Last week I had a surprise gift by my good friend Jinesh Prasad, who handed me his newly purchased Canon EOS-5D Mark IV and asked me to review it. Since I was doing a Photowalk in Mangaluru two days later, I thought it will be a very good opportunity to test this oven fresh camera. I only had few days of testing with this camera which in my opinion is not at all adequate to judge it fully. Therefore it will be a very brief hands-on review. All images here are just cropped and minimally processed (except one for ISO invariance). No noise reduction applied to any, so that you can make out the camera results much better. Care is taken to expose correctly in camera as much as possible.
Let us start with Key Features of Canon EOS-5D Mark IV.
- 30.4 megapixel Full-Frame CMOS sensor (latest generation, same generation as EOS-1D X Mark II, and EOS-80D)
- 3.2inch Touchscreen, active all the time
- 100% viewfinder, 0.71x magnification, Intelligent Viewfinder 2
- 61-point AF, (very similar to EOS-1D X Mark II), f/8 sensitive, -3EV
- 150,000 pixel RGB+IR sensor (same as EOS-5DS/5DS-r), Flicker detection (updated since EOS-7D Mark II)
- ISO50-102400 (ISO100 to ISO32000 before expansion)
- 7fps continuous shooting full-res, 21 raw files, unlimited JPEG files
- 4.3fps live view continuous Servo AF
- 150,000 – Shutter rating
- SD and CompactFlash
- USB 3.0, mini HDMI out, Flash Sync, Remote terminal (at front)
- Weather-sealed body – with improved weather proofing (extra grommets and seals)
- Dual-axis electronic level
- 900 shot battery life
- 50g lighter, redesigned mirror box, aluminium used instead of stainless steel.
- Wi-Fi/NFC/GPS/FTP transfer built-in
- IPTC meta-data for news and sports photographers (International press and tele-communications)
- DIGIC 6+ and DIGIC 6 image processor
- Mirror vibration control system
- Digital lens optimizer for JPEG images
- Fine detail picture style
- 4K video at 30/25/24p (DCI CINE resolution), upto 500Mbps
- 1080p video at 60/50/30/25/24fps, upto 180Mbps
- 720p at 120/100fps
- Mic, Headphone sockets, Dual pixel AF
- 8.8mp images from 4K video (in-camera)
- Time-lapse video creation
- Built-in mono microphone
To anyone familiar with the Canon EOS-5D Mark III or earlier, the EOS-5D Mark IV will feel extremely familiar camera. The EOS-5D Mark IV comes four years after the EOS-5D Mark III. The improvements are largely internal.Let us now see what has really changed from trusty EOS-5D Mark III.
The new EOS-5D Mark IV’s effective resolution has increased to 30.4 megapixels, which isn’t much higher than the EOS-5D Mark III’s but it records a wider exposure latitude. EOS-5D Mark IV is marginally smaller and lighter than its predecessor. EOS-5D Mark IV is equipped with a high resolution 3.2-inch LCD with full touch panel operation and ‘Intelligent’ viewfinder with 100% frame coverage. Other noteworthy features include dual CF and SD card slots and ISO sensitivities that range from 100 to 32000, expandable down to ISO 50 and up to ISO 102400.
EOS-5D Mark IV has much better dynamic range and has quite a good ISO invariance. ISO invariance means that a camera will produce the exact same image quality by staying at base ISO and dramatically underexposing the photo and then brightening it up again in Lightroom, as if you had shot the camera at the proper ISO in the first place.
The two picture above are of the old lighthouse shot against direct sun at ISO 100. I purposely under exposed by 3 stops, by going to 1/2000 sec and then in Adobe Lightroom 2015.7 pushed it to 3 stops. Normally such dark image when pushed invariably becomes noisy. But what surprised me is that EOS-5D Mark IV image was cleaner than I expected it to be. Even though I did not do extensive comparative testing on this feature, my gut feeling is that, it is better than what I saw in EOS 80D and almost similar to that of EOS-1D X Mark II. Please read the article here at DPreview to know more about ISO invariance in this camera.
Here is the ISO noise profile of the EOS-5D Mark IV. I have used Xrite Color checker chart to capture various ISO results which were later joined together in Photoshop without any Post processing applied. You can download the full resolution here (10,000 x 7000 pixel size, 45MB JPEG)ISO test
Much hyped Dual Pixel RAW file format makes its first appearance in the EOS-5D Mark IV. It works by taking advantage of the data recorded by the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system and is only available when you capture full-sized RAW files. Each shot records Dual Pixel data from the image sensor, creating raw files that are roughly double the size of regular raw files.
With this additional image data, photographers can fine-tune images in post-production by micro-adjustment of the point of maximum sharpness using depth information in the file, repositioning of the viewpoint or foreground bokeh or reducing the visibility of image ghosting.
To use this function, Dual Pixel RAW must be enabled in the shooting menu (it’s switched off by default). In this mode, the M-RAW and S-RAW settings are disabled, along with the HDR shooting mode, one-touch image quality setting and Digital Lens Optimiser and you can’t record multiple exposures. The maximum burst speed and buffer capacity will also decrease.
After all this explanation, is it really useful to us? Answer is a big NO. Since the adjustment range in each case is relatively small; you can’t expect obvious defects in images to be correctable. I found this function is practically unusable. It seems more like marketing hype rather than usable technology by any one of us.
Remember the adjustment possible with Dual Pixel RAW are extremely small and negligible. As of now, Dual Pixel RAW adjustment only works with Canon’s own Digital Photo Professional, even though Adobe has promised to get it incorporated in the next versions of Adobe Lightroom & Camera raw. Hopefully future versions of Canon cameras will get something really usable in the field.
The EOS-5D Mark IV has inherited the 61-Point High Density Reticular AF II system introduced in the EOS-1D X Mark II, which covers an expanded sensor area and offers f/8 AF support with all 61 points, allowing extenders to be used with all telephoto lenses. The camera can also focus in light levels as low as EV -3 (equivalent to moonlight) with viewfinder shooting, or EV -4 in Live View mode. I found the low light focusing capability better than 5D III, but not as good as EOS-1D X Mark II.
The usual one-shot, AI focus and AI Servo AF modes are available, along with automatic and manual AF point selection, which enables AF points to be selected separately for vertical and horizontal shooting. The six ‘Case’ settings for configuring autofocusing are also provided. As with previous models, if you want an AF-assist beam you must fit an optional Speedlite flash as EOS-5D Mark IV has no built in flash.
The buffer memory can now hold up to 110 shots in my UDMA 7 CF card and 21 RAW images in a single burst. In a development of the silent shutter mode, three settings – ‘Silent high’, ‘silent low’ and ‘silent single’– are available for situations where camera noise must be kept to a minimum.
The Mirror Vibration Control System introduced last year in the EOS-5DS / 5DS R is also used in the EOS-5D Mark IV to suppress vibrations that can reduce sharpness. A system of cams drives the mirror up and down in a more controlled fashion, resulting in smoother movement, elimination of mirror slap and quieter shutter-release sound.
Also derived from the EOS-5DS / 5DS R cameras is the Fine Detail Picture Style mode, which maximises the amount of detail captured by the camera’s sensor. It also offers control over the three sharpening parameters applied to JPEG files.
The Digital Lens Optimizer function, which was formerly available through Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software, has been integrated into the EOS-5D Mark IV’s image processing system. Previously usable only with raw files, it can now be used to correct residual aberrations in JPEG images that can’t be fixed with the normal, in-camera lens aberration correction function.
The new touchscreen monitor has greater functionality than the monitor on the EOS-1D X Mark II, which had limited applications. It can be used to set the AF point, toggle between another mode and Servo AF in movie mode or magnify the image to aid manual focusing. The EOS-5D Mark IV adds the ability to control a much wider range of functions as well as providing four steps of colour tone adjustments with settings for warmer and standard tones plus two ‘cooler’ options.
The ‘Intelligent Viewfinder’ technology introduced in the EOS 7D is further refined in the EOS-5D Mark IV and the new camera displays the full image frame with a 0.71 times magnification and an eyepoint of 21mm. Dioptre correction of -3.0 to +1 dioptres is available. The focusing screen has a transparent LCD overlay that displays shooting data.
The viewfinder display contains data showing the Single/Spot AF points, AF Frame, AF status, focus indicator, AF mode, AF point selection, AF point registration; Shutter speed, aperture value, ISO, AE lock, exposure level/compensation, flash metering, spot metering circle, exposure warning, AEB, metering mode, shooting mode, flash ready, high-speed sync, FE lock, flash compensation, red-eye reduction light, card information, maximum burst, highlight tone priority, JPEG/RAW indicator, Dual Pixel RAW, Digital Lens Optimiser, grid, electronic level, battery check, warning symbol, flicker detection, drive mode and white balance setting. Depth-of-field preview is available via a button on the lower right edge of the lens mount.
Unlike the EOS-1D X Mark II, which also has dual card slots, the EOS-5D Mark IV accommodates both CompactFlash (not CFast as in EOS-1D X Mark II) and SD cards.
Built-in Wi-Fi is similar to that provided in other recent Canon cameras, with IEEE 802.11b/g/n support at 2.4GHz. Near Filed Communication (NFC) provides an easy way to interface the camera with an Android smart device. Features supported include File Transfer Protocol (FTP) for transferring images to a smart-phone or Canon Connect Station and, thence, to sharing and/or storing sites, remote control of the camera from a smart device and wireless printing.
The integrated GPS system can embed latitude, longitude, elevation and time information in the image metadata. It is compatible with the GPS (USA), GLONASS (Russian) and QZSM (Japanese) satellites and can be set to receive signals continuously (even when power is switched off) or only when the camera is turned on.
The EOS-5D Mark IV retains the familiar feel of its predecessors and it’s just as solidly built, with a magnesium-alloy body that has improved dust and moisture resistance. Some minor cosmetic refinements have been made to the body but, in most cases, the control buttons on the new camera are in the same places as they were on previous models. The front panel now the port for the wired remote controller. The remaining interface ports are located under three rubber covers on the left side panel.
There’s a separate cover for the PC flash terminal, below which are located the microphone and headphone terminals (both standard 3.5mm types). To their rear lies a single compartment with the HDMI mini OUT and USB 3.0 digital terminals and, below them, a tiny cable protector socket. A cable protector is supplied with the camera for use when connecting it to a computer or the Canon Connect Station. It prevents damage to the cable through accidental disconnection and stops the terminal from being damaged.
Nothing much has changed on the top panel of the EOS-5D Mark IV, which retains the same control layout as earlier EOS-5D models. The layout of the LCD data panel has been modified to include icons for Wi-Fi and GPS and the card slot icons have been shifted to the top of the screen to free up space.
The joystick multi-controller is a little larger on the new camera and a new AF area selection button has been added between it and the Quick Control Dial, making it easier to select AF points quickly. The Direct Print Function has been removed from the Creative Photo/comparative playback button at the top of the line left of the monitor screen.
A new 35.9 x 23.9 mm CMOS sensor provides an effective resolution of 30.4 megapixels from a total of 31.7 million photosites. It has a pixel pitch of approximately 5.34 microns. The step-up in effective resolution from the EOS-5D Mark III is negligible but the new sensor appears to be more technologically sophisticated and supports higher light sensitivity as well as a wider dynamic range.
Like its predecessors, the EOS-5D Mark IV has a low-pass filter array in front of the image sensor, which is designed and manufactured by Canon. The DIGIC 6+ processor is the same chip as used in the EOS-1D X Mark II (which has two of them)
EOS-5D Mark IV records with 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution at 30/25/24 fps and YCbCr 4:2:2 colour sampling. Photographers using this mode can extract 8.8-megapixel JPEG stills from 4K videos, a feature only available with 4K resolution.
EOS-5D Mark IV does not use the entire frame when recording 4K video. The camera utilizes the central portion of the frame (the area covered by 4096 x 2160 pixels) to capture the one-to-one pixel ratio needed for 4K video. The equivalent crop factor for focal lengths used in 4K recording is 1.74x. That means that a 50mm lens used for recording 4K videos will provide the same angle of view as an 87mm lens. Unfortunately, ultra-wide angle filming is sacrificed as the outer edges of the frame go unused.
Another benefit of 4K video results from the way the files are encoded – Motion JPEG, or M-JPEG. In MP4 encoding (typically utilized in DLSRs), key frames are identified and the changes that occur in subsequent frames are recorded. The benefit of MP4 is that file sizes are relatively small.
In M-JPEG encoding, however, each individual frame is separately compressed into a JPEG image. The benefit of this format is that you can grab a high quality still image from any frame in a 4K file and save it as a separate image file in-camera. This allows a photographer select the precise moment for the still image selection with a relative burst rate equal to the video frame rate, a selection that traditional burst sequences could easily miss. In other words, the EOS-5D Mark IV is able to capture 8.8 MP still photos at 30 fps compared to 30.4 MP photos at 7 fps with traditional burst shooting. The downside, of course, is that M-JPEG encoded 4K movies require a significant amount of storage space and will likely require more post-processing time to isolate the best frames (capturing the JPG is easy once selected). Note that the captured JPG image is in the recorded aspect ratio (not 3:2). M-JPEG encoded 4K movies are not readily watchable in viewers without post processing.
Many 4K video enthusiasts are unhappy about the implementation of 4K in EOS-5D Mark IV. Here are few such gripes I gathered from around the net since my interest in videos is limited.
- The 4K is not full frame. It is 1.74x crop. Whilst the depth of field technically won’t be affected by such a crop the field of view is. To replicate the field of view of a Canon 85mm F1.2 you will need to look at the 50mm F1.2 and your depth of field will be substantially less shallow because of that.
- The 4K is only up to 30p. The 1DX II can record 4K up to 50p/ 60p and it was with a 1.3x crop like the 1DC.
- There is no 4K HDMI out so you are stuck with the ancient motion jpeg format in 4K.
- The 4K is DCI 4096×3840, there is no option for UHD 3840×2160
- The 120fps high frame rate mode is incredibly only 720p. The EOS-1D X Mark II does this in full HD.
- There is no C-Log mode. There is no peaking, there are no zebras. There is still no punch in focus check whilst recording.
Canon recommends formatting each card before recording movies on it and testing cards to ensure it records clips smoothly with no glitches. EOS-5D Mark IV does not have CFast card slot or is not compatible with faster format like UHS-II SDHC/SDXC cards.
The built-in microphone records audio monaurally but an external microphone jack is provided for optional stereo microphones. Sound recording levels are adjustable automatically or manually and audio recording can be switched off if desired. A wind filter and attenuators are available.
The EOS-5D Mark IV also supports time lapse movie recording, but only with 1920×1080 pixel resolution, although ALL-I compression is applied to optimise image quality. Users can set the shooting interval between 00:00:01 and 99:59:59 seconds and the number of shots between 2 and 3600. Playback time of up to two minutes and 24 seconds per time-lapse sequence is available when recording in PAL format.
Dual Pixel CMOS AF is usable in movie mode as well as the Movie Servo AF function and the camera also offers HDMI output at Full HD resolution in the 1080 8-bit 4:2:2 format. The maximum duration for a movie clip (except those recorded in the high-speed HD mode) is 29 minutes and 59 seconds. High frame rate movies are limited to seven minutes and 29 seconds. No 4GB file limit applies with exFAT CF cards.
What is my conclusion?
Like its predecessors, the EOS-5D Mark IV has been designed primarily for serious stills photographers and will suit those who want to record maximum detail and sharpness in their images. If you are looking for far more detail and sharpness look no further than EOS-5DS or 5DS R.
However, its 4K video recording capabilities that will be appreciated by wedding and event photographers, because they will be able to grab individual, high-resolution frames from movie clips and print them at up to A3 size on the spot.
Wildlife photographers and photojournalists, as well as landscape, architectural and studio photographers will benefit from the new sensor’s high resolution, wide dynamic range and excellent low light capability. Focusing capacity exceeds EOS-5D Mark III (but not able to compete with EOS-1D X Mark II level). Wildlife photographers looking for superior focusing capability may find EOS-1D X Mark II better suited for their purpose.
Enhanced water and dust resistance makes the camera ideal for anyone working outdoors or in industrial situations. And for photojournalists, built-in Wi-Fi plus NFC makes it easy to operate the camera remotely and transfer images securely to a smart devices using the Canon Camera Connect app, while the built-in GPS geotags each image in the EXIF data with automatic time updates and embedded IPTC metadata.
Existing owners of EOS-5D Mark III cameras may have reservations about their need to upgrade to the new camera. I feel their decision should be based on whether they can utilise the EOS-5D Mark IV ‘s new features. I don’t think it’s worth upgrading for higher resolution since the difference between the EOS-5D Mark III and EOS-5D Mark IV is minimal.
Mirrorless cameras from Sony, Panasonic & Fuji with almost similar specs can deliver images and 4K movies that are equally usable for a fraction of the EOS-5D Mark IV’s overall weight and, often, lower acquisition costs. Mirrorless cameras also let you shoot movies using the viewfinder to frame shots, an important criterion for outdoor shooters.
There’s no question that the EOS-5D Mark IV is a worthy successor to the 5D Mark III. By co-opting many of the features of the flagship EOS-1D X Mark II professional camera into the new EOS-5D Mark IV, Canon has produced an impressive looking enthusiast-level camera. Canon also added quite a few features from its recently launched EOS-80D.
In my review of EOS-1D X Mark II earlier, I had hoped for a better featured EOS-5D Mark IV. Obviously Canon did not incorporate everything from EOS-1D X Mark II, as that would have stopped people buying the pro model all together. Since the successor of EOS-5D Mark IV will be another 3-4 years away, for me it looks like Canon tried to withhold quite a bit of technology from getting into EOS-5D Mark IV. I found EOS-5D Mark IV looking more like a full framed EOS-80D in a robust body, rather than cut down EOS-1D X Mark II. This I feel is a disappointment.
Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post by Canon or anyone else. I received camera from my friend Jinesh Prasad for review purposes, and my heartfelt thanks goes to his gesture of providing me his personal camera for this test. The opinions are completely my own, based on my experience. Photos of the 5D mark IV camera are from Canon website.