I just purchased a new Canon 5D Mark IV DSLR camera today and, so far, I am very impressed with it. In this post I will quickly share with you my initial observations as I think first impressions on a digital camera are most important, especially when transitioning into a new DSLR body from a previous generation model.
As a caveat, this is in no way intended to be any sort of review of the camera. But as a reference, I have been shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II for the last 5 years since 2011, I shot with a Canon 1DS Mark II for the 7 years prior to 2011, and I have been shooting with Canon DSLR cameras for a total of over 15 years, ever since the first 3MP Canon EOS D30 DSLR was released in 2000. Surprisingly enough, the D30 cost the same then as the 5D Mark IV does today. So these thoughts are coming from a seasoned Canon DSLR user and intended to offer the 10 key observations I made about the camera within the first 15 minutes of removing it from the box today.
Many people though have already said that the 5D Mark IV offers only minor updates to the 5D Mark III, which I don’t believe is true. You now have much more resolution, wider dynamic range, a new DIGIC 6+ processor, very low noise at ISO settings up to ISO 2000, 4K video, you can also pull 8MP still images out of your 4K video, 120fps slow-motion 720p video, 60fps 1080p video, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, USB 3.0, a fully revamped autofocus system (with dual pixel auto focus), touch screen menuing, a 60 gram lighter weight body, and a few other new features that were not available in the past on the 5D Mark III.
I also find it to be a massive upgrade coming from the 5D Mark II I have been shooting with and, after I start using the camera further, I will post more articles about it, sample photo comparisons, talk about wireless tethered shooting, and etc. But for the time being this will at least give you an idea of what I noticed about it within the first few minutes of holding it in my hand today.
1 – Autofocus – The autofocus is much faster and accurate than I have seen on any other Canon DSLR camera thus far, even in low light situations. Even better autofocus than the 50MP Canon 5DS that came out last year. And now the 61 autofocus points, present on a few other Canon full frame bodies already, cover a wider area of the viewfinder than on any other full frame Canon DSLR at present. You can also continuously autofocus, both when shooting still photos, and while shooting video in live view mode, which is something you could never do before. You can actually autofocus anywhere within the frame you want when in live view by simply tapping on the desired spot on the LCD screen. There is also a new button that has been added to the back of the camera to the right of the LCD screen (next to the Quick menu button) which allows you to quickly change through the different autofocus modes. Then, from there, you can use the little joystick right above it to change autofocus points. All very fast and intuitive.
2 – Shutter – The sound of the shutter is very quiet compared to the 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III. Some people might miss the heavier thumping sound of previous 5D series shutters, but I have been shooting with a Sony mirrorless camera recently and am used to a quiter shutter. So the more subdued sound of the 5D Mark IV is something I don’t mind at this point.
3 – Menuing – When you start to go through the menus, there are lots more settings than with previous 5D bodies. You have all the added Wi-Fi functions, a more complex autofocus menu, and various other added functions. But as always, I find Canon’s menuing system to be very smart, intuitive and easy to find your way around.
4 – Touch Screen – The new touch screen setting capabilities on the back LCD screen allow you to set all the menu functions using a screen tap instead of having to press buttons like before. Until you start using a touch screen menu you don’t realize how handy this is and how quickly you can change settings on the fly. I absolutely love it.
5 – User Manual – The user manual is huge. 612 pages to be exact, with an additional 48 pages just for the wireless communication settings. The 5D Mark II manual was only 259 pages in total by comparison. But leave the 5D Mark IV manual in the box and download a copy of the 5D Mark IV manual as a color PDF here as I did, then load it onto your smartphone or tablet. I put it both on my iPhone and Samsung Android tablet so I can quickly access it for any setting changes I might need while I am shooting. Most settings won’t require much manual referencing if you are used to shooting with Canon 5D cameras already, but I recommend at least going through the manual’s section on the autofocus system as there are a number of new features and functions within it as I mentioned.
6 – Viewfinder – The viewfinder is now customizable and you can add a lot more data to appear within the viewfinder than you ever had before. This is extremely useful in order to know what your settings are at all times and ensure they are set to what you want while shooting. You can now quickly notice if some settings have accidentally changed, which helps prevent mistakes. The viewfinder itself seems bigger, clearer, and brighter than before. Even more so than the 5D Mark III in my opinion. So even with all the added information now appearing within the viewfinder itself, it doesn’t seem to interfere with your ability to clearly see your subjects while shooting.
7 – LCD Preview Screen – The same goes for the back LCD preview screen which displays better and sharper detail than before. Its resolution has jumped from 1.04 million dots on the 5D Mark III to 1.6 million dots on the 5D Mark IV, which is almost nearly another 50% in LCD screen resolution. It is a bit wider and more rectangular shaped than the LCD display on my 5D Mark II but is the same shape and size at 3.2″ as the 5D Mark III display, giving it more of a wide screen feel.
8 – Electronic Camera Level – The 5D Mark IV has a built in electronic spirit level so that you can level the camera on a tripod without needing to attach a separate bubble level onto the hot shoe. Very useful for shooting landscapes and architecture, and is something that was already provided on the 5D Mark III, so it will not be new to 5D Mark III users, but it is a new feature for anyone coming from an older 5D series body like myself.
9 – Photo Resolution – As we know, resolution has been increased by just over 30% on this camera above the photo resolution of the 5D Mark II and Mark III series bodies. The 5D Mark II was 21MP and the 5D Mark III was 22MP. The 5D Mark IV is now 30MP, which allows you much more flexibility to crop images later if you need to and without losing a lot of needed resolution. Of course, what I also noticed, is that the Raw files are much bigger in file size too than before. I used to be able to capture well over 2,000 Raw photos on a single 64GB card with the 5D Mark II or Mark III. With the 5D Mark IV you will get only about 1,400 Raw images when shooting at the full 30MP Raw file setting. It does though give you options to shoot at lower Raw file resolutions of 17MP and 7.5MP if you actually prefer smaller Raw files.
10 – Rubber Sealing – I noticed all the rubber sealing and weatherproofing on the exterior of the body looks much more robust now. And the memory card door is now heavier duty, spring loaded, and rubber sealed as well, which it wasn’t on my 5D Mark II.
So there you have it. And if you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them below.
Great roundup! I’m really looking forward to getting mine. Just need to save up :p
Thanks Tom. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, especially if you are mainly a stills photo shooter. I just came off another big 2 day production job with it for a client today and it added so much proficiency to the work flow as well as providing a much more fulfilling shooting experience every step of the way. With the much higher preview screen and all the touch screen capabilities it’s just a joy to work with. Surely my favorite Canon body thus far. Best wishes.