Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A9: which is the best all-rounder?

19 September 2017 | Category: General News

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony A9: which is the best all-rounder?


If you’re finding it tricky to decide which full-frame camera to choose, we’ve taken a look at two of the best currently available on the market - the Sony A9 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Each of these cameras has pro points and negative points, which begs the question - which should you hire? We’ll take a look at some of the key specifications on offer from each to help you decide which matches your job the best, and indeed whether it’s worth shelling out the extra outlay for the Sony A9.

Sensor

Canon 5D Mk 4 - Sony a9 Sensor

Both of these cameras sport a full-frame CMOS sensor. For the A9, you get a 24 megapixel stacked-design, which is coupled with a Bionz X processor. For the 5D Mark IV, you get a 30.4 megapixel sensor, paired with a Digic 6+ processor.

If you’re looking to do some commercial work where the print size is very large, the higher resolution sensor of the Canon 5D Mark IV would be the better option, however, for all-round shooting, the middle-of-the-road 24 megapixels should serve you well for most scenarios.

Similarly, if you’re planning on shooting high-detail subjects, the more pixels you have to play with the better, but, on the flip side, if you’re looking to shoot in low light, the larger pixels found on the A9’s sensor perform slightly better.

Frame rate

Canon 5D Mk 4 VS Sony a9 Frame Rate

Sony A9

5D Mk 4 Frame Rate

Canon 5D Mark 4

The biggest selling point of the Sony A9 is its super-fast frame rate. It can shoot at an incredible 20fps, maintaining autofocus and metering. There’s no blackout, while the buffer is deep enough to keep going for 241 raw files. Meanwhile, the 5D Mark IV’s offering is much more modest, topping out at 7fps.

So, if you’re intending to shoot sport, wildlife or action - anything which is fast moving - the A9 is the obvious choice. You can still get some reasonable shots when you use 7fps, but just don’t expect to capture split-second moments.

Body design

The Canon 5D Mark IV uses a traditional DSLR design, one which has been used and enjoyed for several years now. Lots of people prefer a bulkier camera, as the deep grip sits comfortably in the hand. By contrast, the Sony A9 can seem “small” and therefore less serious.

If you’re on a long shoot, the lighter weight of the Sony A9 and associated lenses may lead to a more comfortable shooting experience.

When it comes to looks - that’s a very subjective opinion, but it could be argued that the Sony A9 has a much more boxy and practical look than the 5D Mark IV with its more rounded edges. Both cameras are equipped with a decent range of buttons and dials to give you access to key settings easily.

Autofocus

The 5D Mark IV has a very good 61-point autofocus system (when shooting through the viewfinder), but these are located towards the centre of the frame. The Sony A9 has a whopping 693 autofocus points, covering 93% of the imaging area. In practice that means that you can focus on subjects which are sitting towards the edges of the frame, without having to awkwardly focus and recompose.

Screen

Sony A9 - 5D Mk 4 Screen

The A9 has a 3-inch, 1,440k-dot screen which has a tilting mechanism that proves very useful for composing from awkward angles. It’s also touch-sensitive, but its use is somewhat restricted, only being useable to set the AF point and zoom into images.

By contrast, the 5D Mark IV has a larger, higher resolution screen (3.2 inches, 1660k-dots), but it is fixed, which is less useful for awkward composing. It also has touch-sensitivity, but this time, it’s a more holistic approach as you can also use it to change settings in menus and so on.

Viewfinder

Canon 5D Mk 4 Sony a9 viewfinders

It seems very likely that people will continue to argue about the merits and drawbacks of optical viewfinders vs electronic viewfinders. With these two cameras, we’ve got a classic head-to-head. The A9 has a high-resolution 3,686-k dot, 0.5-inch electronic viewfinder. It’s fantastically  bright and clear, displays any changes you make to settings, and doesn’t suffer from blackout when shooting at fast frame rates. You can also choose to display the image you’ve just taken for instant feedback, without having to take the camera away from your eye.

But, it’s still not optical. The 5D Mark IV’s viewfinder offers 100% coverage, and has a range of settings information overlaid in the display.

Shutter

Sony A9 Fastest Shutter Speed

Sony A9

Canon 5D Mk 4 fastest shutter speed

Canon 5D Mark 4

Due to the fact that the Sony A9 has an electronic shutter, it can shoot at super fast speeds of up to 1/32000. That is useful for photographing in bright light at wide apertures, but is also ideal for freezing super fast moving action.

By contrast, the 5D Mark IV tops out at 1/8000 second. That’s going to be more than enough for most ordinary situations, but if you have something special in mind, the A9 could be the more sensible option.

Battery life

5D Mk 4 A9 batteries

The very nature of mirrorless cameras means that an electronic viewfinder is necessary - and they eat power. The A9’s official battery life rating is 480, compared with the 5D Mark IV’s 900. In both cases, you might get more in real-world situations, but it’s very likely you’re going to need a spare for the A9 if you’re on a long shoot.

Video

5D 4 & A9 4K

Both of the cameras shoot 4K, which is good news for videographers. However, there are important differences to take note of. The A9 uses the UHD 4K format (3840 x 2160), while the 5D Mark IV shoots in DCI 4K (4096 x 2160). 

Conclusion

So which is the better camera, and which one should you go for? As always with these things, the answer is a solid “it depends”. The Sony A9 is without doubt one of the best cameras currently on the market, and offers a heck of a lot of technology. If you’re shooting action, sports, wildlife and associated subjects on a regular basis, the extra price you pay for this model will pay dividends in the shots you’re able to capture.

However, the 5D Mark IV is perhaps a better all-rounder. It offers a higher resolution sensor, a better battery life - and - crucially for many users, a much more encompassing range of lenses. If you’re photographing lots of different types of subjects, then it’s likely you’ll get superb results with the Canon.

Both are excellent cameras, and both are available to hire now. Check availability here.