Is There Going to Be a Mass Migration Back to Canon From Sony?

Is There Going to Be a Mass Migration Back to Canon From Sony?

The Canon R5 announcement has pricked up the ears of most of the industry for one reason or another. Already, however, we're seeing photographers claiming they might switch manufacturers for it. Is Canon domination on the horizon again?

I'm in a peculiar position for this discussion. The knee-jerk reaction of many commenters on here and social media to posts about Canon or Sony is to yell "favoritism!" I started photography comfortably over a decade ago with a Canon; it was not a researched decision. A guy I worked with found a good deal on a used 350D, and I bought it. However, I became loyal and entrenched in a "Canon is the best" mentality. The more I learned, however, the less I cared about the manufacturer. Then came a time where my Canon bodies just felt dated, and the newest and best Canon DSLRs were out of my price range. So, what did I do? Like so very many, I moved to Sony and their a7 III.

I couldn't have been happier, and I'm still using Sony mirrorless bodies and lenses (albeit with some Canon glass I couldn't bring myself to part with). When I made this switch back when the a7 III was released, many colleagues asked why I hadn't written an article on the switch. I'm not certain, in all honesty. There was a lot of talk back then of Canon falling behind, and I didn't feel I needed to add to it. Now, finally, Canon appears to have gone all in on their hand, and that hand is a strong one.

The Canon EOS R5

We don't know everything about the R5, but what we do know is alluring. Canon pitches this new flagship full frame mirrorless in the following way:

New standards in high-resolution stills and phenomenal 8K video quality to match. The EOS R5 advances image quality to a whole new level for stills and movies with a blistering 20 fps electronic shutter or 12 fps mechanically. The EOS R5 is accomplished, refined and built for magnificence.

The specs as per their press release is:

  • 8K RAW internal video recording up to 29.97 fps
  • 8K internal video recording up to 29.97 fps in 4:2:2 10-bit Canon Log (H.265)/4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265).
  • 4K internal video recording up to 119.88 fps in 4:2:2 10-bit Canon Log (H.265)/4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265). 4K external recording is also available up to 59.94 fps.
  • No crop 8K and 4K video capture using the full-width of the sensor. (When in 8K RAW, 8K/4K DCI modes.)
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF available in all 8K and 4K recording modes.
  • Canon Log available in 8K and 4K internal recording modes.
  • A Canon first, the EOS R5 will feature 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilization, which works in conjunction with Optical IS equipped with many of the RF and EF lenses.
  • Dual-card slots: 1x CFexpress and 1x SD UHS-II.

Well, even without all the information, that is a heavy hitter. Comparing this R5 to any of the newest Sony mirrorless cameras (let alone my now lowly a7 III) is something of a whitewash. 8K internal video recording at 29.97 fps with no crop is a huge moment for consumer cameras, particularly ones that aren't dedicated video bodies. I mean, even Canon's C300 III can't shoot 8K, and that's a dedicated "digital cinema camera." Compare it to Sony's a7R IV or a9 II (as the latter is their flagship), and it comes out victorious in pretty much every category. One other noteworthy area to highlight is the in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which we weren't sure was ever going to be in the cards for Canon after some previous statements.

As Andy Day pointed out, there still are some blanks to be filled in. One of which is the sensor resolution, which is currently being guessed, albeit an educated guess:

Canon News took this to mean that the R5 will shoot 8K DCI. It explains: 'This means to fit the DCI full width on the sensor, the sensor width must be 8,192 pixels wide, and because full-frame sensors are a 3:2 screen size, that means the height is 5,461 pixels.' And critically: 'This translates to a sensor resolution of 44.7MP.'

So, now comes the question: will there be a mass migration back to Canon from Sony?

Do We Go Back, Tail Between Our Legs?

Many photographers, videographers, and YouTubers are already talking about going back to Canon, and it's easy to see why. The R5 is a staggeringly powerful camera, delivering in pretty much every area you could ask. The spec is far above what we've seen in prosumer bodies and now, despite Canon taking their sweet time about really swinging for Sony in the mirrorless market, we're left wondering how Sony can react. Their a7S III is still hanging in the balance with specs not confirmed, and frankly, no one can see them revealing a body that can match the R5 pound for pound, let alone better it.

For what I'm working on in the coming years and with video taking more of a front seat than ever before, I must admit I'm tempted. As Diongzon mentions above, few need 8K resolution, but it does offer creative freedom. So, what's the rub of this ridiculously impressive piece of kit? It's difficult to say before we get our hands on. Several people have worried about overheating, but personally, I think it's unlikely Canon will release this with a fundamental problem like overheating. For me, I think it's going to be price.

The Elephant in the Room: Price

For me, mass migration from Sony back to Canon will hinge on price. We have no word on how much this will be yet, but I suspect it's not going to be low. Sony is known for their aggressive pricing, and even their flagship a9 II is $4,498. Canon rarely scrap around in the mud of competitive pricing, and so my gut reaction was that the R5 will be north of $5,000, which might I add, isn't an unreasonable price for what you're getting. If, however, they launch it nearer $4,000, I think many will make the switch, myself included.

What do you think of the R5? Did you move from Canon to Sony, only to now be debating a return fare? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Deleted Account's picture

I'm sure some will move back. I'm sure some won't.

Deleted Account's picture

And, to be honest, that's all one can say about this pointless and speculative article.

Thomas H's picture

That's very zen. Some might, some might not, some might sip tea and contemplate.

People , in order to "a mass" to move there needs to be a mass. And Sony does not have any mass, not yet. Full frame expensive bodies constitute merely a fraction of the value of the camera and lens market.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

This camera exist a bit more than Sony A7S III. But still - doesn’t. So, what should we discuss here? ;)

Wes Perry's picture

Agreed. I’m getting a little tired of the amount of coverage this camera that has neither a price nor a release date is getting.

Ryan Ringstad's picture

Nope. It's a good thing Canon is pushing boundaries but I expect Sony will respond with a body that has similar specs within a year or two. The RF glass is appealing but not worth the cost to change IMO.

Dave Haynie's picture

Thing is, Sony's already overdue with upgrades to the A7S and A7. Are they really prepared to meet the R5 head on, and risk losing cinema camera sales? They have yet to support pro-grade video, even over HDMI. The latest reason they gave was a corporate crunch to get the PS5 launched -- competing in-company demand for RAM and flash -- and that may well be true. Maybe now it's COVID. But eventually you gotta put up or shut up. And assuming those projects are as close to being revealed as rumored, they're not going to be able to switch gears in hardware at this point. Though it's likely the choice to support 10-bit in-camera, that sort of thing, is a matter of software in any Sony upgrade -- a late-date choice. On the other hand, 8K isn't -- you need the sensor, the processor, the HDMI output, the memory card interfaces boosted up from the 4K era.

Nicholas Tinsley's picture

Canon definitely raised the bar with the R5, but I can't imagine Sony simply giving up. It may take a year or three, but I'm confident that Sony will have a proper answer to the R5. And for most of us, we don't go switching systems back and forth to have the newest and shiniest body every single year.

That being said, I think that the R5 means that people who were on the fence about sticking with Canon in the face of their seemingly antiquated technology can now be comforted that Canon is here to stay. Now that Sony is, on paper, the "worst" video performer for hybrid mirrorless cameras, the pressure for them to step up their game is nearly unbearable. Competition works!

Nicolas KIEFFER's picture

I've seen so many loud youtubers and forumers who were bragging how much better that manufacturer was with its latest release and jumped their whole system.

I've seen guys going from Canon to Nikon, then to SONY then one more jump to Fuji.

So, are you sure people do not jump from a manufacturer to another one just for the sake of hype ? Frankly, for the last 5 years, it was more a silly game seeing guys changing system for a minor feature but hey, they then owned the thing to own to be a PRO...

Stefan Brink's picture

There are probably a few people who will always jump the ships and those are probably also the loudest people to tell you about that.
For myself i can only say that i was waiting 5 years+ for Canon to make an interesting camera and in the end just gave up the hope that they would eventually release a camera that ticks all the boxes for me. That was the point when i switched to Sony. Now Canon is probably releasing a very nice camera, but opposed to before with Canon i have no doubt that Sony can and is willing to do something similiar. So No, i have no reason to abandon Sony now.

Usman Dawood's picture

I've just been visiting Sony but never left Canon. This is the camera I was waiting for although, if they produce something like an R6 without the 8k stuff, I'd probably get that instead.

Jeremy Strange's picture

An R5 with scaled down video performance is exactly what I'm after. I'm not a video guy, they could even entirely disable it and I wouldn't mind.

Dave Haynie's picture

It is interesting. Sony won many hearts and minds away from Canon (and others) by delivering newer, better technology. Canon was struggling with old sensor tech and their vaunted "cripple hammer," basically the appearance that Canon only ever saw other Canon models as competition, so no DSLR was going to shoot video on par with Cinema EOS, no lower end model was getting more than 6 AF points, or whatever. Sony hit hard, and they kept hitting.

But recently, they kind of stopped. Sony never really went above consumer grade video any A-series camera to date. Sure, they do full-frame 4K, but only UltraHD-4K at 100Mb/s, while even Olympus, who can't even spell "video" shoot at twice that rate, and Panasonic and Nikon are not just doing 10-bit but raw. Canon's been the one hold-out at bettering Sony lately, and with the R5 annoucement, I am wondering if Canon managed to sneak that cripple hammer into an anonmyous donation of a crate of toilet paper sent to Sony HQ.

In retrospect -- and being an engineer, not a marketroid -- I like to think that at least come of that frustration with Canon that had me find the exit door for good in 2018 was not the evil plans of slovenly marketing execs, but plain old tech issues. What were Canon's issues? No uncropped 4K. Occasionally not even bothering to offer DPAF in 4K. No IBIS. Less excellent DR compared to everyone else using Sony chips, or even that Cinema EOS... not sure about the deal with that one. But all of those can go back to the same thing: a lack of sensor performance and CPU/ISP performance. Both of those mean less processing power, like no full-frame 4K, no 4K DPAF, etc. Older/slower sensor can me lower DR, no full-frame 4K, no 4K DPAF, etc. And older tech means more heat, so no IBIS, because a moving sensor is harder to cool than one fixed to a block of magnesium.

The only way the R5 as it's currently described can exist is that Canon has moved past those roadblocks and into modern sensor tech and much better CPU/ISP chips. Both a needed. Maybe there's also a change of mindset and they actually believe that other companies exist and might be competitive.

Prior to this, Canon has done one thing right in the R system: really sweet glass. That was always Canon's superpower, and I originally thought they were nuts cranking out hero lens after hero lens for a brand new system. But then I figured, the EOS R is only for Canon users. You get the R, you get the adapter, and you have a mirrorless addition to your EF system. So what's going to get you to buy a lens and become an actual EOS R system user? Lenses you can't get from anyone else! Yeah, they're expensive -- out of my league. But all of the modern designs are going that way... all these guys know that a 100 megapixel FF sensor is coming soon enough, and they need optics to match.

Tony Northrup's picture

Oh people definitely need to wait until after the camera is shipping so they can see unbiased reviews that separate out the marketing BS. The specs are cool and there's nothing else going on in the industry right now so we don't have much else to talk about, but literally nobody has ever touched this camera. There's SO MUCH that can go wrong with it.

user 65983's picture

There will always be ONE stupid thing that it will be lacking.

Thomas H's picture

...and than the "unbiased" self proclaimed youtube testers will drum on that ONE thing and scandalize it: "how could they cripple the camera like that." Does it sound familiar, or... Notorious? Yes?

Matej Svirk's picture

Hah spot on, I remember researching before switching to mirrorless - "Single SD card slot, absolutely unacceptable, how could they ruin Z6 like that? That's it, gg;wp."

Fristen Lasten's picture

I would suspect price and heat will guide many choices.

David Penner's picture

I dont know if people will be able to touch the camera after its released either. At least not while shooting 8k. I cant see how they will cool this thing.

Deleted Account's picture

Why has there been so much talk that 4K isn't really needed and then we start drooling over 8K. Yes they both have their market but seriously it's overkill for the majority of amateur (or even many professional) videographers/bloggers.

I really like both Sony and Canon. As a current Sony user, if I did move back to Canon it wouldn't be for 8K.

chrisrdi's picture

Companies need a selling point I guess? How any people watch content in 4k and how often anyway?

Ed C's picture

I have no idea but I bet there will be a lot of blog articles about Why I switched back to Canon from Sony and Why I didn't switch back to Canon from Sony.

sam dasso's picture

Mass migration? You call 3 people who are going to forfeit tens of thousands invested in high end SONY gear in order to spend tens of thousand for Canon gear and 8K TV a mass?

user 65983's picture

A lot of Sony users still have all their Canon lenses.

sam dasso's picture

Adapted lenses don't work very well. You are not going to buy top of the line camera and adapt EF lenses to it. Prepare to spend thousands on RF lenses

Daris Fox's picture

Canon has given near native performance with their adaptor that was sold with the R series. We're not talking about Metabones performance but OEM who has full access to the firmware and protocols. So yes, EF is a viable option as you invest in RF glass down the line.

Peter Perry's picture

A lot of them never sold their Canon lenses, because they never needed to with the EF to FE mount adapters. This is why a bunch of them can move back without any fear of losing their shirts.

Scott Wardwell's picture

As a landscape stills artist having already invested in a D850 and a stable of Nikkor glass over the last 15 years and still not abandoning that kit for the Z's or even considered Sony, why would I consider an R5 and migrating over to Canon?

Jeremy Strange's picture

Sony users have a reputation for being fickle, hence the title of the article. Nikon users do not have that reputation so much.

Deleted Account's picture


Robert Abend's picture

I used Canon for a number of years and switched to Sony. I found Canon to have reliable hardware and great support. I switched to Sony for their promising advanced technology and repeatedly found reliability issues and support well below Canon. Video is not of great importance to me but I am planning to switch back to Canon because of the above factors assuming the upcoming details are not disappointing. I hope you are wrong about the $5000+ likelihood and am hoping for something in the $3500 range. I am also hoping they offer pixel shift and focus stacking on the R5.

Yin Ze's picture

I drank a couple of shots of the Sony koolaid and glad Canon is about to teach Sony some humility. It takes a drop of rain on the sony hotshoe to disable functonality. I have Sony, Canon, Nikon and Panasonic in my studio. I loved using the 1dx with 35f2. I also used d4s and d810. I miss Nikon image output via Capture One. I like Sony for the quiet shutter. I miss the feel of the canon 1dx and 5d3 which i have used before. I am tempted to maybe buy r5 and 35/1.4RF. I also love the ND adapter as I have to put on different ND filters on Sony lenses.

David Penner's picture

A couple years ago i fell through ice with my camera on and no hot shoe cover. The camera went under water and was covered in snow by the time i got out. I quickly pulled the battery and let the camera dry for a few hours and it worked fine after and still works to this day. That is an a7ii.. not exactly known for its waterproofing. As a general rule you should have that hot shoe covered when you arent using it anyways. Water is one issue.. dropping the camera and having a rock scratch that hot shoe is another.

Charles J's picture

When I read/watch something stating X-Camera-Brand is beating Y-Camera-Brand I always wonder... to what? Camera brands will develop and release body/lenses to meet market demands. However, I've not seen a large demand for a specific feature until it comes out in a new camera body. I have NEVER seen long think-pieces on the necessity of no-crop 8K video - how the unavailability if which is holding creatives back - until these Canon rumors surfaced. Now, suddenly everyone needs what they never knew they wanted.

It may take a year for Sony to come out with the same specs as the new Canon release. Patience is a virtue and the pragmatism of photographers is commonly overlooked in brand competition. I bet Sony users are fine waiting that long to save thousands of dollars. Same with those in other ecosystems. (Goes double for Leica users. They're rabid loyalists.)

Eivind Larsen's picture

Well, neither did anybody knew they needed an iPhone until it was created...

Felix Reyes's picture

What ever happened to that Instagram sensor'd EOS R that they were supposed to release? It seemed like such a genius idea.

Edit: /s -- just in case.

MC G's picture

Thats the one that comes with a cute hot asian girl who will get 10 billion likes just for showing up

Perry Kibler's picture

I'm a Sony user who has been lusting after the RF glass for a while now. The f2 std zoom is just amazing. I currently shoot on an A7RIV and it's come a long way from previous bodies, but if the R5 'feels' more like a DSLR (and less like a computer), I'd be very tempted to switch. However, Sony has been very good about listening to its users on camera upgrades, some of the firmware updates we've gotten are basically like getting a new body for free, and I do appreciate the Sony marketing (the Be Alpha video gets me a little choked up). So we'll see.

Yin Ze's picture

I really hope the Canon 5r lives up to the spec sheet as Sony needs to be taught humility. I have a feeling #bebeta will best describe sony after the R5 is released.

I purchased sony in late 2018 and disappointed in their trajectory especially with the delay on the a7siii. I am very intrigued by Canon's new mount and their exciting new lenses which seem to have way better image quality across the image than some of my very expensive E-mount lenses such as the $1600 decent(ered) 35/1.4 Zeiss. I don't mind paying a lot of money for a top-notch lens but sadly many of the Sony lenses are disappointing at the price level vs performance.

The Sony A9 and A7riv are a step up from Nikon DSLR in some ways but there many basic usability issues that Sony has been very slow to address.

Adrian Tan's picture

Depends on how much I can push the sensor in post.
Went from Canon for 2 months to Nikon and stayed with Nikon for 5 years because of ergonomics and their sensor, then the a7iii now 3 years.
I never liked Sony but their sensors and AF is so good, everything else about it is crap but you just learn to live with it.

00rob00 Rob00Rob's picture

"Many photographers, videographers, and YouTubers are already talking about going back to Canon, and it's easy to see why."........ and that's where the problem exisits in the photography world

melvern liang's picture

fuji ? we got XT4 lol

David Forrester's picture

Why is it that anytime a new piece of gear comes out, people drool over specs they will not need or even know how to use them, IF they use them at all?.

A great photographer can make ANY camera turn out magnificent pictures. Ansel Adams used an 8x10 box view camera and he was world class. 1940. Yousef Karsh has the most astonishing photographs of great people - what - 1940's and he used a box / view camera. And only 1 shot.

This madness of getting the greatest, latest, bestest, Canon is better etc. s not going to deliver Adams or Karsh quality.

It is the photogapher that makes great pictures, not hardware. If you want 8k, buy a RED or Alexis or Sony CineAlta. If you want great stills, you can use any glass on a Sony. Getting Canon glass on the R5 will cost a bundle, but you still have to know when to push the button. Hell, go buy a view camera and LEARN HOW to take the Ansel pictures.

It is time to stop drooling over gear and getting drunk on this drug called "I have better specs that you do " madness. Start drooling over HOW. The gear will not make your pictures great if you have Canon, Sony, Pentax, Nikon, Exacta or a Baldwin piano.

Luca Santirocco's picture

When there was a migration to Sony???????????

Arun Hegden's picture

I was a canon 5d mark iii user for 4 years and shifted to sony A7M3 2 years ago. Few things that I considered while shifting:
1. Dynamic Range for landscapes
2. Af performance and accuracy especially in low light situations and backlit situations.
3. Low light performance, especially Astro or night scapes.
4. Ease of use and ergonomics ( Canon is a winner here, I still have to switch the playback of card 1-2 on sony to view the images, which is very basic and can be changed).
Waiting for these results real reviews, though I wouldn't be shifting back as Sony works like a charm for me.

Jenny Rich's picture

Of course some people would switch to Canon but it doesn't mean Sony will lose all their users. It's all the matter of choice, like I prefer Lightroom and Photoworks over Photoshop but it doesn't mean I don't use Photoshop at all, sometimes you just have to combine things. It is not going to be black and white kind of situation, I bet there will be some golden middle with people trying first and deciding what to use later.

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