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Canon 5D Mark IV – My Thoughts and Review

Considering that the camera was released sometime in 2016, I am admittedly very late to the “review” scene for the Canon 5D Mark IV. But then again, I’m not really the person to test and review the camera technically. There are many other people with lot more resources better placed to do that. Folks at DPReview come to mind. Or perhaps the good people at The Digital Picture.

In this article though, I hope to leave my personal and subjective view of the camera. I won’t be pixel peeping at 400% zoom. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that – but I’m just not the one for it.

I hardly, if ever use video recording on my DSLRs, so I won’t be touching on that in this review. This review is from a still photographer’s point of view – hopefully to the benefit of other still photographers.

Sensor

At 30 MP, I’m pretty satisfied with the resolution – especially when I crop the images in square or another format for one of the personal projects. 5DsR at 50MP tempted me for a short while but I think at that point, the hassle of big RAW files outweighs the benefits of having the extra resolution. 30 MP feels about right for me. I tend to not crop my images too much anyway.

Picture Quality

The quality of images coming from DSLRs has been quite amazing in the last two decades. So let’s just say the image quality in this camera is also pretty good. The details provided by the 30 MP full frame sensor at 100% zoom are quite stunning.

I can say for sure that if I take a picture of bad quality with this camera, it almost certainly won’t be of camera’s fault.

Focusing

Combined with an L lens, autofocus is crazy fast on the camera. It’s faster than you can blink. It can often focus in near darkness when you can’t see with your own eyes. Combine that with being able to focus exactly where I want by simply touching the LCD screen, we have a very solid autofocusing mechanism.

Frames Per Second

At 7 fps it’s not the fastest camera on the market. 1Dx shoots at 14 fps – quite frankly, how does the 1Dx shutter mechanism not spontaneously combust at that speed boggles my mind.

In my photography, I’ve rarely wanted to shoot at even 7 fps. so I can never really see myself upgrading from 5D to anything else. My work tends to be intentional, slow and mindful so there’s hardly ever the need to go up to even 7fps but it’s good to know that it’s there, should I need that speed.

LCD Screen – The Good Bits

One new feature on this camera that I’ve grown rather accustomed to is focusing and taking a shot by simply touching the LCD screen in live-view. This is something we’ve been able to do on smart phones already but to see it make its way to a pro DSLR is quite nice.

Being able to touch to focus makes focusing very easy and using touch to take a photo means there is no unintended vibration from pressing the shutter button.

Another thing I’ve grown to love about this LCD – although I suspect it’s actually a credit to the sensor – is that when using a dark ND filter (like my 10 stop filter), I don’t have to remove the filter to focus.

LCD Display - With 10 Stop Filter

LCD Display – With 10 Stop Filter

I can simply put the filter on and the LCD shows the scene at viewable exposure, rather than completely dark. This means that I can focus and adjust exposure as required after putting the filter on – rather than having to set the camera up before screwing in the filter.

This is seen in the image below – the LCD shows almost exact copy of the scene, despite the camera having a 10 stop filter attached to it. I suspect the camera is able to do this by cranking up the ISO on the sensor. This didn’t happen with my 7D and has made it much simpler to use an ND filter.

LCD Screen – The Bad Bit

Bad bit about the LCD and probably the one thing that annoys me most about this camera is not having a reticulated screen. Most of the times it’s not an issue and is often negated by being able to touch the screen to focus but it would really be nice to have a reticulated screen when you need to shoot down low or above the crowds.

What annoys me even more now is finding out that recently announced 6D Mark II has that screen. While I’m happy for future 6D owners, it annoys me that Canon did not have this feature on their higher specced camera released only a year ago.

Weight

This is my first full frame camera by comparison to my 7D, it is bulky. Especially, when you attach the 24-105mm or bigger lens to it. While I am grateful of the ruggedness and weather resistance this provides, let’s just say that this camera is not your travel camera or even your street photography camera.

Other Features

Often hailed as an all rounder in Canon’s lineup, this camera has a breathtaking number of features that I’ll never use. The manual is frigging 600 pages long – probably the size of a telephone directory of a small town.

I could wake up one day, shoot the sunrise then shoot a kid’s football game followed by a wedding and then finally sunset and astro-photography at the end of the day and this camera will serve me just fine for all of the different scenarios I’ll encounter. And we haven’t even touched on its video functions. It’s that impressive.

Again, admittedly, a lot of the features are ones that I’d never even get to and some of the features, in my opinion, are just hype (e.g. Dual Pixel Raw). It’s like owning a Ferrari and using it as your daily driver – that’s how I feel when using this camera.

Cost

Typically, the camera retails around NZD $6000 (about USD $4400 – yes we do get ripped off quite badly down here) body only. This is from the mainstream outlets, not parallel imports.

I bought the camera when a particular retailer was selling it for 20% off. On top of that, Canon also had a $500 cash back on it at that time so in the end, got the camera for NZD $4300 (around $3100 USD) – pretty happy about it. That’s just more than what I expect the new 6D Mark II will sell on release in this country.

Should you buy it?

You are probably sick of hearing it but it depends.

This is an expensive camera and you need to be able to justify the costs. Previously, 5D was the progressive step up from 7D but now with 6D in the middle and especially with 6D Mark II coming out, it’s well worth the consideration. 5DsR should also be considered if you are a landscape photographer due to its 50.6 MP resolution.

Also worth consideration are the mirrorless options, especially if weight or bulk is of consideration to you. Offerings from Fuji have had good feedback. I suspect myself that I’ll be going the mirrorless path for my next camera when this one has paid its dues – and especially if by then Canon has released a full frame mirrorless that they are rumoured to.

I would recommend only going with 5D if you either get it for a sharp price or find that there are particular things that you need that either 6D or the mirrorless can’t do that only 5D can. If you want a more specialist solution, then you can look at the 5DsR or perhaps even the 1Dx.

Conclusion

In its natural habitat.

In its natural habitat.

In general, I’m pretty happy with the camera – although I do fear for the day when I have to lug it along with my aluminium tripod for a long hike. I love all that it’s able to do and it leaves me satisfied knowing that I’ll be using it for a good number of years. I probably wouldn’t have bought it at full retail price and gone with the 6D instead but effectively getting 30% off the retail made it that much more of a good deal.


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