Battle of the $2,499 Canons: Canon 5D Mark 4 vs. Canon R6

Mar 22, 2021

Kevin Raposo

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Battle of the $2,499 Canons: Canon 5D Mark 4 vs. Canon R6

Mar 22, 2021

Kevin Raposo

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Despite the fact that the Canon R5 is advertised as the mirrorless successor to the Canon 5D Mark IV, there is a significant price difference between these two cameras.

As a result, many photographers and video producers (including myself) turn their attention toward the Canon R6, which currently sells for almost the same price brand new. And because I spent hours comparing these two cameras for myself, I decided to put together an in-depth, comprehensive comparison video – breaking down every difference between the Canon 5D Mark IV with the Canon R6.

With that said, every content creator will be looking for something different – so that doesn’t necessarily make this a perfect list. So, which camera is the winner? Check out the comparison video to find out, and read further to hear my thoughts on each category!

1. Price

At the time of making this video in March of 2021, the 5D Mark IV is currently priced at $2,499 brand new. The R6 is also priced at $2,499 brand new. But because the 5D Mark IV was released back in 2016, you have a much better chance of picking up a used one or finding a good discount. Not only that, but Canon has an average release cycle of about four years. And usually, the price of their cameras will lower significantly after a new release. So, the 5D Mark IV price has a much better chance of dropping – whereas the R6 will probably sit around the same cost until 2023.

2. Megapixels

The 5D Mark IV has a 30.4-megapixel sensor, whereas the R6 has a 20.1-megapixel sensor. But before I declare a winner in this category, the real question is: do I actually notice a difference in quality when editing? Yes.

With that said, I don’t feel that difference is significant unless you’re shooting landscapes or your work is going up on a billboard. For me, speed of delivery is much more important than having extra fine detail, and the lower resolution of the R6 actually allows me to process my images a lot more efficiently.

3. Sensor Size

These are both full-frame sensors with the same field of view – so no difference whatsoever here.

4. Dynamic Range

The dynamic range of the 5D Mark IV when shooting at base ISO is 13.6 stops of light, while the R6 is slightly better at 14.3 stops of light.
That means a point goes to the R6, but the difference here is so small that most photographers will never even notice it.

5. Autofocus

To be honest, this isn’t even close. The R6 absolutely blows the 5D Mark IV out of the water here. 6072 focus points compared to just 61, human and eye autofocus, significantly better performance in low-light – the list goes on.

But for me personally, the biggest difference has been the 100% sensor coverage. I can focus anywhere in the frame without any compromise – which is an absolute game-changer for tracking action.

The 5D Mark IV already had outstanding dual-pixel autofocus, but I would occasionally lose my subject on the edges of the frame. You’ll find an example of this occurring as part of the full video. The R6 does not have this problem – and even when your subject leaves the frame, the autofocus system is intelligent enough to return focus at the same point. I’ve also been extremely impressed with how accurate the eye-tracking focus has been. I haven’t tested this on animals, but when it comes to human subjects, the R6 quickly and consistently locks on and nails
the focus in both the photo and video modes.

6. Ergonomics

Specifically, we’re looking at the weight, size, and feel of both cameras in your hand.

The 5D Mark IV is significantly heavier, weighing in at 890 grams – while the R6 is only 680 grams. However, if you’re using an EF-Mount lens with the R6, which many of you will be doing – the official Canon EF to RF adapters weigh in between 110 and 130 grams, which will actually make the R6 weigh
between 790 to 810 grams. So, the difference in weight is actually not that big unless you’re exclusively shooting with RF-Mount lenses.

The 5D Mark IV is also a bit taller and wider than the R6, while the R6 has a deeper handgrip because there isn’t a mirror taking up that extra space inside the camera body. You can really see how much deeper it is when you look at the positioning of the cable port when using an external battery.

So how does it feel in my hand? This is very subjective – but personally, the weight makes no difference. The deeper grip on the R6 does feel more comfortable and secure. I never really had a problem with the 5D Mark IV, to begin with – but going back to it now, the R6 just feels better. I will say that I do prefer the button placement and selection on the 5D Mark IV a little more, but that doesn’t outweigh everything else.

7. Build Quality and Weather-Sealing

I spent a lot of time researching this one because it is crucial to my workflow. And I have to admit, the polycarbonate body of the R6 feels like a step down from the 5D Mark IV. Even though it has a magnesium alloy internal structure, it definitely doesn’t feel like it can take as much of a
beating. The 5D Mark IV feels more like a tank, and I can personally confirm it operates like one, too.

8. LCD Screen

Both cameras have touch screen LCDs with the exact same resolution, but the 5D Mark IV is 0.2 inches larger than the R6.
The 5D Mark IV also has a top-facing screen that allows you to check your settings, which the R6 does not.

But the R6 has one major advantage over the 5D Mark IV: the touch screen LCD is fully articulated. This unlocks new creative opportunities that are much more difficult without the articulating LCD.

9. Viewfinder

This is one of the most significant differences between these two cameras. The Canon 5D Mark IV has an optical viewfinder, while the R6 has an electronic viewfinder which can be used with a 120 frame per second refresh rate.

After using the R6 for a month and transitioning over from the optical viewfinder, I think it’s pretty good. It’s a bit blurry when I’m moving the camera quickly, and I can definitely feel a very slight delay. But it IS nice to be able to see the active focus point, browse through the menus – all things that are
impossible with an optical viewfinder.

10. Memory Cards

Both cameras include dual slots. The 5D Mark IV has a UHS-1 SD Card slot with about a 90 MB/s write speed and a CF Card slot with about a 110 MB/s write speed.

The R6 has two UHS-II SD Card slots with about a 190 MB/s write speed. The R6 obviously wins this category, but it’s not just because of the write speed. There are actually three things I really like.

  1. The two slots are matching. This means I don’t have to carry around two different types of cards with me, which was always annoying.
  2. The slot speeds are the same. One of my biggest frustrations with the 5D Mark IV was that if I was shooting in RAW and wanted to max out the buffer at 35 shots, I could only write to the CF Card, which was faster. If I tried also writing to the SD Card, I would max out after only 21 shots.
  3. All of my existing UHS-1 SD cards were fully compatible with the R6, so there were no hidden upgrade costs. If I were buying something like the Canon R5, I would also have to start buying CF Express cards.

The one thing that does annoy me is that Canon refuses to implement dual-slot video recording, which is only an option while taking pictures. But this is not a deal-breaker for me.

11. Burst Mode and Buffer

When it comes to burst rate, the 5D Mark IV can shoot 7 pictures per second, while the R6 can shoot 12 pictures per second with the mechanical shutter and 20 pictures per second with the electronic shutter. And when it comes to the buffer size, as I just mentioned, the 5D Mark IV will fill up the buffer after 35
RAW pictures if you’re only using the CF card slot.

On the other hand, when shooting with the mechanical shutter, the R6 has no limit, and when shooting with the electronic shutter, the R6 will fill up the buffer after 180 RAW pictures. All of these examples assume that you’re using the fastest possible memory card.

12. Rolling Shutter

The simple answer here is that both cameras have rolling shutters, and it isn’t great. You’ll find examples for comparison inside the video.

Not only that, but the rolling shutter is also a problem when using the electronic shutter with the R6. It significantly limits how I can use that 20 pictures per second burst speed, which is a huge disappointment. With that said – both are bad, but at least I don’t have to think about the problem at all when shooting still
images with the 5D Mark IV.

13. Low-Light Performance

The 5D Mark IV has an ISO range from ISO 100 to 32000, while the R6 has an ISO range from 100 to 102400. Check out the video to see the difference here, but the R6 absolutely blows the 5D Mark IV out of the water in this category. They are both similar from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, but from that point onward, the
R6 is clearly the winner.

14. Image Stabilization

And this is pretty simple: the R6 includes 5-axis in-body image stabilization, while the 5D Mark IV has nothing. Again, check out the video to see the differences here. With that said, it is worth mentioning that you only get 5-axis stabilization when using RF Mount lenses. I didn’t even realize this until I read it on a forum – but if you’re using EF Mount lenses, you get downgraded to a 2-axis mode.

15. Camera Connections

Both cameras have many standard ports you would expect – a headphone jack, microphone jack, HDMI, USB, and a remote terminal.

What I want to focus on here are the two major differences. Number one: the 5D Mark IV includes a PC Sync port, but the R6 does not. This might be a deal-breaker for some of you who like using hardwired connections to fire your flashes.

Number two: the 5D Mark IV is limited to 1080p output through HDMI, while the R6 can output at 4K. This is only a deal-breaker if you plan to use an external recorder while shooting video.

16. Wireless Connections

I’m not a big fan of using in-camera wireless connections, as they never seem to be very reliable. But with that said: the 5D Mark IV includes a built-in GPS, along with Wi-Fi and NFC connection options.

On the other hand, the R6 includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but no GPS.

I found the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC functionality to be equally clunky and un-reliable in my brief testing of these features. So, there was no real winner here, but the 5D Mark IV does include built-in GPS, which might be a big deal for you if you’re a traveling photographer.

17. Reliability and Overheating

If the only thing you plan to shoot is still photography, this category is a draw. Both cameras provide classic Canon reliability.

But unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve definitely heard that the Canon R6 will overheat while shooting any type of 4K video for long periods of time.
This means the 5D Mark IV is more reliable if you plan to use the video modes extensively. If you want to learn a bit more about my personal experience shooting 4K video with the R6, be sure to check out the video for that breakdown. I know that I was personally nervous about purchasing a camera that might overheat while I was shooting.

18. Lens Options

The 5D Mark IV is only compatible with EF Mount lenses, while the R6 can use both EF and the newer RF mount lenses for mirrorless cameras. Some people are concerned about needing an EF to RF mount adapter for the R6 – but in my experience, the lens performance is 100% identical. So not only do you have more selection with the R6, but Canon has been very clear that their attention is shifting to the RF mount.

19. Battery Life

I have found the 5D Mark IV lasts noticeably longer than the R6 – both when shooting photos and videos. This probably has a lot to do with the electronic viewfinder requiring more battery power and the fact that the R6 is doing some serious processing when shooting in 4K.

20. Video

And the truth is: this really isn’t close.

The 5D Mark IV is limited to 8-bit 4K at 30 frames per second, while the R6 can shoot 10-bit 4K at 60
frames per second. The 5D Mark IV uses an extremely outdated and bloated MJPEG codec, while the R6 uses h.264 or h.265 – depending on the mode you shoot in.

The 5D Mark IV has an absolutely brutal 4K crop factor of 1.74x, while the R6 effectively uses the entire sensor with a crop factor of only 1.07x.

The 5D Mark IV does not include zebras, focus peaking, digital image stabilization, or any other kind of professional feature you would expect from a video camera. The R6 includes all of these things and a few more.

I could go on forever here, but I think you get the point. The only thing that the 5D Mark IV can do when it comes to video is shoot in DCI 4K – which is slightly wider at 4096 x 2160 and the agreed-upon standard in 4K film production.

But no professional filmmaker will use either one of these as an A-Camera for something to be shown in theatres, so that really means nothing. The R6 wins in this category by a landslide. If you’re a hybrid shooter looking for a camera, don’t waste your time with the 5D Mark IV.

So, which camera do I think is the winner?

At the end of the day, it depends on what you’re looking for in a camera. These comparison videos are useful to watch but also very subjective. You might be looking for something different than I am when making a purchase.

I hope you found this video and article helpful in coming to a decision!

Your turn

Any critical features that we missed? IO would love to know if you are on camp 5D Mark 4 or camp R6?

About the Author

Kevin Raposo is a Canadian photographer and video producer. He is the founder of Speedy Photographer. To see more of his videos, you can subscribe to his youtube channel or visit his Instagram here and the Speedy Photographer here.

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We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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6 responses to “Battle of the $2,499 Canons: Canon 5D Mark 4 vs. Canon R6”

  1. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    Neither, i am in camp iPhone

    1. jason bourne Avatar
      jason bourne

      Another Apple lemming.

    2. Adam Avatar

      Are you serious?

  2. WW Avatar

    One big factor favoring the R6 over the 5D4: no more lens micro adjustments, especially with third party lenses. I use to spend countless hours with Tamron and Sigma docks and software to get the AF just right, and still would get inconsistent results with the 5D4. Not anymore with the R6, those painful micro adjustment days are long gone and is reason enough to make the switch.

    1. Mike Avatar

      My tamron 24-70g2 is marginal at best on my mk4 even with adjustments, its great on the eos r. My tamron 85f1.8 is tack sharp on both but the eye autofocus greatly increases the hit rate.

  3. RealRawNews Avatar

    Chasing gear is silly unless your income depends on it.