Unfortunately, I am unable to purchase each of these systems individually and make a rational decision in that way. I am simply presented with the information on the internet and asked to determine the winner as all of you are. With that in mind I have become something of an expert at determining winners in this fashion.

I have compiled a chart of the relevant reasons to purchase each one of the above systems. As you may note I have excluded Nikon’s F mount for the simple fact that I know the least about it.

On the other hand, I have included Canon’s EF mount because it is by far the dominant mount even with the ongoing switch to mirrorless. There really isn’t anything wrong with EF mount from a technology standpoint.

I personally think that the industry is probably headed towards a mirrorless future, so I’ve decided to focus mostly on mirrorless. And because of the wide adoption of EF mount that Canon achieved I’m including EF lenses and cameras in this comparison chart.

Overview
Pros
Cons
bottomline
Nikon Z System
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Overview
A solid new system from Nikon with decent lenses and some exciting new camera bodies like the Z9.
Pros
Entry Level lenses are very good, but a little higher priced. Rapid improvements have been made with new iterations of camera bodies. Nikon’s newest Z9 is poised to be one of their best cameras ever, assuming they meet all the high expectations that have been set.
Cons
Nikon still makes decent gear, I’m sure they will find some followers. But it’s going to be hard to compete with the Sony hype machine that is in full swing right now. I read that there were issues with the early cameras which probably hurt them right out of the gates.
bottomline
Nikon Z had some stumbles out of the gate, but they’ve started to catch up. Cameras like the Z9 have Nikon execs making big promises that it will meet all expectations. Whether the Z9 ends up being the revolution that Nikon promises remains to be seen.
Sony E System
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Overview
The most established FF mirrorless system that has gained the most traction amongst amateurs although more and more professionals are picking up Sony bodies these days.
Pros
Well established in the mirrorless space, Sony has a lot to offer. Good cameras and an ever-improving selection of lenses. Sony helped push the market to go mirrorless and helped bring down prices in the marketplace. Kudos to them for doing that.
Cons
They easily have the most confusing lineup in the history of camera gear. All the models look practically the same, have very similar names that are typically differentiated by one letter or number added on. Are they trying to be confusing? So, there is an a7 III, a7s III, a7r III a7r IV, a7 IV, a7 II, currently for sale. The a7s III is newer and more expensive than the a7r IV… Say what? But the a7 IV is newer and cheaper than both of those…
bottomline
Sony has their work cut out for them with Canon releasing some good cameras like the R5 and the R3. Sony immediately countered the R5 with the even more impressive A1. But it was a bit of a wet mop situation there. Priced at $6,500 the A1 is nearly $3,000 more than the R5. I’m not going to down the camera, it performs very, very well, and a Sony pro will be well served by the A1. I think it’s fair to say that while you may pay a lot for the Sony gear, you’re getting cameras and lenses that can do professional work.
Canon RF System
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Overview
The so far somewhat boring but functional mirrorless system from Canon. Unlike the other’s they seem intent on underachieving by as much as possible with each new release.
Pros
Canon always manages at least a few killer products. On RF mount they’ve been pushing boundaries with wider focal ranges and bigger apertures than we’ve seen before. Canon has been all over the map answering calls for lenses at all sorts of price points and focal lengths.
Cons
It’s hard to say what is and isn’t a con with Canon, if I had to pick one thing it’s that the company is boring to many people. Are they actually boring? Not really, but their presentation certainly is. Where companies like Apple could sell a shiny rock to their customers, Canon seems to believe that a policy of self-flagellation is what will sell the most cameras.
bottomline
Canon doesn’t seem particularly perturbed by Sony or Nikon, although recent efforts like the R5 and R3 do point to at least a slight sense of urgency. Based on recent sales data Canon is selling strong in the FF mirrorless world, pretty much on par with Sony. The fact that acquiring some Canon gear is next to impossible is probably hurting their sales somewhat too. All in all, Canon seems well poised to continue having a big presence in the camera world of the future.
Canon EF System
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Overview
The market leader by number of users and still by far the largest system of the bunch. I think Canon claims to have sold around 130 million EF lenses.
Pros
Canon EF is a proven system with great lenses, solid cameras, and a nice upgrade path for amateurs to follow. If you like optical viewfinders, it’s not a terrible system to invest in as EF mount lenses are easily adaptable with full AF functionality to Canon RF.
Cons
EF mount may or may not stick around for long. No doubt there will be new cameras in the future, will they be as good or better than what RF mount offers? Nobody knows. The good news is, as of right now Canon seems pretty consistent about getting EF mount lenses to work on RF mount.
bottomline
Nobody knows where EF mount is headed. But top EF mount L lenses are still as expensive as ever and appear to still be coveted by many photographers. Canon really built a great reputation with EF mount mainly through excellent lenses. It’s likely that EF mount may be left as is, but I do think it would be smart for Canon to release a couple EF mount lenses due to their ability to be mounted on any and all mirrorless camera bodies via an adapter.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know what you mean when you say that Nikon Z mount is behind on image quality? I have never seen a review or in my own personal experience noted that. People have argued over autofocus speed and EAF etc.. being behind Sony and canon which had some merit especially in first generation pre firmware updates. But image quality has never been an issue or second best on Nikon Z.

    • It’s hard to say what is true Mike because I only have the examples that are available on the internet to go by. But going by what I have seen even the Z9 has some mushy looking skin tones. My subject matter is primarily people, so this aspect of image quality is very important to me. And I do notice issues with skin coloration when viewing Nikon files. Of course, if only I could get a Z9 to test I might be able to make a better judgement of its actual performance. I’m shooting a wedding on the 29th, maybe someone will send me a Z9 and 24-70mm f/2.8 and I can compare it with my R5 and RF 28-70mm f/2 L. That is unless Nikon doesn’t think they can hang with Canon’s 3rd most expensive camera.

  2. Mr Shawn your heavy lopsided bias against the Nikon mounts and systems could have been a placard of how you were going to compare it with others.
    Anyone with such reservations should remain with writing about their favourites only.
    It is only fair that your credibility is reflectong on the number and content of the remarks you got.

  3. The readers ought to do a test on this writer by showing him three photos of the same subject and ask him which photos were taken by each of the three main camera brands. Also can someone tell a diffence by photos if it was taken by a prime lens, or a zoom lens? And same thing goes with using a lens with an f1.4/2.8, compared to an f4 by looking at photos?

    • If none of them are different, then why do you care what I think about any of them? If I’m interpreting what you’re saying correctly you’re stating that all the cameras produce the same image. If that is the case, then you should be happy regardless of what I say.

  4. The canon 5d Mark iv is my last canon purchase. Sony’s naming system is different…I suppose. It’s staggering how little canon has to offer (and by way of 3rd parties Tamron, Sigma etc) for so much $$.
    After 20yrs plus of shooting canon..it’s disappointing but…Sony is more adapted to my pocket book & creativity.
    I’d rather an old Sony A7r than purchase a canon body with minimal lens options. But that’s just my 2 cents.

    • @Jesse, Sony, Tamron, and Sigma don’t make “creative lenses”, they mostly just copy what Canon does. Canon was the first company to make an AF zoom lens “trinity” back in 1989. This gave photographers coverage of 20mm all the way to 200mm in only 3 f/2.8 aperture lenses. (20-35mm f/2.8, 80-200mm f/2.8, and 28-80mm f/2.8 – 4. Now, go look at history and realize that everyone has been copying Canon since the 1980’s… Not that other companies did not innovate, but Canon was first to realize this important feat of lens engineering. It took some of these companies many years t complete their own lens trinity and the lenses usually weren’t as highly specced as the Canon versions. Not to mention that many of those old Canon lenses are still excellent, in particular the EF 20-35mm and EF 80-200mm mentioned above are still capable of making sharp, contrasty pictures on modern cameras.

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