Canon R6 v Panasonic S5; 10 key differences

Two value-for-money full-frame cameras go head-to-head, but which mirrorless marvel should you buy?

It seems like a lifetime ago when DSLRs dominated the photography market because in today’s world, brands are launching more and more mirrorless models, so that means that you have never been so spoilt for choice.

Two of the newest mirrorless options to hit the streets are Canon’s full-frame R6, which was launched back in July 2020 alongside the brand’s new flagship R5 model and Panasonic’s S5 – another full-frame model that came to market in August 2020 and offers a full-frame sensor in a compact and lightweight body.

So with two interesting cameras to select from, which one is better suited to your photography? Well, to help you out, we’re drilling down into the specifications to highlight the similarities but also the key differences between the cameras…

Two great cameras, but which one is right for you?

One – Resolution:

Let’s be clear, neither of these two cameras are megapixel monsters. In fact, both come in below 30-megapixels. The Canon R6 serves up 20-megapixels, offering a maximum file size of 5472 x 3648 pixels, while the slightly higher res Panasonic delivers 24-megapixels and a maximum file size of 6000 x 4000 pixels. In short, there’s very little difference between the two cameras for resolution and both will be capable of easily producing prints to A3 in size. Of course, it is worth remembering the S5 offers a High Resolution mode that merges multiple files together to produce a single image that has a max file size of 12000 x 8000 pixels.

Two – Burst speed:

Panasonic’s mirrorless cameras are well known for always delivering decent burst rates and the S5 doesn’t stray from this path, offering photographers 7 frames per second, which should be enough to capture action sequences for wildlife and sport photography. The Canon R6 however is an outright speed demon, offering 12 frames per second with the mechanical shutter or a whopping 20 frames per second using the electronic shutter. This is clearly fast enough for professional action photography and could be a more affordable (and mirrorless) option to Canon’s pro 1DX MkIII sports-focused camera.

Three – Focus system:

Speed is nothing without precision so a high performance autofocus is a must on today’s full-frame mirrorless cameras. While both the S5 and the R6 offer excellent AF features, there’s some big differences too. First up, the S5 offers 225-AF points, which is good but absolutely dwarfed by the R6, which offers 6072 manually adjustable AF points. The R6 also includes Canon’s acclaimed Dual Pixel AF technology, but both models offer Face/Eye Detection, which should make shooting portraits easier.

Four – Dimensions:

One of the biggest advantages mirrorless cameras have over DSLRs is their compact proportions and both the S5 and the R6 are lightweight cameras you’ll be able to carry around all day without running into problems. The Canon R6 tips the scales at 598 g (680 g with card and battery), while the Panasonic S5 is a tiny bit heavier (630g body only and 714g SD with an SD card and battery.) Despite being the slightly lighter camera, the R6 is a slight bit bigger, measuring 138.4 × 97.5 × 88.4 mm compared to the S5 (132.6 x 97.1 x 81.9 mm).

Five – Lens mount:

As you’d expect, the cameras in this comparison feature use different lens mounts. The R6 uses the RF mount and while Canon’s selection of optics doesn’t yet match the huge range of EF glass for the brand’s DSLRs, the good news of course is that Canon offers an adaptor that will enable photographers to use their EF glass on the R6, so you don’t have to rush out and buy new glass. The Panasonic S5 uses the L mount, which is also used by both Sigma and Leica, so there is plenty of choice when it comes to lenses.

Six – Viewfinder / monitor:

Unlike DSLRs that feature optical viewfinders, mirrorless cameras use Electronic Viewfinders (EVFs) and there is a major difference between the two models on test. While the S5 features a 2.36 million dot, the Canon R6 features an EVF with a much higher resolution (3.69 Million dots). Both cameras feature large, 3-inch touch-sensitive LCDs with a flip-out vari-angle design, which is useful, both for setting up awkward low/high compositions, but also when Vlogging, too.

Seven – Video:

Speaking of video, both the S5 and the R6 will find a perfect home in the bag of a videographer. Both the R6 and the S5 can shoot ultra high-quality 4K footage, but there is a difference in the frame rates, with the S5 topping out at 4K 30p and the R6 able to shoot 4K 60p, which means this footage can be played at half speed for a slow motion effect. Both cameras feature jacks for external microphone and headphones enabling enhanced audio to be both captured and monitored. 

Eight – Battery life:

While mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter than DSLRs, one advantage that DSLRs typically have is better battery lifes. Luckily, both the R6 and the Panasonic S5 do offer decent returns on a single charge, with the Canon R6 offering up to 510 (when used with the LCD) shots on a single charge, while the Panasonic S5 offers 440 (when used with the LCD). This should be enough for a day out with the camera, though if you are shooting intensively, or recording video, it could pay to keep a second battery pack in your equipment bag.

Nine – IBIS:

Both cameras on test benefit from In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) and feature 5-axis systems to keep shots steady. This is particularly useful if you are shooting in lower light or with longer focal lengths which can introduce camera shake into your frames. The Panasonic affords up to 6.5 stops of compensation, which is excellent, yet the R6 offers up to 8-stops which is truly astonishing.

Ten – Other features:

Both cameras offer a huge amount of additional features such as Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, weather sealing to keep moisture and dust out of the camera body and no Anti-Aliasing filter to help make images even sharper. Additional difference include the R6 featuring a high native ISO range of 100-102400 (expandable up to 204800), while the Panasonic S5 offers a native ISO of 100-51200 that is expandable up to 204800.