Nikon D6 vs. Sony Alpha a5100

Comparison

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D6 image
vs
Alpha a5100 image
Nikon D6 Sony Alpha a5100
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Megapixels
20.80
24.30
Max. image resolution
5568 x 3712
6000 x 4000

Sensor

Sensor type
CMOS
CMOS
Sensor size
35.9 x 23.9 mm
23.5 x 15.6 mm
Sensor resolution
5586 x 3724
6058 x 4012
Diagonal
43.13 mm
28.21 mm
Sensor size comparison
Sensor size is generally a good indicator of the quality of the camera. Sensors can vary greatly in size. As a general rule, the bigger the sensor, the better the image quality.

Bigger sensors are more effective because they have more surface area to capture light. An important factor when comparing digital cameras is also camera generation. Generally, newer sensors will outperform the older.

Learn more about sensor sizes »

Actual sensor size

Note: Actual size is set to screen → change »
vs
2.34 : 1
(ratio)
Nikon D6 Sony Alpha a5100
Surface area:
858.01 mm² vs 366.60 mm²
Difference: 491.41 mm² (134%)
D6 sensor is approx. 2.34x bigger than Alpha a5100 sensor.
Note: You are comparing sensors of very different generations. There is a gap of 6 years between Nikon D6 (2020) and Sony Alpha a5100 (2014). Six years is a lot of time in terms of technology, meaning newer sensors are overall much more efficient than the older ones.
Pixel pitch
6.43 µm
3.88 µm
Pixel pitch tells you the distance from the center of one pixel (photosite) to the center of the next. It tells you how close the pixels are to each other.

The bigger the pixel pitch, the further apart they are and the bigger each pixel is. Bigger pixels tend to have better signal to noise ratio and greater dynamic range.
Difference: 2.55 µm (66%)
Pixel pitch of D6 is approx. 66% higher than pixel pitch of Alpha a5100.
Pixel area
41.34 µm²
15.05 µm²
Pixel or photosite area affects how much light per pixel can be gathered. The larger it is the more light can be collected by a single pixel.

Larger pixels have the potential to collect more photons, resulting in greater dynamic range, while smaller pixels provide higher resolutions (more detail) for a given sensor size.
Relative pixel sizes:
vs
Pixel area difference: 26.29 µm² (175%)
A pixel on Nikon D6 sensor is approx. 175% bigger than a pixel on Sony Alpha a5100.
Pixel density
2.42 MP/cm²
6.65 MP/cm²
Pixel density tells you how many million pixels fit or would fit in one square cm of the sensor.

Higher pixel density means smaller pixels and lower pixel density means larger pixels.
Difference: 4.23 µm (175%)
Sony Alpha a5100 has approx. 175% higher pixel density than Nikon D6.
To learn about the accuracy of these numbers, click here.



Specs

Nikon D6
Sony Alpha a5100
Crop factor
1
1.53
Total megapixels
21.33
24.70
Effective megapixels
20.80
24.30
Optical zoom
 
Digital zoom
Yes
ISO sensitivity
Auto, 100-102400 (expandable to 50-3280000)
Auto, 100-25600
RAW
Manual focus
Normal focus range
Macro focus range
Focal length (35mm equiv.)
Aperture priority
Yes
Yes
Max. aperture
Max. aperture (35mm equiv.)
n/a
n/a
Metering
Multi, Center-weighted, Highlight-weighted, Spot
Multi, Center-weighted, Spot
Exposure compensation
±5 EV (in 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)
±3 EV (in 1/3 EV steps)
Shutter priority
Yes
Yes
Min. shutter speed
30 sec
30 sec
Max. shutter speed
1/8000 sec
1/4000 sec
Built-in flash
External flash
Viewfinder
Optical (pentaprism)
None
White balance presets
12
10
Screen size
3.2"
3"
Screen resolution
2,359,000 dots
921,600 dots
Video capture
Max. video resolution
3840x2160 (30p/​25p/​24p)
1920x1080 (60p/60i/30p/24p)
Storage types
XQD/CFexpress
SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo
USB
USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI
Wireless
GPS
Battery
EN-EL18c lithium-ion battery
NP-FW50
Weight
1270 g
283 g
Dimensions
160 x 163 x 92 mm
109.6 x 62.8 x 35.7 mm
Year
2020
2014




Choose cameras to compare

vs

Diagonal

Diagonal is calculated by the use of Pythagorean theorem:
Diagonal =  w² + h²
where w = sensor width and h = sensor height

Nikon D6 diagonal

w = 35.90 mm
h = 23.90 mm
Diagonal =  35.90² + 23.90²   = 43.13 mm

Sony Alpha a5100 diagonal

w = 23.50 mm
h = 15.60 mm
Diagonal =  23.50² + 15.60²   = 28.21 mm


Surface area

Surface area is calculated by multiplying the width and the height of a sensor.

D6 sensor area

Width = 35.90 mm
Height = 23.90 mm

Surface area = 35.90 × 23.90 = 858.01 mm²

Alpha a5100 sensor area

Width = 23.50 mm
Height = 15.60 mm

Surface area = 23.50 × 15.60 = 366.60 mm²


Pixel pitch

Pixel pitch is the distance from the center of one pixel to the center of the next measured in micrometers (µm). It can be calculated with the following formula:
Pixel pitch =   sensor width in mm  × 1000
sensor resolution width in pixels

D6 pixel pitch

Sensor width = 35.90 mm
Sensor resolution width = 5586 pixels
Pixel pitch =   35.90  × 1000  = 6.43 µm
5586

Alpha a5100 pixel pitch

Sensor width = 23.50 mm
Sensor resolution width = 6058 pixels
Pixel pitch =   23.50  × 1000  = 3.88 µm
6058


Pixel area

The area of one pixel can be calculated by simply squaring the pixel pitch:
Pixel area = pixel pitch²

You could also divide sensor surface area with effective megapixels:
Pixel area =   sensor surface area in mm²
effective megapixels

D6 pixel area

Pixel pitch = 6.43 µm

Pixel area = 6.43² = 41.34 µm²

Alpha a5100 pixel area

Pixel pitch = 3.88 µm

Pixel area = 3.88² = 15.05 µm²


Pixel density

Pixel density can be calculated with the following formula:
Pixel density =  ( sensor resolution width in pixels )² / 1000000
sensor width in cm

One could also use this formula:
Pixel density =   effective megapixels × 1000000  / 10000
sensor surface area in mm²

D6 pixel density

Sensor resolution width = 5586 pixels
Sensor width = 3.59 cm

Pixel density = (5586 / 3.59)² / 1000000 = 2.42 MP/cm²

Alpha a5100 pixel density

Sensor resolution width = 6058 pixels
Sensor width = 2.35 cm

Pixel density = (6058 / 2.35)² / 1000000 = 6.65 MP/cm²


Sensor resolution

Sensor resolution is calculated from sensor size and effective megapixels. It's slightly higher than maximum (not interpolated) image resolution which is usually stated on camera specifications. Sensor resolution is used in pixel pitch, pixel area, and pixel density formula. For sake of simplicity, we're going to calculate it in 3 stages.

1. First we need to find the ratio between horizontal and vertical length by dividing the former with the latter (aspect ratio). It's usually 1.33 (4:3) or 1.5 (3:2), but not always.

2. With the ratio (r) known we can calculate the X from the formula below, where X is a vertical number of pixels:
(X × r) × X = effective megapixels × 1000000    →   
X =  effective megapixels × 1000000
r
3. To get sensor resolution we then multiply X with the corresponding ratio:

Resolution horizontal: X × r
Resolution vertical: X

D6 sensor resolution

Sensor width = 35.90 mm
Sensor height = 23.90 mm
Effective megapixels = 20.80
r = 35.90/23.90 = 1.5
X =  20.80 × 1000000  = 3724
1.5
Resolution horizontal: X × r = 3724 × 1.5 = 5586
Resolution vertical: X = 3724

Sensor resolution = 5586 x 3724

Alpha a5100 sensor resolution

Sensor width = 23.50 mm
Sensor height = 15.60 mm
Effective megapixels = 24.30
r = 23.50/15.60 = 1.51
X =  24.30 × 1000000  = 4012
1.51
Resolution horizontal: X × r = 4012 × 1.51 = 6058
Resolution vertical: X = 4012

Sensor resolution = 6058 x 4012


Crop factor

Crop factor or focal length multiplier is calculated by dividing the diagonal of 35 mm film (43.27 mm) with the diagonal of the sensor.
Crop factor =   43.27 mm
sensor diagonal in mm


D6 crop factor

Sensor diagonal in mm = 43.13 mm
Crop factor =   43.27  = 1
43.13

Alpha a5100 crop factor

Sensor diagonal in mm = 28.21 mm
Crop factor =   43.27  = 1.53
28.21

35 mm equivalent aperture

Equivalent aperture (in 135 film terms) is calculated by multiplying lens aperture with crop factor (a.k.a. focal length multiplier).

D6 equivalent aperture

Aperture is a lens characteristic, so it's calculated only for fixed lens cameras. If you want to know the equivalent aperture for Nikon D6, take the aperture of the lens you're using and multiply it with crop factor.

Since crop factor for Nikon D6 is 1, the equivalent aperture is aperture.

Alpha a5100 equivalent aperture

Aperture is a lens characteristic, so it's calculated only for fixed lens cameras. If you want to know the equivalent aperture for Sony Alpha a5100, take the aperture of the lens you're using and multiply it with crop factor.

Crop factor for Sony Alpha a5100 is 1.53

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