Canon 5D mkIV vs. EOS R.
There’s no doubt that the canon 5D IV and the EOS R are solid cameras, but what is the difference and why should you pick one over the other?
First off, I’ll start by saying that I’ve shot on a Canon 5D IV since it was released in 2016. I have loved the camera ever since and have very few complaints about it.
I recently added the EOS R to my arsenal as a second body. I chose the EOS R over a second 5D for two reasons. The first reason was the price. The EOS R was nearly $1,000 cheaper than the 5DIV and the second reason was that I wanted to dip my toes into the mirrorless world to see how it felt.
INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE EOS R FROM A 5D SHOOTER
The EOS R is a great looking camera and it feels like it is built well. When shooting with the R, there’s an obvious difference in button layout and general feel of the camera when compared to the 5D though. Once you get over the limitations of of a mid price point mirrorless camera, the EOS R packs a pretty powerful punch for a relatively modest price.
EOS R VS 5D – DESIGN AND LAYOUT
The 5D is laid out very intuitively with a build worthy of professional photographers, while the EOS R feels a little more like a consumer camera with buttons in places that just feel a little off. The lack of an ISO button is a dead giveaway that the R is not a professional camera. You can assign any one of a number of buttons to change the ISO but they are not very easy to find with your fingers on the fly.
The easiest button to find is the record button but it cannot be assigned to ISO even though it can be programmed for other features. Thanks Canon! You’ll have to program one of the other buttons if you want a dedicated ISO button.
The 5D on the other hand, has dedicated buttons for ISO, drive mode, white balance, and metering mode. This makes changing settings on the fly very easy.
For the sake of compactness, Canon crammed white balance, drive mode, ISO, exposure compensation, and autofocus into the multi function button on the R. It is very cumbersome to navigate through this menu when you need to change your settings quickly. Landscape photographers often have a little more time to scroll though menus, but this would be a terrible action camera in my opinion.
For whatever reason, Canon decided to make the self timer light on the R bright orange instead of the traditional dull red like the 5D. This might seem like a minor detail but it is extremely annoying to anyone who does night photography in group settings. There is currently no way to turn off the timer light and it’s so bright that one piece of electrical tape is not enough to completely cut off the light.
APERTURE DIAL / MULTI-FUNTION BAR
Another big miss on the EOS R is the aperture dial. When my thumb goes to the back of the camera it goes to the new multi-function bar instead of the Aperture wheel. It’s almost awkward to change the aperture on the R whereas the 5D feels very natural.
Canon unveiled the multi-function bar on the EOS R and I hope it’s the last camera they ever use it on. The multi-function bar can be programed to change any setting that the m.fn button can. The only issue is that it is too easy to accidentally hit it and change your settings. Canon knew this would be an issue so they allow users to apply a press and hold feature, but the press and hold feature takes up precious time when you could be shooting. This might not be a deal breaker for landscape photographers, anyone else would probably find the multi-function bar annoying.
Image Processor and resolution
I’ll admit that this review has started off pretty poorly for the EOS R, but is does have some solid strengths. The R utilizes a 30.3 mega-pixel CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 8 image processor. The 5D IV utilizes a 30.4 mega-pixel CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 6+ image processor. In theory, the quality of the images produced by the R will be a slight bit better than the 5D since the R has a slightly newer image processor. That being said, the difference is pretty much indistinguishable.
EOS R VS 5D – Burst Rate
The 5D can shoot at a burst rate of 7 frames per second and the R can shoot at a rate of 8 frames per second. It looks like the R barely takes the lead here, but it’s important to note that the R can only shoot that fast in one shot focus mode. When you switch the camera to ai servo it shoots at a relatively slow 5fps. Worse yet, the R shoots a snail-ish 3fps when the camera is set to ai servo and focus priority is on.
EOS R VS 5D – Card Slots
The 5D has one CF flash slot and one SD slot where the R only has one SD slot. The second slot is not a deal breaker for me but two are definitely better than one in this case. Having a second slot allows you to write to two cards at the same time in case one of the cards should fail. This feature is incredibly important for photographers who are shooting projects for paying clients. In some cases, failing to produce images that you have promised your client could result in a lawsuit. A second card slot also allows you to automatically switch cards once the first one fills up. This will help you maximize the space on each card.
The two cameras have a native ISO range that is relatively the same. The 5D has an ISO range of 100-32000 where the R has a slightly larger range of ISO 100 – 40,000. Both cameras offer expandable ISO settings of 50 and 102,400. While ISO 50 (L) can be quite useful, ISO 102,400 is useless for just about everything except security. Keep in mind, you’ll loose a stop or two of dynamic range when using the expanded ISO settings.
Dynamic range is the the amount of stops that an imaging device can record. In short, it is the amount of contrast that your camera can capture before loosing detail in the highlights or shadows. According to DXO Mark the 5D IV has a dynamic range of 13.6 stops at ISO 100. Certainly not the best but not too shabby either. The R has practically the same dynamic range at 13.5 stops at ISO 100.
The R has a whopping 5,655 auto focus points with 100% vertical coverage and 88% horizontal coverage. That’s a a decent advantage over the 5D’s 61 AF points in the view finder or 63 AF points in live view.
After digging around in the menu system, I found that the EOS R was lacking many of the autofocus features that the 5D offers such as various types of tracking modes. That being said, if you’re just a casual user or landscape photographer, there’s a good chance that you don’t need to change the tracking modes anyway. On the other hand, sports and wildlife photographers might miss those features dearly.
One advantage that the R has over the the 5D is that it can utilize focus peaking since it is a mirrorless camera. Focus peking is a digital way for the camera to show the photographer exactly what is in focus in the image.
Since the EOS R is a mirrorless camera and the 5D is a DSLR, the R is noticeably a bit smaller. Some photographers with larger hands might find the smaller size harder to work with. For me, I do not mind the size except for some of the layout issues mentioned above.
The compactness of the R means it will take up less space in your camera bag which can be good news for travel photographers. It also makes for a better street camera because it is less intrusive and it has a flip out LCD for discrete camera positioning.
The weight difference between the two cameras is almost unnoticeable. The R weighs 1.45 lbs and the 5D weighs 1.96 lbs.
The 5D utilizes The EF lens mount while the R uses the new RF mount. The RF lenses feature a larger diaphragm which allows the lenses to be more compact and sharper than their EF cousins. Canon has made the transition from DSLR easier with the help of an EF to RF adapter so you can still use your older EF lenses with the R.
Both cameras have their pros and cons when it comes to video. They are both capable of recording in 4K up to 30fps but they use slightly different formats. The R records Ultra HD (3840×2160) video whereas the 5D records the Cinema 4K format (4096×2160). Unfortunately both cameras fall short when it comes to 4K because they apply a ridiculous 1.74 crop factor to the footage.
Both cameras can record up to 60fps in 1080p, or 120fps in 720p.
The R has a two bit advantage when it comes to outputting the video via HDMI cable. The R can output a 10-bit 4:2:2 video stream in Ultra HD where the 5D can only output an 8-bit 4:2:2 stream in 1080p. The R is the clear winner when it comes to outputting the video feed.
One more drawback for the 5D is Canon’s C-log profile. If you are looking at the 5D you will have to spend an extra $100 in order to get the C-log model. The R comes with C-log standard out of the box.
The R has an articulating screen so it could be a great choice for vloggers who need to record themselves.
EOS R VS 5D – Bells and whistles
Both the EOS R and 5DIV have built in WiFi capabilities that allow you to trigger the cameras from your phone. This is handy if you want to lift your camera high and still be able to see what’s going on. It’s also handy for candids, and of course…… selfies. (We’ll call them self portraits)
Both cameras have GPS capabilities, but the 5D has a much better system. The 5D has a built in GPS that can easily be turned on from the camera menu, whereas the R needs to connect to your phone’s GPS which means you will have to drain your phone battery in order to use GPS. The 5D is definitely the winner here.
Bulb / Intervalometer
If you shoot lots of bulb exposures, you’ll be happy to know that the 5D and R have a built in bulb timer. Unfortunately, Canon chose to leave out the built in intervalometer on the the R. If you don’t shoot time lapses then this isn’t a big deal, but it’s a feature that I miss quite a bit in the R.
5D IV Pros and Cons
• Better button layout makes it easy to change settings
• Built-in intervalometer and bulb timer
• Wifi function allows shooting from your phone and image transfer
• Six different AF tracking modes
• Built like a tank
• Dual card slots
• Built in GPS
• More Expensive
• No articulating LCD screen
• 61 AF points
• Can only output HDMI video at 1080p
• Slightly larger
EOS R PROS AND CONS
• Articulating Screen
• Can output 10 bit Ultra-HD video feed
• Built in Bulb timer
• Wifi function allows shooting from your phone and image transfer
• 5,655 AF points
• Focus Peaking in manual mode
• Utilizes new RF lens mount with sharper lenses.
• No ISO button
• Dedicated mode dial has been removed
• Drive mode, ISO, White balance, and AF mode need to be accessed through the m.fn button.
• Timer light is way too bright
• No built-in intervalometer
• Only one card slot
• Only 5fps in ai servo AF mode
• Requires the use of a cell phone for GPS data
EOS R VS 5D – Conclusion
The 5D IV and EOS R are both very capable cameras. When choosing one or the other you need to ask yourself what features are important to you. For me, I still enjoy using my 5D over the R, but I know photographers who feel the opposite as I do. At the end of the day, cameras are just tools to get the job done. The 5D’s more accessible features makes it the right tool for me.
Canon has just announced that it will be shipping the EOS R5 in July of this year with some pretty impressive specs. Contact me around then if you’re interested in buying an EOS R. 😉