Two of the top mirrorless cameras on the market today are the Canon EOS R5 and the Nikon Z7 II. In this article, we’ll compare these two high-resolution, feature-packed cameras to help you figure out which one is right for you.
Both the Canon EOS R5 and the Nikon Z7 II are targeted at photographers who need a high resolution camera, with the EOS R5 offering 45 megapixels and the Z7 II offering 45.7. However, the biggest difference is that the Canon camera is also meant for high-speed action photography, and that comes at a higher price – $3900 versus $3000. I’ll get to the specifications in a moment, so you can see why the Canon EOS R5 is geared more toward action photography. For now, let’s look at the build quality and appearance of the two cameras.
Here’s how the front of the EOS R5 and Nikon Z7 II look:
Most of the controls for both cameras are on the back and top, so let’s take a look at those.
For starters, the rear control layouts certainly have their differences in some specific button placement, but the two cameras have a similar high-end layout overall. Both have a joystick and a dedicated AF-ON button, and most controls are on the right-hand side:
The top panels are also reasonably similar, although you can see that Canon uses a Mode button while Nikon chose a standard PSAM dial:
Although these different control layouts are important, and existing Canon or Nikon users will probably have a preference, the biggest differences between the Canon EOS R5 and Nikon Z7 II lie beneath the surface. So, let’s take a look at the specifications of these two cameras:
|Camera Feature||Canon EOS R5||Nikon Z7 II|
|*Canon’s official specifications say the EOS R5 can autofocus from -6 EV to +20 EV. However, Canon assumes an f/1.2 lens at ISO 100, while other manufacturers assume an f/2 lens at ISO 100 for this specification. Thus, the standardized focusing EV range for the EOS R5 is -4.5 EV to +21.5 EV. Read more at EV explained.|
|**The Nikon Z7 II official dimensions do not include the depth of the protruding viewfinder. To match the standards of other manufacturers, roughly 15 mm (0.6 inches) must be added to the Z7 II’s depth measurement, for a total of 85 mm (3.3 inches).|
|Announced||July 9, 2020||October 14, 2020|
|Sensor Resolution||45.0 MP||45.7 MP|
|Low-Pass Filter||Yes, high-res OLPF||No|
|Sensor Type||CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|Base ISO||ISO 100||ISO 64|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 100-51,200||ISO 64-25,600|
|In-Body Image Stabilization||Yes||Yes|
|Sensor Size||36.0 × 24.0mm||35.9 × 23.9mm|
|Image Size||8192 × 5464||8256 × 5504|
|Image Processor||DIGIC X||Dual EXPEED 6|
|EVF Resolution||5.76 million dots||3.6 million dots|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/200||1/200|
|Storage Media||1× CFe + 1× SD UHS-II||1× CFe / XQD + 1× SD UHS-II|
|Continuous Shooting Speed, Mechanical||12 FPS||10 FPS|
|Continuous Shooting Speed, Electronic||20 FPS||10 FPS|
|Camera Buffer (12-bit Lossless)||180 images||77 images|
|Shutter Speed Range||1/8000 to 30 sec||1/8000 to 900 sec|
|Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter||Yes||Yes|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||384 zone||TTL metering using camera image sensor|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF||Hybrid PDAF|
|Low-Light Sensitivity* (f/2 Lens, ISO 100)||-4.5 to +21.5 EV||-3 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF enabled)|
|Video Maximum Resolution||8K DCI @ up to 30p; 4K @ up to 120p||4K @ up to 60p|
|1080p Slow Motion||120 FPS||120 FPS|
|4K Video Crop||1.0×||1.0× (30p), 1.08× (60p)|
|Video HDMI Out / LOG||4:2:2 10-bit / Yes||4:2:2 10-bit / Yes|
|Video HLG / HDR Out||No||Yes|
|Articulating LCD||Yes||Tilting only|
|LCD Size / Resolution||3.2″ / 2.1 million dots||3.2″ / 2.1 million dots|
|Bluetooth||Yes, 5.0||Yes, 4.2|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||320||360 shots|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes|
|USB Version||Type-C 3.1||Type-C 3.1|
|Weight (Battery and Card)||738 g (1.63 lbs)||705 g (1.55 lbs)|
|Dimensions**||138 × 98 × 88 mm (5.4 × 3.8 × 3.5 inches)||134 × 101 × 70 mm (5.3 × 4.0 × 2.8 inches)|
|MSRP at Time of Publication||$3900 (check price)||$3000 (check price)|
Although both cameras have their strengths, it should be clear from these specifications why the Canon EOS R5 costs $900 more than the Nikon. It all has to do with processing large amounts of data.
The Canon EOS R5 can shoot a remarkable 20 FPS despite its 45 megapixel sensor, while the Nikon Z7 II is capable of 10 FPS by comparison. Although 10 FPS is still very respectable (and more than enough for most applications), it’s pretty remarkable that the EOS R5 manages to shoot twice as fast. Even more important for many sports and wildlife photographers is buffer capacity – the number of photos that can be taken as a high-speed burst before the camera slows down or stops. The EOS R5 has a massive buffer of 180 images, while the Nikon Z7 II has a 77-image buffer by comparison – still good, but less than half of Canon’s. Given that both cameras have essentially the same resolution, it’s pretty remarkable how much more data Canon can push through the imaging pipeline to allow these FPS and buffer numbers.
None of that matters if you don’t need to shoot fast action in the first place, of course. Landscape and architectural photographers may be scratching their heads wondering why anyone would need 20 FPS and a 180 image buffer. But if you want to capture high-resolution wildlife or sports photography without missing a beat, the EOS R5 is very well suited to the task. The Nikon Z7 II, though certainly not bad at it, is certainly farther behind.
In terms of autofocus, both cameras do an excellent job focusing on static subjects, and their low light focusing performance is comparable. The same is true if a person’s face or animal’s eye is visible in the frame; the EOS R5 and Z7 II can track eyes with fantastic speed and accuracy. However, in terms of more generic subject tracking – things like birds in flight or airshows – the Canon EOS R5 is a clear step ahead of the Nikon Z7 II. While the Z7 II has a solid and capable autofocus system overall, it is not geared toward tracking erratic and quick subjects as well as the EOS R5 is.
Video shooters will also most likely prefer the features of the Canon EOS R5, which can shoot 8K video – far more than 4K. (Each frame in 8K DCI video is 35.4 megapixels, while each frame in standard 4K video is “only” 8.3 megapixels.) Even if you don’t need to shoot 8K, the Canon EOS R5 can also shoot 120 FPS slow motion 4K video, while the Nikon Z7 II maxes out at 60 FPS slow motion 4K. The Nikon Z7 II is no slouch in the video department, but it’s hard to compete with features like 8K or 4K 120p.
Although the Nikon Z7 II has a few nice features that the Canon lacks, there are only two big ones: base ISO 64 and price. At base ISO, the Nikon Z7 II has a better dynamic range than the Canon EOS R5 by about 2/3 of a stop, which could matter for some landscape photographers in high-contrast scenes. But the biggest benefit of the Z7 II is simply that it costs $900 less than the Canon EOS R5, at least at the time of launch. For that price, you could buy one of Nikon’s excellent Z-series primes or upgrade your tripod, either of which will improve your baseline image quality more than getting the Canon EOS R5.
If image quality is your baseline, the two cameras are practically identical. There’s the base ISO 64 benefit of the Nikon Z7 II, but once you get into the shared ISO range, the two cameras are neck and neck. So, for low light photography at high ISOs, you won’t get cleaner images either way; instead, it’s down to the maximum aperture of your lens.
The Canon EOS R5 can push at least twice as much data through the imaging pipeline per second as the Nikon Z7 II, both for stills and video. That’s the main reason the R5 costs $900 more, although the more advanced autofocus tracking system also plays a role.
Not all photographers need those features, and if you don’t, there isn’t much difference between the Canon EOS R5 and Nikon Z7 II. Sure, they trade blows with various specifications here and there, and they obviously have their company’s own handling styles, but they’re as comparable as a Nikon and Canon ever are.
My recommendation is to stick with whatever company you’re already familiar with, whether Canon or Nikon. Jumping ship to another brand is usually not a good idea unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money, considering the fact that camera companies leapfrog each other all the time. The EOS R5 is ahead of the Nikon Z7 II, but Nikon has undoubtedly taken note and will try to make its next iteration even more competitive. And so it goes.
If you’re not tied to either company, I recommend the Nikon Z7 II for landscape photography simply because of the lower price, and also because the EOS R5’s benefits don’t really matter for most types of landscape photos. On the other hand, the EOS R5 gets my recommendation if you want to photograph wildlife or sports at high resolutions instead, or alongside landscapes. (If you don’t need these extreme resolutions, but you want the high FPS and tracking capabilities, you may find the Canon EOS R6 to be a better fit.) If price is no object, go for the EOS R5, since it can do some things the Nikon Z7 II cannot, while the opposite isn’t really true.
Personally, I’m still happy with my old Nikon Z7 and don’t mind stepping off the upgrade train for now. It’s always fun to use a new camera, but my recommendation at the end of the day is to stick with whatever you have until you find yourself really pushing its limits, so that you can learn and grow from one camera setup as long as possible. It’s better to know an old camera with your eyes closed than to buy the EOS R5 simply because it’s the latest and greatest sub-$6000 camera on the market.
That said, it is the latest and greatest sub-$6000 camera on the market :)
I hope you found this article useful, and if you want to see more comparisons between these two cameras with others out there, you may find these links helpful:
- Canon EOS R5 vs Canon EOS R6
- Canon EOS R5 vs Nikon Z7 II vs Panasonic S1R vs Sony A7R IV
- Nikon Z7 II vs Nikon Z6 II
- Nikon Z7 II vs Nikon Z7
- Nikon Z7 II vs Nikon D850
You can also read our full review of each of the EOS R5 and Z7 II here:
You are missing
Hi Spencer, Thanks a ton for posting many such nice articles and I am an avid reader in PL.
I am a Nikon DX shooter(no FX lens) and would like to take a plunge into full frame mirrorless world in next 1 year and currently evaluating both the Canon RF and Nikon Z systems. My humble questions to you, if you kindly clarify w.r.t the comparison –
1. Lens options and price/performance across the two systems for similar spec/price lenses :- what is your opinion?
2. Viewfinder comparison in real life between R5 vs Z7 II :- what is your view leaving aside the spec after using the both?
3. Long exposure photography :- several user reviews brought up that R5 long exposure results in hot pixels sometimes :- what is your take on this? Have you found this phenomenon is common and inline with Z7 II or competition?
4. Focus bracketing :- do you think availability of focus bracketing in R5 only in electronic shutter 12 bit is a major hit in terms of image quality(DR, high ISO noise etc) w.r.t to Z7 II’s focus bracketing in MS ?
5. There is very limited lens reviews for the Canon RF system. Do you have any plans for publishing reviews of RF lenses on high resolution R5 with imatest results in near future? Would be benefited a lot as I really count your opinions very much and would compare with Z lenses.
6. Ease of Subject tracking in real world :- what is your opinion on usability and ease of use of toggling different subject tracking settings(animals and any other moving subjects) – which systems is easy to use? As I understand currently the Z system lags behind but might catch up or leap frog in future – but my question is which one is easy to use and requires less customisation across different situations?
7. Effectiveness of shake reduction :- what is your take on the coordinated IBIS + IS on RF systems – is the extra stops(many cases more than 5), in real world of any significance (ignoring the claimed CIPA rated figure) from practical stand-point?
8. High ISO noise :- Do you think it’s not discernible and head to head both?
Thanks in advance.
1. Very similar. Just look at the identically-specced lenses to compare, and you’ll see. For example, the 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses are both $2300 (though Nikon currently has a sale for $2100). The 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses are $2700 for Canon, $2630 for Nikon (though currently on sale for $2430).
2. I like the Z7 II viewfinder a bit better. I’m super sensitive to motion (can’t play most 3D video games at all) and find that the Z7 II doesn’t give me a headache, while the Canon eventually does. For most people, I doubt the difference would be noticeable.
3. I get hot pixels on the Z7 II pretty often. Lightroom used to do a good job mapping out hot pixels, but I find that it struggles with the Z series cameras. I haven’t shot enough long exposures on the Canon EOS R cameras to know for sure, but I doubt it’s any worse.
4. No, I don’t think it’s a problem at all. 12 bit vs 14 bit is indistinguishable unless you’re recovering at least 4-5 stops of shadow detail. And the electronic shutter is neutral as an image quality factor – see here: photographylife.com/mecha…utter-efcs
5. In the immediate future, no. But by the end of 2021, I sincerely hope so. It’s one of the things we’re planning.
6. Canon is more ergonomic in that regard at the moment (at least with the R6 and R5).
7. I don’t notice any meaningful difference in the stops of image stabilization with Canon, Nikon, or Sony mirrorless. But I admit I haven’t tested them side by side with equivalent lenses, such as all with the 24-70mm f/2.8 or 70-200mm f/2.8. It looks like some anecdotal reports online say that Canon is maybe about 1 stop better than the others in a best-case situation. Seems plausible to me.
8. Totally indiscernible outside of lab tests, and even then, the Nikon is maybe 1/4 of a stop ahead.
Hope this helps!
Hot pixels in Lightroom with Z 7. Experienced that too. In mid-day summer sun. Almost evenly colored surfaces with a bit of texture are worst. Not visible in DxO PhotoLab 4. Not in Nikon NX Studio. Not in Lightroom with F-mount lens on the Z 7. If you understand “raw processing” then let’s hypothesize it is “low-level chaotic Moiré” following from bad demosaicking and an underlying bad low level profile to parameterize the raw processing.
Note the 7 and 7ii have no Low-Pass or AA filter and this needs adapted raw processing. We should have that already since the D800E.
After my 2nd CV vaccination, I’ll have to test if my Z 7ii has the same issue – correction, if Lightroom still hasn’t been fixed. Comparing cameras depends on raw processing and us totally dependant on firmware and raw processing versions.
Many thanks Spencer. Really appreciate your detailed comments on the real world findings.
I am a Nikon D7200 user wearing spec(myopia) and I have been blown away when I have test used Nikon Z7 EVF around 1 year back. It was a pleasure to use but when I use Nikon D7200 for extended period, looking onto the VF, eyes get fatigued.
Is the R5 XQD compatible? I thought it was CFexpress only?
Good catch, you’re right. I deleted that reference!
Even as a happy Z7 owner, it is hard to deny that the R5 is an impressive machine and probably the better choice for anyone who has the bucks to spare and an interest in things that move. Appreciate the no-nonsense and unbiased article.
As a fellow happy Z7 owner who wrote this article, I can only agree :)
Please show comparison less than nri60000/-
Hi Santosh, this might be the comparison you’re after for sub-60,000 INR cameras: photographylife.com/best-…evel-dslrs
Does the Canon come with an adapter to mount older AF Canon lenses like the FTZ adapter that allows F mount glass to be mounted to the Z series?
There are a few different EF to RF adapters that Canon makes. The standard one is $100, there’s one with a control ring for $200, and there’s one with filter slot that costs more depending on which filter you choose. You can see them all here: www.bhphotovideo.com/c/pro…/KBID/6400
They’re not included for free unless Canon is running a sale, but the same is true of Nikon with the FTZ adapter – it’s usually $100-200 on its own, but sometimes bundled for free as part of a sale.
Comparing the nikon to the Canon is not a fair fight wait for the z9 and then Compare
We definitely will! I’m looking forward to it. Although, my guess is that the Z9 will be more comparable to the Sony A1 and upcoming Canon EOS R3 in terms of price – probably around the $6000 mark.
The Z9 would be Nikons mirrorless flagship. The EOS R5 is NOT Canon’s flagship mirrorless. That will be the upcoming R1… Maybe even the R3…
THE Z9 better pull the rabbit out of the hat when it’s released
Nikon disappointed the market with both the original Z7 and Z6. Then they disappointed it again with the warmed over Z7II and Z6II. What makes you think that the Z9 will suddenly beat expectations?
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times…
The Z cameras are great. They’re not for everyone, but they’re hardly disappointments. The Z7 II is the best landscape photography camera on the market other than medium format, and the Z6 II is basically the same camera but $1000 cheaper.
Canon is clearly ahead for wildlife and sports with the R5 and R6 though.
Nice write up Spencer, I have the Z7II and 5 Z lenses and love them but that R5 is always in my mind as I love wildlife. In your mind you think Nikon’s next releases they’ll get the focusing right?
And another place where Nikon screwed up is with the multiple exposure mode why in the heck would they only give us the final blended image in camera to only jpeg?? Sorry that’s skimping and not good and I seriously hope that they change that in their firmware updates.
Hi Marco, I think you got it wrong.
When it comes to Autofocus (so much praised by youtubers) it’s true. Nikon’s system is behind Sony and Canon. Still, the Nikon AF is great. Especially with the latest update.
Most of the photographers out there don’t even need those super-fast AF. If you are shooting sports or wildlife, yeah, the AF makes sense. But if you are shooting landscape or cityscape, the Z cameras are by far the best ones.
Nikon cameras are also the best ones when it comes to ergonomics. As a travel photographer, the capability of switching from video to stills with on switch is far more important than the AF. Also, the camera feels great in the hand you can literally spend the entire day shooting. I switched from Sony because the ergonomics were terrible. Canon’s are bad, but not as good as Nikon.
The Z6 can do a RAW video with an external monitor. What other camera can do that for the price?
Finally, do not forget the Z system is the newest of them all. Canon had the EOS R (that’s a real disappointment of a camera) by mid-2018. The Z6 is far superior and was released later that year. And, let’s not forget the glass nikon is pulling out. The 70-200 is by far the best 70-200 in the market. Also, the 14-30 f4 and 24-70 are excellent. The 14-24 f2.8 and 24-70 f2.8 are also far superior than competitors…
Marco, dunno what you are talking about 😂
Anyways, great article Spencer! Used the EOS R5, certainly the best in the market after the A1
Hi Ian, let me just ask you one question. If everything is so great with Z as you say, then why has Nikon fallen into third place behind Canon and Sony? I’ll give you my opinion. Most F-mount users don’t find the Z’s as compelling as you do. Most people see that Canon and Sony are leading the field and that Nikon is playing catch-up.
The fact that Z makes for a fine stills and landscape camera doesn’t sway anyone to buy one because, frankly, any current DSLR can easily do the same for much less. No, people buy mirrorless to get the uncannily accurate Eye-AF that Canon and Sony offer. And Nikon is just not competitive there yet despite being three years into mirrorless with two product generations. That’s why I say they are disappointing the market.
Dude, such negativity. Can you admit that they are all good and everyone has different needs. It will basically come down to how it feels in your hand. I have a D750 and love it, find it hard to upgrade and wonder if a higher end iPhone is my next choice. The camera is only a tool, the magic come in how you use that tool. This is wants vs needs. Take a deep cleansing breath.
I have to say I find Marco’s opinion fair and calm. If you are earning money with your photography and work for any of the industries where every second counts you won’t buy new Nikons. You will pay for Sony or Canon. It’s just cold calculation and facts.
If, however, you want a camera because you enjoy photography as a hobby – you are absolutely right – these are all great machines and will work. Pick the one you like the most and there is no need for brand tribalism.
Thanks for the great review! I definitely don’t need everything the R5 has to offer and the Z7 II more than meets my needs. Having said that, I do like the ergonomics of the R5. It has a slightly taller grip than the Z7 II which feels more comfortable in my hand. Oh well, I guess you can’t have it all. 🤣
Same here, I’m planning to stick with the Z series for a long time. You might want to look into some extension grips for the Z7 II – there are a couple on the market that might solve the issue for you.
Thanks for the reply Spencer. I’ve looked at some of those and can’t seem to find one that is compatible with an L bracket. If you happen to know of one that is please let me know. Thanks again.
You might have better luck looking for L brackets that double as an extension grip, like this one: www.adorama.com/sr2947.html
Dan, I have the SmallRig bracket and it solved the dangling pinky issue for me. I took off the side bracket and just use the bottom plate when I don’t need the camera to be on a tripod. Smallrig make really excellent products that are quite affordable. I also bought myself a leather half-case for the Z7 that is just tall enough to serve the same purpose. I use it for travelling when I don’t want to carry an L-bracket with me. I also have an R5 and, quite frankly, I much prefer the handling of the Z7 in terms of button layout and ease of access to functions. I just wish the Z7 had a triaxial flip screen like the Fuji X-H1 and a number of lenses the size of the ones in the RF system like the 35/1.8,50/1.8 and both versions of the RF 70-200mm. If that was the case, I’d sell the R5 in a heartbeat.
I bought an L bracket from Ali for 18 €, I still have it on the camera – it improves the grip of the camera, partially protects the camera and in addition, with small lenses, the camera is placed in the axis of the tripod head when shooting vertically/portrait. It’s a good thing, there are many types to choose from …
This is a shockingly objective comparison. Very, very well done!
Really appreciate it, thanks, John!