In this article we’ll look at all the important specifications relevant to video and see which camera is the best value for money.
|Camera||Price of Camera body||Included Accessories /Software||Lens Mount|
|EOS R||$1,999||One battery + Charger|
Strap and Body Cap
Interface Cable (IFC-100U)
Camera Cover (R-F-5)
|RF (EF with adapter)|
|Nikon Z6||$1,797||One battery + Charger|
Strap and Body Cap
|Z (F with adapter)|
They are really similar in terms of the value package, aren’t they? The price of the Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H) has fallen recently as well, so the difference isn’t always so great between the two. However, in certain cases, Nikon ships the FTZ adapter (Amazon, B&H) free with the body, so that adds value.
Both cameras are weather-sealed and are made of Magnesium alloy. You only get full protection if you use weather sealed lenses (and adapters if you are using other lenses).
They both have the relevant connections – HDMI for the best quality video, USB ports for charging, microphone port for audio and headphone jack for monitoring audio.
They both have new lens mounts, and each company touts their lens mount is best. Initially though, both companies have adopted different strategies for their lens roadmap. Nikon has focused more on the budget shooter, while Canon has gone for the best lenses it can make for the RF mount.
To learn more about the available lenses for each system, check out these articles:
Nikon pulls ahead with IBIS (in-body image stabilization) that corrects for 5-axis of movement. Which means no matter what lens you have, you get stabilized footage.
In the real-world, it’s important, but don’t expect miracles. I’ve found in practice it does not substitute for a gimbal, but it is definitely handy when you’re using manual lenses with no stabilization.
Both manufacturers have released lens adapters so existing lenses can be used with these newer cameras. In this regard, Canon has definitely out-thought Nikon, with not one but three different EF to EOS R adapters (Amazon, B&H) to choose from.
All adapters offer full control over Canon EF lenses:
- All adapters retain Canon in-lens IS (image stabilization), autofocus control, sharpness, color rendition, and contrast.
- Each is weather sealed to prevent dust and moisture from entering (assuming the lens is also weather sealed)
- Full compatibility with Canon EF and EF-S lenses as well as most 3rd party lenses. Sigma offers full compatibility; Tamron limited compatibility but growing.
Here’s the list of adapters:
|1||“Basic” Adapter||Has full control, cheapest option||(Amazon, B&H)|
|2||Control Ring Adapter||Adds a control ring to control ISO, Aperture, Exposure Compensation, etc.||(Amazon, B&H)|
|3||Drop-in Filter Adapter with Variable ND filter||Has a slot in the adapter to use rear filters. In this case a variable ND filter.||(Amazon, B&H)|
|Drop-in Filter Adapter with Circular Polarizer filter||Has a slot in the adapter to use rear filters. In this case a circular polarizing filter.||(Amazon, B&H)|
The Nikon FTZ adapter has a base that helps with support, but for some strange reason is not level with the base of the camera. So you need a riser of some sort to affix a baseplate that spans both adapter and camera.
With the optional Mount Adapter FTZ, the F-Mount NIKKOR lenses you love* retain all of their sharpness plus gain the benefits of in-camera VR, silent shooting, smooth, fast Hybrid AF and more.
*Full AF/AE supported when using FX or DX AF-S Type G/D/E, AF-P type G/E, AF-I type D and AF-S / AF-I Teleconverters– Nikon USA
Either way it is clear if you have a range of existing EF/F-mount lenses, you will be able to adapt them to your newer camera bodies.
On the whole though, the newer lenses are a better buy for these reasons:
- Quieter AF performance.
- Better AF performance because they are designed for the newer sensor.
- Keeps weight down.
- Are weather sealed.
- Have modern optical designs.
Comparison of video features
Now let’s get into the camera, specifically for video details.
|Camera||Horizontal Crop Factor for 4K (Internal)||4K Resolution||ISO Range||Native ISO|
|EOS R||1.75||3840 x 2160||100-40000||400 in C-Log|
|Z6||1.0||3840 x 2160||100-51200||800 in N-Log|
This is one area the Nikon Z6 (Amazon, B&H) pulls ahead. It has no crop in 4K when recording internally, and it has better low light performance. In fact, the shadows are really clean and you can even underexpose slightly without penalty.
For more information, please watch my detailed Nikon Z6 review for cinematography.
When it comes to color science, both cameras record to 8-bit 4:2:0 internally, with Canon having the better codec. Here are the important specs about color:
|Camera||Color Information (Internal)||Best Data Rates, Codec||Color Information (External)|
|EOS R||8-bit 4:2:0||480 Mbps ALL-I||10-bit 4:2:2*|
|Z6||8-bit 4:2:0||144 Mbps IPB||10-bit 4:2:2 (Future Prores RAW)|
*I’ve heard rumors that the EOS R might also get Prores RAW, but nothing has been announced, and it is not advisable to expect it unless it becomes a reality – for both cameras.
Finally, let’s talk about image quality. Both cameras shoot log, and video is restricted to 12 stops of dynamic range. I believe, as far as image quality is concerned, I’d give the very slight edge to the Nikon Z6 (Amazon, B&H), because it has better noise performance in the shadows.
Does the 1.75x crop factor matter?
Not really. Super 35mm has a crop factor of 1.5, and 1.75 isn’t far off that. This is a non-issue. Canon has a range of lenses that will allow you to get wide angle shots even with that crop factor. You don’t get the full frame aesthetic, but the great majority of modern cinematography was done on Super 35mm film. Unless you absolutely have to have a full frame aesthetic, I see no reason to worry about this. Having said that, most customers have a right to be unhappy about the crop mode. After all, you are buying a full frame camera. If you are happy with a crop mode, then why not just buy an APS-C camera instead?
Since Canon uses a cropped area, the rolling shutter performance is on par with Nikon. It should be better, but the Z6 has a faster sensor readout, being a Sony sensor. So overall they are the same for all practical video use. Or, in other words, they suck equally.
Next up, we come to frame rates:
|Camera||Maximum frame rate in 4K||Maximum frame rate|
|EOS R||29.97p||119.88 fps in 720p|
|Z6||29.97p||119.88 fps in 1080p|
Nikon has the edge here, with better frame rates in 1080p.
|Camera||Dual Card Slots?||Media for 4K||Market price per GB (64 GB)*||Price per hour of 4K|
|EOS R||No||SD UHS-II||$1.8/GB||$380|
The internal data rate with the Canon is high, and it mitigates any cost advantage SD cards might bring, even if you use the cheaper ones. There are two costs associated with media:
- You will save on hard drive space with the Z6.
- You will save on media costs with the Z6.
However, it’s not really an apples vs apples comparison, because the codecs are different. If you’re happy with an IPB codec, the EOS R also has that option available at 120 Mbps. Then the advantage lies with Canon!
Battery life and Power
|Camera||Battery life||Cost of one battery||Cost per hour battery life^||External DC input?|
|EOS R||1.5 hours||$61||$41/hr||USB-C*|
*USB charging for EOS R uses the Canon PD-E1 USB charger (Amazon, B&H). USB charging for Nikon Z6 can use Nikon EH-7P Charging AC Adapter (Amazon, B&H) but isn’t required. You can also charge (very slowly) using the supplied USB-C cable.
^Both cameras have a 29 min 59 sec recording time limit.
- It has better battery life.
- The charging adapter is cheaper.
Which is the better camera for video?
Here’s a summary of each round, and the “winner”:
|New lenses||Canon EOS R|
|Lens adapters||Canon EOS R|
|Video features||Nikon Z6|
|Image quality||Depends – Z6 via HDMI and EOS R internally|
|AF for video||Canon EOS R|
|Image stabilization||Nikon Z6|
|Battery life||Nikon Z6|
But that’s not the whole story. These cameras don’t exist in a vacuum.
First, let’s look at the pros and cons:
|EOS R||Unique Control Ring system, variety of adapters.||Record C-log internally, better internal codec, better AF for video.||You get a 1.75x crop in video.|
|Z6||5-Axis Image Stabilization, XQD card system.||Battery life, higher ISOs, better low light performance.||Poor AF, no N-log recording internally, focus-by-wire system, no in-camera meter or important exposure tools.|
I’m not including Prores RAW as a USP, because, as of this writing it hasn’t been made available yet. But if it does come, that would be a serious advantage.
To my eye these cameras are targeted at slightly different people:
Canon EOS R:
Those who like Canon colors like Canon colors. AF performance is hard to beat. The lenses Canon has released are expensive, and are targeted at professionals who make money. The various lens adapters also show total commitment to existing customers bringing EF lenses to this new platform. The Canon EOS R (Amazon | B&H) is meant to be a primary camera.
What about film/cinema work?
Yes, because Canon would like the EOS R to complement their more expensive cameras like the C200, C300 Mark II and the C700. The ability to control focus and record C-log internally show this clearly.
Those who like Nikon colors like Nikon colors. But the lenses Nikon has released are “low-end”. They want their existing customers to take baby steps into the system, and bring their existing lenses over. In other words, this might be a second camera instead of the primary camera.
What about film/cinema work?
Not really. The Z6 lacks important exposure tools, including a meter for video. You can’t record log internally, and the lenses are focus-by-wire, not designed for focus pulling*.
*Nikon might make an update available to give us a linear focus system similar to Canon, but it hasn’t been announced yet as of this writing.
The difference is subtle. Canon expects their customers to move into this new platform right now. Nikon expects them to move in later. My personal opinion is that Nikon has been too tentative with the Z6. They sang praises about the new Z mount, but didn’t release a single lens to justify the hype. Canon released a 28-70mm f/2 (Amazon, B&H)!!
What’s the bottom line?
- Better AF and MF, both.
- C-log internally and 10-bit 4:2:2 externally.
- Better lenses off the gate.
- Better adapters with a super-useful variable ND filter.
- Control ring for RF lenses and the EF-EOS R adapter, and it can be de-clicked!
The Nikon Z6 (Amazon, B&H) pushes ahead of the EOS R in most categories, and only becomes a more capable video system with the addition of an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja V (Amazon, B&H). That adds to the cost. It only becomes worth it if and when the Prores RAW feature becomes available.
To know more about video features, read these articles:
- Important Quirks and Features of the Canon EOS R for Cinematography
- Important Quirks and Features of the Nikon Z6 for Cinematography
On the whole, I would say Canon has done a better job of introducing its fanbase to the mirrorless world than Nikon. But they are not comparable cameras for video, and I don’t think either company has offered a product so compelling the others’ user base will dump their existing lenses and switch.
What do you think?