I was planing to buy canon 5D mark iv just one month ago. But everyone started to talk about Nikon D850 and it came out with far ahead hardware configurations compare to 5D4. Though I love canon colors, focus system and ergonomic design now I cant make my mind to buy 5D4 after looking in to the Nikon D850 specifications. But I see people still buy 5D4 continuously. What is the real reason other than the lenses collection they still go with 5D4 though there is a clear difference in hardware configurations with D850?
There are lots of reasons why one would stay in a particular ecosystem, even when the "other side" releases a new camera model that might appear to be superior. Not everyone selects their gear based on the same criteria, just as not everyone selects their gear to take the same photos as everyone else.
Some of the obvious factors to consider:
- Lenses: Most pros and even advanced amateurs have much more money tied up in their lenses than in their top body. Switching every time one maker leapfrogs the other can be an expensive undertaking.
- Other bodies: Many of us shoot with more than one body. I shoot regularly with three different bodies: The Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the 7D Mark II, and the 5D Mark II. Sometimes I use only one body and it is almost always the 5D3. Sometimes I'll use a long lens on the 7D2 and a medium/short lens on the 5D3. In low light I'll often use two fast primes on the 5D3 and 5D2. Sometimes I'll put a 70-200/2.8 on the 7D2, a 24-105/4 on the 5D3, and a 17-40/4 on the 5D2. With the 1.6X crop factor of the APS-C 7D2, the 70-200mm (112-320mm FoV) picks up right where the 24-105mm ends on the 5D3. For multiple body shooters, switching for one specific model makes even less sense than for single body shooters.
Other 'system' considerations:
- E-TTL flash and other accessories that are brand specific are also a consideration, especially for someone such as a wedding photographer that has a lot invested in multiple higher end TTL flashes such as the Canon 600EX-RT or the Nikon SB-5000.
- Manufacturer specific raw processing applications. In the case of Canon, I much prefer the color I can get using Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4 to Lightroom, On1, etc.
- Ergonomics and menu structures. The number of options in most top tier cameras is near mind boggling. Learning all of the subtleties of one system and how selecting one setting may interact with other settings is a significant undertaking. So is retraining yourself to use a totally different button and control system, not to mention learning the different behaviors of each maker's respective AF systems.
Then there are the more direct comparisons between two models. What the hype machine may tout as the latest, greatest, hottest new feature or performance spec may be minimally relevant to many photographers. The differences that seem so huge at sites such as DxO Mark may not make much, if any, difference in the final image quality of many images for a particular photographer. For example, how one camera may tolerate pushing the shadows on a four-stop underexposure compared to another is irrelevant to a studio photographer who has total control of the light and the scene.
Let's look at the two models mentioned in your question, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and the Nikon D850. Some of the major differences:
- Resolution: D850 - 45.7MP, 5D4 30.4 MP. The link cited in your comment to the question rightfully gives the D850 the edge in resolution, but it also gives the 5D4 the edge in pixel size. Which is more important depends on the needs of the photographer for a specific situation. But then the D850 gets another 'advantage' for having larger "image size" at 8,256x5,504 pixels vs. 6,720x4,480 pixels, which is pretty much the exact same thing as saying 45.7MP vs. 30.4MP. In fact, the Canon sensor is listed as a true 36x24mm in size, while the Nikon sensor is slightly smaller at 35.9x23.9mm, but no 'advantage' is given to the Canon (probably correctly so) but an extra one should probably not be given to the Nikon for having a larger "image size', either.
- The Nikon has a clear advantage with a buffer size of 51 raw images versus 21 for the Canon. To get that advantage, though, one must use an expensive XQD card. Using an SD UHS-II card instead, the Nikon is not nearly as fast writing to the card and that reduces the total buffer size. But how many photographers regularly need to shoot more than 21 raw images at 7 fps? If you don't need it, it doesn't matter to you.
- The Canon has a slightly higher maximum ISO at 32,000 vs. 25,600 (+25% or 1/3 stop) but gets no green box 'advantage' for it. On the other hand, the Nikon gets a green box for having a slightly larger viewfinder (0.75X vs. 0.71X = +5.6%).
- The Nikon has a faster XQD memory card slot vs. the Canon's CF card slot. The speed advantage goes to the Nikon (which already got one 'green box for the deeper buffer enabled by the XQD card), but on the other hand many photographers already have an existing stock of relatively fast CF cards. The XQD cards are more expensive. If one doesn't need the blazing speed of the XQD card, the other option for the D850 is an SD UHS-II card which is more comparable in speed to the fastest UDMA-7 CF cards. CF cards and XQD cards are both more rugged and tolerate more extreme environmental conditions than SD cards do.
- Without a battery grip, the D850 and the 5D4 both burst at 7 fps. Only with an MB-D18 battery grip ($400) and an upgraded Nikon EN-EL18b battery ($150) - The D850 is supplied with an EN-EL15a battery - sufficiently charged does the Nikon bump that up to 9 fps. Is that significant? It depends on the photographer and what one is shooting as well as whether the extra cost ($550!), size, and weight of the grip and extra battery is worth the faster frame rate.
- The Nikon gets another 'greenbox advantage' for being able to bracket at +/- 5 stops versus +/- 3 stops for the Canon. But the Canon does not get one for being able to bracket 2, 3, 5, or 7 shots at its full 3 stop steps between each exposure while the Nikon is limited to only 5 bracketed shots when the interval is set at more than 2 stops. In practice the Nikon can bracket a maximum total of 16 stops (9 shots at 2 stops between each exposure) or 20 stops (5 shots at 5 stops between each exposure) while the Canon can bracket a maximum of 18 stops (7 shots at 3 stops between each exposure). Does the Nikon really have an advantage?
- The Nikon has 153 AF points compared to the 61 AF points of the Canon. But only 55 of the D850's AF points are user selectable, only 35 of the selectable AF points are cross-type, and only 9 of those selectable AF points work with lenses as slow as f/8. The other, non-selectable AF points are only available in auto AF point selection modes. All 61 of the 5D4's AF points are user selectable. All 61 work with lenses as slow as f/8 (20 of the cross-type points are only single-type points at f/8 - the other 21 of the 5D4's cross-type AF points act as cross-type even at f/8). 41 of the 5D4's AF points are cross type including 5 that are dual cross-type. The total percentage of the area of the frame covered by each camera's AF system is about the same. Apart from the number of AF points, which system performs better? Auto AF Fine Tune might be helpful to some, but I've discovered that performing AFMA is as much an art as it is a precision adjustment (much like tuning a piano is - automated aids can only get you so close) and I would never trust it to an automatic routine.
- Focus peaking and focus stacking are definitely features that the D850 has and the 5D Mark IV lacks. It remains to be seen just how good they are implemented in the D850. We do know that while the D850 can take a series of images with programmed differences in the focus distance, those images can not be 'stacked' in-camera - the user must do it externally using their own preferred third party focus stacking application. We also know that Live View-only based focus peaking is not available when shooting 4K video. It is only available for lower resolution video and stills in Live View. If they work as well as advertised they will definitely be nice additions. Neither have appeared before in the Nikon DSLR lineup. But there are also the listings and 'green boxes' for things only the 5D4 has, such as Dual Pixel CMOS AF (for video and stills when in Live View) and Dual Pixel Raw (which can be used after the image capture to do a sort of focus shift or even produce several images with different points of focus to do a 'virtual' focus stack). Those two technologies are already proven within the Canon ecosystem. Some photographers may find the Nikon's unique features more beneficial, others may prefer the Canon's unique features.
- Tilting touch screen. The D850 has one, the 5D Mark IV does not. Some of us want them, some of us don't want them. The main LCD screens on the back of the camera are the same size for both cameras. The Nikon has higher screen resolution (≈2.4M dots vs. ≈1.6M dots). For anyone like me who must reach for their reading glasses just to see anything displayed on the rear LCD of a camera I'm holding, that extra resolution with the same sized screen may or may not be noticeable.
- Then there are the things the 5D Mark IV can do that aren't mentioned by the Nikon marketing hype machine because the D850 doesn't have them: Dual pixel raw, which allows focus to be shifted slightly after the image has been captured; Dual pixel CMOS CDAF that is far superior to Nikon's sensor based CDAF, particularly when shooting video - Canon has a multitude of models that can do continuous autofocusing while shooting video. Nikon does not.
Many other things may or may not be significant to a particular photographer:
- Flash sync speed of 1/250 vs. 1/200 (1/3 stop)
- Shutter rating of 200,000 vs. 150,000 (are the two in-house standards used for those ratings even the same?)
- A 181K pixel RGB light meter vs. a 150K pixel RGB+IR metering sensor (Why is the increased resolution considered an advantage but the IR metering isn't?)
- Both have WiFi. Is built-in Bluetooth + WiFi (D850) more of an advantage for you or is built-in GPS + WiFi (5D4) more important to you? Two different wireless connectivity options or one near universal connectivity option plus GPS?
- How significant is the $200 lower "as introduced" price for the Nikon D850 when the Canon 5D4 is currently selling for the same price as the Nikon? Especially when the D850 requires a significantly more expensive XQD card ($100 XQD vs. $60 CF for top end 64GB cards), an MB-D18 battery grip ($400), and an EN-EL18b battery ($150) to get most of the speed advantages outlined above?
In many ways the D850 is more comparable to the Canon EOS 5Ds R (a 50.6 MP camera with no low-pass/anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor). The 5Ds R is older having been introduced back in 2015. There are still advantages and disadvantages between the 5Ds R and the D850. We'll not go into a detailed survey here, since the question asked about the 5D Mark IV, but many of the 5D4's strengths are also contained in the 5Ds R (AF system, RGB+IR metering, AEB, AWB bracketing). Others are not (Frame rate is slower, buffer depth is smaller, No built-in WiFi or GPS, and max ISO is lower).
And let's not forget service. At least in the U.S., Canon Professional Services turns around most repairs in less than a week at a significantly lower average cost than Nikon Factory Service does in the three-plus weeks they average to turn around repairs. Roger Cicala at lensrentals.com is not shy about frequently pointing this out. If anyone should know about using both manufacturers' U.S. repair service, it would be Roger. He is the founder of the largest lens and camera rental house anywhere in the world. When your camera gear are the necessary tools that allow you to make an income, time is money. No one wants to pay twice as much to wait three times as long to get your tools back.
There are lots of reasons but the main ones are :
Lenses. You can't use Canon lenses on Nikon cameras or the opposite (not properly). So if you have one set of lenses moving to another system is not an option, or if you want to use a specific lens you need that system.
Handling. Which camera handles better is a personal choice, not a universal one. For a pro shooter especially having a system that handles in a way that you are comfortable with makes a huge difference.
Flash. Someone may prefer one flash system over another (or don't want to switch systems).
Brand loyalty or brand distrust. Some people simply are brand loyalists. They may also not have trust in one brand over another - Nikon screwed up a number of support issues in recent years, IMO, and I'd be wary of them for that reason now.
Support. Support, particularly professional level support, may be quite different in your region for these two systems. If you need to be able to get, e.g. replacement equipment fast in an emergency or quick repairs then that's a significant factor.
Specific technical requirement. Being the latest and most talked about system does not equate to being the best suited technically to a given user's requirements.
Handling could easily have been the top item for many people. A high end system used by a pro in a critical shoot is no time to find out you're fumbling for the control you want in the wrong place by instinct or habit. It can take a lot of effort to configure a high end system the way you want.
Their collection of lenses is sufficient reason by itself. When you've spent thousands of dollars on lenses, throwing it all out to switch systems doesn't make a lot of sense.
But the 5D Mark IV also has some other things going for it:
- Dual-pixel AF: Real phase detection AF even in live view mode.
- Built-in GPS. Know where your pictures were shot.
- Cheaper and more readily available secondary flash cards (CF instead of QXD)
That first one is actually a much bigger deal than it sounds like. It means AF in video mode works well, it means that focus in live view mode is roughly as fast as focusing through the viewfinder, etc.
Also, the D850 really seems to be targeted at the 5DS market, rather than that of the 5D Mark IV. Because of their resolution, those cameras produce RAW files that are comparable with the 5D Mark IV's dual-pixel RAW mode, which most users probably leave turned off to avoid the factor-of-two difference in file size.
You ask, "What is the real reason other than the lenses collection..." (emphasis is mine) You seem convinced there is some other "real" reason.
People don't just buy a camera body; they buy into a camera system. Do you really think that people should just jump ship to another brand every time a new camera appears with some new "competition-beating" feature? What should they do when (theoretically) Canon releases the 5D Mark V?!