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Canon 5D Mark IV versus Sony A7R

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and the Sony Alpha A7R are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2016 and October 2013. The 5D Mark IV is a DSLR, while the A7R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 30.1 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 36.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A7R

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Sony A7R. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 5D Mark IV – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A7R
Compare 5D Mark IV versus A7R top
Compare 5D Mark IV and A7R rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7R is considerably smaller (32 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark IV. Moreover, the A7R is substantially lighter (48 percent) than the 5D Mark IV. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (5D Mark IV) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7R). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7R, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

Concerning battery life, the 5D Mark IV gets 900 shots out of its LP-E6N battery, while the A7R can take 340 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 5D Mark IV» 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Sony A7R« 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon D800« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D800E« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 3,299- i
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7S« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 17.2 oz 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A7R was launched at a markedly lower price (by 34 percent) than the 5D Mark IV, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A7R

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 5D Mark IV and Sony A7R sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A7R offers a higher resolution of 36.2 megapixel, compared with 30.1 MP of the 5D Mark IV. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 5.36μm for the 5D Mark IV). Moreover, it should be noted that the 5D Mark IV is much more recent (by 2 years and 10 months) than the A7R, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A7R has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

5D Mark IV versus A7R MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7R has a markedly higher DXO score than the 5D Mark IV (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, 0.1 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 5D Mark IV» Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
Sony A7R« Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
Nikon D800« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
Nikon D800E« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.614.3297996
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Sony A7S« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the 5D Mark IV provides a higher video resolution than the A7R. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A7R

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7R has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the 5D Mark IV has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 5D Mark IV and Sony A7R in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 5D Mark IV»optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n
Sony A7R«2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D800« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D800E« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7S« »2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n

The 5D Mark IV is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A7R has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R was succeeded by the Sony A7R II.

Review summary: Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A7R

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 5D Mark IV or the Sony A7R – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 1230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (900 versus 340) on a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 10 months of technical progress since the A7R launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 30.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 151x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 425g or 48 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (34 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2013).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (10 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

5D Mark IV 10:10 A7R

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 5D Mark IV and the A7R in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 5D Mark IV»HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Sony A7R«HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon D800« »HiRec82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D800E« »-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2012 3,299- i
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7S« »-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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