2018 is the year both big DSLR brands finally succumbed to the high-end mirrorless. But as first-generation cameras, what, exactly, did those companies put into building them? That’s what LensRentals founder Roger Cicala wanted to find out when he tore apart a new Nikon Z7 mirrorless and a Canon EOS R, spilling the cameras’ guts to show photographers what’s really inside.
As a company that loans out cameras, the teardowns focus not on the sensor quality but on the build, durability, and weather sealing, inspecting the parts to guess the longevity and most common repairs on cameras that are heavily used as rentals. After tearing apart both cameras, Cicala said the Z7 is “as robustly weather sealed a camera as we’ve ever disassembled.” The EOS R, meanwhile, has a similar build and durability to the Canon 6D Mark II.
Tearing apart the Nikon Z7, Cicala found weather-sealing everywhere — he says the seals were more robust than on both the Sony a7R III and the Canon EOS R. Besides just the buttons, he found seals “everywhere we looked.”
Inside, the Z7 doesn’t look too terribly different from a Nikon DSLR at first, until the team tore further into the system where that in-body stabilization system is. From just looking at the construction, Cicala thought the stabilization system looked robust and compact.
The teardown team also noted the camera’s magnesium alloy body. The parts that they didn’t see as so robust? A shallower tripod screw-in and a not quite so impressive diopter viewfinder adjustment.
While LensRentals is looking mainly for durability and not trying to recommend cameras based on image quality or performance, the teardown shows strong likely durability for the Z7 that coincides with our hands-on experience with the Z7. Cicala ends by calling the Z7 the “best built mirrorless full-frame camera we’ve taken apart.”
“This is not marketing department weather resistance, This is engineering department weather resistance,” he said, though noting that even with weather-sealed cameras, he himself uses baggies and rubber bands just in case. “Anything that can be sealed has been sealed.”
Canon EOS R
At a lower price point, the Canon EOS R isn’t direct competition to the Z7 (the Z6, however, is more closely competitive). Cicala called the EOS R teardown “a rather boring disassembly” — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Canon’s full-frame mirrorless has a build similar to DSLRs like the 6D Mark II.
What’s interesting inside the EOS R is the amount of space left inside, where cameras with in-body stabilization have a tighter fit. Canon has been toting the superiority of lens-based stabilization, so that space doesn’t mean there’s in-body stabilization coming to a future EOS R, but there could be room for it, Cicala noted.
As for weather sealing, the buttons and dials are all sealed, but not much else. Cicalo says the weather sealing is similar to the Sony A7R III and can probably handle a mist but not a whole lot more.
LensRentals doesn’t end the teardowns with a recommendation of which one to buy — after all, the company is only looking at the build and not performance and image quality. But, tearing apart the new full-frame mirrorless cameras suggests the companies aren’t cutting corners in design from what’s inside their DSLRs.
Images by LensRentals and used with permission