With the announcement of the EOS R, many may be wondering if diving into Canon's new mirrorless system is the right step forward in regards to their next camera upgrade or if the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is the better choice. Therefore, we're going to take a closer look at these two cameras to see which might be the better choice for your needs.
Canon EOS R & Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Shared Primary Features
Primary Advantages of the Canon EOS R
Primary Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Other Differences Between the Canon EOS R and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Who should opt for the Canon EOS R?
The EOS R is the first Canon camera to feature an RF [mirrorless] mount. And upon the camera's release, the selection of RF lenses will be relatively small (four, to be exact). While that may seem limiting, the truth is that the EOS R with its RF mount will be even more versatile than the 5D Mark IV with the tried-and-true EF mount if adapted lenses are taken into consideration. With the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, Control Ring Mount Adapter and Drop-In Filter Mount Adapter, the EOS R is compatible with EF/TS-E/MP-E and – in a first for Canon full-frame cameras – EF-S lenses as well. So while the selection of RF lenses may be limited for the time being, the unique capabilities afforded by Canon's mount adapters will make the EOS R very attractive for a lot of photographers.
Which photographers, precisely? Landscape photographers, portrait photographers and videographers will especially appreciate the benefits of the Drop-In Mount Adapter. How often do landscape photographers want to use CPOLs (circular polarizers) or ND (neutral density) filters with wide angle or ultra-wide angle lenses that are incompatible with front filters? Up until now, using filters with such lenses required the use of cumbersome 3rd-party front filter adapters. With the EOS R, those photographing the great outdoors can enjoy the benefits of a lighter camera body as well as a universal CPOL/vari-ND filter solution for their existing lens collection when traveling to their favorite sunrise location. Landscape photographers often want to stack a circular polarizer with an ND filter on a wide angle lens featuring front filter threads, but the resulting mechanical vignetting (and the increased likelihood of stuck filters) makes using the combo impractical. The Drop-In Filter Mount Adapter with Variable ND filter –with 1.5 - 9 stops of density – can easily be paired with a front-mounted circular polarizer like the B+W XS-Pro CPOL. A B+W XS-Pro CPOL will allow landscape photographers to cut through glare to capture dark blue skies and saturated foliage yet is thin enough not to cause mechanical vignetting on most wide angle lenses. And with a rear-mounted variable ND, a photographer can simultaneously reap the benefits of a long shutter speed to capture the movement of flowing water, clouds, rustling trees, etc.
The EOS R will be the better option to capture recitals, dance and theater performances with its absolutely silent shooting mode.
Those shooting portraiture will certainly appreciate the EOS R's Eye Detection AF, especially when a wide aperture prime lens is being used either natively or with an adapter. Note that because the EOS R utilizes the sensor for focusing, calibration issues associated with traditional phase-detect AF systems can be avoided, better ensuring focus accuracy. Also, if a photographer's off-camera flashes are not capable of high-speed sync, the Drop-In Filter Mount Adapter with Variable ND can enable use of a shutter speed below the camera's x-sync speed (for the R, 1/200 sec.) while using flash and a wide aperture for great subject/background separation.
Videographers will likely make use of the Drop-In Filter Mount Adapter, especially when used with the variable ND to record video at optimal shutter speeds (typically, 2x the frame rate). With filters attached to the back of lenses, lens changes can occur more quickly (no need to unscrew/mount a separate ND filter) and the variable ND could easily replace numerous traditional ND filters in a filmmaker's kit. Both the EOS R and 5D Mark IV sample the center of the sensor for 4K recording which results in a crop factor of 1.75x. However, the EOS R is compatible with EF-S lenses (the 5D Mark IV is not), meaning wide-angle framing does not have to be sacrificed.
For those on a limited budget, an EOS R costs significantly less than an EOS 5D Mark IV, even if you add the cost of an EF-EOS R adapter.
Who should opt for the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV?
The EOS 5D Mark IV has at least one very significant benefit over the EOS R – dual memory card slots. While the EOS R and RF 50mm f/1.2L and RF 28-70mm f/2L USM would seem to be an extremely good kit for wedding coverage, the R's single memory card slot means that a card failure could prove absolutely disastrous. For that reason alone, the 5D Mark IV will be a better option for recording once-in-a-lifetime moments.
Sports photographers will certainly appreciate the 5D IV's faster continuous burst rate with autofocus tracking for capturing the peak of action, although the R does have a significant edge in the RAW buffer department allowing for longer shooting at its rated speed.
There are benefits and drawbacks to Electronic Viewfinders (EVFs) and Optical Viewfinders (OVFs); neither will be best for/preferred by everyone. If an optical viewfinder is preferred, the EOS 5D Mark IV is, of course, the obvious choice.
While the EOS R's battery life is proving to be better in real-world shooting than its official specification would indicate, those shooting long events or in situations where battery changes aren't practical (such as heavy rain) may prefer the 5D Mark IV's higher expected battery life. Some photographers will appreciate the 5D Mark IV's built-in NFC and GPS features while others won't blink an eye at the EOS R's lack of them. Those using super telephoto lenses may also prefer the 5D Mark IV's larger size and increased weight to better balance out the camera/lens combination.
The 5D Mark IV also benefits from the refinements and reliability found in a mature product line, resulting in a very user-friendly, familiar interface that can be depended upon to work in even challenging conditions. Being Canon's first professional-grade full-frame mirrorless camera, with never before seen features (like the Mult-Function Bar), may take some getting used to and will ultimately have to prove its worthiness of the "refined camera" label.
The Canon EOS R and EOS 5D Mark IV were designed to be jack-of-all-trades and can be used effectively to capture... just about anything. The EOS R's ability to use adapted lenses, and the unique capabilities provided by the adapters, makes Canon's full-frame mirrorless introduction a camera you can effectively use now and well into the future, taking full advantage of all the new RF lenses headed down the pipeline. However, its lack of dual memory card slots (along with a few other differences) mean that the EOS 5D Mark IV will remain the better option for a sizeable number of photography professionals.