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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Canon EOS-5Ds vs Sony a7R II Comparison

Canon EOS-5DsR DSLR and Sony a7R II mirrorless cameras

My readers know, I have been a Canon user for about 25 years. Through the decades, I have used almost all of Canon's cropped and full frame, film and digital cameras, plus the EF and EF-S lenses. You can see my equipment bag and works on

The recently released Canon EOS-5Ds and EOS-5DsR cameras are descendants of the original EOS-5D, released in 2005. It was the first 'affordable' full frame digital camera and the official list price was roughly the same as the current list price of the EOS-5Ds. Considering inflation and the monumental advancement in technology packed into the new camera, I must say it is a very good deal, indeed.

The Sony a7R II camera was released in June 2015. The following comparison covers the two cameras' major features, and assumes the reader is already familiar with the functionality and capabilities of DSLR and mirrorless cameras. It is intended to help those trying to decide whether to upgrade or keep their present Canon or Sony bodies.

EOS-5Ds and EOS-5DsR DSLR cameras :
  • 50.6 MP full frame sensor
  • Powered by dual DIGIC 6 processors
  • Optical low pass filter on EOS-5Ds. Self cancelling on EOS-5DsR
  • 1.3x (30.5MP) plus 1.6x (19.6MP) with 1:1 ratio crop mode 
  • 3.2 inch, 1040K dot LCD screen.
  • Dual card slots, one CF, one SD
  • Burst rate 5 fps. Burst depth, up to 510 JPEG and 14 RAW files
  • ISO range from 100 - 6400, 50 - 12800 with expansion
  • 61-point High Density Reticular AF, 41 cross type points, 5 double cross type 
  • 150,000 pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, 252 zone
  • Custom Functions - 16, USB 3.0
  • Number of cross-points depends on the speed of the lens used.
  • 59 ms. shutter lag, 150,000 cycle shutter and .71x viewfinder.
  • DxOMark overall sensor score - 87
  • Low light ISO - 2381 ISO

Sony a7R II mirrorless camera :
  • 42.2MP BSI Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 50-102400 expanded
  • 5 axis built in IS
  • 399 Phase Detection AF system
  • Max 5 fps shooting
  • 3.0 inch 1229K dot LCD screen
  • Shoots video in 4K
  • Shutter rated at 500,000
  • Low light ISO - 3434 (no surprise here)
  • WiFi / NFC
  • 2.36m dot Electronic Viewfinder
  • Battery life 340 shots
  • SD card slot and Memory Stick
  • Mic and Headphone sockets

The first thing that stands out is the Canon EOS-5Ds is a 'bigger and heavier' camera. That in itself means little since both cameras can produce excellent photos that can be printed in very large size. If one needs to print super large sized photos, the EOS-5Ds has a slight edge.

The Sony a7R II does have the advantage over the Canon EOS-5Ds, with an expanded ISO of 102400 vs 6400. Both cameras shoot at a maximum of 5 fps and there are of course, differences with proprietary processors, video speed, AF system, etc. but suffice to say, they are differences without much distinction. The final stand out point is the Canon EOS-5Ds has better battery management capability and claims to shoot 700 vs Sony's 340 shots on a fully charged battery.  

In conclusion, both cameras are great for full frame photography, capable of producing sharp, extremely huge prints. The Canon EOS-5Ds is a full frame DSLR while the Sony a7R II has a full frame mirrorless design. The Sony a7R II is superior to the older a7R in all aspects.

More importantly, to me, the difference between a DSLR and mirrorless camera's design is the real issue. The EOS-5Ds (in particular the EOS-1D X) feels like a real camera with excellent grip and ergonomics. It is designed as a more rugged body and goes with a full complement of EF lens, from 8mm to 1200mm. The Sony is designed as a 'lighter, compact all-in-one package' stuffed with 'fluffy' technology and works with a smaller complement of lens, although one can buy an adapter and use it with some Canon's EF lens.

For the photographer who prefers to travel light and take mostly landscape/nature/portrait photos and videos, the Sony a7II R is a good choice. As a wildlife photographer, neither the Canon EOS-5Ds nor the Sony a7R II camera is a good alternative for wildlife photography, in my opinion. I am waiting for the EOS-1D X Mk II and EOS-5D Mk IV to debut later this year or early next year for my next DSLR purchase.

Whether one wants to upgrade from their present camera depends entirely on whether one needs a camera capable of producing mega prints. For Canon users thinking of upgrading from the EOS-5D Mk III to the EOS-5Ds, read my comparison here. For a comparison between the Nikon D810 and the Canon EOS-5Ds, read this post. 

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