XLR microphones with an optional adaptor.
The D5600 by comparison is more modest with Full HD capture at 60p and no Log shooting option. That doesn’t mean it should be discounted, it depends on what you want to film. If it’s simple vlogging, for example, the Nikon is perfectly adequate with the vari-angle LCD coming in very handy for this type of use.
You get many more shots per charge if you opt for the Nikon
If shooting and sharing images quickly is important to you, the Nikon has the advantage here. It offers Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth connectivity making it very versatile for those who can’t wait to show their shots to the world. The Sony is no slouch with Wi-Fi and NFC but, by virtue of the always-on Bluetooth option, D5600 users are more likely to have their shots on blogs and social media first.
DSLRs typically offer better battery life compared to mirrorless models and that’s certainly the case here. Based on CIPA industry standards, the Sony provides around 350 shots per charge if you use the viewfinder and 400 shots if you compose using the rear LCD. By comparison, the Nikon gives you nearly 1000 shots between charges, providing you have the Bluetooth functionality turned off.
Both cameras features integral flash units which are handy for providing quick illumination on subjects close to the camera. The Nikon’s is the more versatile thanks to its guide number of 12 compared to 6 on the Sony.
When you consider that sensor size and resolution are identical on these two cameras, your choice is going to come down to other factors.
If your shooting is going to be split between stills and video, or you want to shoot a lot of high speed action, the Sony is the best option largely because it has more versatility in these two areas. If it’s more of an all-round camera or one that’s going to be largely used for still photography then the Nikon could well be the wiser choice. That said, if size and weight are important considerations, the Sony again has the edge.
It’s a tough choice that will come down to personal shooting preferences but what it is safe to say is that looking beyond the very latest models is well worth doing as both these ‘older’ cameras have plenty to offer.
|Nion D5600||Sony A6300|
|Resolution||24.2 megapixels||24.2 megapixels|
|Processor||EXPEED 4||Bionz X|
|ISO range||100-25,600||100-25,600 (expandable to 51,200)|
|Video||Full HD at 60p||4K at 30p/Full HD at 120p|
|Rear LCD||Vari-angle, 3.2-inch touchscreen, 1.037m dots||Tilting, 3-inch, 921,600 dots|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC||Wi-Fi, NFC|
|Weight (body with battery and card)||465g||404g|