Canon has enjoyed being top of the tree in the DSLR market for years and years, but most people agree that they were very late to the mirrorless party. This all changed however when Canon launched the brand’s first-ever full-frame mirrorless camera – the EOS R – in August 2018. For the first time, Canon shooters had a genuine mirrorless alternative to the brand’s excellent DSLR cameras, including the current version of Canon’s always-popular 5D line – the MkIV.
Design and build: Given that one is a DSLR and the other is a mirrorless, the design of these cameras includes some huge differences. The 5D MkIV is of course based around a more traditional single reflex design and houses a 30-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor. The 5D MkIV also features Canon’s tried and tested EF lens mount, which has been used in all the brand’s full-frame digital cameras. The design of the EOS R however is all-new; along with a 30-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, the R instead features the new RF lens mount – designed specifically for the mirrorless body. At launch, four RF lenses were available – the RF 28-70mm F2L USM, RF 50mm F1.2L USM, RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM and the RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM. However, more are planned for 2019 and Canon also unveiled three separate lens adaptors at the EOS R launch that will enable the mirrorless camera to make use of normal EF Canon lenses. In fact, one of the adaptors even includes a slot to add ND filters or a polariser filter.
Both cameras offer a 30-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor.
The differences between the cameras are visible on the exterior too; the EOS R features a 3.2-inch touch-sensitive vari-angle LCD, while the 5D MkIV can only offer a 3.2 touch-sensitive fixed screen. The vari-angle LCD design is a popular evolution that makes it easier to compose at awkward angles and also set up shots when capturing video. As the EOS R is a mirrorless camera, it features an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) while the 5D MkIV feature a traditional optical viewfinder and there are some other differences to the exterior too, with the EOS R boasting an innovative touch bar on the rear of the camera that can be customised to enable you to changes settings such as ISO very quickly.
One major difference that has really split opinion is the storage card options; while the 5D MkIV has two card slots (one SD/one CF), the EOS R only has the single SD card slot, meaning you can’t make instant back-ups of photos or extend the capacity the camera can hold before you need to change memory cards – an important factor when capturing video creations.
|Canon 5DMkIV||Canon EOS R|
|Price||$ 2,139.00||$ 1,859.00|
|Memory card slots||2 (one SD/one CF)||1 (SD)|
|LCD||3.2-inch fixed||3.2-inch vari-angle|
As you’d expect, the mirrorless EOS R comes in a fair bit lighter than the 5D MkIV, tipping the scales at just 660g, compared to the 890g DSLR. However, the 5D MkIV strikes back when it comes to battery life, offering 900 shots per charge, compared to just 370 from the EOS R. Both cameras are weather-sealed, making them suitable for professional use and capable of operation in bad weather conditions.
When it comes to speed and autofocus, the specifications get really interesting. Both cameras are evenly matched for speed, with the EOS R offering 8 frames per second and the 5D MkIV just behind at 7 frames per second, but when we look at autofocus, things change. While the 5D MkIV offers a 61-point AF system – which is impressive compared to its other DSLR rivals – the EOS R blows this out of the water with an epic 5655-point system. Both cameras benefit from Canon’s Dual Pixel AF technology, which delivers fast and accurate autofocus.
The EOS R features a 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD.
Image quality: Both Canon cameras offer a 30-megapixel full-frame sensor, which enables the cameras to produce a maximum image size of 6720×4480 pixels. This is more than enough to create prints in excess of A3 or to crop heavily without overly compromising image quality though both cameras however do lack behind their Nikon rivals in terms of resolution (the D850 and Z7 both offer 45.7-megapixels).
While the 5D MkIV uses the older DIGIC 6+ image processor engine, the EOR R sports Canon’s brand new DIGIC 8 and this allows the EOS R to have a slightly higher native ISO of 100-40000 compared to the native ISO of 100-32000 of the 5D MkIV. Interestingly however, is the fact that both cameras have the same expanded ISO range (ISO 50-102400). This should allow photographers to use the cameras in low light conditions.
Video: Video features are a key component to both these cameras as many Canon shooters will look to these full-frame cameras to provide both stills and video rather than making then leap to Canon’s video-only cinema camera range. Both cameras can shoot ultra high quality 4K video up to 30p, but users should be aware of the heavy 1.7x crop, which may leave you needing a very wide-angle lens to capture a wide vista. The cameras also film Full HD at up to 60p without that crop and both models feature external headphone and mic ports enabling enhanced audio to be both captured and monitored.
However, the EOS R has a big advantage over the 5DMkIV in that it comes with Canon’s C-Log profile included – 5DMkIV users can add this to the camera but have to pay extra for it. The lag of a second memory card slot will annoy EOS R shooters, as it robs the user of the ability to make an instant back-up – an important feature when shooting video. One final compromise on the video side of things is that, while both cameras offer a fast 120p frame rate to help create slow motion footage, this is only available at 720p.
The 5DMkIV features the EF mount, while the EOS R uses the new RF mount.
Additional features and verdict: Despite being completely different systems (DSLR v Mirrorless), the 5D MkIV and EOS R do have a great deal of features that are either the same or at least very similar. However, there are a number of features that separate the two cameras, too. For example, the EOS R has greater connectivity options, offering Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi, while the 5D MkIV only has the Wi-Fi option. On the other hand, only the the 5DMkIV features GPS, which can add a geo-tag to your images, enabling you to track and map the location where the picture was taken.
Both cameras have massive advantages over each other, so it will likely come down to personal preference as to which one you would go for. The newer EOS R has that vari-angle screen (perfect for vlogging), the advanced 5655-point autofocus system, the slightly higher native ISO range and the C-Log incase you like shooting videos. Alternatively, other photographers may prefer the dual memory card slots on the 5DMkIV, along with the longer battery-life and the ability to use Canon’s huge range of EF lenses without an adaptor. Both are great cameras; the 5DMkIV is a tried and tested professional workhorse and the EOS R is a solid first-step in Canon’s full-frame mirrorless evolution.