Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony a7RII - My Thoughts / by Tony Roslund

Boxing Ring Spotlit Dark

When the Canon 5D Mark IV was first announced, I was underwhelmed. On the surface it seemed that all the new features Canon listed were features that should have been included in the 5D Mark III. Competitors like Sony were so far ahead with most of the things Canon was touting about their new camera, it seemed almost like an April Fool's joke. No way was I going to leave my newly aquired Sony platform to go back to a company that was so far behind. Or so I thought.

I was surprised to see how clean the Canon files were.

When pixel peeping files from my beloved Sony a7RII compared to the files from this new Canon 5D Mark IV, I was surprised to see how clean the Canon files were. The Sony is no slouch mind you, but lenses are a problem. At 42MP, the sensor has more resolving power than most lenses can provide. Sure, there's exceptions, like my 85mm f/1.4 GM, which was designed to work specifically on cameras like the a7RII. Still, the 5D4 was a nice clean file (albiet smaller resolution). The 5DSR was also on my watch list, but at 50MP it was even more of a problem with lenses (plus the file sizes are massive). A already own a Phase One medium format camera that provides me with massive files and amazing detail, so that wasn't necessarily an issue for me. Speed, simplicity, and compatability are what I'm after. These are things that the new Canon does REALLY well, even if they were a little late to the game.

I'm not even going to bother posting sample images from both cameras here b/c they're both SO close that the only real difference is resolution (again, I've already got that covered).
What I will talk about is the other things I observed after using both cameras:

  • The a7RII is slightly sharper. 
  • The 5D4 handles noise slightly better. 
  • The Sony has slightly more dynamic range. 
  • The Canon has better color. 
  • The Sony has an EVF. 
  • The Canon menu system is simpler and customizable (that's a big deal).
  • The Sony has Play Memories app (stupid name) which allows tethered shooting to a mobile device, but it's a PITA to connect.
  • The Canon Camera Connect app is well made and lightning fast for WiFi tethered shooting.
  • The Sony app store allows you to download additional functionality to the camera (but it has bugs and almost never works).
  • The Canon works with just about any software. 
  • The Sony requires CaptureOne for tethered shooting. 
  • The Canon is eligible for Canon Professional Services (CPS).
  • The Sony costs more. 
  • The Canon is bigger and still has a mirror (why?).
  • The Sony only has one memory card slot.
  • The Canon has USB 3.0.
  • The Sony charges via USB 2.0 connection while tethered shooting.
  • The Canon has two memory card slots, but one is SD and the other CF (why?)
  • The Sony has focus peaking.
  • I wasn't interested in video performance with these two cameras, I have other cameras for that, however the Sony does have a LOG profile whereas the Canon does not. ***(update: Canon introduced a newer version of the 5D4 with LOG in mid-2017)

Having tested both cameras, there's just something about the Canon I like, so I've sold all my Sony gear and gone back to Canon! Maybe it's their glass (which is beautiful), maybe it's not having to use a Metabones adapter. Maybe it's native Tilt-Shift lenses. I can't exactly answer the question (weird I know), it's just a feeling in my gut. 

...tethered shooting in the WiFi app and using customized menus allowed me to capture more images on a recent architecture job than I ever would have thought possible.

I can say that tethered shooting in the WiFi app and using customized menus allowed me to capture more images on a recent architecture job than I ever would have thought possible. I processed the images in Lightroom (for the first time in a long time) and remember how much I love that app for RAW conversion. It's seamless integration with Photoshop is another huge time saver. Something that irritated me though . . . you can rate images right on the camera using the new Rate button, which I thought was pretty slick. Unfortunately, those ratings don't carry over with the images to Lightroom. I wish Canon would use the same metadata as Adobe here.

One of the things I did notice in post was when zoomed to 100% the Canon images seemed to hold together better. The edges of buildings and furniture seemed sharper and cleaner. This is a big deal for me since I typically edit at 100% or greater when working on architectural images.

For those of you wondering about other brands, I'll say this . . . the Nikon D810 is the best DSLR camera available for those looking for tack sharp images, beautiful color, and manageable file sizes. Hands down. I love the images from the Nikon D810. I had an issue with Nikon customer service a few years back and sold all my Nikon gear. I swore I'd never go back.

What do you think? Am I nuts? Still got questions? Let me know in the comments and/or share your experiences with these cameras. I'll try to respond to everyone.