Mirrorless Spec Comparison and Discussion: Canon EOS R, Nikon Z6, and Sony a7 III

Mirrorless Spec Comparison and Discussion: Canon EOS R, Nikon Z6, and Sony a7 III

Mirrorless, mirrorless, mirrorless... it's the most public camera debate for some time and if you're already sick of it, don't click this article. We're going to look at the specs of all three of the big brands' mirrorless cameras and see who comes out on top.Now that there are full spec sheets for all three mirrorless cameras, comprehensive comparisons between the specs of the Canon EOS R, Nikon Z6, and Sony a7 III are popping up so you can clearly and coherently see who's in the lead for your specific wants. Now, I'm not going to post a full list in its incredibly detailed entirety, but rather pick what are arguably the most important features so we can discuss them further.

Specs Overview

Sensor Resolution

Canon EOS R: 30.4 MP

Nikon Z6: 24.5 MP

Sony a7 III: 24.2 MP

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Sensor Type

Canon EOS R: CMOS

Nikon Z6: BSI CMOS

Sony a7 III: BSI CMOS

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Number of AF Points

Canon EOS R: 5655

Nikon Z6: 273

Sony a7 III: 693

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Video Maximum Resolution

Canon EOS R: 4K at 24/25/30 FPS

Nikon Z6: 4K at 24/25/30 FPS

Sony a7 III: 4K at 24/25/30 FPS

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1080p Maximum Frame Rate

Canon EOS R: 60 FPS

Nikon Z6: 120 FPS

Sony a7 III: 120 FPS

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Video Crop Factor

Canon EOS R: 1.74x

Nikon Z6: 1.0x

Sony a7 III: 1.0x

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Battery Life

Canon EOS R: 330 Shots

Nikon Z6: 330 Shots

Sony a7 III: 610-710 Shots

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Storage

Canon EOS R: 1 x SD (UHS-II)

Nikon Z6: 1 x XQD

Sony a7 III: 2 x SD (UHS-II)

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Price

Canon EOS R: $2,299

Nikon Z6: $1,997

Sony a7 III: $1,998

Now, there's admittedly a lot I'm missing out here, so for the most comprehensive list I could find, have a look at Canon Rumor's article. The above is highlighting some of the key talking points, avoiding areas where all three cameras tie (Bluetooth, weather sealing, focus peaking, and so on), or where there are myriad caveats (AF detection range for example). In my recent article, I wrote that I was severely underwhelmed by Canon and Nikon's entries in to the mirrorless market, and I stand by that. That's not to say each of their cameras don't come with perks.

For example, Canon's AF points compared to the other two is staggering, with Nikon embarrassingly far behind even second-place Sony. Nikon also offer some of the fastest continuous shooting speeds with up to 12 FPS, but again, these comparisons have so many caveats with file format and so on, it's difficult to succinctly compare them. So, let's get down to brass tacks. Here are the pros and cons when compared with each other. That is, if you were going to buy a mirrorless but didn't know which to choose of the three, this would be useful.

Pros and Cons

Canon EOS R

Pros

  • Best sensor resolution
  • Best image size
  • Best viewfinder resolution
  • Most AF points
  • Most movable articulating LCD

Cons

  • Most expensive
  • Single memory card slot
  • 1080p only goes to 60 FPS
  • No focus stacking
  • Lower estimated shutter durability (150k vs 200k for Nikon and Sony)
  • Slowest continuous shooting speed.
  • Narrowest native and boosted ISO sensitivity
  • No in-body stabilization
  • CMOS sensor as opposed to BSI CMOS

Nikon Z6

Pros

  • Cheapest (by $1)
  • Fastest continuous shooting
  • Best viewfinder magnification

Cons

  • Heaviest (albeit by 15g)
  • Worst maximum buffer capacity (by miles: 18 images at 14-bit-raw vs. EOS R's 47 images and a7 III's 89 images)

Sony a7 III

Pros

  • 2 memory card slots
  • Best maximum buffer capacity
  • Best flash sync speed (1/250)
  • Best battery life (around double that of the EOS R and the Z6)
  • Lightest weight
  • Smallest dimensions

Cons

  • Lowest viewfinder resolution
  • 4:2:0 8-bit HDMI Output (as opposed to 4:2:2 10-bit of EOS R and the Z6)
  • Lowest LCD Resolution

Comparison of the Pros and Cons

Now, there are a number of things that jump out at me straight away. Firstly, Nikon's Z6 doesn't have many pros or cons. This is an interesting point of discussion. There are many areas in which the Z6 and the a7 III are like for like, where the Canon falls behind, so I didn't list them as pros for either camera, but rather cons for the EOS R. The Nikon Z6 spec does a lot right, with some bizarre slips, for example the maximum buffer capacity. Its real selling points are largely the same as Sony's a7 III which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Secondly, we have just how many cons Canon have. I've come under fire for criticizing Canon before, but as somebody who has shot with Canon for over a decade, I'm comfortable calling them out. There are several stand-out cons for me. The first is the 60FPS limit on 1080p video which is not some innocuous deficit in an outdated video resolution; it puts a complete block on the buttery smooth slow-mo that videographers love so much. If you're looking at mirrorless for video, I'd be surprised if this isn't the nail in the coffin for the EOS R. As if that isn't enough, the EOS R has a video crop factor of 1.74x — no thank you. Secondly, we have the single memory card slot.

This is the most contentious point for both the Nikon Z6 and the Canon EOS R and it's a fair criticism. Most pros will not shoot with single card slot camera bodies anymore for a multitude of reasons, and therefore necessarily have to rule out Canon and Nikon. Both will undoubtedly release models with dual slots in the future (with Nikon all but confirming that), but we're not talking about the future, we're talking about the now.

Conclusion

For me, the Sony a7 III is the hands-down winner, with Nikon is second place, and Canon in third. Canon have excelled in certain areas and deserve praise as such, but they've fallen behind — or rather started behind given they're the last of the three to release a mirrorless — in too many crucial areas. Nikon have done well and kept up with Sony's a7 III with important features like in-body stabilization, sensor type, video settings, focus stacking, and so on. It just drops the ball with the single card slot and maximum buffer capacity.

So, what are your thoughts? Am I being unfair to Canon? Am I being too complimentary of Sony? Fire away in the comments.

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48 Comments

Previous comments
Richard Kralicek's picture

Ok, I just don't get it. Of course, specs here, specs there, pros and cons. Anybody who has shot for years with Canon will be able to use this camera for good (low dynamic range? oh well, how many times to you really need more and can't find a suitable workaround? no real 4k? who needs to see the spots on the brides face?). Move to Sony. Move to Fuji. Move to NikonPentaxPanasonic... Stay with Canon. Each way you move you'll spend a whole lot of money and keep Camera business alive. All that gear just helps you achieve your goal, whatever that is. If your goal is spending money, well, keep switching systems.

There's no free lunch.

Nick Collura's picture

I find it laughable that it seems like the entire internet wants a tiny mirrorless camera. I absolutely hate the handling and little ergonomic annoyances that my a7r3 has. For me, i'd gladly give up some specs to have a camera feel and operate like i think the R will feel with that large grip, usability improvements like the control wheel and thumb bar, and comfortable grip. If thats an indication of where Canon is going in designing their mirrorless bodies, I'm very excited.

michaeljin's picture

I'll be excited when both Canon and Nikon are competing in terms of specs along with their traditional ergonomics and weathersealing.

JAS Square's picture

Not only _single card slot_, which is something I did not get in the first place as my oooold Nikon D7000 has 2 SD Card Slots, which is something that I truely appreaciate since I have had corrupt cards on a trip to New Zealand which is truely the oposide side of the my world.
But not only _single card slot_, no they also picked XQD. While almost all other camera maker picked SD Nikon goes XQD. Is that their way of thinking how the are different?
Just my 2 Cent.
J.

Nate Reese's picture

Well I consider qxd as a good thing. Nothing good about SD card .. and you have pretty much double the speed with qxd .. you don't need to wait for buffer to unload

Daniel Jones's picture

My favorite thing about Spec comparisons is that they ignore all of the real reasons why someone would want to buy a camera.

henry gc's picture

Specs mean nothing these days. Theoretically APS-C should be inferior to FF, but I've seen how something as simple and cheap as an XT20 with the 56mm f1.2 blows my 5D3 with the 85L (AF speed, accuracy, high ISO, banding and noise, weight, price)

The A7III is indeed the best FF mirrorless, but in terms of video it can't compete with FUJI, whose footage looks like coming from an ARRI ALEXA rather than (sony) digibeta. The brand new XT3 is now the best for professional video, regardless of sensor size (ARRsI are APS-C by the way)

Joel Cleare's picture

The best of anything is subjective. What ever you shoot with will have the same results, make the same amount of money, have the same amount of likes, and preserve your past.

Nate Reese's picture

So I just happened to be on set with one of Canon ambassadors when they to my surprise bring him EOS R. Only checked photo mode, my brief impressions: body feels nice. Changing focus point when 'touchpadding' on screen feels sluggish and imprecise. Autofocus with new lenses feels instant going from infinity to 1 meter. Viewfinder is terrible. When moving side to side you can see how it is not refreshing fast enough causing vertical lines. Resolution is not high enough, contrast and colors are far from realistic. Picture just like 5d mkIV.. so good with not best but good compared to other Canons dynamic range. It is not small enough to be really compact but it makes it more comfy to hold. And lenses are so big and heavy that size of body doesn't matter anyway. Given video capabilities I would wait for next gen

Rashad Hurani's picture

Despite your comparisons here, and all the hate and praise, I am thinking of ordering Z6 or EOS-R. Most likely will wait for the Panasonic FF because their cameras are the most decent

Jozef Povazan's picture

So there is just a buffer as negative point on Z6..? Hm you know XQD cards will smash SD cards in speeds and with the file size Z6 shoots you might never actually feel that buffer to fill..? Just apples to apples :) It looks to me Nikon+Canon HQ sit down BTS at round table and decided to stop leak of their users to other S+F+P brands in MILC... They did not killed their DSLR market here yet gave very good option to their followers to stay within brand... Time will show how they managed that. I personally try Z6 without a doubt :) Happy shooting everyone

michaeljin's picture

The AF point thing is pretty misleading...

Bert Nase's picture

What a onesided comparisson! Did you know, that Nikon also has a Z7 which is to be released before the Z6? What about ergnomics? Wheatersealing, about that? If you take the CIPA values for battery life, there are already videos show the real battery llife of the Zs (I can't talk for the Canon because I haven't seen any so far..). I just had to read the first lines of your "comparisson" and I knew I was sure about the result. And btw. even as Sony has two memory card slots, only one can be used by fast cards. The other one has to stick compatible with their Memory Stick. I bet the performance will slow down if you use the 2nd slot?

barry cash's picture

WOW on specs alone you know which camera is best without using them I think HANDS DOWN you should offer your review services to camera manufacturers I bet you could make millions due to your physic ability.

Joel Cleare's picture

Comparison articles are entertaining. All three cameras are equal in regards to the final outcome. The Canon is for enthusiasts. I sure any enthusiast can use any of these cameras and get the same result.

alexdesalta's picture

With all due respect for Mr. Robert I consider that this kind of cold comparisons between specifications of different cameras only contribute to the general confusion.

The important thing about a camera is not its number of focus points, but how it focuses, its burst speed, but how many photos of those can be used, how it feels in the hand, focus in low light or backlight?

Personally I think that Nikon and Canon went wrong and late, but surely in the following versions will improve.

Only time will tell what will happen.