With both Nikon and Canon having released their mirrorless systems, many photographers might be wondering about their similarities and differences. Although Nikon released two mirrorless cameras with 24.5 MP and 45.7 MP resolutions to appeal different photography needs, Canon decided to go ahead with a single 30.4 MP camera at launch. In this article, I would like to take a closer look at all three cameras and compare their specifications side-by-side.
Below are the technical specifications of all three cameras, including their mount and pricing information:
|Camera Feature||Canon EOS R||Nikon Z6||Nikon Z7|
|Mount Inner Diameter||54.0mm||55.0mm||55.0mm|
|Sensor Resolution||30.4 MP||24.5 MP||45.7 MP|
|Sensor Type||CMOS||BSI CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0mm||35.9 x 24.0mm||35.9 x 23.9mm|
|In-Body Image Stabilization||No||Yes, 5-axis||Yes, 5-axis|
|Sensor Pixel Size||5.36µ||5.9µ||4.35µ|
|Image Size||6,720 x 4,480||6000 x 4000||8256 x 5504|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 8||EXPEED 6||EXPEED 6|
|Max Buffer Capacity (14-bit RAW)||47 Images||18 Images||18 Images|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 100-40,000||ISO 100-51,200||ISO 64-25,600|
|Boosted ISO Sensitivity||ISO 50, ISO 51,200-102,400||ISO 50, ISO 102,400-204,800||ISO 32, ISO 51,200-102,400|
|Dust Reduction / Sensor Cleaning||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Viewfinder||Electronic / EVF||Electronic / EVF||Electronic / EVF|
|Viewfinder Type / Resolution||OLED / 3.69 million dots||QVGA / 3.6 million dots||QVGA / 3.6 million dots|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/200||1/200||1/200|
|Storage Media||1x SD (UHS-II)||1x XQD||1x XQD|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||8 FPS (no AF), 5 FPS with AF||12 FPS (limited to 12-bit RAW and no AE), 9 FPS (14-bit RAW but no AE), 5.5 FPS with AE||9 FPS (only 12-bit RAW, no AE), 8 FPS (14-bit RAW, no AE), 5.5 FPS (14-bit RAW and AE)|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/8000 to 30 sec||1/8000 to 30 sec||1/8000 to 30 sec|
|AE Bracketing Range||±3 EV||±3 EV||±3 EV|
|Shutter Durability||150,000 cycles||200,000 cycles||200,000 cycles|
|Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF||Hybrid PDAF||Hybrid PDAF|
|Number of AF Points||5655||273||493|
|Video Maximum Resolution||4K @ 24/25/30 FPS||4K @ 24/25/30 FPS||4K @ 24/25/30 FPS|
|1080p Video Max Frame Rate||60 FPS||120 FPS||120 FPS|
|Video Crop Factor||1.74x||1.0x||1.0x|
|HDMI Out / LOG||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes||4:2:2 10-bit HDMI Output / Yes|
|LCD Size and Type||3.2″ Tilting Touchscreen LCD||3.2″ Tilting Touchscreen LCD||3.2″ Tilting Touchscreen LCD|
|Articulating LCD||Yes, Tilting and Front/Back||Yes, Tilting||Yes, Tilting|
|LCD Resolution||2,100,000 dots||2,100,000 dots||2,100,000 dots|
|Battery Life||350 shots (CIPA)||330 shots (CIPA)||310 shots (CIPA)|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|USB Version||3.1||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1|
|Weight (Camera Body Only)||580g||585g||585g|
|Dimensions||135.8 x 98.3 x 67.7mm||134 x 100.5 x 67.5mm||134 x 100.5 x 67.5mm|
|MSRP Price||$2,299.00 (check price)||$1,999.95 (check price)||$3,399.95 (check price)|
First, let’s talk about the differences in the mounts between the two camera systems. While Nikon decided to go for a brand new mount with a much larger 55mm inner diameter and a very short flange distance of 16mm for its Z mirrorless system, Canon decided to keep its mount size the same as EF at 54mm. However, Canon also changed the flange distance to 20mm to be able to be closer to the image sensor and reduce the overall size of the camera. While one could argue that Nikon has an advantage with a larger mount and a shorter flange distance, the differences are too small to make any differences in both lens design and lens sizes. Thus, both systems are equally strong with their mounts today.
Resolution-wise, the Canon EOS R sits between the Nikon Z6 and the Nikon Z7, so it strikes a good balance here. Unfortunately, Canon decided to go with a very similar image sensor as on the Canon 5D Mark IV, which means that we are still dealing with older CMOS sensor technology, while Nikon is using newer BSI CMOS sensors. However, if we look at it from the practical side, the differences between CMOS and BSI CMOS in terms of overall performance in the real world are not that great to put Canon at a serious disadvantage. All three cameras should have excellent high ISO performance, but knowing that Canon has traditionally delivered inferior dynamic range than its Nikon counterparts, we can expect Nikon to edge out Canon here a bit, especially with the Nikon Z7 at ISO 64. Lack of a low-pass filter on the Nikon Z7 is also going to result in crisper details when compared to the Nikon Z6 or the Canon EOS R, which is a difference worth noting.
The big difference comes into play in terms of in-body image stabilization (IBIS). Here, Canon is at a rather serious disadvantage – it decided to go only with lens-based stabilization, whereas Nikon introduced its first IBIS implementation on the Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras. Canon definitely loses out here, mainly because Canon shooters will not be able to take advantage of image stabilization on all lenses, new or old, whereas Nikon shooters can use any existing Nikon F mount lens, even really old glass from 50 years ago and still enjoy the benefits of image stabilization. In addition to this, Nikon found ways to make both IBIS and lens stabilization work together to deliver more stabilization opportunities, which gives a bit more flexibility in comparison.
Where Canon outclasses Nikon is in its excellent implementation of Dual Pixel AF technology and a flip-out LCD screen. As we have already seen on a number of Canon DSLRs, Dual Pixel AF is a fantastic autofocus technology that does an excellent job with tracking and focusing subjects. Because of this technology, many vloggers pick Canon DSLR cameras to create their video content and now they have a much smaller, lighter and more capable camera. Couple this with a fully flipping articulating screen and Canon has definitely hit the spot for video content creators. Unfortunately, Nikon is not even an option for this purpose, as its LCD screen only tilts, making it impossible to see what is being recorded when facing the camera.
Thanks to Dual Pixel AF, Canon was also able to make a whopping 5,655 autofocus points available and selectable to use. This is something that has never been done before and no other camera on the market has this many focus points to choose from. Compare that to 273 AF points on the Nikon Z6 and 493 AF points on the Nikon Z7 and you will see why it is a significant difference. At the same time, the sheer number of autofocus points is not going to make much difference if it takes too long to move those focus points, or if the AF system itself is slow. While it appears that Canon has done a good job with making sure that the autofocus points move fast enough, it is hard to say how fast the autofocus system works when compared to Nikon’s Z-series cameras. We will need to evaluate both in detail to be able to tell for sure. Based on the performance of Dual Pixel AF we have seen before on other cameras, the Canon EOS R should not disappoint. There is one area that Nikon is already losing out on at the moment and that’s Eye Autofocus.
Canon has already implemented this on the Canon EOS R, while Nikon only has face detection and we don’t know if it does any sort of eye prioritization at the moment. While the Eye Autofocus feature is only limited to Single Shot AF (there is no eye tracking available for AI Servo on the Canon EOS R), it is still a great feature to have.
When it comes to continuous shooting speed, the Canon EOS R certainly looks weaker than its Nikon counterparts with its 8 FPS shooting and locked autofocus. In comparison, the Nikon Z6 can shoot 12 FPS while tracking the subject continuously (although at 12-bit RAW only) and 9 FPS with 14-bit RAW, while the Nikon Z can shoot 9 FPS with tracking at 12-bit and comparable 8 FPS with 14-bit RAW. If you want to be able to track subjects continuously with the Canon EOS R, you will need to drop shooting speed to 5 FPS, which is unfortunate. At the same time, the Canon EOS R provides a much larger buffer that is capable of accommodating a total of 47 images, whereas the Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras are limited to only 18 RAW images when shooting 14-bit RAW before the buffer fills up and the camera slows down.
Both manufacturers decided to go with a single memory card slot, but Nikon’s decision to go with the XQD memory card is going to prove advantageous in the long run, since XQD cards are much faster, arguably more reliable, and the memory card slot is going to be upgradeable to PCI Express once it becomes available, giving even more options to Nikon shooters in the future.
Lastly, Nikon is also ahead in video features. The main reason for this is Canon’s 1.74x video crop mode, which is much worse compared to Nikon’s 1.0x full sensor read-out. Basically, anyone who wants to shoot video with the Canon EOS R will need to properly plan their lenses and focal lengths for desired angle of view coverage, while all lenses mounted on the Nikon Z-series cameras will behave normally. All three cameras are capable of outputting 4:2:2 10-bit video via their HDMI ports, but both Nikon Z6 and Z7 can shoot up to 120 FPS in 1080p mode, while the Canon EOS R is limited to 60 FPS.
We are looking forward to testing all three cameras later this year. Once we get our hands on the Canon EOS R and Nikon Z6 / Z7 cameras, we will update this article with more information, as well as high ISO comparisons, so please stay tuned!