Which is awesomer? Image from camerasize.com.
Which would you want?
We must have a champion.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Ken Tanaka: "Very timely as I'm actually in the midst of this subject at the moment, Mike. In fact I'm on my final rental day with a 5DS R as I write. (By the way the camera to compare to the A7R II is actually the 5DS R, given its self-cancelled AA filter.)
"I have actually already made my choice and voted with my pre-order of the Sony A7R II. Here's why.
"First, the 5DS R produces excellent image files very comparable in 'look' to those of the 5D III. (The Canon 'look,' slightly warm.) This sensor produces sharp, deep details the likes of which we could only have dreamed of just a few years ago. It is, however, noteworthy that I found the 5DS R images to be quite a bit noisier at low ISOs (500+) than has been remarked elsewhere.
"But although I've not yet used the A7R II the choice was easy for me based on its specs, on my long experience with the A7II and A7R, and on my few days with the 5DS R. Here are the big factors for me:
• The Sony A7R files already beat the 5DS R's. They're cleaner at much higher ISOs, their details are sharper. I cannot imagine that the A7R II files will be worse.
• The A7R II adds IBIS. I know you've been a fan of in-body image stabilization for years, Mike. I originally shrugged. But my experience with the Olympus E-M5 and, most recently, my A7 II have given me religion. Yes, Canon's in-lens optical stabilization system is still terrific. But it's limited to the lenses offering that feature, traditionally the teles and long zooms. Canon has recently begun expanding IS to wider focal lengths but it's just not nearly as good as today's state-of-the-art sensor-shaking IBIS. Being able to strap my Leica 75mm Summicron-M or 50mm Noctilux onto that Sony A7R to produce a fully stabilized image is...heaven.
• Smaller, lighter lenses. People grouse about Sony's limited FE lineup. It's mostly hot air. With the 16–35mm, 24–70mm, and 70–200mm FE lenses I have my ranges pretty well covered. And they're each excellent lenses, dramatically lighter than their Canon EF peers, albeit not quite as fast (ƒ/4's all). The FE primes are no slouches, either! But, again, I can easily use my Leica M and Canon EF lenses with the Sony A7 bodies via Metabones adapters. So I'm missing...nothing.
• Speaking of smaller and lighter...I'm simply hooked on using the small, light camera bodies of the Sony A7 series. Spending a few days schlepping that 5DS R around with the excellent but heavy EF 24–70mm and 70–200mm lenses seemed a drudge.
• I love the view. I've become a devoted fan of the Sony A7 bodies' EVFs and LCDs. After over a year with the Sony's ultra-high-res EVF with its near-optical refresh and customizable informative overlays, the Canon's optical viewfinder seems nearly as quaint as a reverse-Galilean viewfinder. And Sony's tilting LCD has become an essential feature for me.
• The price is nice. Canon really needs to re-think its 5DS pricing. The 5DS R is priced $700 higher than the A7R II. I'm not terribly sensitive to price when it comes to high value. But I'm not a chump, either. What does that extra $700 buy me?
"So those were the big decision points for me. Others might weigh their factors differently to choose the 5DS / 5DS R over the A7R II. And that's fine. You cannot really make a 'bad' choice between these cameras. They're both miracles of our age."
John Krumm: "The Canon is a 10-year-old muscle car design that keeps getting a larger (and no more efficient) motor. This is its last hurrah, with a 50-MP big block chugging away. The Sony is all new gee-tech with no spare room under the hood. It's pretty much as fast in a straight line and handles corners way better. Neither model comes with airbags, but I'd feel safer hitting something with the Canon."
Bryan Hansel: "Nikon D810 still wins. Better dynamic range. 14-bit (vs. 11 bit for the Sony) files and less diffraction at apertures used for landscapes."
Kirk Tuck: "Yeah, I think you must have just forgotten to put the Nikon D810 on that little ole list. While the Sony might be good enough the folks at DxO have already trash-talked the new Canons (bad dynamic range) right into the scrap bin for most camera equivocators."
Adam Palmer: "I've been with Canon since 1993 but this Sony is the one to lure me over. My pre-order is in."
Christopher Lane: "Had the Sony and sent it back. No lenses. Don't know about the Canon. I vote Nikon D750."
Edward Taylor: "OK, this is really easy. I have a Sony A7R and have the A7R II on order. I already own a 5DS R.
"The Canon has a few advantages over the A7RII:
- Resolution (50 MP vs. 44 MP—not a real advantage).
- More OEM lenses.
- Possibly faster (but not more accurate) focusing?
- Some will say they prefer Canon color space and skin tones but that's just an opinion.
"The Sony A7R II has many, many advantages over the Canon 5DS R. I can't even name them all here. But start with:
- 4K video.
- A tiltable LCD viewfinder.
- No need for lens calibration.
- Ability to use lenses from almost any camera including Canon.
- No mirror with associated problems.
- Five-axis image stabilization
"...And on and on. Plus, Sony is an innovative company where Canon has done little to advance camera design in recent years. I think Sony wins going away."
Robert Harshman: "If you have to have a winner, it's Sony for now. Lots of very interesting tech in this camera. However, Sony will probably release a new model in six months and the price of your used camera will drop like a rock. No firmware updates, no fixes to any potential problems. That's the way Sony rolls. It's a strategy that may work for some. It certainly moves camera tech forward at a faster rate.
"Canon on the other hand is very old school. Very slow to add new tech to a camera line. Incremental improvements is the game and, like Sony, not many firmware updates, just slow major releases every 18–24 months.
"I have a 5DS; been working with it for about three weeks now. It is a great camera, the best 5D[x] yet produced. But why Canon did not add UHS 11 or CFast 2 support is simply stupid with a 50-megapixel camera. These more than year-old new card formats would have greatly enhanced this camera. But Canon is very slow to upgrade these type of features. The 5DS is the first 5D[x] to support USB 3.
"But, I don't have to have a winner like you do. As a commercial photographer I have Canons, Nikons, Sonys and now even a Samsung NX1. Of all the cameras I have now, the one brand that is currently impressing me the most is Samsung. An 8–10 month old camera that has already had three major firmware updates. This is a company that is truly supporting it users."
Jeffrey Behr: "No, in my opinion we don't have to have a champion. :-) After trying an a7R last year and finding it too small and much too clunky-handling (and with excellent image quality), I would not have considered an a7R II even with its larger hand-lump. I bought a 5DS and love its handling and image quality. But obviously lots of folk love the a7 cameras and will buy the newest, even-higher-res version, and I hope they love their cameras as much as I love mine. Isn't it grand that each of us can buy the camera that he/she loves?"
Mike replies: Yes, it is. I still wish I could buy something similar to a BMW 2002, though.
Jack Kurtz: "a7R II is the Tesla of cameras, the future. The 5Ds is the Packard, the past. I say that as a recovering Canon photographer. For more than 40 years I used Canon film cameras and then digital. I switched to Micro 4/3 exclusively last year and got rid of my Canons and couldn't be happier."
Cliff R.: "My vote for übercamera (that I can't afford) still goes to the Leica S2."
Mike replies: Note that the S2 is discontinued; the cheapest variant right now is the S-E which with the 70mm (56mm-e) costs $12,995.
Alan B: "The Sony clearly wins on paper. The big question for me, though, is whether or not it's wise to invest in the Sony ecosystem. Their track record in regards to customer support and follow-through is fairly dismal (not just in cameras). I guess from my perspective, Sony still seems like a consumer products company, not a camera company; I'm not confident they'll be supporting these cameras even five years from now."
Godfrey (partial comment): "Überkamera? Doesn't exist. No one camera is all that special."
Mahn England: "Beyond the technical brouhaha there is something else: Canon really does get it, and it does show in its latest cameras. Maturity should never be confused with decrepit old age. Nor should maturity be undervalued in the light of exuberant youthful energy. The images coming from the 5DS have a unique quality. I get a thrill when they resolve before me on the screen. I've never had that sensation from digital images. Maybe for the future owners of Sony's latest offering that thrill will also be there."