Sony A7 IV vs Canon EOS R6 – The 10 main differences

The Sony A7 IV arrived in 2021, three years after the very popular A7 III, a product that helped Sony soar in popularity as a digital camera manufacturer, and has convinced many people to switch from Canon DSLRs.

With the R6, Canon got back on track with much better performance in comparison to the first EOS R, and a product that shows the company is finally taking the mirrorless market seriously.

Let’s see how these two very capable photography tools compare.

Cover image with Sony A7 IV next to R6, with title of the article on top

More Sony A7 IV comparisons:

A7 III vs A7 IVA7 IV vs A7R IV

A7 IV vs A7S IIIA7 IV vs A7R III

A7 IV vs A9 IIA7 IV vs A7C

A7 IV vs Z6 IIA7 IV vs R6


Ethics statement: the following is based on official information about the Sony A7 IV and our direct experience with the Canon R6. We were not asked to write anything about these products, nor were we provided with any sort of compensation. Within the article, there are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!


1. Sensor and image quality

The two cameras feature a 35mm sensor (full frame).

The A7 IV has two leading characteristics: more resolution (33MP vs 20.1MP) and a BSI design (back-illuminated) which collects light more efficiently than the standard design. It also lacks the AA filter.

The ISO range is slightly different between the two cameras as far as the normal range is concerned:

A7 IVR6
100-51,200 ISO
(normal)
100-102,400 ISO
(normal)
50-204,800 ISO
(extended)
50-204,800 ISO
(extended)

Concerning the image files, the A7 IV can shoot 14-bit RAW with three levels of compression: uncompressed, lossless compressed or compressed. The R6 has two: RAW (lossless) or C.RAW (compressed).

Another option available on both products, in addition to JPG, is HDR/HEIF which works in 10-bit as opposed to 8-bit for the JPG. Keep in mind that this format is still not widely used, nor is it compatible with every photo editor software.


2. Autofocus

Both cameras feature an advanced autofocus system.

The A7 IV uses 759 phase detection points and 425 contrast detection points. The phase area covers 94% of the sensor. There is deep learning A.I. with real-time tracking and Eye AF. The latter works for humans, animals and birds, for photos and movie recording.

Asian woman under a tree, looking on the right, with a small green rectangle on her eye (simulating Eye AF)

The R6 has Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF II technology with 100% coverage when Tracking AF is used. (Otherwise it’s 90% horizontal and 100% vertical with other AF methods.) With the single AF method, there are more than 6,000 points! The R6 also features a deep learning algorithm and can detect the body, face or eyes of humans and animals, including birds. The latter works for video too.

Screenshot of the Canon R6 live view, showing animal subject detection AF at work on a red kite flying under the blue sky

The R6 has an advantage in low light thanks to the greater sensitivity:

  • A7 IV: -4Ev (f/2 aperture)
  • R6: -6.5Ev (f/1.2 aperture, or -5Ev at f/2)

3. Continuous shooting

The Sony A7 mark IV can record at the maximum speed of 10fps, either with the mechanical or electronic shutter.

The R6 can double the speed when the e-shutter is used (20fps), or go up to 12fps with the mechanical version.

All these speeds are available with continuous autofocus and tracking. Be aware that with continuous shooting and electronic shutter, the bit-depth drops from 14 to 12-bit RAW.

red kite catching something in the water
R6, 1/2500s, f/8, ISO 4000 – EF 800mm F5.6

The maximum speed can decrease on both cameras depending on circumstances or specific settings. For example, on the Sony you need a CFexpress card to shoot with compressed RAW, and if you choose uncompressed or lossless compressed RAW, the speed drops to 6fps more or less.

On the R6, various conditions such as the cold, low battery life, shutter speeds slower than 1/1000s and other things can impact the fastest speed too, and it can drop to 9fps or even 7fps (when using the mechanical shutter, data for the e-shutter is not available).

Concerning the buffer capabilities, the A7 IV can record more than 1,000 images at full speed (Lossy RAW or JPG). According to Sony, this is only true when using the CFexpress card.

The R6 can record about 240 RAW files before slowing down at 12fps, or approximately 1,000 JPGs.

At 20fps, the Canon does 100 RAW files or 600 JPGs before slowing down.


4. Stabilisation system

The A7 IV includes 5-axis stabilisation (IBIS) with an official rating of 5.5Ev of compensation.

Graphic image showing the IBIS mechanism inside the A7 IV

The R6 offers, on paper, superior performance with a record 8 stops of compensation. Keep in mind though that the rating can drop down to 7.5, 7 or even 6 stops depending on the lens used.

For video, the Sony offers an additional setting called Active mode, which uses the camera’s internal gyro sensor to reduce shakes and the wobble effect, especially when a wide angle lens is used. The field of view is reduced a little bit as a result. Alternatively, you can keep the stabilisation off and stabilise the video clips in Catalyst, which uses the data from the gyro sensor inside the camera for superior results.

The R6 also offers additional settings for movie recording: Digital IS with two levels (Standard and Enhanced). Here as well the sensor is cropped in order to make the footage more stable.


5. Video recording

Both cameras can record 4K up to 60fps, but the A7 IV has to crop the sensor by 1.5x in order to do so, whereas the Canon performs a smaller crop of 1.07x for all frame rates in 4K. Up to 30p, the Sony uses the entire width of the sensor.

amount of sensor crop when recording 4K for the A7 IV and R6

Both cameras offer 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording. In the case of the R6, this is available only when selecting the Canon Log or HDR PQ settings, and works with the H.265 codec.

The A7 IV features two Log gamma curves, HLG and a lot of advanced parameters found in the Picture Profiles, which come from Sony’s Cinema cameras.

The A7 IV can record with a maximum bitrate of 600Mbps when the XAVC S-I codec (All-Intra) is selected. The R6 reaches the 340Mbps when recording 10-bit, or 230Mbps in 8-bit.

The Sony has an advantage with long hours of recording, because it doesn’t have the 30 minute limit per clip like the R6. Furthermore, the A7 model has been designed to reduce overheating with the help of a heat dissipation structure, and should allow the Alpha camera to record for more than 1 hour. The R6, according to my own tests, can overheat before a combined 60 minutes of footage.

LCD screen on the Canon R6 with the overheating symbol blinking

In Full HD, they can both record up to 120fps. The Canon is limited to 7 minutes / clip at that frame rate.

The R6 has a reduced ISO range when recording video: 100 to 25,600 ISO, although the extended value still reaches 204,800 ISO. For the A7 IV, only the extended ISO is more limited (up to 102,400).

Finally, both products come with a microphone input and headphone output (3.5mm socket).


6. Design and interface

The Canon R6 is a bit larger and heavier than the Sony A7 IV. They are built with a magnesium alloy chassis and include weather-sealing.

  • A7 IV: 131.3 x 96.4 x 79.8mm, 658g
  • R6: 138 x 97.5 x 88.4mm, 680g
difference in size between the A7 IV and R6, front view
difference in size between the A7 IV and R6, top view

Both cameras offer a good amount of controls, including various dials and the AF joystick on the rear.

Both models have the classic PSAM / Auto shooting dial on top. However Sony decided to separate video by adding a smaller switch underneath, so that you can change more quickly between the photo mode, video mode or S&Q mode (Slow & Quick motion).

The Sony offers a bit more customisation concerning the dials and number of custom buttons, as well as extra options that allow you to decide how different settings behave between stills and video mode. The Fn menu on the A7 model can also be personalised, unlike the Q menu on the Canon.

One thing that only the Canon system offers, is the possibility to customise the function ring that is available on every Canon RF lens.

control ring on the Canon RF 50mm 1.2

Both cameras can use two memory cards at the same time. The R6 takes two UHS-II SD cards just like the A7 IV, but the latter is also compatible with CFexpress Type A cards (first slot only).

Next, we have the physical connections. Both cameras have:

  • microphone input / headphone output (3.5mm)
  • HDMI output (full size on the Sony, Micro on the R6)
  • USB Type C (10Gbps on the Sony, 5Gbps on the Canon)

The Sony can do a few more things with its USB port: work with a wired LAN connection (with an adapter), and as a webcam without the need for an additional software. Note that the R6 can also be used as a webcam, but you need to install the Canon Utility Webcam plugin on your computer.

Finally, the Sony also works with digital audio (and compatible accessories) via the multi-interface shoe.


7. Viewfinder and rear screen

The two cameras have a similar viewfinder when it comes to the resolution, size, refresh rate and eyepoint: 3.69M dots, 0.5-in OLED panel, 120Hz max. and 23mm. The magnification is a bit higher on the Sony (0.78x vs 0.76x).

On the rear, we find a multi-angle 3-inch LCD that is also touch sensitive. The R6 monitor has more resolution (1.62M vs 1.04M).

male hands holding the Canon R6 with the LCD screen opened on the side

8. Battery life

The A7 IV uses the excellent NP-FZ100 battery and has a good rating of 610 frames per charge (LCD).

The R6 has worse performance, with an official rating of 510 photos (LCD).

Canon and Sony battery side by side

Both cameras can be charged or powered via USB but keep in mind that you need a high current charger for the Canon. A battery grip is also available for both.

Another thing is that the A7 IV comes without a battery charger in the box. You need to use the USB adapter, which means you can’t charge a battery while using a second one without buying an optional charger.


9. Lenses

The Sony full frame E-mount series started in late 2013 and, over eight years, the company has designed a superb range of lenses. Thanks to the support of third party brands such as Sigma, Tamron etc., there are now more than 80 lenses to choose from, for every budget and need. Furthermore, Sony uses the same mount for its APS-C mirrorless series, which offers extra versatility.

Sony-e-mount-lenses-2018

The Canon RF system started in 2018, and Canon has developed no fewer than 23 lenses. Support from third party brands is more limited as of now. Unlike Sony, Canon started from scratch by building a new mount and ignoring its EOS M APS-C mirrorless system.

Selection of Canon EOS R cameras and RF lenses on dark background

Canon EF DSLR lenses can be adapted on both cameras, although you need a third party adapter for the A7 IV, and the performance is not as good as that of the Canon, with the latter producing its own EOS R to EF adapter.


10. Price

The A7 IV is available for $2500, £2400 or €2800 (body only).

The R6 can be bought for a similar price, starting at $2500, £2400 or €2600 (body only).

Prices as of October 2021.


Conclusion

In the conclusion of my A7 III vs R6 full comparison, I said that Canon had closed the gap and even outperforms the Sony in key areas such as autofocus, stabilisation and video specs. Obviously the age difference (the mark III model is two years older) can explain some of the differences in performance.

With the A7 IV, the battle resumes and I expect it to be at the same level for the most part. This is one of the comparisons I will update as soon as possible, once my A7 IV arrives in December, and I’m really curious to see if my opinion changes.

For now, all I can say is that the A7 IV, on paper, looks like an interesting upgrade over its predecessor, although some areas may be a bit disappointing for some (4K crop, burst speed). Nonetheless, it is most likely the closest competitor to the R6, especially if we look at the price.

Check price of the Sony A7 IV on
Amazon | Amazon UK | B&H Photo | eBay

Check the price of the Canon EOS R6 on:
Amazon | Amazon UK | B&H Photo | eBay

Second-hand Sony gear on
MPB US | MPB UK


More Sony A7 IV comparisons:

A7 III vs A7 IVA7 IV vs A7R IV

A7 IV vs A7S IIIA7 IV vs A7R III

A7 IV vs A9 IIA7 IV vs A7C

A7 IV vs Z6 IIA7 IV vs R6