I did a Nikon D90 vs Nikon D750 vs Sony A6000 comparison

Started Mar 23, 2015 | Discussions thread
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mrwho27 Regular Member • Posts: 385
I did a Nikon D90 vs Nikon D750 vs Sony A6000 comparison

Hi all,

as the title suggests, I have been doing a little comparison shoot out between the three named cameras over the weekend.

WHY? Despite the fact that those three cameras are in a lot of ways completely different, I wanted to answer myself the following questions as a Nikon D90 user that shoots mostly Landscape, Macro and Wildlife (with Nikkor 18-200 VR1 and Nikkor 50 1.8F):

  • Is it time to upgrade from my Nikon D90 body?
  • Might it be better to just get some better glas instead of upgrading the body?
  • If I decided to upgrade, what would be the right choice?
  • Full Frame vs Mirror less?
  • What are the pros and cons for each of the upgrade options?
  • What increase in picture quality, features would I get?

To answer this question, I narrowed down the options on the Market to the two following cameras:

  • Nikon D750 - A great Fullframe camera that shows great reviews and represents the 'Can do everything solution'.
  • Sony A6000 - A great APS-C sensor, mirrorless camera, that combines great bang for the buck in a very tempting body size.

Along with the bodies, I rented the following lenses:

  • Nikon 24-120 F4 - My thinking is here that this would be the lens I would buy with it and it also represents a decent walk-around lens
  • Sony Zeiss 24-70 F4 - THough the focal length is not the identical one, it still matches the Nikon pretty well in my opinion (also the 16-70mm was not available to rent).
  • Sony 18-200 F3.5-6.3 - I rented this lens to see if a better body would give you better results with such a long lens (the idea was to compare it directly with the D90 and 18-200).

So, how did I test?

FYI: I UPLOADED ALL PICTURES TO AN ONLINE STORAGE. Should me a message and I can share it with you (6gb of pics)

I did not do any scientific testing, so I am sure there is big room for discussion. Though I tried to answer the questions mentioned above.

So here we go:

Day 1:

Taking the Sony with Zeiss and the D750 and the 24-120 out for a little foto shoot with my girlfriend in the evening.
Right of the bet I noticed three things:

  • The EVF/ monitor of the A6000 with the ability to preview the final picture is a huge benefit
  • The AF of the D750 is better in low light on static objects
  • The Low light capabilities are not THAT big of a difference. I would say that the D750 has better details and better colors above ISO1600 (but not by much).

Day 2: - Walk around Sausalito

I took all three cameras with me to take some shots of SF on a tripod with different settings.

On my way to the spot, I took the Sony and Nikon combos again from day 1 and shot identical motives, with exact the same Camera settings. The light was ok (was around 1pm) and it was slightly overcast. Light was not the best.

Results of the Side by Side comparison of the Sony and the Nikon:

I have to say, that I did not see much of a difference between the two combos. To be honest, the Sony was always equally as good and in some examples it showed more details and even a better bokeh.

Results of the static comparison of all three cameras on tripod:

(see the attached graphic- My scoring system was: 0-10. I judged mainly on color and sharpness (center and corner)

As you can maybe see: there was obviously a big difference between the Nikon D90 and the other two cameras. I am sure that the higher mega pixel count made a big difference here.

Once again, I have to say, that I did not see much of a difference between the Sony and the D750.

Day 2 - Autofocus

After I did the testshots mentioned above, I walked along the waterfront and tried to get some test shots to see how the AF would behave.

Nikon D750 with 24-120.

After I had figured out how to set up the AF of the Nikon (took me a while, because there are much more options than the D90 or the Sony), I was really, really impressed. Group AF and 3 tracking worked really well. Basically when a bird flew by I just had to somehow point at it and start shooting. I would say that 90% of the shots with the Nikkor where in focus. Though I have to say that the Nikkor 24-120 is not meant for that kind of shooting. It is too short!!!

Sony A6000 with Sony 18-200:

After being really impressed by the D750, I switched over to the Sony. I have heard a lot of good things about the AF and the speed of the camera. Setting up the camera with the 'right' mode was easy and fast.
Of course, the 18-200 is a super zoom with a slower AF and also not quite that sharp. Still I wanted to test it.

My first reaction: what a machine gun! It shoots like crazy and the AF lock on seemed to be spot on most of the time as well, while I was shooting it.
The disappointment followed though, when I was looking at the shots on the PC. I would say that I had 30% in Focus at the most. Also the ones that were in focus showed a lot of noise due to the need of high ISOs to keep the shutter speed high.

Summing up Day 2:

* With static objects both cameras show clear advantages over the D90. Also both cameras are on the same level in terms of image quality and bokeh. The big difference between the two: AF speed and accuracy!

Day 3 - Lowlight:

Finally I wanted to check out how the three cameras would compare:

Quick and dirty answer:

The Nikon D750 is the winner. But not as dramatically as I would have thought. One example even put the A6000 in front at ISO 6400 (see below; Sony left):

Day 3 - ergonomics and features:

Here I put a list together of features that are important to me:

Here the D750 wins.

Final resume:

Yes, there is a big difference in image quality (mostly resolution) between my D90 and the newer models. So I have decided to upgrade. But which???

The Nikon D750 with the 24-120 F4 costs around 2500 USD (I will buy from a Canadian retailer), while the Sony A6000 with the Sony 16-70 retails for around 1500 USD.

Since I am also planning to do a bit more wildlife photography, I am planning to get a super tele (Tamron 150-600), which is a bit tricky on the A6000, since I had to get an Adapter and would loose a lot of things, or stay with the Sony 70-200 F4...

So, is the difference in picture quality, the better AF and build worth 1000 USD more and an additional wight?

I am still on the fence here.

I have different thoughts going around in my mind:

Pro Nikon:

* A camera that is great in everything but weight
* Access to great and affordable lenses
* Nikon might come out with a mirrorless camera in some time and have a small body if weight is an issue

Contra Nikon:

* Weight and price

Pro Sony:

* Mirrorless is the future IMO
* Small package that delivers almost as good pictures in low light than the Nikon (the A7000 might be even better, if it got announced)
* I love the live view to see what the final picture will look like
* Sony might bring out an Mirrorless Fullframe body that is great in low light and has a great AF system
* Hope that Sony will either release a better adapter than the LA EA4 where I could use other teles with
* Hope that Sony will release a longer tele zoom for the mirror less cameras

Cons Sony:

* Lenses end at 210mm
* AF system just not up to par with D750
* worse build quality

So, hope that helped some people and let me know what you think and what you would do, if you were me.


 mrwho27's gear list:mrwho27's gear list
Nikon D90 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR +1 more
Nikon D750 Nikon D90 Sony a6000 Sony Alpha DSLR-A700
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