Overview of the New Canon 5D Mark IV

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Canon’s 5D Mark line has embedded itself deeply in the heart of photographers. Although the price generally keeps this camera in the hands of professionals, hobbyists have equally drooled over its capabilities and power. It comes as no surprise that the newest edition to the line, the Canon 5D Mark IV, sparked a lot of excitement and interest. But does this model really live up to the expectations it has set itself?

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Rusty the Golden Retriever

As a Canon camera enthusiast myself, having gone through many different cameras in my career (and currently working with four), I have been pleasantly impressed by the new model. Each camera has its high points and its low points, but the Canon 5D Mark IV lends itself to being an excellent piece of machinery with more pros than cons. In comparison to its predecessor the 5D Mark III, beloved features have been better optimized and improved while adding new capabilities that were previously missing.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Physical Specs of the Canon 5D Mark IV

In terms of the camera’s physicality, the Canon 5D Mark IV weighs at 28.2 ounces, versus its predecessor which weighed 30.4 ounces. Although this doesn’t sound like a significant difference, your arms will thank you for the lighter weight of the Mark IV after several hours of shooting. Lighter equipment weight is an aspect that many photographers consistently request from their beloved camera companies, as heavy gear often leads to various body aches.

The body feels sturdy and comfortable. The fact that Canon found a way to decrease the weight of their newest 5D camera shows that the brand was certainly listening. Alongside this, the camera’s weather sealing shows quite an improvement over the previous models. I have taken the camera out to the snow, beach, heat, and rain with no trouble.

Otherwise, The 5D Mark IV feels almost indistinguishable to the 5D Mark III. They have virtually the same ergonomics, buttons, and menu layout. The camera continues to have the dual card slots, much like the Mark III; one slot for a compact flash card and one slot for an SD card. The settings allow you to write on either both simultaneously or switch over to the secondary card once the main card is full.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

New feature – touch screen

Possibly the most noticeable new feature is the inclusion of a touch screen, the first of any of the 5D models. The touchscreen has been present in several of Canon’s other models, and this was highly requested as an addition to the new 5D lineup. In Live View Mode, the touchscreen allows you to tangibly tap the screen to adjust the focus or the exposure settings. This is a significant benefit to video shooters, as tapping the screen allows you to silently make your adjustments without adding noise to your rolling video.

The touchscreen is also customizable, similar to the live view features of the 1Dx Mark II. It can be programmed so that the touch of the LCD screen actually takes the picture. The rear LCD on the 5D Mark IV is an improved 1.62 million-dot 3.2-inch screen, unlike the 5D MK III’s 1.04 million-dot LCD. Although Canon did not include a swivel LCD screen as wanted by many shooters, the touchscreen is a welcome addition.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Megapixels – big increase

Although both are full-frame cameras, the Canon 5D Mark IV sports a whopping 30.4 megapixels versus the 5D Mark III’s mere 22.3 megapixels. 30.4 MP offer a solid 17% linear resolution increase. In addition, the new camera features Canon’s DIGIC 6+ image processor. Pair the processor with the increase in megapixels, and the 5D Mark IV officially has a better dynamic range (an aspect of the Mark III that often gets criticized).

ISO range – not much change

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 25,600 shutter speed 1/500th.

The Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 25,600 shutter speed 1/500th.

The ISO range for the 5D Mark IV is ISO 100 – 32,000, versus the Mark III’s 100 – 25,600. However, both models offer the same expanded ISO range of 50 to 102,400. The high ISO and low light performance continue to be quite excellent, as is to be expected from a full-frame Canon DSLR. However, there is no real significant difference in higher ISO performance from the Mark III to the Mark IV.

Canon does have significantly better low light cameras in its highest end models (such as the ID X series), but the 5D holds its own very well for the price point. A big change in the ISO aspect of the camera, however, is the move to on-sensor analog-to-digital circuitry (ADC) that results in noteworthy improvement in base ISO dynamic range. Canon DSLRs prior to the 1D X Mark II and 80D were very well known for poor shadow recovery. This is not an issue in the Mark IV.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Kiss the Border Collie

Frames per second burst rate

The Canon 5D Mark IV has a 7 FPS burst rate, about one frame per second faster than the 5D Mark III. Not a huge difference in hindsight, but where the 5D Mark IV really excels is the buffer performance. Continuous JPEG shooting is essentially unlimited; the camera will shoot until the memory card is full, whereas the 5D Mark III’s buffer filled after about 63 JPEG images. Still an impressive feat, but the unlimited is certainly better.

21 RAW frames can be captured before the buffer fills and the camera comes to a halt, which is fantastic considering that each RAW frame is from a 30.4 MP sensor. Wildlife photographers will really enjoy the 7 FPS burst rate and increased buffer performance.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Valkyrium

New Dual Pixel Raw Mode

On the topic of RAW, the Canon 5D Mark IV includes a very powerful new Dual Pixel Raw mode, which advances upon the Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. This makes use of the split-pixel design to capture two images at once. The outcome allows you to be able to make subtle adjustments and changes to focus/sharpness, bokeh, and ghosting. The downside is that the file sizes of Dual Pixel Raw images are nearly twice as large, and the burst rate and buffer capacity are reduced while in Dual Pixel Raw mode.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS USM II

Autofocus

The autofocus in this model is downright incredible. While the 5D Mark IV offers the same 61 AF points as in the 5D Mark III, the new model uses an upgraded AF system. Now all 61 points can focus down to f/8 and they can cover much more of the frame. The 5D Mark III only offered f/8 autofocusing at the center point. These changes are very similar to features inside the EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon’s high-end model. Photographers that use super-telephoto lenses and teleconverters are sure to appreciate this improvement.

21 of these points also remain cross type for extra sensitivity. Unfortunately, there is no way to link spot metering to a chosen AF point. One of the big changes to autofocus on the 5D Mark IV is the use of the infamous Dual Pixel CMOS AF, frequently touted by Canon. Equally, the model has inherited the AI Servo AF III with EOS iTR AF from EOS 7D Mark II and EOS-1D X Mark II. This AF feature truly shines when using the camera to photograph sports or action.

The AF system’s detection range has also been broadened, from -2 EV on the EOS 5D Mark III to -3 EV, and this drops down even further to -4 EV when using Live View. As well as this, there’s also now an AF Area Selection button on the back plate.

WiFi!!

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Another brand new feature to the Canon 5D line is the presence of WiFi capabilities and NFC technology. This new aspect of the model allows the camera to be controlled remotely from a smartphone or tablet and have images transferred wirelessly to a multitude of other devices. The camera utilizes the same Canon Camera Connect app as other WiFi models, which is available for both iOS and Android platforms. This feature was also widely requested from Canon users and allows photographers to bypass the need to purchase wireless triggers for their camera.

Self-portrait photographers rejoice! GPS/Geo Tagging continues to be included in this upgrade to the Mark III.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Jessica Bari

Video features – pros and cons

Arguably the most marketed aspect of the Canon 5D Mark IV is the ability to film in 4K. This model is one of the first DSLRs to allow you to shoot in 4K and showcases Canon’s interest in shifting high-quality videography to DSLRs. The benefit to shooting footage with these smaller cameras is maneuverability, portability, and other such size benefits. The videography portion of the camera does sport very accurate autofocus, the touch screen allows you to switch focus points and exposure levels silently, and it is all-around a smooth piece of filming equipment. Due to its on-sensor

Due to its on-sensor phase-detect system, Live View AF on the Mark IV is super-quick, smooth and precise. By comparison, the 5D Mark III offered only contrast-detect AF with Live View, which was slower and had a tendency to hunt, making for distracting wobbling as focus adjusted.

Much like Canon’s other 4K models, the EOS 5D Mark IV allows you to extract JPEG frames from the 4K footage. The images have a resolution of 8.8MP, as opposed to the lower 8-8.3MP resolution of images extracted from cameras recording the slightly lower resolution UHD 4K footage.

That being said, being one of the most marketed features also opens the doorway to major scrutiny. Videographers have mentioned the 4K video being limited to Motion JPEG, the 4K/30p video requiring the use of a CF card, the 1.64x crop factor in 4K video limiting FOV, the HDMI-out limited to 1080 video, and the lack of log gamma, focus peaking, or zebras for video as all major cons to this feature.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon 16-35mm F/2.8L USM II

Special features

As far as built-ins go, the 5D Mark IV has a movie time-lapse mode, an intervalometer, HDR and multiple exposure capabilities, mirror vibration control, and a “Fine Detail” picture style. The camera also has an anti-flicker feature that was originally introduced in the 7D Mark II and 1D X Mark II, in which the camera can be set to adjust the moment of exposure to compensate for flickering electric lighting.

Subject: Desiree Perkins

Summary

In conclusion, the Canon 5D Mark IV keeps itself familiar and sentimental, while improving upon features that attracted photographers to the 5D line in the first place. Although not every desired feature was implemented in this model, Canon certainly showed that the company listened to its customers and took their feedback into strong consideration. The product that resulted is a well-rounded, functional, and incredible piece of equipment. On the value-for-dollar front, the 5D Mark IV is absolutely worth its price tag.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Canon 5D Mark IV
Author Rating
4.5

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Anabel DFlux

is a published photographer in Los Angeles, California. Having started her photography business at the age of 15, Anabel has dedicated her life to her photographic passion. From canine sports to exotic animals, to some of the biggest musicians in the world – Anabel’s work doesn’t fall into any specific niche. She believes there are no limits to what you can create, and to photograph everything that gives you that spark of inspiration.

  • Great review. I am still working with the 5D Mark II and I use it a lot for video. I find the auto-focus to be pretty bad. Would you say this is a significant improvement? I love the touch screen features.

    Monashee | Photo Consultant

  • Anabel Dflux

    Thank you kindly! This is an absolute improvement, I even find it to be a significant improvement over the Mark III. Canon is using a brand new auto-focus mechanism which is very accurate and fast!

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  • Tom’s_Photos

    Excellent review! This author definitely knows what she is talking about!

  • Anabel Dflux

    Thank you so much!

  • Stereo Reverb

    Great you got this camera (I’ve had mine since it came out last year), but there are plenty of technical negatives that i didn’t see in the article (actually, i didn’t see you say anything bad about the camera, which is rare for any review).
    1. While camera sensitivity is much better than the MK III, it was only a small increase. It’s odd they sacrificed sensor sensitivity by increasing megapixels, instead of keeping it low, as they did when moving from the MK II to the MK III (the higher res was never needed nor ever requested from the community). Anything higher than ISO 14,000, and noise would deprecate the images. I’ve used the MK IV up to 32,000 i next to no light and still got very usable and images clean enough to use.The newer Sony full frames are a good deal better than the IV.
    2. The camera is weather sealed like the III- i’ve shot in direct rain with both, and the hold up like tanks.
    3. If you keep WIFI enabled, the camera will burn through batteries like a stick of butter left out in the sun. Using the battery grip (which enables 2 batteries to be used), you can easily run down both packs in just a half day’s worth of shooting. Even with WIFI turned off, the camera is still a power hog, much more so than the III. You’ll definitely want to double up on your batteries if you intend on using this for long shoots or events.
    4. Dual Pixel is useless and made more for marketing. There are plenty of other articles where DP was tested and yielded miniscule/nearly negligible improvements in sharpness. (The tech is still very new and should have been left out of this camera iteration). At the cost of double the file size per file (Something in the range of 40-80 megs *per* raw file?? I don’t have my camera with me to state the actual file size at max Raw settings, but it’s close to this). You’ll burn through Terabyte drives if you enable it. Use a sharp lens and you won’t ever need it.
    5. Uses crop with 4k (and not a great implementation of it). Also, no support for CFast cards, which is really needed for 4k video. Even worse, canon refused to let the IV use faster SD cards, instead opting to use the same old tech that the III uses, while other camera manufacturers use the faster speed SD cards. Their reason to not at least use the faster SD technology is still a mystery.
    6. Though there is “anti flicker”, i’ve read on many sites that their rolling shutter used in video, is terrible. Sony seems to have the crown on that one.
    7. One thing you didn’t mention (and this is what sets the IV ahead of the pack, for the short term), is it’s ability to lock focus and automatically track a subject while using video. This means, no more self focusing yourself, and getting soft images in the process. If you have a pet, a kid, or are at a music club, you can easily hand hold the camera and let it focus on your subject in perfect sharp focus. Everytime. That’s a huge reason to buy this camera, not to mention controllable focus racking between subjects.
    8. The screen is SHARP and much more detailed. The touch screen makes it even better, letting you pinch zoom and swipe photos using your finger. Another big reason to buy the camera.
    9. In regards to the WIFI eating power, it’s also very well implemented and rarely drops connection to any device you connect it to- by the way, it lets you save profiles for up to 3 different devices, so you can easily switch among them. Also, transfer speed of images (provided you set the camera to save JPG in addition to RAW, so it can push the smaller JPG to the device) is FAST. I used to usb tether my III to the laptop, but now, everything is wireless tethered to an old iPad i have in a drawer. You can also rate photos on the ipad/mobile device, and have the changes write back to the photos on the memory card, which shows up when you import them in lightroom, making proofing on site with a client, a snap.
    10. Canon only added a few more focus points, which is still lame (especially when cameras like Sony have a 500 point metering system). I was expecting a lot more focus points, and especially cross type points, but they skimped there. I can shoot around it, but for what they charge for the camera, i shouldn’t be. It is what it is.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing camera, but with Nikon and especially Sony coming out with some powerful cameras, it feels that Canon was forced to rush the IV a little sooner than it should have. I’ll still buy it again… though with a slight touch of hesitation.

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  • Anabel Dflux

    Hey there! Thank you for your thoughts!

    1. A small increase is still an increase nonetheless. As an editorial photographer, I found the increase in megapixels beneficial for my work!
    2. I disagree- my Mark III held up in harsh weather conditions worse than my Mark IV, personally! However, this is a matter of individual use.
    3. It absolutely will, unfortunately. However, enabling WiFi on most cameras will hog your battery immensely- I notice it significantly in my 7D Mark II.
    4. I disagree, personally. As I also photograph very high-speed sports and low-light action, I find the Dual Pixel a significant advance in the technology. Both in my 7D Mark II and in my 5D Mark IV. I am happy to provide evidence of this through my own personal use, as well as additional references. You can find a very significant difference when photographing high-speed tracking subjects, and tracking action in very low-light situations.
    5. Agreed.
    6. I have not personally run into this problem.
    7. Agreed! I did not focus much on the video aspect of the camera as this overview was primarily in regards to its photographic capabilities, but I greatly appreciate you bringing this up!
    8. Agreed!
    9. Agreed!
    10. I, in my personal opinion, quite liked the other improvements enough to not be bothered as much by this, but I totally understand that feeling!

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