Canon R5 vs Sony A9 II
The Canon EOS R5 and the Sony Alpha A9 II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2020 and October 2019. Both the R5 and the A9 II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 44.8 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 R5 and the Sony Alpha A9 II? 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 R5 and the Sony A9 II is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear 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 A9 II is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Canon R5. Moreover, the A9 II is markedly lighter (8 percent) than the R5. 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.
Concerning battery life, the R5 gets 320 shots out of its LP-E6NH battery, while the A9 II can take 690 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon R5||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||738 g||320||Y||Jul 2020||3,899||amazon.com|
|2.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon R6||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||680 g||360||Y||Jul 2020||2,499||amazon.com|
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||420||Y||Oct 2020||2,999||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399||ebay.com|
|6.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699||amazon.com|
|7.||Sony A1||129 mm||97 mm||81 mm||737 g||530||Y||Jan 2021||6,499||amazon.com|
|8.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499||amazon.com|
|9.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799||amazon.com|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499||amazon.com|
|11.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|12.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 R5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the A9 II, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A9 II is 2 percent smaller. 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 44.8MP, the R5 offers a higher resolution than the A9 II (24MP), but the R5 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.39μm versus 5.94μm for the A9 II). However, the R5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the A9 II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon R5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the R5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41 x 27.3 inches or 104 x 69.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 32.8 x 21.9 inches or 83.2 x 55.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.3 x 18.2 inches or 69.4 x 46.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A9 II are 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS R5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A9 II are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
In terms of underlying technology, the R5 is build around a CMOS sensor, while the A9 II uses a Stacked BSI-CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon R5||Full Frame||44.8||8192||5464||8K/30p||25.3||14.6||3042||95|
|2.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|3.||Canon R6||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4k/60p||24.2||14.3||3394||90|
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/60p||26.3||14.7||2841||100|
|5.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|6.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|7.||Sony A1||Full Frame||49.8||8640||5760||8k/30p||25.9||14.5||3163||98|
|8.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|9.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|11.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|12.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|13.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the R5 provides a higher video resolution than the A9 II. It can shoot video footage at 8K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the R5 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A9 II (5760k vs 3686k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon R5 and Sony A9 II along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon R5||5760||Y||3.2 / 2100||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|2.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon R6||3690||n||3.0 / 1620||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||3690||Y||3.2 / 2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Nikon Z7||3690||Y||3.2 / 2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|6.||Panasonic S1R||5760||Y||3.2 / 2100||full-flex||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|7.||Sony A1||9437||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|8.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0 / 1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|9.||Sony A7C||2360||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A9||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the R5, but is missing on the A9 II is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The R5 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 A9 II does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Canon R5 and the Sony A9 II both have 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 R5 writes its imaging data to CFexpress (type B) or SDXC cards, while the A9 II uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. Moreover, both the R5 and the A9 II support UHS-II cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s, on both slots.
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 R5 and Sony Alpha A9 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon R5||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|2.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon R6||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Nikon Z7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Panasonic S1R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|7.||Sony A1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|8.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|9.||Sony A7C||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A9||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the R5 and the A9 II are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The A9 II replaced the earlier Sony A9, while the R5 does not have a direct predecessor. Further information on the features and operation of the R5 and A9 II can be found, respectively, in the Canon R5 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony A9 II Manual.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon R5 and the Sony A9 II? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS R5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (44.8 vs 24MP) with a 37% higher linear resolution.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (8K/30p vs 4K/30p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (5760k vs 3686k dots).
- Easier setting verification: Features 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 (2100k vs 1440k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 3.1).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 9 months after the A9 II).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A9 II:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.76x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 12 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (690 versus 320) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2019).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the R5 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 5 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 R5 and the Sony A9 II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 R5 and the A9 II in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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 R5||4.5/5||+||4/5||91/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2020||3,899||amazon.com|
|2.||Sony A9 II||..||..||5/5||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon R6||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||2,499||amazon.com|
|4.||Nikon Z7 II||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||2,999||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||4.8/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399||ebay.com|
|6.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||4.6/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699||amazon.com|
|7.||Sony A1||5/5||o||4.5/5||93/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2021||6,499||amazon.com|
|8.||Sony A7S III||4.5/5||+ +||5/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499||amazon.com|
|9.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799||amazon.com|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||4.5/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499||amazon.com|
|11.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||4.5/5||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|12.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||4.8/5||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A99 II||..||..||4.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon R5 vs Sony A9 II
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 R5||Sony A9 II|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon RF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2020||October 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 3,899||USD 4,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon R5||Sony A9 II|
|Sensor Technology||CMOS||Stacked BSI-CMOS|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||44.8 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8192 x 5464 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.39 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.18 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||8K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC X||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||93|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.3||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.6||14.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3042||3434|
|Screen Specs||Canon R5||Sony A9 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5760k dots||3686k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon R5||Sony A9 II|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||12 shutter flaps/s||20 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||300 000 actuations||500 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CFexB or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||Dual UHS-II||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon R5||Sony A9 II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon R5||Sony A9 II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||320 shots per charge||690 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
138 x 98 x 88 mm
(5.4 x 3.9 x 3.5 in)
129 x 96 x 76 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||738 g (26.0 oz)||678 g (23.9 oz)|
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