Canon 5D Mark IV – Our Review

If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve been waiting to hear if the new Canon 5D Mark IV is any good. Is it actually better than the Canon 5D Mark III and worth the investment?

Today we’ll take an early look at what we’ve found during our time with the camera now that we’ve got them in our rental fleet.

If you’re short on time, the simple answer is YES! The Mark IV is better than the Mark III.  To really get into the nitty-gritty of WHY it’s better, you’d better pull up a chair.

We’ll get to the still shooters in a minute, but clearly the video folks are disappointed by the specs. If you are a video shooter, you’re likely one of the people who’s been kind of “Meh…” about the release of the Mark IV. 

While the Mark III seemed to be a camera tailored to the needs of the Mark II video shooters, the Mark IV has left them, and us, wanting more. Missing features such as peaking & zebras, lack of an articulated screen, as well as cropped 4K shooting have been the core of people’s grumblings. One thing is clear, Canon pulled some punches with the Mark IV to protect their other video offerings like the C100, C300, etc. 

That doesn’t mean its all bad news on the video front though. The dual pixel AF implementation on this camera is pretty amazing during live view. The Intelligent Tracking and Recognition feature does an uncanny job at following subjects in during video recording. Plus the tap to focus feature will open up new possibilities for those who never quite got the hang of manual focus or couldn’t be bothered with the hassle.

If you’re a still shooter, the 5D Mark IV might seem like a head scratcher too, but there are definitely some things that have made our heads turn. Sure resolution gets a small bump to 30 megapixels but unless you’re a major techie, the rest of the improvements are hidden in the details. 

HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE THAT COULD SAVE YOU

What stood out to us the most, and the area that’s going to be of most interest to still shooters is in the new sensor’s dynamic range. If you aren’t sure what that means, you’ll basically have more room to expose for your highlights while retaining more shadow information. What you do capture can be pushed further in editing and will exhibit much less noise and banding in comparison to the MKIII.

This is going to be a huge benefit to people shooting all kinds of work. It will also let you save an image that’s up to 3-4 stops under exposed without the file falling apart.

AF…AKA “AMAZING FOCUS”

On the autofocus front, Canon has put a ton of work into improving subject acquisition and tracking in both their still and video AF systems. Sure we can show how well it works for video during live view, but it’s really hard to demonstrate what you see through the viewfinder for a still shooter. They’ve added 5 new modes aimed at selecting the right AF behavior easier.

The improvements in AF don’t stop there either, the Mark IV now has a larger AF coverage area in the viewfinder. You’ll be able to have more flexibility with your compositions and be able to track moving subjects over more of the frame.

Sports and wildlife photographers will also be happy to know that all of the focus points work down to f/8. As much as we talk about the AF, the only way to really know if it will make a difference in your work is to try it out.

MY PARENTS JUST GOT WI-FI AND SO DID THIS CAMERA

Seriously, my parents just got Wi-Fi in their house! But back to the camera, another feature that is a welcome addition is built-in Wi-Fi.  Adding in the Wi-Fi and NFC connection will save you the frustration of watching other photographers with entry-level DSLRs sending the image they just shot to their phone to post to Instagram. We aren’t sure why proper connectivity features seem to come from the bottom up, but we finally have it in the MKIV!

TOUCH SCREEN AND GPS

It’s not the first time we’ve see a touch screen, but our reaction is still the same! Though not revolutionary, it’s another welcomed update to this camera we’ve seen so many other have!

The GPS is neat, too, if you’re on a road trip vacation. You can easily see where all of the photos were taken based on latitude and longitude. Someday I’d love to see them incorporate a map so when hiking you could start and stop the GPS to see exactly where in the route the photo was taken (kind of like MapMyRun). For now, though, latitude and longitude give you a good idea of where you were at! Just turn it off if you don’t need it as I’m sure it takes up battery life!

SO WHERE DID THEY GO WRONG? 

We don’t actually think Canon did anything wrong with this release. Regarding the camera, they actually did many things right. We’re just so used to massive gains in technology and we might be hitting the point where the improvements aren’t so big anymore!

Basically Canon’s problem with the Mark IV is this. If you’re a Mark III shooter, you know that you’ve got a very versatile camera and you’ve likely made some great images with it. This is what drives the basic reaction to the Mark IV, if you don’t have any real problem with your current camera, and you’re not a super tech head, it might be hard to really see the benefits to the Mark IV.

Does this mean it won’t be a successful camera? No way! It just means that you won’t see everyone salivating praise on it to start.

We totally love all of the improvements Canon has made on the Mark IV. There is no doubt that the new AF system and improved dynamic range will net us more keepers than what we could achieve with the Mark III and we’ll be able to push them further in post. The Canon 5D Mark IV’s image quality is now in the realm of what the best sensors on the market offer.

The question is, does the performance increase justify the cost of upgrading right now? For most the crew in our office, it certainly does. Will it make sense for you? Getting hands on with one is the best way to find out.

If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below! We’ll be posting more articles with images coming soon!

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