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Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5. Which is the Best Camera?


This is an age-old question. Which one is better? The Sony a1 or the Canon EOS R5? One camera has been out for a while. Canon has often said that the Sony a1 is meant to take on its 1-series cameras, which aren’t out yet. Sony, with the a1, made the entire industry’s jaws drop. But the Canon EOS R5 is still also a staple for many photographers. So which one is better? We’re tackling the debate of the Sony a1 vs the Canon EOS R5 based on our own real-world reviews and experiences.

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This Post Is Based Off of Our Real-World Experience

This post is being written and based off our real-life experiences. We’ve used these cameras with both first and third party products, and generally over a long period of time. We’ve seen how they’ve grown and this is our report. Below, we’re listing a bunch of posts that we’ve done for reference. But if you head to our YouTube channel, you’ll find even more.

Considering that we’re a photography website, we’re going to focus on the photography based usage we’ve done. So, let’s dive into the battle of Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5.

Using the Sony a1

Using the Canon EOS R5

Tech Specs

Canon EOS R5

These specs are taken from the LensRentals listing for the Canon EOS R5.

Aspect Ratio

1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9

Audio File Formats

AAC, Linear PCM

Audio Recording

Built-In Microphone (Stereo) External Microphone Input

Autofocus Points

Phase Detection: 1053

Autofocus Sensitivity

-6 to +20 EV

Battery

1x LP-E6NH Rechargeable Lithium-Ion

Bit Depth

14-Bit

Brand

Canon

Built-in Flash

No

Camera Type

Mirrorless

Connectivity

USB Type-C (USB 3.1), HDMI D (Micro), 3.5mm Headphone, 3.5mm Microphone

Continuous Shooting

Mechanical Shutter
Up to 12 fps at 45 MP for up to 180 Frames (RAW) / 350 Frames (JPEG)

Electronic Shutter
Up to 20 fps at 45 MP for up to 83 Frames (Raw) / 170 Frames (JPEG)

Dedicated Flash System

eTTL

Depth

3.5″

Diopter Adjustment

-4 to +2

Exposure Compensation

-3 to +3 EV (1/3, 1/2 EV Steps)

Exposure Modes

Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority

External Flash Connection

Hot Shoe

External Video-Recording Modes

4:2:2 10-Bit
DCI 4K (4096 × 2160) up to 59.94p UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) up to 59.94p

Flash Compensation

-3 to +3 EV (1/3, 1/2 EV Steps)

Focus Modes

Continuous-Servo AF, Manual Focus, Single-Servo AF

Focus Type

Auto and Manual Focus

Height

3.8″

ISO Range

Auto, 100 to 51200 (Extended: 100 to 102400)

Image File Formats

JPEGRAW

Image Stabilization

Sensor-Shift, 5-Axis

Interval Recording

Yes

Item Type

Camera

LCD Resolution

2,100,000 Dot

LCD Size

3.2″

Maximum Resolution

8192 × 5464

Maximum Sync Speed

1/250 Second

Memory Card Slot

Slot 1: CFexpress Type B
Slot 2: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)

Metering Modes

Center-Weighted Average, Evaluative, Partial, Spot

Metering Range

-3 to 20 EV

Mfr. Model Number

4147C002

Monitor Type

Free-Angle Tilting Touchscreen LCD

Mount

Canon RF

Operating Temperature

32 to 104°F / 0 to 40°C

Pixels

Actual: 47.1 Megapixel
Effective: 45.0 Megapixel

Recording Limit

Up to 29 Minutes, 59 Seconds

Self Timer

2/10-Second Delay

Sensor Dimensions

36 × 24mm

Sensor Size

Full Frame

Sensor Type

CMOS

Shutter Speed

Mechanical Shutter
1/8000 to 30 Seconds

Electronic Front Curtain Shutter
1/8000 to 30 Seconds

Electronic Shutter
1/8000 to 0.5 Seconds

Video Encoding

NTSC/PAL

Video Recording Modes

Raw 12-Bit
DCI 8K (8192 × 4320) at 23.976p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [2600 Mb/s]
H.265 4:2:2 10-Bit
DCI 8K (8192 × 4320) at 23.976p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [680 to 1300 Mb/s]UHD 8K (7680 × 4320) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p [680 to 1300 Mb/s]DCI 4K (4096 × 2160) at 23.976p/24.00p/25p/29.97p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [170 to 1880 Mb/s]UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [170 to 1880 Mb/s]Full HD (1920 × 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [28 to 230 Mb/s]
H.264 4:2:0 8-Bit
DCI 8K (8192 × 4320) at 23.976p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [470 to 1300 Mb/s]UHD 8K (7680 × 4320) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p [470 to 1300 Mb/s]DCI 4K (4096 × 2160) at 23.976p/24.00p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [120 to 1880 Mb/s]UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [120 to 1880 Mb/s]Full HD (1920 × 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [12 to 180 Mb/s]

Viewfinder Coverage

100%

Viewfinder Eye Point

23mm

Viewfinder Magnification

Approx. 0.76x

Viewfinder Resolution

5,760,000 Dot

Viewfinder Size

0.5″

Viewfinder Type

Electronic (OLED)

Weight

1.62 lbs.

White Balance

Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Custom, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (White), Shade, Tungsten

Width

5.4″

Wireless

Wi-Fi
Bluetooth

Sony a1

These specs are taken from the LensRentals listing for the Sony a1.

Aspect Ratio

1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9

Audio File Formats

AAC LC, Linear PCM (Stereo)

Audio Recording

Built-In Microphone (Stereo)
External Microphone Input (Stereo)

Autofocus Points

Phase Detection: 759
Contrast Detection: 425

Autofocus Sensitivity

-4 to +20 EV

Battery

1x NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 7.2 VDC, 2280 mAh (Approx. 430 Shots)

Bit Depth

14-Bit

Brand

Sony

Built-in Flash

No

Camera Type

Mirrorless

Connectivity

HDMI A (Full Size), USB Type-C (USB 3.2 Gen 1), USB Micro-B (USB 2.0), 3.5mm Microphone, 3.5mm Headphone, RJ45

Continuous Shooting

Electronic Shutter
Up to 30 fps at 50.1 MP for up to 155 Frames (RAW) / 165 Frames (JPEG)
Up to 20 fps at 50.1 MP for up to 238 Frames (RAW) / 400 Frames (JPEG)
Up to 15 fps at 50.1 MP
Up to 5 fps at 50.1 MP

Mechanical Shutter
Up to 10 fps at 50.1 MP (RAW) / (JPEG)
Up to 8 fps at 50.1 MP
Up to 6 fps at 50.1 MP
Up to 3 fps at 50.1 MP

Dedicated Flash System

TTL

Depth

2.7″

Diopter Adjustment

-4 to +3

Exposure Compensation

-5 to +5 EV (1/3 EV Steps)

Exposure Modes

Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority

External Flash Connection

Hot Shoe

External Video-Recording Modes

RAW 16-Bit
4.3K (4332 × 2448) up to 59.94p

4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p
Full HD (1920 × 1080) at 23.976p/50p/59.94p
Full HD (1920 × 1080) at 50i/59.94i

4:2:0 8-Bit
UHD 8K (7680 × 4320) at 29.97p
UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p
Full HD (1920 × 1080) at 23.976p/50p/59.94p
Full HD (1920 × 1080) at 50i/59.94i

Flash Compensation

-3 to +3 EV (1/3, 1/2 EV Steps)

Flash Modes

Auto, Fill Flash, Hi-Speed Sync, Off, Rear Sync, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow Sync

Focus Modes

Continuous-Servo AF, Direct Manual Focus, Manual Focus, Single-Servo AF

Focus Type

Auto and Manual Focus

GPS

No

Height

3.8″

ISO Range

Auto, 100 to 32000 (Extended: 50 to 102400)

Image File Formats

JPEGRAWHEIF

Image Stabilization

Sensor-Shift, 5-Axis

Interval Recording

Yes

Item Type

Camera

Live Streaming

Yes

Maximum Sync Speed

1/400 Second

Memory Card Slot

Dual Slot: CFexpress Type A / SD

Metering Modes

Center-Weighted Average, Highlight Weighted, Multiple, Spot

Metering Range

-3 to 20 EV

Mfr. Model Number

ILCE-1/B

Monitor Resolution

1,440,000 Dot

Monitor Size

3.0″

Monitoring Type

Tilting Touchscreen LCD

Mount

Sony E

Operating Temperature

32 to 104°F / 0 to 40°C

Recording Limit

Unlimited

Self Timer

2/5/10-Second Delay

Sensor Dimensions

35.9 × 24mm

Sensor Resolution

Actual: 50.5 Megapixel
Effective: 50.1 Megapixel (8640 × 5760)

Sensor Size

Full Frame

Sensor Type

CMOS

Shutter Speed

Mechanical Shutter
1/8000 to 30 Second
Bulb Mode

Electronic Shutter
1/32000 to 30 Second
Bulb Mode
1/8000 to 1/4 Second in Movie Mode

Video Encoding

NTSC/PAL

Video Recording Modes

H.265/XAVC HS 4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [50 to 280 Mb/s]
H.265/XAVC HS 4:2:0 10-Bit
UHD 8K (7680 × 4320) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p [200 to 400 Mb/s]UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [30 to 200 Mb/s]
H.264/XAVC S-I 4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [240 to 600 Mb/s]Full HD (1920 × 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [89 to 222 Mb/s] H.264/XAVC S 4:2:2 10-Bit UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [100 to 280 Mb/s] Full HD (1920 × 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p/200p/239.76p [50 Mb/s] H.264/XAVC S 4:2:0 8-Bit UHD 4K (3840 × 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [60 to 200 Mb/s] Full HD (1920 × 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p/200p/239.76p [16 to 100 Mb/s]

Viewfinder Coverage

100%

Viewfinder Eye Point

25mm

Viewfinder Magnification

Approx. 0.9x

Viewfinder Resolution

9,437,184 Dot

Viewfinder Size

0.64″

Viewfinder Type

Electronic (OLED)

Webcam Functionality

Yes

Weight

1.6 lbs.

White Balance

Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Color Temperature Filter, Custom, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (Cool White), Fluorescent (Day White), Fluorescent (Daylight), Fluorescent (Warm White), Incandescent, Shade, Underwater

Width

5.1″

Wireless

Wi-Fi
Bluetooth

Ergonomics

Ergonomically speaking, both the Canon EOS R5 and the Sony a1 represent what you’d get from the pinnacle of cameras without vertical grips attached. Both feel very good and that’s surprising coming from me. For years, Sony cameras have felt more and more like computers. But something about the Sony a1 reminds me of an old Minolta SLR. In some ways it still feels like a computer, but in many ways it represents a camera that Sony is taking more seriously than anything else they’ve made. At the same time, it will feel very familiar to anyone who has used the Sony system for a long time.

The Canon EOS R5, on the other hand, feels instinctively like a real-camera from a company that has been making cameras for decades. There are a few things about it that bother me, like a few ways that the menu interface works (I’ll get to that in the ease of use section). But ergonomically speaking, my only complaint is that the Canon EOS R5 is big. But so too is the Sony a1. They’re both larger than the Canon EOS R5 and the Sony a7r IV, respectively. For my hands and for general transport, those cameras are an ideal size. 

The Sony a1 has a few immediate advantages over the Canon EOS R5. For example, how could Canon forget to include a dedicated dial or button for drive modes? You can set it to one of the many custom function buttons, but it seems a bit like an oversight.

Realistically speaking, both cameras are very capable. But the Sony a1 can let the photographer do a lot more without removing their eye from the viewfinder. Personally, both are quite good. With native lenses, I tend to prefer the Canon EOS R5. But if you put Tamron lenses on the Sony a1, I really start to fall for the Sony system.

Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5 Winner: Sony A1

Build Quality

For years, we’ve had qualms with Sony’s build quality. But with the Sony a1, they started to seriously address them. The joke amongst various staffers was that we’d spend more time annoyed that our sensors got dirty than time shooting with a Sony camera. On the other hand, we’ve never had a dirty Canon R series camera sensor. The Canon EOS R5 is no exception.

With the Sony a1, the company took the weather seals around the mount more seriously. Plus, it now brings the shutter down over the camera sensor to protect it from getting dirty when changing the lens. We’ve taken both the Sony a1 and the Canon EOS R5 out into tough weather conditions. They both perform admirably. 

So then we thought about build quality with lenses attached. Sony has its best build quality with Tamron lenses attached. Indeed, our sensors have rarely ever gotten dirty when we use Tamron lenses on Sony sensors. And with the Sony a1, that’s especially the case. Sony, however, has a bunch of other small prime lenses with some degree of weather sealing.

Canon only gives you weather sealing if you go for an L-series lens. In the case of their standard zoom lenses, the weather sealing is great and the lenses are lightweight. But when you start to use their more innovative lenses, things get really heavy. 

We’re still giving this one to Canon as with all of their weather sealed lenses, we’ve never seen any sort of sensor dust.

Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5 Winner: Canon EOS R5

Ease of Use

Ease of use is quite the mixed bag here. The Sony a1 gives you a ton of buttons and dials to get to everything you want. However, their new touchscreen menu is anxiety inducing at times. It’s pretty much useless to try to navigate. On the other hand, Canon doesn’t give you as many buttons and dials (though you’re still getting a fair amount). Canon’s menu system, however, is the absolute best we’ve ever used. Think I’m being subjective? Think about the old iPod. Steve Jobs dictated that a user should be able to get to anything they want in two clicks. And you can do that with two taps on a Canon screen.

Otherwise, both camera systems have buttons, dials, lens dials, etc. This is an easy win for Canon.

Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5 Winner: Canon EOS R5

Autofocus

The issues around autofocus are big. Sony’s autofocus is very good, but so too is Canon’s. They’re both at the top of the game more or less. The Sony a1 has an incredible autofocus system for humans, birds, and animals. However, if you’re out and about in the forest, you’ll run into an odd problem. If you want to photograph squirrels one minute and then birds the next, the AI will need to be switched. This can cause you to miss the shot.

Aternatively, the Canon EOS R5 has birds and animals grouped together. It makes things much easier. 

Both camera systems do a great job consistently nailing the shot when it comes to portraiture. But where Canon really takes the edge is with diversity. In late 2020, Canon added vehicle detection to the Canon EOS R5. In reality, the Canon EOS R5 has the much more capable autofocus system. What’s more, if you want to manually focus a lens, the focus peaking system is incredibly accurate.

That’s not to say that Sony’s autofocus can’t follow fast moving sports objects. It surely can. But the detection is far different.

Both cameras can shoot at their full resolution while also shooting at their highest megapixel capacity. The answer then is whether you need 90 50MP photos over three seconds or 60 45MP photos over three seconds. Truthfully, any experienced photographer will tell you that both are overkill.

Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5 Winner: Canon EOS R5

Third Party Support

Well, this isn’t even really a battle. Third party support for the Canon RF system comes through flashes, strobes, tripod support from folks like 3 Legged Thing, and that’s it. In terms of lenses, there are no officially licensed third-parties. Companies like Rokinon, Samyang, and others find ways to reverse engineer the autofocus. But by and large, the Canon RF system still isn’t all that open.

Sony, on the other hand, plays pretty well with everyone. There are flashes, strobes, lenses, tripod support from folks like Gitzo, etc.

Capture One works well with both brands; Canon has wireless tethering support while Sony has their own version of Capture One. 

Still overall, you’ll find better universal support for Sony.

Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5 Winner: Sony a1

Image Quality

The question of image quality is a tough one. The Canon EOS R5 has a 45MP full-frame sensor. The Sony a1 has a 50MP full-frame sensor. They both do well at high ISOs. They both have very good dynamic range. We have print tests at 17×22 inches and ISO 6400 that both show great results. To check my own biases, I went back into my archives to look at images. Crazy enough, I feel the Canon EOS R5 renders more detail but is noisier. The Sony a1 is cleaner, despite having more megapixels. Insane, right?

Either way, they’re both very good.

Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5 Winner: Tie

Conclusions

Overall, both cameras are really very good. Sony has made some massive improvements to their ergonomics. They’ve even won me over in some ways with the Sony a1. When it comes to build quality, Canon is winning in many ways for durability. Canon also wins for ease of use with the menu system, but loses to Sony when it comes to direct access through dials and buttons. On the autofocus front, both cameras are stellar performers, but Canon’s more sophisticated autofocus also makes things easier still. Sony’s move to work with everyone on 3rd party support has also helped catapult them to the near top. And both cameras produce great images.

But at the same time, the Canon EOS R5 does a lot of what Sony does for cheaper. In some ways, it bests Sony. In war for pure spec sheets, Sony takes the cake. But in terms of practicality and real-world use, we have to give this to Canon.

Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5 Winner: Canon EOS R5

You can buy the Sony a1 or the Canon EOS R5 through their respective Amazon links.






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