Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Gannon Burgett/Digital Trends

Canon has been the most effective promoting interchangeable lens digicam model for greater than a decade — however the digicam heavyweight is now preventing in an enviornment with much more rivals. Two years in the past, on the energy of its Alpha collection mirrorless line, Sony grew to become the second best-selling full-frame digicam model; in 2019, it took Nikon’s spot as quantity two for all digicam gross sales, full-frame or in any other case. As Sony continues to construct steam, does Canon nonetheless maintain an edge? Which firm makes the higher digicam?
The query is a bit like trying to settle the Apple vs. Android debate — the reply depends upon precisely who’s asking. If you’re a photographer who calls for an optical viewfinder, a DSLR is the best way to go — and that’s Canon’s bread and butter. But in case you’re in search of the most recent video options or finest efficiency in a mirrorless digicam, that’s the place Sony shines.
Canon, after all, entered the mirrorless class final 12 months with the EOS R, however regardless of being the older firm, it’s nonetheless catching as much as Sony relating to mirrorless. But in case you personal an armful of Canon lenses, that would skew the dimensions again in Canon’s favor.
In the tip, it’s the little particulars — and what and the way you shoot — that may finish the tug-of-war between these two manufacturers. Here’s what to think about within the Canon vs. Sony debate earlier than shopping for a brand new digicam, and even leaping ship and swapping manufacturers. You may additionally need to learn our articles on Sony vs. Nikon and Canon vs. Nikon.
History and firm profile

Canon initially launched in 1933 (as Kwanon). The firm initially centered on optics, however shortly turning into recognized for creating cameras, as effectively. Throughout the corporate’s historical past, Canon has been first in plenty of completely different technological feats, from including video to nonetheless cameras to synchronizing the flash. The EOS identify that’s present in each Canon’s present DSLR and mirrorless cameras goes all the best way again to 1987, when Canon developed an electrical connection between the digicam and lens, permitting the 2 to share knowledge.
Today, Canon develops each client {and professional} cameras from point-and-shoots to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The firm additionally has a line of each client and cinema-grade video cameras in addition to printers and know-how within the workplace, healthcare, and industrial sectors.
Sony launched 13 years after Canon — however the firm’s cameras got here a lot later, within the 1980s. Unlike Canon (and Nikon, for that matter), Sony didn’t begin with movie. It’s first digicam was the analog, however digital, Mavica. The firm then waited a number of years earlier than launching the CyberShot collection — nonetheless a designation for Sony compact cameras — in 1996. A shorter digicam historical past might not essentially be a nasty factor, nonetheless. The firm has been shortly catching up, in all probability partly to the truth that it didn’t have present merchandise to fret about cannibalizing, which freed it to innovate within the mirrorless enviornment. Sony has been first to market with a handful of various options over the previous few years and new launches are sometimes spectacular.
Sony’s electronics arguably cross extra classes than different digicam firms, with the Sony identify stamped on all the pieces from online game techniques to TVs, headphones, smartphones, and robots. And sure, Sony has a line-up of camcorders {and professional} cinema cameras, too.
Current digicam collection

If you need numerous completely different DSLRs to select from, Canon is the model to have a look at. Canon at present has 21 completely different DSLR kits listed on its web site (a handful are repeats as a part of completely different lens mixture kits). Canon’s DSLRs begin with the extra reasonably priced Rebel collection, geared in direction of inexperienced persons, with the likes of the EOS Rebel T7i and Rebel SL3. Above the Rebels, you’ll discover cameras just like the EOS 77D and EOS 80D, which nonetheless use the identical APS-C sensors however supply extra management and customization than the Rebel collection. Single-digit fashions, just like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and 5D Mark IV, are among the many firm’s most superior full-frame cameras.
Canon’s mirrorless digicam line is split into two collection, the EOS M collection for inexperienced persons and fanatics, and the full-frame EOS R. It’s most up-to-date mirrorless digicam is the EOS RP, and entry-level mannequin that’s the most cost-effective new full-frame digicam ever made.
For photographers that need a fair smaller digicam, Canon’s PowerShot line of point-and-shoots gives a wide range of chocies. The G collection, just like the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, use bigger sensors for higher picture high quality, whereas cheaper fashions just like the SX and ELPH fashions are extra consumer-oriented.
Sony doesn’t have DSLRs — it has SLTs, that are comparable however use a translucent mirror and digital viewfinder. Sony doesn’t spend as a lot time creating SLTs anymore, however they nonetheless embrace some aggressive options like quick efficiency. Currently, Sony lists three fashions: the A99 II, A77 II, and the A68.
Sony’s mirrorless line has each extra oomph and extra breadth. The A7 and A9 collection use full-frame sensors, with the A7 being the essential mannequin, the A7R the high-resolution possibility, and the A7S the low-light performer. The A9 is an action-focused digicam with skilled sports activities photographers in thoughts. Sony’s APS-C mirrorless cameras supply comparable efficiency on a finances, just like the A6400. Unlike Canon’s EOS M and R cameras, Sony’s crop-sensor and full-frame fashions are constructed across the identical Sony E mount, so you should use the identical lenses.
Sony is maybe simply as well-known for the RX100 and RX10 collection of compact cameras, which home a one-inch sensor that’s bigger than what’s in most compacts. The RX100 collection is extra compact, whereas the RX10 is a bridge-style digicam with way more zoom. Sony additionally makes lower-end point-and-shoots, however the RX cameras are those you must think about.
Image high quality

While there are variations in how completely different cameras course of pictures, the individuals viewing your pictures received’t be capable of inform in case you shot a Sony or a Canon (nor ought to they care). An excellent picture is an effective picture.
That doesn’t imply there aren’t variations between the picture high quality total from the 2 manufacturers. The distinction photographers are quickest to debate is shade science. Straight from the digicam, one model can have barely completely different colours from one other. While shade is subjective, many say that Canon has the extra real looking colours out of the 2, with higher rendering for pores and skin tones. But when taking pictures in RAW — an uncompressed file format that captures the utmost high quality potential — the producer’s shade science doesn’t imply something, as you possibly can freely make your individual changes. Still, for in-camera JPEGs, you could discover one model offers you higher outcomes — however that is extremely subjective.
There are goal variations that detailed picture high quality evaluation can reveal — for instance, DxOMark assessments reveal that Sony sensors seize extra dynamic vary than Canon sensors — however the numbers don’t at all times inform the complete story, and the precise actual world distinction might not even be noticeable. You’ve undoubtedly seen unbelievable pictures taken with each Sony and Canon cameras; as at all times, the photographer issues greater than the gear.

What digicam model gives higher autofocus? We’ll go forward and annoy you (once more) with this reply — it relies upon.
Canon makes use of a know-how referred to as Dual Pixel Autofocus, or DPAF, on its mirrorless cameras and its DSLRs when utilized in dwell view mode. This is a kind of phase-detection autofocus, and it’s very quick and correct. One benefit of Canon’s system is the sheer variety of focus factors which are potential, with the EOS R having over 5,000.
Sony additionally makes use of phase-detection in its mirrorless cameras, and whereas its cameras might not have as many focus factors, Sony has had many extra years to refine its mirrorless focusing techniques. Its newest cameras stand out with wonderful eye detection and topic recognition, locking on shortly and precisely and even monitoring topics by means of area. It’s essentially the most dependable autofocus we’ve seen on a mirrorless digicam.
Speed-wise, Sony has a much bigger edge. Not solely does it dominate the prime quality with the 20-frames-per-second A9, however its decrease and midrange cameras additionally boast spectacular steady taking pictures specs. Even the entry-level full-frame A7 III hits 10 fps. While the sports-oriented Canon EOS 1D X Mark II can shoot at 14 fps, Canon’s mirrorless cameras are a lot slower. The EOS R tops out at simply 5 fps burst with steady autofocus.

Button placement, menu interfaces, and ergonomics are extra necessary to discovering the proper digicam than you could understand. In basic, we are likely to choose the texture of Canon’s cameras, though that is largely subjective. Sony’s menu techniques are sometimes extra sophisticated, however a part of that is to do with the extra choices in them, particularly for video settings.
When it comes all the way down to which model gives the higher design, all of it comes all the way down to the best way it feels in your palms.

Because Sony has a shorter historical past of interchangeable lens cameras, the model has fewer lenses to select from — nevertheless it nonetheless has fairly a number of. Sony now gives all the most important lenses most photographers are in search of — it’s simply the specialty lenses, like tilt-shifts, which may be lacking.
Canon might not but have many native lenses for its mirrorless techniques, however its DSLR lenses are simply tailored to each M and R cameras with out sacrificing efficiency or high quality. That opens a decades-long historical past of optics for these new techniques.
But that’s not the entire story. Canon DSLR lenses will also be tailored to Sony mirrorless cameras, and whereas some efficiency sacrifices is likely to be made as a result of reliance on third-party adapters, it’s nonetheless a helpful method for Sony shooters to achieve entry to extra lenses.
As main rivals, Sony and Canon are sometimes shut in value on competing digicam our bodies, although with some variation. The listing value of the EOS R, for instance, is $300 increased than the A7 III. With smaller mirrorless cameras, that variation can flip — the Canon EOS M50 is $200 cheaper than the Sony A6400 (though, it’s arguably not so good as a digicam, both).
For lenses, Sony tends to be the upper priced model, though it’s very arduous to check apples to apples right here. Even two lenses with comparable specs might use vastly completely different optical formulation. This is how you find yourself with one 50mm f/1.4 lens costing beneath $400, whereas one other could also be $1,500. Another factor to think about is that Canon’s reputation and age makes used Canon lenses extra prevalent than used Sony lenses, providing one other method to save cash.
Conclusion: Is there a transparent winner?
Like the Tide Pod problem, the Canon vs. Sony debate is a recreation the place nobody wins. When it involves mirrorless cameras, Sony has a head begin and extra options to point out for it, like in-body stabilization and higher eye autofocus; Canon has the higher DSLRs, nonetheless, and a higher lens choice.
That doesn’t imply you must simply eenie-meanie-minie-mo your choice between the 2 manufacturers, nonetheless. Start by figuring out what options are most necessary to you — like velocity, autofocus, video, ergonomics, or value — and the kind of digicam you might be in search of. Then evaluate competing fashions from each manufacturers that hit all or many of the options that you simply want. Check to ensure the model you might be leaning for has the lenses you need. And attempting one in individual — even at a retailer show — to test and see how the digicam feels in your palms isn’t a nasty thought both.

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