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Hey, this is Jay P. here on The Slanted Lens. We’re going to take a look today at two of the affordable entry-level full-frame cameras that are on the market right now. The Z5 is an older camera but really holds its own and has some great features. The R8 is brand new. It’s coming out. We’re going to see those new features on the R8. Let’s see how these two cameras compare with one another, and which one you would choose if you’re choosing to enter into the full-frame market. So Josephine is here with me today. So Josephine, which one do you like? “You know, I really love the picture quality of the Nikon. But let’s see if the Canon will hold up.” There you go. Let’s take a look. Let’s see how these two compare.
Let’s look at the specs and how these two cameras line up with each other. First off, they’re both full-frame sensor cameras. That’s a tie. Crop factor, no crop factor. When it comes to stills it’s a tie. Crop factor in video, the Canon has no crop factor. The Nikon Z5 has a 1.7 in 4K 30p video. 1.7 is a large crop factor. It’s not a 1.5 and a 1.6, it’s a 1.7. So the Canon has no video crop factor. Canon wins on this one. Megapixels, they’re both 24 megapixels. 24.2 and 24.3, both 24, pretty much a tie. Price wise the Canon is $1499 whereas the Z5 is $1296 dollars. So the price advantage definitely goes to the Z5. They both have 14-bit depth. That makes it a tie.
Let’s look at the picture quality on these two cameras. Right off the bat, I look at the Canon and the color is a little more punchy. Look at the Spyder Checkr down at the bottom. You see the color and the color is just very vivid. The Canon is a little more yellowish and a little more magenta on the Nikon. But just beautiful pictures from both of them. We sampled the 18% gray off the Spyder Checkr on both of these. So the color is very similar. But I think I like the color of the Nikon just a little better. It’s just a very neutral, beautiful color. Not quite as contrasty. If you look at the contrast you get with the Canon it’s just a little more crunchy. But look at the, when we punch in to look at just sharpness, they’re both very sharp. Very beautiful images. But the Canon is a slight bit more sharp.
So let’s take a look at the picture. I did a single point focus on the eight on each one of these. So that would be the critical focus point on each one of them. And when I look at them there’s just a slight bit more sharpness on the Canon than there is on the Nikon. Just a tiny bit. But we’re talking, they are just head to head when it comes to picture. When it comes to sharpness they are really head to head. So there you have the image quality test. The Canon is a little sharper, it seems like. But the color is a little nicer on that Nikon. I’m going to give it a tie.
Let’s talk about the ergonomics of these two cameras. They both have a very nice, deep grip. But the Canon is a little small in my hand. The Nikon is just a little larger I feel. It is easy to get a hold of this grip. I do love the fact that there are two buttons, these are assignable buttons right here at my fingertip on the Nikon. It allows me to give these function buttons anything I’d like to set them to. Which is really a nice place for them because my hands here, my fingers get right there. Whereas you don’t have anything like that on the Canon. Most of your function buttons are going to be on the back. There’s not as many function buttons on the Canon as there is on the Nikon.
The Nikon also has that auto-focus joystick up on the top. Whereas, the Canon has removed that. They do not have that upper joystick. So you only have one on the back of the wheel. You don’t have that joystick for focus and things like you do on the Canon or on the Nikon. The Nikon, that little joystick is a little small and a little hard to push around. Not my favorite. But I love the fact that it’s there. And I can’t stand the fact that it’s not on the Canon.
The Canon certainly has a great flip out screen if you’re going to have something to be able to use for putting a tight space or for vlogging. Whereas the Nikon simply has the tilt up in the back. It does not flip out and that’s definitely an advantage to the Canon. When it comes to other dials and things here the Z5 is very reminiscent of the Z6 as very similar. They have moved this dial over to the right side. It definitely gives you the same kind of ergonomics. It’s exactly what you’re going to expect if you’re used to a Z6. The Z5 is going to give you very much that performance. They both have a switch to be able to switch back and forth between stills and video. The Canon has it on the left hand side here. The Nikon’s got it up front. I mean, you think you can kind of get your thumb to the one on the Nikon. So it’s a little closer to make that switch. But I don’t think that’s a huge deal. They both have function buttons. If you’re using a special setup they have a C1 and a C2. They both have a C1 and C2 which is really nice. It’s quite easy to get a hold of the record button for me. It’s right here up on top on the Nikon Z5. I can get my finger right to it while I’m holding the grip. With the Canon I have to stretch a little bit to get over to this record button over there. And it’s a little bit more difficult for me to get to. This button on the outside of the Z5 that rolls to be able to change your aperture or your shutter depending on how you assign it. It is right out there and easy to get to. But sometimes a little too easy to get to. My thumb rolls across it if I’m not careful or putting it in a bag or something changes things. Whereas the Canon, it’s rolled inside here. It’s a little more difficult to get to. Which is a little more difficult to get to, but you also don’t bump it or change it accidentally.
We’ve got the integrated strap holders on the R8 which are so much better if you’re using this camera in any kind of a rig. Or if you’re taking the straps on and off. Whereas the Z5 still has the flappy little rings which is kind of a pain if you’re using any kind of rig, if you want to take your strap on and off. I really like the fact that they’ve gone to these reset recessed holders for your strap. It’s much easier to put the strap on and offand much more ergonomically clean if you’re going to use it in camera rigs and things. The Nikon is a lot more difficult to use.
So there’s a look at the ergonomics. You know what, this is pretty difficult for me. I think the biggest drawback is not having that joystick on the back of the Canon. Which I think gives the ergonomics a little bit of an advantage to the Nikon. And the size, it fits in my hand a little better. But if you have smaller hands you’d probably be happy with that R8 and be very, very pleased with that little smaller footprint. So for me, I think it goes to the Nikon.
So weight, Canon is one pound. The Nikon is 1.3 pounds. So when it comes to weight the Canon is lighter, it wins.
Memory card. Big difference in these two cameras. Canon has one slot and the Z5, the Nikon has two. For those who are very concerned about that, that is a major victory for the Nikon.
The monitor on these two cameras are very, very different. The Canon has a 1,620,000 dot monitor. Whereas the Nikon has a 1,040,000 dot. So it is much different. You’re looking through that looking at that monitor and it is not as clear and clean as what you see on the Canon. So it’s roughly 50 percent more dots. But I think it’s significant. You can see the difference between the two cameras. So the Canon has a higher resolution of almost 600,000 dots. So really, when it comes to the monitor, it goes to the Canon.
So I mentioned the display when we talked about ergonomics, but I think it’s worth a note. It really is a touch screen tilt out articulating screen with the R8. Whereas the Z5 has a simple tilt up. They’re both touchscreen LCD displays. But the advantage certainly goes to the Canon.
So here’s a point where these cameras are very different. That is battery life. The R8 has a very small battery. And the battery only gives you about 290 shots with the LCD or 150 with the EVF. Whereas the Z5 is going to give you 470 with the LCD and 390 with the EVF. It’s a much larger more robust battery. That’s kind of the reason I think this grip and the camera is a little bit larger. So that’s a major disadvantage for the R8. The battery is not very robust. Whereas the Z5 has a much stronger battery. It’s going to give you more images both in video and in stills and in this round definitely wins when it comes to battery life. Buy an extra battery for the R8.
So the viewfinder resolution is very different on these cameras. The R8 has a 2,360,000 dot resolution. Whereas, the Nikon Z5 has a 3,690,000 dot resolution. So they’re very different. You’re getting a much better screen, a better view through the Z5. Which gives you more resolution and clearer image. And you can see that quality difference when you look through the EVF on these two cameras. So the Z5 wins when it comes to viewfinder resolution.
Auto focus points. Wow, this is where you see older technology, Z5 versus newer technology with the R8. The R8 has 4,897 autofocus points in stills and 4,067 video autofocus points. Whereas the Z5 has 273 autofocus points. No wonder it has struggled in some of the autofocus tests that we have done. That’s the difference in the technology. Boy, I remember the days when the 5D Mark III had like 30 or 20. I mean it was crazy. So they’ve come a long ways when it comes to autofocus points. The R8 definitely wins.
So let’s take a look at the autofocus stills test. On this test we did several bursts. They’re between 25 to 29 images each. And so, I got a good sampling. It wasn’t just one time. I did it several different times. I shoot at a thousandth of a second at f/2.8. So it makes sure that we have frozen action, that the shutter is freezing the action. She’s walking at a nice pace, but not fast. So looking at this on the Canon, I got about 29 images on the Canon. And I have about three of them that I are out of focus. Most all the others are very sharp. They’re right there. It just really performed extremely well. Three out of 29 pretty consistently. But I am losing those three. And it kind of is always in that transitional area as the person gets really close. Or as they’re going from kind of full body into a mid-body or to a head and shoulders I start to lose a couple. So I lost about three out of 29.
With the Nikon Z5 I was getting about 25 images in each burst and I was getting about, I was losing about four out of 25 on the Nikon. So you see it as you go through here. You see that where we lose some here. There you look at it. You can see exactly as I go through them here. And I’m losing about four out of 25. All right you saw the images. The Canon definitely wins in that autofocus stills test. It had more images in focus and it’s definitely the winner.
Let’s look at frames per second. The R8 has six frames per second up to a thousand raw or jpegs. Whereas the Z5 has 4.5 frames a second. It’s just a major difference there, 4.5 versus 6. You have 40 frames per second in the electronic shutter with the R8. Whereas 2.5 frames per second in the electronic shutter with the Z5. Old technology unfortunately. Not really there when it comes to either the frames per second in mechanical or in silent for the Nikon Z5. So the winner when it comes to frames per second is definitely the Canon.
All right, now let’s look at some video specs. Let’s look at the autofocus video test. So here’s our video autofocus test. You know, as I look at this, it is really obvious to me right off the bat the Canon is much more responsive. It’s quicker to stay with the video. It turns as I turn. It stays with me when I turn. Whereas the Nikon is far less responsive. I mean, you could try to play with the settings, try to up the responsiveness on the Nikon. That would probably make it a little better. At normal setting it takes a long time for the Nikon to catch up. When I get up close to the camera it’s really slow to find me. You know, whereas the Canon is much quicker. It’s an older technology, it really is. The Z5 is an older technology. It doesn’t have the more current technology that the R8 has. So this doesn’t surprise me at all. What’s interesting about this in a perspective to just kind of keep in mind, is in the days when you had to pull focus and a person was there just pulling focus, it didn’t look that different than what you see with the Z5. I mean we are expecting perfection now. Whereas good cinema used to have, focus would drift and then find the person. It was kind of part of that experience. Now I’m not trying to make an excuse for the Z5. The Canon is definitely looking better. But that’s just something to keep in mind. So there you can see it. The auto focus points of that Canon really deliver a really nice autofocus when it comes to video mode. As I’m moving and turning and turning back it stays with me. It moves a little quicker. The Nikon Z5 just really struggles to be able to keep up. It loses the focus sometimes. So when it comes to autofocus in video mode, it goes with the Canon.
When it comes to video these two cameras are very different. The reality is, the Nikon Z5 is really meant to be a stills camera. It does have some video capabilities but does not match what you get on the R8 by any means. The R8 gives you 10-bit 4:2:2. It supports C-log 3. Whereas the Z5 does not support log. Most importantly you get an un-cropped, oversampled 4K up to 60p with the Canon. Whereas, with the Nikon you get a 1.7 crop even going to 4K. So there’s a major difference there. Video is much stronger on the Canon. Having said that the Canon is a little stronger video camera, the biggest weakness is the battery life. It’s not going to shoot video as long as you’re going to get on the Z5. Because the Z5 has a more robust battery. But the video capabilities are so much better on the Canon.
Both these cameras have a mic and a headphone jack. But you have that flip out screen on the R8 which makes it pretty good as a vlogging camera. Whereas you can’t vlog very well with the Z5. It’s not going to work for you. With the log and the oversampled 4K up to 60p it really makes the Canon R8 the better video camera. So in this round, video goes to the Canon.
Having said that, the R8 does not support external recording. Whereas the Z5 gives you an 8-bit via the HDMI, 4K up to 30 frames a second. Of course it is cropped. But you have that advantage. So when it comes to external recording, Z5.
So the Canon R8 has a micro HDMI, whereas the Nikon Z5 has a mini HDMI. The mini wins.
So let’s take a look at image stabilization in video mode with these two cameras. So for the image stabilization test we shot the Nikon on 2K in order to not have a crop. And we shot the Canon on 4K. I believe that gives an advantage to the Nikon. But as you look at these two as we walk, the Nikon is definitely moving. I mean Julene is shooting this and she’s not an expert at keeping the camera steady. But the Nikon is definitely, it’s bouncing around. The Canon is much smoother. The Canon does lurch occasionally, but it’s a much smoother stabilization. There’s no doubt about that. So we did have this on a rig. Both of them are on the same handheld rig with a bar across the two hands, one on each side. So as you walk they’re getting the same motion. So you should be able to see these and make it an exact comparison as to how that stabilization works. That was pretty obvious to me that Canon is much more stable. It does a much better job. So when it comes to image stabilization in video mode, the Canon R8 wins.
Let’s take a look at the ISO between these two cameras and see exactly where they fall. So I’m going to start out at 400 ISO because up until 400, 100, 200 they are very similar to one another. We’re going to look at the grain in the background. So on the Canon you see that grain in the background. We look at it on the Nikon and the Nikon is definitely a little cleaner at 400 ISO. When we go up to 800 ISO, looking at that same spot in the background, yeah it is definitely a little bit cleaner. It feels, these are taken straight out of raw, no sharpening whatsoever. But just, the Nikon is just a little, the noise is not as prevalent at 800. So if we go to 1600, go to 1600, we should start seeing a little heavier noise now at this point. And we certainly do. And the Canon is definitely ahead. It’s just a little more noisy. There’s a little more contrast in the Canon. I’m starting to see a little bit of color in the Canon at 1600. When I go to 3200, at this point they should start to separate just a little bit. They both should be starting to fall apart. They are looking pretty, the noise is pretty prevalent at this point. I don’t think, the Nikon almost feels like the noise is more prevalent at 3200 than the Canon. They’re very similar to each other. At 6400, we jump up to 6400 here and the noise is very prevalent now. Yeah, that’s pretty hard to, if you look at the transition on her nose, both of these cameras are getting that kind of highlight. It’s a reddish color that starts to fill in the shadow area when they transition from highlight to shadow. And on that transition edge you’re getting that kind of warmth. When we go up to that’s at 6400. I mean that’s pretty out there when you think about it. 12,800, if you look at 12,800 how they transition that digital noise has become very strong. Maybe the Nikon’s ahead a little bit. I don’t know. Canon seems, they seem pretty close to each other at this point. We’re not seeing as much color. We’re seeing that banding from the highlights of the shadow but the color has stayed pretty clean on both of them, actually. It’s not been bad.So if we go up here to 25,600 now there’s just a whole lot of digital noise here. Yeah, on both of these cameras they are just kind of falling apart. I’m so, I’m really impressed with both of them that the color has stayed fairly clean. I’m not seeing a lot of artifacting in the highlights or the shadows. I’m feeling like most of these are feeling pretty clean as far as the color rendition goes. So let’s go up. We have one more step, 51,200. As we look at that, just a whole lot of digital noise. And they are so similar at this point. It’s pretty hard to say. I’m not seeing any kind of color artifacting really. They’ve held together pretty good with regards to color. I think the color has started to turn a little bit yellowish with the Canon and still seems fairly clean. So when I go back to the 25,600 I’m seeing that banding on the right hand side. If I go back to 12,800 it’s not really there. I’m starting to see it just slightly. I mean you start to see a little bit of it in the shadows. But boy, by 12,800 that banding is pretty, or 25,600 that banding is pretty obvious in the Canon. And by 51,200 you see it very strongly in the corner. So there’s a look at the ISO test between these two cameras. Wow, that was pretty interesting to me. They were head to head, very much head to head. But in the end the Canon had a little bit of banding that started to show up. So I’m going to say that that Z5 is going to win on that one. But just barely. Could be just a tie.
Now let’s take a look at the dynamic range test. Here we are with both of these cameras shot on normal. They look very similar to me. The Nikon seems like it’s holding a little more of the mid-tones to me. When I jump to -1, both these cameras should start to really respond a little better at minus one. Because, we’re getting more of that shadow detail. The Canon certainly has a lot of nice shadow detail. But look at the Nikon in the background. You’re seeing a lot of detail out there in the sunlit areas that you’re not seeing in that Canon. So we jump to the -2. Boy, it’s the Nikon is slightly under exposed I think compared to the Canon when we set them at the same exposure. Because at minus two the Nikon is definitely showing more detail out in the back area than the Canon is. When we go to minus three, Canon is just having a hard time. It’s struggling. The color started to shift at -3. But the Nikon is still looking pretty good. It really is looking pretty good. If we go to minus four, again the color is shifting a little bit with the Canon. But the Nikon is staying pretty clean. We are seeing better detail in the background. It’s held the detail all the way through the minus, from minus one to minus four. So if we go to plus one, at plus one I would expect now for this to shift. And at plus one it does start to shift. We see the Canon is holding maybe a little better. You know, I don’t know. That’s pretty head to head. I’m not sure about that one. So if we go to plus two then the Canon is definitely holding it better. At plus two the color has really shifted on the Nikon. It’s shifted into really kind of a yellowish color on her face. Whereas the Canon is still kind of holding the color. But look at how everything’s blown out in the background. It’s kind of lost. So look at plus three. They’re both blowing out. The highlights of the faces are blowing out. The Canon is holding just a little better. The color is bad on both of them. It’s just white in the background. I’ve lost all details. So the Canon holds it a little better as you overexpose. But the Nikon holds it just a little better as you underexpose. And this test shows what it always shows. And that is, digital cameras like to be underexposed. That’s for sure. That was interesting to me because it seemed like the Canon performed better as you went plus exposure. It was a little better. Whereas the Nikon certainly was a little better when you started to, or went underexposed. I’m going to call this a tie. Because they both did really well. They just kind of shift from each other, a little up or down. Which is really common between different camera manufacturers and how they set their sensor. But I feel like it’s pretty much a tie.
So let’s wrap this up. The reality is the R8 is a new camera with new technology. The Z5 is an older camera with older technology. It struggles to keep up but still holds its own with that Canon R8. My guess is when we see a Z5 II it’s going to be right on par with the Canon R8. As of right now the video specs fall way short. If you are a video shooter the Z5 is not for you. If you’re a still shooter the Z5 is a good camera, but the frames per second are a little slow. So I think the R8 really wins when it comes to frames per second and the video specifications. It really is a better camera in both of those fields. So in my mind, right now it’s the Canon R8. But the Z5 II is going to change all that. So check out some of the other camera comparisons that we have that’ll help you decide which camera is best for you. So keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!
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