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Sony A7R versus Canon 6D

The Sony Alpha A7R and the Canon EOS 6D are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2013 and September 2012. The A7R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the 6D is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 36.2 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 20 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: Sony A7R vs Canon 6D

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7R and the Canon 6D. 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 A7R – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony A7R vs Canon 6D
Compare A7R versus 6D top
Compare A7R and 6D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 6D is notably larger (35 percent) than the Sony A7R. Moreover, the 6D is substantially heavier (66 percent) than the A7R. 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 Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7R) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (6D). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony A7R, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the A7R gets 340 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the 6D can take 1090 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 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)
Sony A7R» 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 465 g 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i
Canon 6D« 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 7D II« » 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« » 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D X« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i
Nikon D750« » 141 mm 113 mm 78 mm 750 g 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D810« » 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 980 g 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D610« » 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon Df« » 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i
Sony A7R II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7 II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7S« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 489 g 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i
Sony A7« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony RX1R« » 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i
Sony RX1« » 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- 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 6D was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the A7R at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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: Sony A7R vs Canon 6D

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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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.

Sony A7R and Canon 6D sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Sony A7R offers a higher resolution of 36.2 megapixel, compared with 20 MP of the Canon 6D. 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 6.57μm for the 6D). However, it should be noted that the A7R is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the 6D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage. 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.

A7R versus 6D MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 review, the A7R provides substantially higher image quality than the 6D, with an overall score that is 13 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional 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
Sony A7R» Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695
Canon 6D« Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
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
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791
Sony RX1« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7R provides a higher frame rate than the 6D. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A7R vs Canon 6D

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 6D 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 Sony A7R and Canon 6D 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
Sony A7R»2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n
Canon 6D«optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
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
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Sony RX1« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n

Both the A7R and the 6D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 6D was replaced by the Canon 6D Mark II, while the A7R was followed by the Sony A7R II.

Review summary: Sony A7R vs Canon 6D

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7R and the Canon 6D? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (36.2 vs 20MP) with a 35% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1040k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 145x111mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 305g or 40 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year after the 6D).

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 6D:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1090 versus 340) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7R is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

A7R 14:06 6D

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A7R or the 6D. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available 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)
Sony A7R»HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i
Canon 6D«HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- 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
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i
Sony RX1« »-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i

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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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