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CANON EOS 5D MK IV USER REVIEW

18/10/2016

CANON EOS 5D MK IV USER REVIEW

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Settings: Shot with 5D MK III – Sigma 50 Art – f/1.6 – 1/320th sec – ISO 320 (lit by Westcott Ice-light with barn doors)

INTRODUCTION

To start off, and so that I don’t waste your time, I’ll make it clear that this is not going to be an in-depth technical review of the Canon EOS 5D MK IV – websites such as DP Review and The Digital Picture have already got that well-covered and their findings on this new camera are already in.  What I can do however is provide a hands-on UK wedding photographer’s perspective having now shot 7 autumn/winter weddings with this camera. This mini ‘review’ really is just a summary of my unscientific thoughts and experiences with the Canon 5D MK IV with a few MK IV images thrown in to make it slightly more interesting and to hopefully illustrate some of the observations.  I’ll also try to update this post periodically as I gain further experience with this new camera.  All images shown here were taken on the Canon EOS 5D MK IV (other than the one above) and have been edited in Adobe Lightroom 6.7 from full RAW files.  I use a Lightroom preset as the starting point for most of my editing – in the case of the colour images it is based on VSCO Kodak Portra 160 and the black and whites on a Redwood black and white preset (which one escapes me) – they have both been heavily customised to my own tastes over time.  I’m also not much of a video user so this is very much about the stills performance of this camera.  Please do feel free to share or leave comments at the end of the blog, feedback on what is a well-intentioned first attempt at a camera review is very welcome.

Andy Davison - Norfolk Wedding Photographer

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2.2 – 1/160th sec – ISO 400 (in-camera double-exposure)

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 85mm f/1.2 L MK II – f/2 – 1/1000th sec – ISO 100

Canon EOS 5D MK IV Review

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art – f/2 – 1/200th sec – ISO 800

My perspective is entirely independent; within financial constraints, I’d always place camera performance and image quality ahead of brand choice.  I’ve been shooting weddings for 3 years or so and although I’ve only used the 5D MK III in that time (for about 100 weddings), I’ve had the Nikon D750 in my online shopping basket more than once while I waited impatiently for Canon to update the MK III.  In that time I’ve worked with photographers using D750s and, in editing their RAW files, seen for myself what I’ve been missing out on, particularly in terms of Dynamic Range and high ISO performance. While I’m not a ‘Canon fanboy’, I do however like many things about the ‘Canon system’ – the range and quality of the L series lenses, the Canon 600 off/on-camera flash system (and its integration), camera build quality, the professional support (CPS), the menu system and colours that I get from my Canon cameras are what kept me with Canon over the past 18 months or so (aside from the cost of switching systems).

I imagine that my situation when Canon finally launched the MK IV was therefore similar to many other wedding photographers who managed to ignore the charms of cameras like the D750, the Sony A7R II or Fuji’s increasingly impressive X Pro and XT series cameras while hoping that the replacement to their still excellent MK IIIs would deliver enough to keep them with Canon and the wider Canon system that they’ve grown to trust.  The aim of this brief user review of the MK IV is therefore to really try and help those photographers who are pondering whether to upgrade to the 5D MK IV from an earlier Canon EOS 5 Series camera or indeed to perhaps inform those who left Canon or sit in Nikon, Sony or Fuji etc worlds as to whether the MK IV offers something to tempt them back or across to Canon.

Andy Davison - Norfolk Wedding Photographer

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art – f/2 – 1/60th sec – ISO 400

Andy Davison - Canon EOS 5D MK IV Review

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 400

CUSTOMISATION OF THE 5D MK IV (BOREDOM WARNING – DEFINITELY MOVE ON IF YOU DON’T OWN THIS CAMERA!)

Before I kick off, I thought I’d first share a few of my MK IV customisation settings – as I’ll discuss later, the camera is more customisable than the MK III so here’s a starting point that might help any new users reading this review.  It should also help place in context a little about how I shoot and how the images included in the review were likely shot:

  • Image Review – ‘2 secs’ (or off – battery life is discussed later….)
  • Beep – ‘disabled’
  • Cards set to ‘record separately’ – RAW to CF and jpeg to SD (due relative write speeds)
  • Auto ISO range ‘100-12800’ (stills) – Min shutter speed 1/250th (due mainly photographing people and hence avoid movement)
  • AF – ‘Case 2’ – ‘continue to track subjects, ignoring possible obstacles’ (like confetti!)
  • AI Servo – ‘1st Image Priority Focus’
  • 15 AF points selectable and displayed all AF area modes selectable
  • AF/grid illumination (in red) in viewfinder ‘on’
  • AF point during AI Servo AF ‘on’
  • Playback magnification actual size from selected pt
  • LCD ‘Cool Tone 1’ (the default setting is very warm compared to the MK III display and gives a false sense of captured WB)
  • GPS permanently ‘off ‘ (there is a mode for periodic updates)
  • AF-ON button assigned to ‘AI Servo AF Point Expansion Mode’
  • AE Lock button assigned to ‘AI Servo Automatic Area Selection Mode’
  • DOF Preview button assigned to ‘AI Servo Single Point’ (most commonly used)
  • SET Button with top scroll wheel set to ISO selection
  • Multi-controller (joystick) set to ‘direct AF point selection’
  • New button on MK IV assigned to ‘Exposure Compensation’

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art – f/1.4 – 3.2 secs – ISO 3200

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 1000 – + 1 stop in Lightroom

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2.0 – 1/250th sec – ISO 125 – +1.5 stops in Lightroom

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 800

IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ THE WHOLE REVIEW – HERE’S THE CRUX OF IT

Pros:

  • Canon 5 series users can now exploit dynamic range and high ISO performance pretty much on a par with those enjoyed by class-leading brand users for some time
  • Excellent Dual Pixel and Face-Detect AF tracking and low-light AF improvements
  • Excellent touch-screen implementation for menu access and live-view shooting (video and still)
  • The touchscreen combined with features such as wi-fi and GPS helps make the MK IV feel like ‘current’ technology
  • Improved ergonomics with additional rear multi-function button and greater customisation options on rear buttons than was possible on the MK III
  • Auto ISO with Exposure Compensation in Manual Mode
  • Modest but welcome increase in frame rate and buffer
  • Lighter weight camera than MK III

Cons:

  • Price
  • Battery life (based on 5 weddings and having used 3 x MK IV bodies approx 30-40% reduction in MK III battery performance)
  • Lack of articulated screen
  • Despite the wait, the MK IV hasn’t arrived on the scene ahead of its competitors in the areas of DR and ISO performance – it’s good, but it hasn’t broken any new ground

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/800th sec – ISO 100

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 800 – +3.25 stops in Lightroom

NOT THE BEST OF STARTS WITH THE 5D MK IV – EARLY ADOPTER PROBLEMS

I was a very early adopter of the MK IV; having waited for what seemed like a long time for the MK III to be updated (in camera technology terms anyway) and with the darker months fast approaching, I was desperate to get my hands on Canon’s latest 5 Series camera and to find out whether my wait had been worthwhile or whether I’d perhaps now decide to go beyond adding D750s to my shopping basket and sell up and move across to a Canon competitor.

Although I normally order my equipment from grey market companies such as Digital Rev, HDEW or Panamoz (all who’ve provided an excellent service to-date) as an early adopter and cognisant of the potential pitfalls for people investing in new technology (ie being effectively used as field testers with potentially still ‘buggy’ equipment) I decided to order a single MK IV from Jessops, the UK camera store which has high street as well as online options.  Although the grey options were already approximately £800 cheaper than Jessops, the excellent MK III trade-in price combined with £200 trade-in bonus (still valid at the time of writing) made the decision to go with a local UK store an easy one.

How good was that decision!  I’m not going to go into this in too much detail as it’s now behind me but I’ve had 2 x MK IV bodies prior to the current one that I’m now using.  The first body had a power fault that was draining the battery to empty in 3 hours without GPS or wi-fi enabled and with limited LCD screen use and would routinely take 5-10 seconds to wake from sleep mode. The replacement camera then completely failed on me at home between weddings (thankfully) – approx 3,000 shutter actuations and then completely dead.  There had been no sign of problems, it just suddenly went off and never came back on.  Thankfully, Jessops provided a superb customer service throughout and returned both of my old MK III bodies in time for me to use at a wedding while new MK IV stock arrived.  I’m currently shooting with one MK IV and one MK III (with a MK III in the car as a back-up – my previously rock-solid confidence in Canon cameras has been shaken by the 2 faulty MK IVs).

In the end I got there – touch wood, I now have a reliable MK IV that’s now working as advertised.  After the experiences that I’ve had with the MK IV though, I’d be cautious about ordering from an overseas grey importer right now.  From what I’ve read, I’m not the only photographer to have had issues with the MK IV and it is hugely reassuring to know that you can simply physically return a faulty camera without the hassle of postage and insurance costs and of course delays in getting a replacement.  I think I have also been particularly unlucky to receive 2 separate MK IVs with problems.

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2 – 1/250th sec – ISO 250

Andy Davison - Marsh Farm Wedding - Norfolk Wedding Photographer

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art – f/1.4 – 1/400th sec – ISO 100

WHAT’S TO LIKE?

So, keeping this simple (for me!), I’m just going to talk about what I like and what I don’t like about the MK IV.  Based on my experiences with the MK III as a benchmark, I’ll largely concentrate on relating the ‘goods’ and the ‘bads’ to that camera with occasional mention of other bodies that I’ve had my hands on periodically.  I’m not going to cover Dual-Pixel RAW as it’s not a feature that I’m going to be using any time soon in its current form (huge files, very limited focus adjustment and lack of Adobe support).  I’m also not going to talk about GPS or wi-fi.  They’re not features that I’m particularly interested in as a wedding photographer and, while I’ve briefly tested the excellent remote app, I can’t see me using these features a great deal.  I’ll talk about battery life later but the inevitable battery drain from using these capabilities are reason enough to ensure that these features are permanently off during a long wedding day.

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70 f/2.8L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/400th sec – ISO 100

  • Autofocus – autofocus feels livelier in the MK IV than the MK III with definite improvements in AF speed and accuracy in low light and when dealing with strongly back-lit subjects.  Something like Autofocus is very hard to compare accurately between cameras or indeed to really quantify but, so far, I’ve been getting improved consistency of AF in servo modes (aisle and confetti particularly – for Servo shooting, I tend to leave my MK IIIs and MK IV in AF Mode “Case 2 – Continue to Track Subjects Ignoring Possible Objects”) and have noticed a slight increase in the number of keepers that I’m getting across the board.  The increase in megapixels has however made focus accuracy at wider apertures even more critical with slight misses being significantly more evident than on the MK III (I’ve used FoCal to adjust each of my lenses and each required adjustment of up to +/-5 to hit the sweet spot).  The greatest improvement in AF though really show when using Dual Pixel AF with Face Detection in live-view.  As a previous owner of an Olympus OM-D EM10, the live-view shooting experience of the MK III always seemed woeful.  The introduction of a touch-screen on the MK IV, coupled with the aforementioned Dual-Pixel AF, makes shooting in live view an absolute joy.  With touch focus and even touch shutter options and outstanding tracking, particularly face tracking, there’s now a good reason to switch to live view for still and video shooting.  I’ve found the face-detection particularly useful when shooting at wide apertures during portrait sessions and bridal preparation – the hit rate even at f/1.2 on my 85L II (not an aperture I often use on this lens as it happens but a demanding scenario for testing this aspect of the MK IV) is superb with accurate focussing on the eyes achieved with fantastic consistency.  Overall, the AF improvements of the MK IV will undoubtedly result in more in-focus images but also potentially change the way you shoot.  For example, getting creative with portrait or even candid dance-floor compositions and holding the camera close to the ground or high above your head in live-view with face detect in use is going to result in far more ‘keepers’ than a similar method with the MK III.  Just imagine if the screen could rotate……more on that later…..

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/1600th sec – ISO 100 – Single Point AI Servo

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/250th sec – ISO 100 – shot in live-view camera above head using Dual-Pixel AF and face detection in AI Servo – 100% hit rate on the Bekah’s eyes, even at f/2.

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/250th sec – ISO 200

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 400

  • Dynamic Range – the colour banding of the MK III experienced when trying to recover shadow detail beyond 1-2 stops of exposure in post-production will have been a source of frustration and disappointment for many a wedding photographer over the last 4 years or so, particularly those that have seen what can be done with files from cameras such as Nikon’s D750. While I could always live with some noise in the MK III files when pushing them in post, the colour-banding was a horrid trait and pretty much impossible to overcome if you’d got your exposure wrong by more than a stop or 2.  I’m delighted to say that Canon has taken a huge step forward in this area.  I’ve not done any studio tests to see precisely how far I can pull-back underexposed images in post but from the 5 weddings that I’ve shot it’s clear that 3-4 stops can now be comfortably achieved with no evidence of colour banding to be seen.  I’ve read other reviews that have looked at this in greater depth and all conclude that the MK IV is still about a stop short of the D750 (probably still the benchmark camera in this area) and I can believe that, but also live with that.  I rarely get my exposure so wrong that I genuinely need to increase exposure by more than a couple of stops and to have the flex to push files to 3 or 4 feels fantastic to finally exploit in a Canon body.

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/500th sec – ISO 100 – + 0.75 stops, Shadows +100 and Highlights -66 in Lightroom

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions – Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 800 – +3.25 stops in Lightroom

CANON EOS 5D MKIV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions – Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2.0 – 1/250th sec – ISO 125 – +1.5 stops in Lightroom

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions – Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 200

  • High ISO – as someone who tends to shoot aperture priority (AV) with Auto ISO for much for much of a wedding day, I’ve always restricted my upper ISO to 6400 on the MK III and rarely ventured beyond 3200 for what I regard as relatively clean files.  I’ve never particularly liked the ISO noise on the MK III and would always augment ambient light with flash or video light if I found myself wandering into 3200 or 6400 territory.  Like the dynamic range, I’m delighted to report that the MK IV is again a vast improvement on the previous model.  Shooting in dark barns and churches on dark autumn days is suddenly no longer the same challenge with my MK IV now set to freely exploit an ISO range up to 12800.  To my eyes, the 12800 ISO files on the MK IV are comparable to the MK III 3200 ISO ones in terms of colours, and the noise characteristics of the MK IV have an altogether more pleasing aesthetic perhaps more akin to film grain than the MK III.  Such things are highly subjective but I’ve found myself working with ambient light for far later into the evening than I’d have dared with my MK IIIs and really enjoyed being to able to capture the ambience and feel for candle-lit receptions where before I’d have been reaching for my flashes.  As a largely candid wedding photographer, it’s also a huge bonus being able to roam a dark room capturing genuine moments without giving away my presence or annoying people and disturbing conversations with the intrusion of flash lighting.  One thing to note, and it’s been noticed by others, is that the MK IV RAW files are a little ‘flat’ compared to the MK III and so require a little more work to get them to really ‘sing’.  Using old MK III presets in Lightroom really highlights the problem – a little tweaking is definitely required if you’re to match MKIII and MKIV files and that has definitely been a downside of working with a MK III alongside a MK IV at recent weddings.  Anyway, a few quite high ISO shots are included below – again, shot details under each image:

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions – Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/3.5 – 1/200th sec – ISO 12800

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions  – Canon 85mm f/1.2L MK II – f/2 – 1/250th sec – ISO 10000

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 135mm f/2 L – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 10000

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/3.5 – 1/320th sec – ISO 8000

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/1.8 – 1/250th sec – ISO 8000

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art – f/1.4 – 1/100th sec – ISO 8000

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L – f/4 – 1/200th sec – ISO 6400

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions – Canon 85mm f/1.2L MK II – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 4000

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 4000

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions – Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art – f/1.4 – 1/160th sec – ISO 5000 – +1.50 stops in Lightroom

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 85mm f/1.2L – f/1.8 – 1/320th sec – ISO 5000

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 3200

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 3200

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 85mm f/1.2L MK II – f/2 – 1/250th sec – ISO 3200

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 5000

Canon EOS 5D MK IV Review

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art – f/1.4 – 4 secs – ISO 3200

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/1.8 – 1/320th sec – ISO 1600

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/1.8 – 1/250th sec – ISO 1600

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/1.6 – 1/160th sec – ISO 1600 (+ 1.75 stops in Lightroom)

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 1250

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 1000

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions – Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art – f/2 – 1/320th – ISO 800 – +1.5 stops in Lightroom

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 135 f/2 L – f/2 – 1/125th sec – ISO 800

Canon EOS 5D MK IV Review

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2.5 – 1/160th sec – ISO 800

Andy Davison - Canon EOS 5D MK IV Review

Canon EF 35mm 1.4 L MK II – f/1.4 -1/160th sec – ISO 800 + 2.3 stops in Lightroom

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/250th sec – ISO 640

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2 – 1/250th sec – ISO 640

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 500

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions – Canon 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/1.8 – 1/250th sec – ISO 400 – +2 stops in Lightroom

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

SOOC and edited versions  – Canon 135mm f/2 L – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 100 – +2 stops in Lightroom

  • Auto ISO With Exposure Compensation in Manual Mode – a new feature of the 5D MK IV that’s seemingly attracted little attention is the inclusion of Auto ISO with Exposure Compensation in Manual Mode for the first time in a 5 Series body.  I believe that Nikon has had a similar capability in some of its cameras for some time but it’s been a new option for me since using the MK IV and it’s changing how I shoot, particularly inside, in low light.  While I largely shoot AV and Auto ISO outside, when I get inside and start to occasionally add flash to the equation I tend to switch to Manual.  Although I have my default AV-Auto ISO combination set to one of the 3 custom settings for quick access, when alternating between purely ambient and flash-lit shots inside a dark venue I do find myself switching pretty constantly between AV and Manual Modes. Since using the MK IV in Manual Mode with Exposure Compensation in Auto ISO, I’ve found myself working exclusively in Manual Mode when inside.  With an aperture and shutter speed selected inside of flash synch speed and the ISO free to make it’s own decisions, I’m able to wander and shoot with great freedom using either ambient or flash just switching the flash on when needed.  With the new additional button on the back of the MK IV which can be assigned to exposure compensation, it’s also a very simple way of very quickly tweaking exposure to correct an under or over-exposed test shot.

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L MK II – f/3.2 – 1/200th sec – ISO 1600

  • Ergonomics – although not much has changed externally from MK III to MK IV (and it didn’t need to), the slight reduction in weight is very welcome.  We’re clearly not in mirrorless territory here but over the course of a full day at a wedding, any weight reduction becomes amplified and welcome.  The additional button mentioned above with it’s many configuration options adds to the customisability of the MK IV over the MK III. With the additional AF modes and Auto ISO with Exposure Compensation in Manual, the increased ability to assign almost any function to the full range of buttons on the back of the camera is very welcome and I’ve found myself setting up my MK IV to match my own shooting style in far more ways than are possible with the MK III.  A good example of this is where I’ve previously assigned AF Servo to the DOF preview button on the MK III but now have zone and area AF Servo options assigned to AF-ON and AE-Lock buttons allowing instantaneous access to a far wider range of AF scenarios. Finally, it is worth noting that the default ‘Standard’ setting for the LCD display colour tone renders images rather warm and when first using the camera I was constantly checking my WB settings – reassuringly, I’ve read that others have experienced the same and when set to ‘Cool Tone 1’ images appear far closer in WB terms to the captured photograph.  Problem solved.

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/3.2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 500 (+2.35 stops in Lightroom – highlights -56, shadows +31)

  • 4K Video Stills – while I’ve not had the courage to fully explore this capability on a wedding day yet, I’ve been impressed with the limited experimentation that I’ve completed so far.  With its excellent autofocus in Live View (and exceptional face detection and tracking accuracy) coupled with a highly responsive touch screen, shooting video has suddenly become a whole lot easier for video novices like me.  One attempt at using video in autofocus on the MK IIIs ensured that I never returned to video mode again.  The MK IV is a completely different experience and is simple, intuitive and fun to use from the outset.  Of particular interest to me is the opportunity to capture short videos of key moments which you can then review and extract the precise still ‘moment’ as a jpeg in-camera.  For example, the idea of using 4K video for a 20 second confetti throw and then extracting one jpeg file where the confetti is as it’s peak and just the right fleeting expressions in view would be one potential way for wedding photographers to exploit this new feature.  We can of course shoot a burst of still shots at 7 fps with excellent tracking but the chance to choose the precise moment from a far larger selection of ‘frames’ could help us render the absolute optimum image that may have fallen between still frames. While the jpeg files are of course not going to have the post-production flexibility of the RAW files and are only 8.8 MP, I think there’s potential for wedding photographers to exploit this new capability.

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE 

  • Quality Control? – first of all of course, I’ve sent 2 faulty MK IVs back to Canon.  One of them completely failed and that leaves me with this nagging concern over the reliability of the MK IV.  I hope that it just turns out that I’ve been incredibly unlucky and that the MK IV is indeed the ‘tank’ and workhorse that the MK III has proved to be.
  • Battery Life – I’ve been very disappointed with the battery life on the 5D MK IV.  I’m used to shooting for a whole day and rarely changing to a second battery on my MK IIIs but have found myself routinely inserting a 3rd battery into my MK IV on a wedding day.  That is shooting with GPS and wi-fi permanently switched off and with very limited use of the LCD/live-view.  I wrote to Canon about this issue soon after noticing how poor battery life was compared to the MK III and I received the reply below.  It does at least acknowledge that the battery life is reduced on the MK IV but the decision to not develop a more powerful battery to meet the demands of a clearly more power-hungry camera seems to make no sense to me.  I get that it’s good for owners of LP-E6N batteries from their MK IIIs to be able to bring them across to the MK IV but the MK IV demands a greater number of batteries to keep it functioning for a full day so there’s a price in batteries to be paid regardless.  Unless you over-stocked on batteries for the frankly hugely efficient MK III, you’re going to need to invest in more batteries for your MK IV and it’s another thing to now keep an eye on during a wedding that you didn’t really need to think about previously.  A disappointing step backwards and one that partly reduces the friction of moving to a more power-hungry mirrorless competitor.

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

  • Lack of Articulated Screen – as someone who likes to shoot from high and low and who has absolutely loved using an articulated and responsive live-view touchscreen on the Olympus OM-D EM10, an articulated screen on the MK IV was very close to the top of my wish list.  With such an impressive live-view and touchscreen functionality introduced with this camera, it feels like a huge opportunity missed not to add an articulated screen.  Being able to tilt the screen is not a gimmick, it’s a hugely valuable way of simply increasing angles and positions that you can shoot from to vary composition and it’s a great shame that the MK IV does not have this functionality.  If it’s introduced on another full-frame Canon camera in the future, maybe say a future 6D, I can see a lot of wedding photographers considering a move to a cheaper body maybe akin to the moves from the larger Nikon bodies to the D750 that we’ve seen over recent years.
  • Dynamic Range – how can this be a good and bad thing?  Well, it’s only listed here because it’s taken Canon a long time to deliver a camera that actually falls just short in pure Dynamic Range terms of cameras such as the D750 which are now over 2 years old.  I’m not sure that I need more Dynamic Range than the 5D MK IV has to offer (although photographers will of course always want more than less) but when you spend £3500 on a camera that’s been 4 years or more in development, you hope to get the very best in its class in such a fundamental area (at least for a short while). When you consider that a Nikon D750 retails for around £1300, it’s easy to see why it’s unlikely (in my view) that many that left Canon for Nikon will be changing back to Canon any time soon.
  • Price – as touched upon above, this is an expensive camera.  While I’ve been happy to accept that you pay a little extra for Canon build-quality, my confidence in that area has been shaken after my early experiences with 2 problem MK IV cameras.  Accepting that those issues may have just been bad luck, the launch price of the MK IV does still seem steep when compared with its direct competitors.  With prices already falling though, and no doubt early issues resolved through firmware updates, those opting to upgrade in slower time over the coming months, perhaps using some of the more reputable grey importers will find themselves with some vastly improved deals.

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 640

CONCLUSION

I’m not sure if what I’ve written here will help anyone pondering the purchase of a Canon EOS 5D MK IV but hopefully some of my experiences and thoughts will provide some food for thought. After a very rocky start with the MK IV, and 2 bodies returned to Canon, I’ve started to really enjoy using a camera that is an improvement over its predecessor in almost every respect (excluding battery life). The dynamic range and high ISO capabilities of this camera finally bring Canon users into the same low-light ball-park that Nikon and Sony shooters have been playing in for some time.  The MK IV may not be class leading in this area but it has at least brought the Canon 5 series close enough to its competitors that the difference is negligible (well, maybe until Nikon update the D750 or Sony the A7R/S etc…) and the files at the extremes of the camera’s light gathering capabilities will be a real joy to edit for MK III users.  The touch screen, DP AF and responsive live view make the camera feel much more contemporary – being able to access all the menus via touchscreen and pinch to zoom images in review as we all do on our smartphones feels intuitive and handling a MK III after a few hours with a MK IV feels like you’ve stepped back in time by more than just 4 years.  If that screen had been articulated though, it really would have felt more like a future-proofed camera (although perhaps less water-proof).  All that said, the MK IV is good enough to keep me with Canon for another generation……I think!

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 85mm f/1.2L MK II – f/2 – 1/640th sec – ISO 100

WOULD I RECOMMEND BUYING THE CANON EOS 5D MKIV?

Of course this depends on where you’re coming from when reading this blog.  If you’re already invested in Canon, and probably looking to update from the MK III, it is a great update and upgrade.  But, you’re only really going to see the full benefit of the upgrade if you regularly find yourself shooting in low light, pushing the MK III ISO and dynamic range to its useable limits and maybe struggling to get focus in dark churches and reception venues.  If you only shoot summer weddings, and rarely have to push your camera beyond say 3200 ISO, you’re not really going to see enough of an improvement in image quality to make the significant financial outlay worthwhile in my view.  You may of course need the extra MP of the MK IV over the MK III for large prints but you’d probably head to the 5D SR if you really needed large format prints.  I guess if you want to throw some video into the mix though, the MK IV of course starts to look very interesting indeed compared to the MK III.

Having now started to find my feet with the MK IV, and really enjoyed it’s more sprightly AF and performance particularly in low-light, I’m pretty certain that I’ll now be buying a second MK IV body over the winter.  The 30.4 MP sensor paired with Canon’s exceptional latest L series lens offerings (such as my favourite the 35mm L MK II) delivers incredible image quality and the extra MP give that greater flexibility to crop in-post (always useful as a prime lens shooter). Would I buy now? Well, with the clocks going back in less than 2 weeks, it is a good time to be adopting a camera that’s really taken Canon a big step forward in low-light performance terms. That said, prices will no doubt continue to drop over the coming months and better deals may well be available before the 2017 wedding season starts in earnest.  I guess it comes down to budget and how many winter weddings you have to shoot as to whether it would be worth biting the bullet now and grabbing a MK IV.

For anyone else out there wondering whether the MK IV is a reason to head across to Canon, I’m less confident of the MK IVs allure. Price tag alone, I’m sure will deter most from selling say their Nikon cameras and lenses to head across to Canon.  The MK IV is expensive and the lenses that are capable of really exploiting the MK IV sensor are equally eye-watering in price (unless you’re a Sigma Art user perhaps, but that’s another story) so I’m not sure that many will look much beyond cost before sitting back and waiting to see what Nikon do next. Mirrorless system users will also no doubt find the poorer battery life of the MK IV interesting as it’s always been one of the drawbacks of mirrorless, the need to carry spare batteries and chargers. The lack of an articulated screen would also be a step back for D750 users, perhaps the place where so many MK III users have headed over the past 2 years or so.  Dynamic range and high ISO is also not going to be an attraction to D750 users who continue to have class-leading performance in their hands in this area.  The touch screen, responsive live view and excellent Dual Pixel AF with face detection are all perhaps attractive to users of other brands but I’m not sure that they’ll be enough of a draw at this time.

In my view, Canon has just about done enough with this camera to keep most current 5D Series wedding photographers happy and to keep them with the Canon system for perhaps another generation.  Delivering a camera that merely nearly catches its most serious older competitors though, and at a price that exceeds pretty much all of them, I can’t see it winning back customers lost to other brands over recent years.  Indeed, time may well prove that the MK IV ultimately sees Canon continue to lose market share in the area of wedding photographers if the likes of Sony, Nikon and Fuji continue to deliver meaningful innovations within an upgrade cycle that seems so much more responsive than Canon’s.

And so to finish, a few more MK IV files in a wide variety of light qualities and camera settings…….thanks very much for visiting, I really hope that there was something of interest in there for you.

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/1250th sec – ISO 100

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2.2 – 1/320th sec – ISO 125

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 85mm f/1.2L MK II – f/2 – 1/800th sec – ISO 100

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 85mm f/1.2L MK II – f/2 – 1/640th sec – ISO 100

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 800

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art – f/2 – 1/250th sec – ISO 800

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/320th sec – ISO 100

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 85mm f/1.2L MK II – f/2 – 1/250th sec – ISO 100

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 LMK II – f/2.8 – 1/250th sec – ISO 250

Andy Davison - Canon EOS 5D MK IV Review

Canon EF 35mm f1.4L MK II – f/2.0 – 1/250th sec – ISO 125

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 500

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/3200th sec – ISO 100

Andy Davison - Canon EOS 5D MK IV Review

Canon EF 35mm 1.4L MK II – f/2.0 – 1/250th sec – ISO 640

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/4.5 – 1/320th sec – ISO 200

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2 – 1/250th – ISO 250 – bouquet just stolen by cattle 🙂

Andy Davison - Canon EOS 5D MK IV Review

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/2.0 – 1/320th sec – ISO 160

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/320th sec – ISO 100

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L MK II – f/4 – 1/6400th sec – ISO 100 (shot at -3EV)

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 35mm f/1.4L MK II – f/2.5 – 1/200th sec – ISO 200

Andy Davison - Canon EOS 5D MK IV Review

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L MK II – f/1.8 – 1/800th sec – ISO 100

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 800

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 800

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L MK II – f/8 – .5 sec – ISO 800

CANON EOS 5D MK IV REVIEW

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L MK II – f/2.8 – 1/200th sec – ISO 800 (’tilt-shift’ effect added in Alien Skin Exposure X)

Wow Andy great review and photography! I’m a bit late having just picked up a Mk IV. I primarily use 1D bodies but needed something quieter for certain occasions. The improved IQ and DR is definitely an advancement also.

Cheers very much Drew, really glad you found useful. The MKIV is a great camera. I’ve sinced moved to Sony but I do miss a lot about Canon and the MKIII and MKIV. Maybe I’ll one day head back!

Feel free to leave your thoughts.

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