Canon 5DS R vs Sony A850
The Canon EOS 5DS R and the Sony Alpha A850 are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2015 and August 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 50.3 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5DS R and the Sony Alpha A850? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 5DS R and the Sony A850 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A850 is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Canon 5DS R. However, the A850 is slightly lighter (4 percent) than the 5DS R. 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||amazon.com|
|2.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499||amazon.com|
|6.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||amazon.com|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299||amazon.com|
|11.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A850 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 46 percent) than the 5DS R, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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.
With 50.3MP, the 5DS R offers a higher resolution than the A850 (24.4MP), but the 5DS R has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.14μm versus 5.94μm for the A850). However, the 5DS R is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 5 months) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the 5DS R has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 5DS R implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 5DS R for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 43.4 x 29 inches or 110.3 x 73.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 34.8 x 23.2 inches or 88.3 x 58.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 29 x 19.3 inches or 73.6 x 49 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A850 are 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm for good quality, 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm for very good quality, and 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 5DS R has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the 5DS R has a notably higher overall DXO score than the A850 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|2.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|6.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|9.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|10.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|11.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|12.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|13.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|14.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|16.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 5DS R indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the 5DS R can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5DS R and the A850 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the 5DS R offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the A850 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the A850 has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.71x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 5DS R and Sony A850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5/s||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Canon 5DS||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9/s||n||n|
|9.||Canon 5D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D850||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A900||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that differentiates the A850 and the 5DS R is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A850 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the 5DS R offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The Canon 5DS R has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 5DS R writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5DS R and Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A850||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon 5DS||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 5D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D850||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Nikon D810||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony A900||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The 5DS R is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the A850 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on ebay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the A850 from Sony. Further information on the features and operation of the 5DS R and A850 can be found, respectively, in the Canon 5DS R Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony A850 Manual.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon 5DS R better than the Sony A850 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 5DS R:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (50.3 vs 24.4MP) with a 44% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- 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 (1040k vs 922k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 5 months of technical progress since the A850 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A850:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.71x).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 700) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (46 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 5DS R is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 5DS R and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 5DS R and the A850 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699||amazon.com|
|2.||Sony A850||3/5||..||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||4/5||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||4.5/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||4/5||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499||amazon.com|
|6.||Canon 5DS||..||+||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699||amazon.com|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||5/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299||amazon.com|
|11.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony A99 II||..||..||4.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A900||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 5DS R vs Sony A850
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 5DS R||Sony A850|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2015||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 3,699||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5DS R||Sony A850|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||50.3 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8688 x 5792 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.14 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.82 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6 (Dual)||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||86||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.6||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.4||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2308||1415|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5DS R||Sony A850|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5DS R||Sony A850|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||CF or MS cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 5DS R||Sony A850|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 5DS R||Sony A850|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||700 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
152 x 116 x 76 mm
(6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||930 g (32.8 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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