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Sony A7RIII vs Nikon D850 vs Canon 5D Mark IV

By Kishore Sawh on January 29th 2018

In the normal realm of cameras (not the likes of the Hasselblad X1D or Leica M10), the most coveted cameras of 2017 and currently in 2018 are undeniably the Sony A7Riii and Nikon D850, and the Canon 5D Mark IV still tops Canon’s list of most wanted.

While the A7Riii is basically a Crusader, converting users left and right to the Sony religion, the D850 and 5D Mark IV are pillars. Together they represent the best one can buy from each company (which is why in our latest contest we’re letting you choose one of the three you want most), which of course draws comparison on each detail. Dan and Sally Watson have put together a good practical look at all of these units to assist you in reaching your own overall conclusion.

[RELATED: New Year, New Gear Giveaway – Win a 5DM4, D850, or A7R3!]

From dynamic range tests to skin tone rendering, buffer performance and ergonomics, AF tracking and button placement, live view performance and coloration, this is a good overview of all cameras coming from the same voices whilst using each in the same environment simultaneously.

Stating the above is partially a preface to acknowledging that these aren’t clinically controlled tests and some of the conclusions are opinion based on their usage. I, for example, don’t have the same praise or qualms with the cameras they do, but that’s good. For those of you who have familiarized yourself with the technical facets of each unit, many of the thoughts offered up here are, frankly, the benefit of first hand experience using a wide gamut of cameras in rapid succession. Reviewers like us, Dan and Sally and so forth are fortunate to be able to do this, and perhaps it is in that vein where you’ll derive most of the applicable benefit.

[Recommended Review: Canon EOS R Vs. Canon 5D Mk IV]

Check it out and show some love to Dan and Sally. Let us know what you like best and what you’re hoping for next. Of course I’d be remiss not to remind you to enter our giveaway that lets you choose between an A7Riii, D850, and Canon 5D Mark IV. Click here for that.

You can find more good stuff from Dan’s YouTube, LearningCameras.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. David Stephen Kalonick

    Kishore, well said. I tend to be stubborn on thinking how many people focus on everything but what’s important. My Art teacher my senior year that pushed me to becoming a professional photographer was a tough love type of teacher that has had a big influece on who I am as an artist. 

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  2. David Kalonick

    I’ve never had my camera system not make me money. I switch out bodies every 3-4 years. It seems like the noob thing to do switching camera systems. Seriously though, anyone that I’ve met, chatted with at a camera store or hobbyist that changes gear on the reg makes little to no money from photography. They have websites and pricing that proves they know little about how to run a business or how to make an income from being a professional. I shoot to make an income, not to worry what system might slightly do something better than what I currently have and will do in the next iteration. One guy at my local camera store was going on about how tough it is to find work all while in the same conversation talking about wanting to switch to the Sony system. I worked my ass off after college assisting photographers for six years grinding out whatever assistant job or random shoot I could get. I used shit film cameras that made you work for the shot. 

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  3. David Kalonick

    Adam: Well put. 

    Kishore: Tha’s also because they just came out with the D850. No? 

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    • Kishore Sawh

      It’s partially due to that. I think, actually, it’s probably more nuanced than anyone is letting on. The D850 was announced in August, so well within the frame of time to capitalize on October and November sales, so that it didn’t beat the rest in those months suggest A7Riii and others just did a lot better, even though the A7Riii came out in October.  Being the best during the holiday season (month of December is strange to me). 

      Re. your other points, I understand where you’re coming from David, that there are a lot of people who banter and debate what appear to be minor variances in bodies, and of course so many people who buy make no money from the craft. But, it’s a necessary evil, and I believe in embracing incremental change. Without it the larger steps wouldn’t be there. Also, some minute details matter to others than won’t matter to some…it’s the nature of these things, and it’s our job to sort of deliver the most pertinent thoughts on the subject.  You know, I would get into it more but that’s a deep rabbit hole – perhaps I should write a post on the subject. Cheers

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  4. adam sanford

    “The A7Riii is basically a Crusader, converting users left and right to the Sony religion”

    [Eye roll, folds arms]  Numbers or it didn’t happen.

    The only concrete market share data we have is… what, the BCN rankings
    out of Japan?  The same rankings that have pegged Sony as #3 in mirrorless ILC market share (behind Canon!!) for 2 years running?

    Sony makes some impressive gear, but the ‘converting in droves’ narrative
    doesn’t seem to be impacting Canon’s actual units.  So either the
    conversions are coming from other companies, or perhaps they aren’t
    happening in the great numbers all these ‘I switched to Sony!’ pieces
    that social media might imply.

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    • adam sanford

      Or, put another way by a friend at CR — speaking to how recently companies have been making big news of market share up-ticks:

      Sony: “We sold the second most of a subtype of ILCs over a two month period in one country.”

      Nikon: “We sold the most of a subtype of ILCs over a one month period in one country.”

      Canon: “We sold the most ILCs over the last year globally, just as we’ve done every year for the last 14 years.”

      I don’t forward that along to state ‘We’re #1’ nearly so much as to make a point.  Canon’s not really budging in annual units, so where is the great exodus to Sony I keep hearing is fully in progress?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Arguably the same could be said for Nikon, claiming they had the most sales over the holiday period of December – a month with historically low sales compared to say October or November. 

      In addition, conversion is a process with a fulcrum…one that’s near the end of the lever. Conversion doesn’t happen in high numbers, and as anecdotal as it may be, those like myself have access to a host of data from retailers, brands, and of course users (here at SLRL for instance), and when it comes to conversion and indoctrination into the world of ILCs, the ones with a voice appear to be going with Sony.

      I can’t express much here, but suffice to say within the coming weeks some numbers will be let loose which will be of some interest. 

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    • adam sanford

      K, I welcome such data.  I’m not putting my head in the sand with Canon’s sales so much as they seems to have the only numbers we have to go on.

      So I would love to see segment-specific numbers to see how some aggressively spec’d rigs (A7R3, D850, D500, etc.) are actually doing sales-wise.

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