Canon R6, Sony a7 III, Nikon Z 6II, and Panasonic S5: Which Is Best?

The number of mid-range mirrorless full frame cameras has exploded in the last year and if you’re trying to figure out the right option for you, check out this comparison of the best cameras currently available.

Jordan Drake and Chris Nichols of DPReview TV run you through their thoughts on which camera offers the best performance and it’s perhaps a nod to the impact of the Sony a7 III that it’s still included in a comparison such as this almost three years after it was first announced. At just $1,698 it’s currently the lowest price it’s ever been and while the shooting experience certainly isn’t refined, Sony rammed in a ton of features that still makes it feel competitive against today’s contenders.

It’s also by far the most affordable camera on this list. The Panasonic S5 and the brand new Nikon are both a few dollars short of $2,000, though you will have to wait a few more weeks for the Z 6II which is expected to start shipping by mid-December. Nikon just teased its array of Z-mount lenses which should fully mature with a choice of 24 by the end of next year.

By contrast, the Canon R6 is the most expensive of the bunch at $2,499.

If you were pondering a brand new camera system, which one of these would be your choice? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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12 Comments

Keith Meinhold's picture

Good review, if you understand a few things:

1. This is about Full Frame cameras only (APS-C/MFT cameras are not included)
2. Restricted to "enthusiast" cameras only (what constitutes enthusiast is debatable)
3. The cameras are that not close in price: the R6 for example is 1.5X the price of the Sony

What is "best" depends on individual use and budget.

J Cortes's picture

Totally agree with the sentiment. There's more to cameras than just specs. I always feel "reviewers" gloss over the user experience or don't describe little nuances that can make a difference in the end.

Jonathan James's picture

My geek side always wants to go with Sony for the tech, but I just can't get over how gross they feel in my hand every time I pick one up. The user experience is awful, IMO. Nikon is similar to me, though not as bad as Sony. Canon is comfort food, I guess... just feels right. So I don't mind spending a little extra for a device that feels more crafted to me. The extra $ doesn't matter when I consider the lifespan of the camera.

Vito Valenzi's picture

Ehh I shot with canon for years and after a week the ergonomics didn't bother me at all. I just wish I can get 60fps in 4k and a better menu.

Simon Hartmann's picture

Intersting statement. I often read or hear that people swear by canons User-experience and handling. I recently tested and compared an r6 to the Sony a7siii and found the opposite. I just found the sony much better to handle, much easier. Except for canons nice touch implementation. I like sonys grip & weight distribution better, also the menu seems better.
And im coming from Blackmagic and Panasonic, so was interesting to see that.
But yeah, i didnt like canons handling (it has no exposure compensation and customisation is severely lacking). My fav until now is fuji, just fun to use. As a pro tool, i really like the new sony. Feels great to use. Gets out of my way.

Dan Jefferies's picture

All Canon's have exposure compensation....

Keith Meinhold's picture

Interesting. User experience is not at the top of my list. We all have our preferences - guess that's why they make vanilla and chocolate. For me, reliable focus, image quality (especially dynamic range), followed by minimal weight and size top my list. That makes me a Sony shooter. Can't say any camera UX/UI has impressed me to date, I think they are all pretty bad.

Matthew Mastrandrea's picture

I own an R6, and adore the thing. Granted, I was already in the Canon ecosystem (albeit, with an 80D) with a lot invested in lenses. If I were going to switch, it would probably be to Fuji just for the simplicity and overall feel of the thing. There really is something special about: A) The classic feel, which reminds me of my Minolta SRT's from my Dad. B) Those colors.

Troy Phillips's picture

Great review and thanks . I guessed the order almost. I figured the Nikon would out shine the Panasonic. I like all the cameras and probably the Sony the least. To me menus, user interface and camera feel mean a lot .
I will be getting a Nikon Z6ii. And my reasons are , I have a ton of Nikon f/glass , I like Nikon image rendering and for the video out . I’m wanting BlackMagic Raw . 10bit 4:2:2 log in ProRes HQ is what I’ll use for a bit . I plan on getting a BlackMagic Ursa mini pro 12k oh and a Sony fx6 or a7siii. And probably the a7siii because I’ll get a 12mp low light beast of a camera for live music photography too.
I have a production company that shoots live music shows. We now have a small tv series and shoot some festivals . If all else goes well and the COVID allows we will be stepping into more production type cameras that can handle the long days in the saddle.

Timothy Zdrale's picture

I would never think of going back to Nikon, Canon or even consider Panasonic . . .
Your talking mainly video performance here.
The Sony a7iii is still hands down my camera of choice. Overall versatlity, quality, handling,
cost and performance out guns the rest of these cameras! Sony a7iii was the leader and still is!

Timothy Gasper's picture

It's so nice (sarcasm) to read....Is this camera or this camera or this one the best? And then read at the end...."which one of these would be your choice?" Yeah.....it's SO nice to read this.

Brian Nastali's picture

Comparing the Sony a7 iii to the 3 other cameras is funny, though it does show which company is in the forefront: Sony! If a 3-year old camera can hold it's own with the newest models from the other 3 companies reviewed, it tells you something.

I've been shooting for 40ish years and have used them all. I owned one of the first dSLR pro level cameras and used the original digital gallery cameras, so I've seen the technology advancement, from a professional standard, from the beginning.

While throughout my film days, in the 35mm format, I was a solid Nikon user...sure I had may other brands, some I loved for specific uses, but as a whole, Nikon won hands down.

As film is now a niche market relic (to this day...I do not believe digital has come far enough to exactly reproduce the organic nature of a great B&W film or the ability to tweak the film during shoots and post shoot in the development stages), it's clear, body technology wise, that Sony, as lifetime electronics company, has the advantage...glass is a different animal in itself. I think Sony will continue to outpace their competitors, in the mainstream mass-market category, for the foreseeable future...the rest will continue to play catch-up, especially the old-guard camera companies, like Nikon.

But considering price, if a $1700 3-year-old camera ties and comes in not that far behind the likes of the $2000-2500 cameras, I certainly wouldn't spend the $800 extra to get the Canon (I was never a fan of Canon...other than their printers, copiers, and micro-presses...great stuff), it's not $800 better than the Sony. I'd buy the Sony a7 iii if I couldn't wait for the Sony a7 iv...and based on the Sony a7r iv, I believe the a7 iv will be sitting in the same spot 3 years after it's release, as the Sony a7 iii is now!

As for feel/handling/menus/etc of a camera...you learn to adapt to the camera you have...so I generally don't place that high on my requirements list. Ability and photo quality are at the top, then durability, then the rest (minus video...I use dedicated video equipment for video)...of course it's a plus if it looks good too! ;-)

That being said, for digital, full frame 35mm format, I did recently make the switch from Nikon to Sony. I gave my son my F-Mount dSLR bodies. Admittedly, part of that decision came from Nikon's new Z-Mount, which meant either way I had to get new glass (to get the full benefits of the Z-series bodies), so l might as well move over to, what I consider, the best platform currently out there. Plus, the single XQD slot on the first generation Z-series bodies was a mistake, unless your target market was customers that didn't previously own any storage media!