Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Sony A7 II

This makes life awkward if you want to recharge a battery while you carry on shooting with a spare. At least a self-contained battery charger is available as an optional extra. Battery life itself is poor at 350 shots between recharges, though, compared with the Canon's 950 shots.

Canon cameras: the full and complete range explained from IXUS to EOS
Sony cameras: the full and complete range explained

Canon EOS 5D Mark II vs Sony A7 II: Build & handling

Canon EOS 5D Mark II vs Sony A7 II: Build & handling

Put the A7 II and the 5D Mk III next to each other, and it's like the Little and Large show. The Canon appears to dwarf the Sony, but specifications reveal that it's actually only 16mm deeper.

This is mostly due to the Sony's protruding viewfinder and finger grip, either side of its svelte and slim-line body. At 950g compared with 599g, the Canon is also more than 50% heavier.

The build of both cameras is largely based on magnesium alloy to keep weight down and strength up. Weather seals are plentiful and, when it comes to dials, buttons and switches, both cameras show a similarly high standard of quality.

Considering the Sony was only launched in 2015 and that it's three years newer than the Canon, it's surprising that the build doesn't include a touchscreen. However, the screen does have a tilt mechanism, which is lacking on the Canon.

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Up on top, the Canon features a secondary mono LCD display, but this is omitted on the Sony - no surprise, given that there's no room for one.

Canon has been making SLR cameras since 1959, so it's had plenty of time to sort out handling. The relatively large body enables plenty of room for dials and buttons without it feeling cramped.

In fact, the physical size and weight make for comfortable handling and great balance when using chunky full-frame lenses.

The provision and placement of the shooting mode dial with its three custom settings, the strips of buttons along the top right and rear left, and the joystick-like multi-controller and rotary quick control dial, all make for easy control. The 'Quick' menu is similarly intuitive and a delight to use.

It's great having a 'small' camera when you're traipsing around streets, trekking into the hills or jetting off to the other side of the world.

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However, handling can often feel compromised. Balance can feel front-heavy when using large lenses, while grip areas can feel inadequate, failing to inspire confidence and steadiness.

Similarly, with less room to play with, you'll often find that buttons and dials for important shooting settings are fiddly or get nudged accidentally when you're holding the camera.

The Sony strikes a good balance, managing to pack in lots of control buttons and dials, while still leaving room for a comfortable grip.

Better still, while we've criticised Sony SLRs of old in the past for having meagre customisation options, the A7 II has a wealth of customisable buttons, menus and settings to suit the way you shoot.

One niggle with the Sony is that it's easy to turn the exposure compensation dial accidentally with your right thumb, applying bias unintentionally when you don't want to. Then again, some people make the same complaint about the Canon's rotary quick control dial, but at least that has a lock lever to disable action.

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Canon EOS 5D Mark II vs Sony A7 II: Performance

Canon EOS 5D Mark II vs Sony A7 II: Performance

Out and about with the Sony, its SteadyShot stabilisation system pays dividends with a claimed 4.5-stop benefit in beating camera-shake. It actually turned out to be about four stops in our tests, but that equals or beats most in-lens optical stabilisers.