Both the Canon EOS R5 and the Sony a1 are amazing cameras. I have used both next to each other. If you could use one of these for one month with a 50mm f/1.2 lens, which camera would you choose and why?
In my previous article, I asked what kind of zoom lens you would choose. One zoom lens to rule them all. I received a lot of answers, for which I’m thankful. I find it interesting to hear about your ideas and preferences.
Now, I have another interesting question. I have the Canon EOS R5 with the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM and the Sony a1 with the Sony FE 1.2/50mm GM sitting right next to each other. Both are amazing cameras with magnificent 50mm lenses. Although the cameras are very similar to each other, both are very different at the same time.
In this article, I want you to make a difficult choice. Try to set your brand preference aside and look at the things I have found out about these two amazing cameras. The results these cameras produce with the 50mm lens are amazing. The minimum depth of field generated with the f/1.2 apertures gives a lovely bokeh, and the resolution of both the Canon and Sony produces a ton of details.
A Closer Look at the Canon EOS R5 and the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM
The Canon EOS R5 has the distinct curvature of the EOS lineup. There is no straight angle or corner to be found. The grip fits nicely in my hand with the shutter release button in a very natural position.
On top of the camera, an LCD screen shows the main settings of the camera. You can switch the information with a small button that also acts as a switch between a light background or a dark background for easy viewing.
The main power switch is located on the right shoulder of the camera body. The PASM settings can be found under the mode button. At the back of the camera, there is a large 3.15-inch, fully articulating touch screen. It enables you to flip the screen and use it from any angle.
The camera has an M.Fn button that allows five different settings to be changed in a very easy and quick way. The Q menu gives access to 10 different settings. The camera does not have an extra set of programmable buttons.
The menu is the same as previous EOS models. It allows quick navigation through the functions, with a clear and logical distribution of functions across the tabs. A My Menu tab offers a maximum of 36 menus often used functions, divided across six pages.
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM has a very clean build, with a nice thick focus ring and the programmable control ring. It has two switches, a focus limiter and the AF/MF switch.
A Closer Look at the Sony a1 and the FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
The Sony a1 has the same angular shape as the alpha series. There are sharp corners, and only the grip is curved, with a pronounced area for the middle finger. The shutter release button is placed on top of the grip, surrounded by the main power switch.
The top plate of the camera has two main dials, one for the PASM settings, and one for setting the number of frames per second. There is a second ring that gives access to the autofocus modes, like AF-S, AF-C, and MF. There are two additional dials, one programmable and one for the EV compensation.
The Sony a1 has four custom buttons and the possibility to add four functions to the four directions of the rotating dial on the back. An Fn button gives access to twelve programmable functions on-screen.
The LCD screen can only be tilted up and down. But it has a fully functional touchscreen that also allows swiping the AF point while looking through the electronic viewfinder. The camera has a newly designed menu, which makes it a lot easier to navigate around. The My Menu offers four pages that can have six menu functions each.
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM is a nicely designed lens, offering an aperture ring. The dial allows a 1/3 aperture increment with a click. The aperture ring has a lot of resistance, but not too much. With the switch on the lens, the clicks can be turned off, allowing noise-free rotation of the aperture dial. An AF/MF switch is also present, just like two AF buttons for operating the autofocus.
The Main Differences Between the Two
Using each next to each other, I learned how similar these cameras are. Both have great eye-AF systems that are very swift and accurate. Changing exposure is very similar, and the response of both cameras is excellent.
I do feel the Sony menu system has a longer learning curve. This is mainly due to the many customization options, many of which you need to change only once in a lifetime. But also the abbreviations are not always as obvious. Setting up the camera can feel overwhelming.
Although the Canon offers less customization, it does not feel limited at all. The Canon menu is easier to use, even with the massive improvement Sony has made. I do feel Sony could improve the visibility of the information on the screen when changing settings. Depending on the contrast on the screen, the red-colored icons and white text can be difficult to read.
The tilting LCD screen, the layout of buttons, and the amount of customization are very different. The Sony is missing an LCD screen on top but has some dials that are missing on the Canon. What's best comes down to personal preferences.
Both cameras are very similar in size. There are differences, but these are very minimal. The difference in resolution is also negligible. But I do find the Eye-AF in the Sony a little bit better compared to the Canon. There is a slight tendency to lock on the eyelashes with the Sony, but it finds the eye more easily. Unfortunately, the Eye-AF needs to be set to the right subject with Sony. If it is set to birds or animals (aren’t birds also animals?), it won’t work on humans.
The speed of the Sony camera concerning frames per second depends on the lens you are using. The Canon offers 20 frames per second with full exposure and AF functionality, regardless of which lens you use. Sony offers 30 frames per second, but only with certain lenses. With the 50mm f/1.2, I can’t get it faster than 20 frames per second.
I haven’t looked at the video functions of the cameras. Both offer 8K recording and all the different 4K and FHD resolutions that are considered normal. Both cameras tend to get hot when filming, but the Sony also gets warmer when shooting photos continuously. It doesn't affect the use of photography.
Which Camera Would You Choose and Why?
When I look at all the similarities and differences, I think it all comes down to personal preferences. Sony users will obviously prefer the Sony, and Canon users, the Canon. Both are very capable machines, producing amazing results. These cameras also offer a lot of functionalities I haven’t covered in this article.
But if you would have a choice to shoot with this camera and the 50mm f/1.2 lens for say, a month, which one would you choose? Would you take the Sony a1 with the 50mm f/1.2 or the Canon EOS R5 with the 50mm f/1.2? Share your decision in the comment below, and tell me also why that particular camera.