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Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (Image by Canon)

Thoughts on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon recently announced their new camera in the 5D line — the 5D Mark IV (5D4). My first reaction to the announcement, after having gone through the specs, was a facepalm. And I’m not the only one, as there’s a lot of disappointment to be found everywhere on the Internet, especially when it comes to the video features.

I’m more of a stills person myself, so I focused more on the specs in that area. In my review of the 5D Mark III (5D3), I had offered a list of possible improvements for the 5D4. While some of those have been addressed, some of them have not.

First of all, Canon upped the resolution from 24MP to 30MP on the 5D4. This means an increase in file size, makes the camera slower and sacrifices image quality especially at the higher ISO values. Instead of the 30MP, I would have liked the camera at 24MP, with an improvement in speed (higher FPS), lower noise at high ISO (and higher usable ISO), and increased usable dynamic range (less noise and banding issues in shadows). So far, it does look like Canon managed to keep the image quality at least as good as the 5D3, while apparently improving the dynamic range and noise in the shadows, and increasing the frame rate from 6FPS to 7FPS, but it could have been MUCH better if they had kept the resolution at 24MP.

Another thing that I hoped to see on the 5D4 is an articulating LCD screen. Canon appears to be too stubborn to listen to the many people asking for this feature. The LCD screen on the 5D4 is improved compared to the 5D3; it has full touch support now for example. But in this day and age, an articulating screen is an essential feature. Hell it was already essential back in 2012. Not only for video but also for stills. This is a serious let down as far as I’m concerned.

Another serious let down is the fact that Canon still hasn’t included an electronic viewfinder on the 5D4. There are a lot of benefits that an electronic viewfinder provides, one of which is the ability to be able to see your exposure exactly as it will be captured, even before you capture it. I suspect Canon still hasn’t found a way to make this happen without sacrificing the quality of the experience provided by the current optical viewfinder and the speed of the current autofocus system.

In my review of the 5D3 I also mentioned a focus bracketing feature that I hoped would make it into the 5D4. This feature wasn’t added. However, something similar was added as part of the new Dual Pixel RAW feature in the 5D4. Using that feature you can refocus your shot slightly afterwards in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software. It’s a cool feature, but not as useful as focus bracketing would have been.

What I was happy about are the improvements with regard to the autofocus system. Canon included the autofocus system from the 1DX Mark II in the 5D4, including a much better metering system with facial recognition, and dual pixel autofocus in live view. The light sensitivity of the autofocus system has also improved from -2 EV to -3 EV (-4EV using dual pixel AF). Autofocus in video mode also seems to be very accurate and smooth with cool tracking features. The autofocus system on the 5D3 was already incredible, and it looks like Canon has managed to make it even more incredible in the 5D4. However, and this is a big however, spot metering linked to the selected autofocus point is STILL NOT INCLUDED on the 5D4. WHAT THE FUCK CANON? Another very serious let down.

I was also happy to find that Canon included built-in Wifi and GPS in the 5D4 as well as built-in interval timers. The weather-sealing is also improved, or so Canon claims. Weather-sealing was good on the 5D3, but not as reliable as I had hoped.

Overall I’m having mixed feelings about the 5D4. There are some very good improvements compared to the 5D3, but for me, where it matters the most I’m disappointed — image quality and resolution. Like I mentioned before, Canon introduced the 5Ds and 5Dsr cameras with high resolution 50MP sensors, and I thought they would keep the 5D line at lower resolutions while focusing on low light image quality there. Photographers who need more resolution could then use the 5Ds or 5Dsr. That way Canon would have catered to both photographers who need high resolution, as well as those who need increased sensitivity and image quality in low light situations (not to mention smaller files and higher speeds). It’s a very stupid move by Canon not to have done this. In addition, Canon also chose to seriously cripple some of the video features, such as the 4K recording which can only be done in crop mode, while omitting other essential features videographers were asking for.

So will I buy the 5D4? Perhaps in the future when the price becomes significantly lower than the $3500 introduction price, and assuming there will be no quality control issues. It will certainly not be a priority for me as the 5D3 is still very excellent, and the 5D4 is not such a giant leap forward compared to that. In comparison, the 5D3 was a huge leap forward from the 5D Mark II, and when it came out, I rushed to get myself two of them. I suspect that with the prices going down, many people are going to get themselves 5D3’s instead.

A bigger priority for me right now is getting the new lens upgrades from Canon. In particular the recently announced Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III. The older mark II version of that lens is very soft in the corners, and I hope that this new version will be significantly better. I’ve waited very long for this lens to be finally updated and hopefully improved. So if you already have a 5D3, I would suggest investing in better lenses instead, while waiting for the 5D4 price to drop closer to $2700.


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