The Canon EOS R5 and the Sony a1 are both high-resolution, high-speed, full-frame mirrorless machines. Even though the Sony a1 is a more expensive and slightly newer camera, the two are pretty competitive head-to-head and the “better” camera depends on your situation. Here’s what you need to know!
Canon EOS R5 vs Sony a1 Specifications Comparison
|Camera Feature||Canon EOS R5||Sony a1|
|Announced||July 2020||January 2021|
|Sensor Type||CMOS||Stacked CMOS|
|Image Processor||DIGIC X||BIONZ XR|
|Resolution||45.0 MP||50.1 MP|
|Sensor Dimensions||36.0 x 24.0 mm (Full Frame)||35.9 x 24.0 mm (Full Frame)|
|Sensor Pixel Size||4.39µ||4.16µ|
|Low Pass Filter||Yes||No|
|IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization)||Yes||Yes|
|Base ISO||ISO 100||ISO 100|
|Max Native ISO||ISO 51,200||ISO 32,000|
|Extended ISOs||ISO 50-102,400||ISO 50-102,400|
|High-Resolution Sensor Shift||Yes (JPEG only)||Yes|
|Focus Stack Bracketing||Yes||No|
|Fastest Shutter Speed||1/8000||1/32000|
|Longest Shutter Speed||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Continuous Shooting (Mechanical Shutter)||12 FPS||10 FPS|
|Continuous Shooting (Electronic Shutter)||20 FPS||30 FPS|
|Notes for High FPS Shooting||None||Compressed raw at 30 FPS (uncompressed and lossless compressed raw at 20 FPS)|
|Buffer Size (Raw)||83 frames (20 FPS), 180 frames (12 FPS)||155 frames (30 FPS), 238 frames (20 FPS)|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF||Hybrid PDAF|
|Low-Light AF Sensitivity (f/2 Lens, ISO 100)||-4.5 EV||-4 EV|
|Standard Flash Sync Speed||1/250||1/400|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (Internal)||12 bits||10 bits|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (External)||12 bits||12 bits|
|Raw Video||Yes||Yes, externally|
|8K Maximum Framerate||30 FPS||30 FPS|
|4K Maximum Framerate||120 FPS||120 FPS|
|1080P Maximum Framerate||120 FPS||240 FPS|
|Additional Video Crop Factor||No||No|
|Video Recording Limit||30 min||780 min|
Physical and Other Features
|Slot 1 Type||CFExpress Type B||CFExpress Type A, or SD (UHS-II)|
|Slot 2 Type||SD (UHS-II)||CFExpress Type A, or SD (UHS-II)|
|Rear LCD Size (Diagonal)||3.2 in||3.0 in|
|Rear LCD Resolution||2.1 million dots||1.44 million dots|
|Articulating LCD||Fully Articulating||Single Axis|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5.76 million dots||9.44 million dots|
|USB Type||Type C 3.1||Type C 3.2 Gen 1|
|Battery Life (Viewfinder)||220 frames||430 frames|
|Battery Life (Rear LCD)||320 frames||530 frames|
|Battery Life (Eco Mode)||490 frames||N/A|
|Weight (Body Only w/ Battery + Card)||738 g (1.63 lbs.)||737 g (1.62 lbs.)|
|Dimensions (LxHxD)||138 x 98 x 88 mm (5.4 x 3.8 x 3.5″)||129 x 97 x 81 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 3.3″)|
|MSRP, Body Only||$3900 (Check Current Price)||$6500 (Check Current Price)|
|Used Prices||Canon EOS R5 Used Prices||Sony a1 Used Prices|
As you can see, there are a lot of similarities here, and even many of the differences are on the small side (like the difference between 45 and 50 megapixels, which is hardly noticeable). But there are some areas where each camera has some real advantages.
For example, the Sony a1 is arguably a bit better for high-speed photography thanks to the full-resolution 30 FPS mode, compared to 20 FPS on the Canon EOS R5. Even 20 FPS is practically video, so maybe you don’t need 30! But combine that with the a1’s larger buffer capacity, and it gets the nod from me for high-speed situations, even though the EOS R5 isn’t far behind.
In terms of video, it’s 50/50. The Canon EOS R5 is capable of filming internal 8K raw video, while the Sony a1 needs an external recorder in order to film raw video. But the EOS R5 does sometimes have overheating issues when filming at maximum quality; the Sony a1 is not perfect in this respect, but it’s better. The Sony a1 also has slightly better slow-motion options and a longer recording limit (13 hours compared to just 30 minutes). So, the better one here depends on your needs.
As for other features, it’s pretty evenly matched. The Canon EOS R5 has a better rear LCD, while the Sony a1 has a better electronic viewfinder. Battery life is also better on the Sony. Yet considering how close the two cameras are in performance, it’s really impressive that the EOS R5 is more than $2500 less expensive. That leaves quite a bit of money to add some good lenses to your kit.
Summary and Recommendations
For sports and wildlife photography, I’d lean toward the Sony a1 even though the two cameras are pretty close. The Sony’s 30 FPS mode may sound excessive, but that means you’re capturing 1.5x as many photos per second as you can get on the Canon EOS R5. For small differences in an athlete’s facial expression or a bird’s wing position, that can be the difference.
For landscape and tripod-based photography, one big difference is that the Sony’s high-resolution pixel-shift mode lets you record raw files (up to 199 megapixels) while the Canon EOS R5 is limited to a less useful JPEG-only version of pixel-shift. But the EOS R5 has a focus stack shooting mode, while the a1 doesn’t. It depends which one of those features you expect to use more! Otherwise, the two cameras are pretty comparable for landscape photography, and I’d go with the EOS R5 simply because it’s less expensive.
As for videography, I already explained how you could go either way. And I’d say that for other genres of photography, there aren’t many occasions where one of these cameras is clearly better than the other. Probably the biggest question is lens lineup. Sony has a bigger mirrorless lens lineup than Canon at the moment, but Canon has some interesting lenses of its own that may draw you to the RF mount. Frankly, if you’re 50/50 between these two cameras, I would choose based on lenses rather than the cameras themselves.
What does the Canon EOS R5 offer over the Sony a1?
- Faster frame rate and bigger buffer for photographing fast action.
- Higher resolution rear display, with about 1.5x more dots, making image review in the field easier
- Much lower price, costing $2600 less—you could take a trip with this savings!
What does the Sony a1 offer over the Canon EOS R5?
- 1.11 times more megapixels (45.0MP vs 50.1MP)
- Higher resolution electronic viewfinder, with about 1.6x more dots, making shooting more enjoyable
- Better battery life when using the viewfinder, with approximately 210 more shots according to CIPA measurements
Want to discuss these two cameras with other photographers? If so, head on over to our forum to start a conversation!