Last year, Canon and Nikon finally acknowledged the potential of the full- frame mirrorless market and dove in head-first. This year Japan was expected to host the Tokyo Olympics, and all major camera manufacturers were expected to release flagships before the event. Canon announced the EOS R5 and EOS R6, while Sony revealed the long awaited video-beast A7s III and Nikon released the Nikon Z5, Z6 ii and Z7 ii. Although we didn’t get to watch the Olympics, it was a great year for camera enthusiasts!
The Canon EOS R5 has an incredible spec- sheet. The 45-megapixel full-frame sensor is capable of recording 8K RAW video directly onto the CFExpress (Type B) card, a feat that has never been achieved before on any con- sumer digital photography camera. Users get the choice of 8K, 4K and 1080p resolutions in 4:2:2 10-bit colour space, meaning that con- tent creators looking to move to shooting HDR video no longer have to shell out big bucks for cinema cameras. In our testing, the 45-meg- apixel sensor was surpringly resilient to both chroma and luma noise. We captured RAW files underexposed by up to -0.7eV at ISO ranges between ISO 1000 and ISO 51200in one-stop increments. The RAW images shot at upto ISO 12800 require no noise reduction, even with exposure compensation. The images shot at ISO 25600 do require noise reduc- tion, but not enough to cause detail loss. Even videos shot at ISO 25600 are very usable, as long as you’re exposing to the right. The EOS R5 manages to shoot impressively well, which is aided by its equally impressive AF system. We recorded the AF working till up to -4.5eV reliably, with edge AF performance drop- ping when ambient light was further reduced. The in-body stabilisation is advertised up to 8-stops, and we found it to be effective to about 6.5 stops, which means if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens, you can drop your shutter speed all the way to 1/10th of a second without any worries. The Canon EOS R5 moves ahead of the Sony A7s III and the Nikon Z5 based on its overall photo-video performance, where it delivers impressive image and video quality, making it the Digit Zero1 award winner.
The Sony A7s had set the bar for mirrorless camera video performance, becoming a staple in the kits of many professionals. The A7s II raised that bar, which meant people had high hopes for the A7s III. The Sony A7s III brings 4K video to the masses, but doesn’t offer in- camera RAW video capture. You do get 4K 4:2:2 10-bit, in-camera capture and with Sony’s S-Log profiles and HLG, you can shoot HDR video straight in-camera. The 12-megapixel sensor offers exceptional dynamic range and very impressive low light performance, but ends up losing out to the Canon EOS R5 in terms of detail retention, as we’d expect when comparing a 45-megapixel sensor to a 12 meg- apixel one. The Canon also has better in-body image stabilisation and faster burst mode of 20fps as against the Sony’s 10fps. Due to this, the Sony comes in at second place.
The Nikon Z5 builds on the established plat- form of the Z6, but in order to keep the price point low, makes a few compromises. The Nikon Z5’s shortcomings include the slow 4.5fps burst mode, and noticeable noise in shadow areas when shooting at high ISOs. The camera does offer 4K video, however, it has a 1.7z crop factor, which does tend to muddle the detail if you really pixel-peep. What the Nikon Z5 definitely gets very right is the colour reproduction and the recovery latitude of nearly 3 stops. Despite the shortcomings, which stand out when the Z5 is put next to the EOS R5 and the Sony A7s III, the Nikon Z5 is an exceptional value for money full-frame mirrorless camera. (Click here to buy)
About Digit Zero 1 Awards:
With a legacy of 20 years, the Digit Zero 1 Awards is recognized as the Industry’s only performance-based awards. Digit rewards brands for putting in years of research in developing and introducing performance-driven products for their audience. All products are made to pass through a rigorous and scientific test process and compete with competitor brands in the same category. The Winner in each category is announced on the basis of their total score post complete performance analysis done across an average of 56 tests conducted for every category, across key performance parameters. The test process for the Zero1 Awards does not consider scores for features, price or design. The aim is to identify the very best products that money can buy, celebrate the innovations that push the industry forward, and reward the products that dare to disrupt the market.
Digit's resident camera nerd, (un)official product photographer and the Reviews Editor