Canon M5 vs Nikon D780
The Canon EOS M5 and the Nikon D780 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2016 and January 2020. The M5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D780 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (M5) and a full frame (D780) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.3 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 M5 and the Nikon D780? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon M5 and the Nikon D780. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures 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 Nikon D780 is considerably larger (62 percent) than the Canon M5. Moreover, the D780 is substantially heavier (97 percent) than the M5. It is noteworthy in this context that the D780 is splash and dust-proof, while the M5 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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.
Concerning battery life, the M5 gets 295 shots out of its LP-E17 battery, while the D780 can take 2260 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15b power pack. The power pack in the D780 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|2.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|4.||Canon 200D||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon G9 X Mark II||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||206 g||235||n||Jan 2017||529|
|6.||Canon M6||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|7.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|8.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|9.||Canon M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|10.||Fujifilm X-T20||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||383 g||350||n||Jan 2017||899|
|11.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|14.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|15.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|16.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|17.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The M5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 57 percent) than the D780, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon M5 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D780 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D780 is 158 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.3MP, the D780 offers a higher resolution than the M5 (24MP), but the D780 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.72μm for the M5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D780 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 3 months) than the M5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The Canon EOS M5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D780 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Canon G9 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.9||12.5||522||65|
|11.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D780 provides a better video resolution than the M5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the M5 has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the D780 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 M5 and Nikon D780 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|5.||Canon G9 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||8.2||Y||Y|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The M5 has one, while the D780 does not. While the built-in flash of the M5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The M5 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the D780 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D780 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M5 and the D780 write their files to SDXC cards. The D780 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M5 only has one slot. The D780 supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the M5 can use UHS-I cards.
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 M5 and Nikon D780 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon G9 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the D780 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The M5 lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D780 (unlike the M5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the M5 and the D780 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The D780 replaced the earlier Nikon D750, while the M5 does not have a direct predecessor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon M5 and the Nikon D780? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M5:
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (116x89mm vs 144x116mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 413g or 49 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2016).
Advantages of the Nikon D780:
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1620k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2260 versus 295) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 3 months of technical progress since the M5 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D780 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 9 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 M5 and the Nikon D780 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M5 or the D780 perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 M5||4/5||+||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|2.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|4.||Canon 200D||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon G9 X Mark II||4/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529|
|6.||Canon M6||..||..||80/100||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|7.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|8.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|9.||Canon M3||4/5||o||75/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|10.||Fujifilm X-T20||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||899|
|11.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D7500||4.5/5||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|14.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|15.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|16.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|17.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. 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 M5 vs Nikon D780
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 M5||Nikon D780|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2016||January 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 979||USD 2,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M5||Nikon D780|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24.3 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6048 x 4024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||2.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 7||EXPEED 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||77||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.4||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.4||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1262||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon M5||Nikon D780|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Magnification||.. x||0.70x|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1620k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M5||Nikon D780|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M5||Nikon D780|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon M5||Nikon D780|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||295 shots per charge||2260 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
116 x 89 x 61 mm
(4.6 x 3.5 x 2.4 in)
144 x 116 x 76 mm
(5.7 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||427 g (15.1 oz)||840 g (29.6 oz)|
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