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What You Need to Know About Canon and Nikon’s New Mirrorless Cameras

Canon and Nikon have finally announced they’re getting into the serious, full frame, mirrorless game. Here’s what you need to know about the Canon EOS R and Nikon Z7 and Z6.

Unlike their previous attempts at launching a mirrorless camera platform—Canon’s EOS M and Nikon’s (now discontinued) 1 systems—their new lineups are serious offerings worth investigating. Let’s dig into the specs and what to expect.

The Key Specs

While we won’t know how the cameras perform in the real world, the specs do give us some sort of idea. In all likelihood, all three will be incredibly good modern cameras and only people who really push their gear to the extremes or need something for a specific purpose will see huge differences in the quality of their work.

Here’s how the detailed specs shake out for each camera.

Canon EOS R

Canon’s EOS R is basically a Canon 5D Mark IV but without the mirror and at a great price. People who were disappointed with the Mark IV’s video capabilities will be just as disappointed with the R’s, but by the same token, people who liked the Mark IV will have nothing to complain about.

  • 30.3 Megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 5,655 point autofocus system
  • 200-40000 ISO
  • Up to 8fps continuous shooting
  • Up to 10-bit 4k video recording
  • Single SD card slot
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • OLED electronic viewfinder
  • 3.15” fold out LCD touchscreen
  • Canon RF lens mount
  • 660g with battery and memory card
  • $2,299 body only, $3,399 with a 24-105mm f/4L lens

Nikon Z7

Nikon’s top end Z7, with its ludicrous 45 megapixel sensor, is basically the best mirrorless camera Nikon could realistically make. It’s also by far the most expensive.

  • 45.7 megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 493 point autofocus system
  • 64-25600 ISO
  • Up to 9fps continuous shooting
  • Up to 10-bit 4k video recording
  • Single XQD card slot
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • OLED viewfinder
  • 3.2” adjustable LCD touchscreen
  • Nikon Z lens mount
  • 5-axis in-body stabilization
  • 675g with battery and memory card
  • $3,399.95 body only, $3999.95 with 24-70 f/4 lens

Nikon Z6

Nikon’s Z6 is far from a low end camera, but it is the lowest specced of the three cameras we’re looking at today. Nikon bills it as an all-rounder and that’s pretty much the case. It’s not the best camera here, but it’s not trying to be.

  • 24.5 megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 273 point autofocus system
  • 100-51200 ISO
  • Up to 12fps continuous shooting
  • Up to 10-bit 4k full frame video recording
  • Single XQD card slot
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • OLED viewfinder
  • 3.2” adjustable LCD touchscreen
  • Nikon Z lens mount
  • 5-axis in-body stabilization
  • 675g with battery and memory card
  • $1,999.95 body only, $2,599.95 with 24-70 f/4 lens

New Lenses Are Coming Slowly

Any new system is an opportunity to launch new lenses with new technologies and Canon and Nikon haven’t missed the chance with the release of their new mirrorless platforms.

Canon is launching four new lenses:

  • 28-70mm f/2L USM
  • 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro
  • 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Nikon is launching three new lenses:

  • 24-70mm f/4 S
  • 35mm f/1.8 S
  • 50mm f/1.8 S

They also both have a lot more lenses in the development pipeline.

They’re All Backwards Compatible (With Adaptors)

The problem with launching a new platform with a new camera mounting is that Canon and Nikon have invested decades into their EF and F mounts respectively. There are hundreds of great lenses in the back catalog and it’s a bit difficult to totally abandon them. To that end, both Canon and Nikon are launching adaptors alongside their mirrorless cameras.

Canon is launching three EF-RF adaptors: a basic mount adaptor ($99.99), a mount adapter with a control ring that emulates the electronic controls on the newer dedicated R lenses ($199.99), and a mount adapter with a drop in filter system ($299.99 with a circular polariser, $399.99 with a variable ND). They’ll all work with EF and EF-S lenses.

Nikon’s only launching the one FTZ mount adapter ($249.95) that will be “fully compatible” (full automatic control) with more than 90 F-mount lenses and partially compatible (some manual control needed) with another 270 or so lenses.

They’re Mirrorless But Not Small

The days of mirrorless cameras being small and light are pretty much done, at least at the professional end of things. The three cameras are all chunky and, at about 200g lighter than a full frame DSLR, still pretty weighty (660g for the Canon, 675g for the Nikon).

And yes, while they do shave off a bit of bulk, the lenses are what take up by far the most space. A 24-70mm zoom lens can only be so small, regardless of what body it’s designed for.

The Reception Has Been Mixed

Canon and Nikon’s entry into the mirrorless scene has been so long in coming that expectations were high. While they’ve both delivered credible cameras, the reality is neither has been particularly innovative. For all the hype and build up, a lot of people have been left wanting more, especially if their pet feature hasn’t made the spec list.

This is pretty much par for the course for any new tech products—just look at any recent Apple or Samsung release. It’s taken Canon and Nikon a huge amount of time and money to bring a combined three new cameras, seven new lenses, and four new adapters to the market. Now that they’re there, they can iterate and—hopefully—start to innovate more.

All three cameras have taken flack for having just one card slot. Nikon as well got heat for going with the newer XQD standard rather than the near universal SD standard that Canon stuck with.

The EOS R has also been called out for only having a 30MP sensor and no in-body image stabilization. It also lacks full frame 4K video recording which has upset some videographers.

Nikon has taken the most criticism for the lens selection and almost too streamlined controls. The lack of anything beyond 70mm at launch is definitely a hard sell and, for professionals, having a camera they can use instinctively is important.

Whatever way you slice it, Canon and Nikon’s entry into the mirrorless market hasn’t been a knockout blow to Sony—but anyone who thought it would be was fooling themselves. Sony has dominated the mirrorless industry unopposed for the last few years. Canon and Nikon’s entry was more about getting in and giving Sony some reasonable competition, than anything else.

Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like the New York Times and on a variety of other websites, including Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »