Canon EOS R Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Canon EOS R's JPEG image quality to its more expensive DSLR sibling, the Canon 5D Mark IV which uses a very similar sensor, and to the 6D Mark II DSLR which is less expensive and closer to the EOS R in build quality. We've also compared the EOS R to its closest full-frame mirrorless competitors, the Nikon Z6 and Sony A7 Mark III, and have included the Fuji X-T3, the only crop-sensor (APS-C) mirrorless camera in this comparison. Remember, you can always use our Comparometer to compare the Canon R to any camera we've tested.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Canon EOS R, Canon 5D IV, Canon 6D II, Fuji X-T3, Nikon Z6 and Sony A7 III -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Canon EOS R to any camera we've ever tested!

Canon EOS R vs Canon 5D Mark IV at Base ISO

Canon EOS R at ISO 100
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 100

Here we compare the Canon R to the 5D Mark IV DSLR, which uses a very similar sensor but older processor. As you can see, default image quality at base ISO has improved somewhat, as Canon has increased sharpening strength a notch while at the same time sharpening finer detail and reducing the width of sharpening haloes. More of the individual thread patterns in our notorious red-leaf swatch are now visible, while on the 5D IV the rendering of fabrics is smoother with less detail. Contrast appears a little higher from the EOS R as well. Some of the EOS R's IQ improvements can likely be attributed to the new RF 50mm lens, though. (Comparing raw images with no sharpening applied, it appears the new Canon RF 50mm lens may be a tiny bit sharper and contrastier than the Sigma 70mm we used for the 5D IV, but not by as much as is shown in the JPEGs.) Colors look very similar, though reds appear to be a little more saturated from the EOS R.

Canon EOS R vs Canon 6D Mark II at Base ISO

Canon EOS R at ISO 100
Canon 6D Mark II at ISO 100

Above we compare the EOS R to the less expensive 26-megapixel 6D Mark II DSLR. As you can see, the 30-megapixel EOS R does resolve a bit more detail, while sharpness and contrast are improved for the same reasons mentioned previously. Luminance noise levels do appear a little higher from the EOS R in flatter areas, though, so it'll be interesting to see how they compare at high ISOs below.

Canon EOS R vs Fujifilm X-T3 at Base ISO

Canon EOS R at ISO 100
Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 160

Here, we've decided to compare the EOS R to Fujifilm's latest premium APS-C mirrorless camera, the 26-megapixel X-T3. The EOS R does resolve more fine detail than the Fuji thanks to its higher resolution as well as its Bayer color filter. However, as you can see, the EOS R also generated some moiré patterns in the red-leaf fabric which the X-T3 did not, thanks to the Fuji's more "random" X-Trans color filter pattern. Luminance noise is lower from the EOS R as well. The X-T3 image appears just a little crisper yet both appear to apply similar levels of sharpening, but keep in mind the X-T3 has no image softening anti-aliasing filter. Colors are warmer from the Fuji, and overall contrast is lower as well.

Canon EOS R vs Nikon Z6 at Base ISO

Canon EOS R at ISO 100
Nikon Z6 at ISO 100

Above we compare the EOS R to one of its closest competitors, the 24-megapixel Nikon Z6. As you can see, the EOS R does resolve slightly more detail thanks to its higher pixel count. The Nikon image is crisper and more contrasty, but sharpening haloes are more visible as well. Interestingly, moiré patterns are more visible from the Nikon in the red-leaf fabric though the Canon shows some too, even though both cameras have anti-aliasing filters. We suspect the filter on the Nikon is a little weaker than the Canon's. Colors are more vibrant and punchy from the Nikon though generally warmer, while noise levels in flatter areas appear lower.

Canon EOS R vs Sony A7 III at Base ISO

Canon EOS R at ISO 100
Sony A7 III at ISO 100

Here's another comparison to a direct competitor, the 24-megapixel Sony A7 Mark III. Once again, the Canon has a resolution advantage, though perhaps not as much as the relative pixel counts would imply, as the Sony's AA filter is either very weak or nonexistent (Sony has been quite coy about stating whether the A7 III has an AA filter or not). And despite the improvements in the Canon's default sharpening, the Sony still produces a crisper image while keeping sharpening haloes to a minimum. The A7 III offers pretty good color reproduction too, but we still prefer color from the EOS R overall.

Canon EOS R vs Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 1600

Canon EOS R at ISO 1600
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600, we see improved detail retention from the EOS R's revised standard processing, but luminance noise appears to be a little higher as a result. However, keep in mind you can always set the two cameras to use the same sharpening parameters (defaults used here) which should yield very similar results.

Canon EOS R vs Canon 6D Mark II at ISO 1600

Canon EOS R at ISO 1600
Canon 6D Mark II at ISO 1600

The EOS R's slight resolution advantage and improved default processing are still evident here at ISO 1600, but as expected, luminance noise is higher as well.

Canon EOS R vs Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 1600

Canon EOS R at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 1600

Above at ISO 1600, we can see the EOS R continues to resolve a bit more detail than the X-T3, while producing much lower luminance noise. The X-T3 image is arguably a little crisper, but the EOS R produces better contrast, and does a much better job at retaining detail in our tricky red-leaf swatch despite interference from moiré patterns.

Canon EOS R vs Nikon Z6 at ISO 1600

Canon EOS R at ISO 1600
Nikon Z6 at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600, the EOS R still manages to hold onto more detail than the Z6 while producing similar noise levels, however the Nikon produces a crisper, more vibrant and contrasty image, but with more noticeable sharpening haloes as well. The Canon easily bests the Nikon in our troublesome red-leaf fabric, even though both show moiré patterns.

Canon EOS R vs Sony A7 III at ISO 1600

Canon EOS R at ISO 1600
Sony A7 III at ISO 1600

The A7 III's image is much crisper than the EOS R's here at ISO 1600. Fine detail is much better from the Sony as well, despite the slightly lower resolution. Noise levels in flatter areas are higher from the Sony, though, and the "grain" pattern is a little less consistent and natural than the Canon's. The Sony's context-specific noise reduction also produces some unnatural-looking artifacts in our red-leaf swatch, and moiré patterns are more evident, too. Color continues to be a bit more accurate and pleasing from the Canon.

Canon EOS R vs Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 3200

Canon EOS R at ISO 3200
Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 3200

Fairly similar image quality from these two siblings here at ISO 3200. The EOS R holds onto a touch more detail than the 5D IV, but luminance noise continues to be higher as well.

Canon EOS R vs Canon 6D Mark II at ISO 3200

Canon EOS R at ISO 3200
Canon 6D Mark II at ISO 3200

The EOS R's resolution advantage and improved default processing compared to the 6D II are again still evident here at ISO 3200, but luminance noise is significantly higher from the EOS R as well.

Canon EOS R vs Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 3200

Canon EOS R at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 3200

The EOS R's image quality continues to best the X-T3's here at ISO 3200, with better detail, higher contrast, lower noise and fewer noise reduction artifacts, though the X-T3's image does look a bit crisper around some high-contrast elements.

Canon EOS R vs Nikon Z6 at ISO 3200

Canon EOS R at ISO 3200
Nikon Z6 at ISO 3200

The EOS R continues to deliver more detail here at ISO 3200, while the Z6 image is contrastier, a little crisper and more vibrant. Luminance noise is lower from the Nikon, though its sharpened "grain" pattern doesn't look quite as consistent and film-like as the Canon's.

Canon EOS R vs Sony A7 III at ISO 3200

Canon EOS R at ISO 3200
Sony A7 III at ISO 3200

The Sony A7 III continues to produce a much crisper and more detailed image here at ISO 3200. Luminance noise levels are similar, but the Sony's "grain" pattern is less consistent and natural-looking than the Canon's in flatter areas, while chroma noise appears to be a little higher from the Sony in the shadows as well.

Canon EOS R vs. Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 6D Mark II, Fujifilm X-T3, Nikon Z6, Sony A7 III

Canon
EOS R
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
5D Mark IV
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
6D Mark II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Fujifilm
X-T3
ISO 160
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
Z6
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A7 III
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it separately here. As you can see above, the EOS R performs a little better than the 5D Mark IV at base ISO, however at higher ISOs, the 5D IV appears to produce slightly better results. The EOS R performs similar to the 6D Mark II as well, though with slightly higher resolving power and higher noise. The Fuji X-T3 produced the lowest contrast of the group yet with nice sharpness. It struggled a bit with accurately rendering fine detail such as the small red text even at base ISO, though, while noise was the highest at high ISOs. Keep in mind it's an APS-C camera, though. The Z6 produced the highest contrast with very good detail, though sharpening haloes are arguably the most evident in this group. The A7 III produced good contrast and very good detail, while yielding very crisp images with the least degradation as ISO climbed.

 

Canon EOS R Print Quality Analysis

Very nice 30 x 40 inch prints all the way up to ISO 800; a pleasing 8 x 10 inch print at ISO 12,800; and usable 4 x 6 prints up to ISO 102,400.

ISO 50 through 800 prints look nearly identical, with crisp, fine detail and vibrant, pleasing colors, which all easily make for excellent prints up to our maximum test print size of 30 x 40 inches. With a 30MP full-frame sensor, the EOS R easily makes prints up to this large size; an extremely minimal amount of pixelation is visible at close inspection, but for a typical viewing distance, it's hardly an issue. Overall, in terms of a maximum print size at these lower ISOs, you're only limited to how much you want to push the camera's resolving power, otherwise print quality is excellent at 30 x 40 inches and smaller.

ISO 1600 prints begin to show some visible noise, and we see a slight softening of fine detail, although the image overall still displays very good fine detail. Here, we capped prints at a still-respectable 24 x 36 inches, which is still very large. Overall, noise is very minimal, and careful post-processing might get you cleaner images that are capable of even larger prints at this sensitivity.

ISO 3200 images begin to display stronger noise -- stronger than the noise we see at this ISO from the 5D Mark IV at default settings -- and as such, we're calling it at 16 x 20 inches for good prints here for the EOS R. Fine detail is similar to the 5D IV, however the EOS R displays somewhat stronger noise in the background and shadow areas, thus slightly limiting print size at this ISO. That being said, with careful post processing or for less critical applications, a 20 x 30-inch print could be acceptable.

ISO 6400 prints, interestingly, match up nicely against the 5D IV's performance at this ISO level, topping out at a nice 13 x 19 inches. Noise is, of course, stronger, but still very well controlled for the most part. Higher contrast details are still crisp, and colors are still rich and pleasing.

ISO 12,800 images show stronger noise, both in the shadow areas and on print detail throughout, reducing print size to 8 x 10 inches. 11 x 14-inch prints appear too noisy at this ISO for critical applications.

ISO 25,600 prints top-out at 5 x 7 inches. An 8 x 10 print at this ISO shows nice detail, even a hint more fine detail in some areas of our test scene compared to that from the 5D Mark IV. However, noise is simply too strong for our liking at this larger print size, so we're calling it at 5 x 7 inches for the EOS R.

ISO 40,000 images, the EOS R's maximum native ISO, are just hitting the cut-off mark for a good 5 x 7-inch print. Noise is definitely strong here at this sensitively and its taking a toll on fine detail.

ISO 51,200 prints are usable up to 4 x 6 inches, or perhaps 5 x 7 inches for less critical applications. Noise has become quite strong now, preventing acceptable prints at larger sizes.

ISO 102,400 images, much like the previous ISO, top-out at 4 x 6 inches. This ISO is barely usable for prints, especially for anything larger, but we don't see the splotchy chroma noise artifacts that are visible on the 5D Mark IV's max ISO prints. Therefore, we're considering ISO 102,400 usable for 4 x 6-inch prints from the EOS R, which is quite impressive.

Much like its DSLR sibling, the 5D Mark IV, the new Canon EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera has a solid showing here in our print quality analysis, particularly at lower ISOs. Up to ISO 800, the EOS R does remarkably well, with sharp, vibrantly-colored prints that work very nicely all the way up to 30 x 40 inches and beyond, depending on how far you want to push the resolving power of its 30-megapixel sensor. At ISO 1600 and beyond, we start to see noise becoming increasingly stronger, particularly with lower contrast area and shadow regions. Canon has tweaked the default JPEG processing of the EOS R compared to that of the 5D Mark IV, and while fine detail can look a bit better from the EOS R, it does show slightly stronger noise than the 5D Mark IV at the same ISOs. Still, for the Canon EOS R, ISO 1600 images can still be printed at impressively large sizes, at up 24 x 36 inches, and even if you crank the ISO up to 12,800, you're still capable of a pleasing 8 x 10 print. What's more, despite the slight difference in high ISO/noise performance between the EOS R and 5D Mark IV, the EOS R edges out the Mark IV just a bit, producing a usable 4 x 6 inch print at its maximum expanded ISO of 102,400, whereas the 5D Mark IV did not.

 



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