Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review

Canon’s 5D series of cameras has a rich heritage – the original EOS 5D bought full-frame photography to the masses, the Mark II unleashed Full HD video capture for the first time on a DSLR, and while the Mark III didn’t have quite the landmark features of its predecessors, its improved AF system made it one of the most complete DSLRs of recent times, loved by enthusiasts and pros alike.

Despite the range deviating a little since then, with the arrival of the 50.6MP 5DS for those wanting even more pixels, the arrival of a new generation of the 5D is a big deal.

Buy Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at Amazon Marketplace for $3299.00

Features

  • Full-frame CMOS sensor, 30.4MP
  • 3.2-inch touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots
  • DCI 4K video capture

The 22.3MP sensor in the 5D Mark III was starting to look a little dated compared to some of the competition – it was actually only a minor bump-up in resolution from the 5D Mark II – so it’s nice to see a notable jump to 30.4MP here.


The native sensitivity runs from ISO100-32,000, and is expandable to 50-102,400. Impressive though this is, this expanded range is actually identical to the 5D Mark III’s, although Canon reckons it has enhanced the noise-processing algorithm for improved results at higher sensitivities, while it’s also a stop more than one of this camera’s closest competitors, the Nikon D810.

 

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV uses both a DIGIC 6 and a DIGIC 6+ processor, with the former used solely for metering, freeing up the DIGIC 6+ processor to handle everything else, including the 61-point AF system with 41 cross-type sensors (five of which are dual cross-type for even greater accuracy).

 The AF system is sensitive down to -3EV (-4EV in Live View) – that’s darker than moonlight, so focusing shouldn’t be an issue in poor light, while the fact that you can use lens/teleconverter combinations with a maximum aperture of f/8 and still have the luxury of all 61 AF points (21 cross-type) will be a real draw for sports and wildlife photographers.

The 5D Mark IV also inherits Canon’s Dual Pixel AF technology, meaning there are phase-detection points on the imaging sensor itself, promising quicker AF acquisition than we saw in the 5D Mark III, and performance as speedy as in a lot of mirrorless cameras.

Build and handling

  • Magnesium alloy and polycarbonate construction
  • Dust and weather-sealed
  • Weighs 800g

At first glance the 5D Mark IV bares a striking resemblance to the outgoing Mark III (and for that matter the 5DS and 5DSr), and there’s a simple reason for that. In a nutshell, Canon doesn’t want existing 5D users to have to, as they say, ‘re-learn’ the new camera, and so aims to keep the transition as hassle-free as possible.

Buy Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at Amazon Marketplace for $3299.00

That said, there have been numerous tweaks and refinements to the body. The hand grip has been enlarged for starters, providing an even more satisfying hold when you pick the camera up, while the pentaprism now stands slightly taller to accommodate the GPS unit.

Despite cramming more tech into the body, the engineers at Canon have managed to cut the weight of the 5D Mark IV by 50g compared with the Mark III, while at the same time improving the weatherproofing, with extra grommets and seals.

Autofocus

  • 61-point AF, 41 cross-type AF points
  • 21 cross-type AF points at f/8
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF for Live View

As you’d expect for a camera that sports a virtually identical AF configuration to the flagship 1D X Mark II (Canon is at pains, though, to state that the systems aren’t completely identical, with some different internal components being used), AF performance doesn’t disappoint.

The AF is linked to the 5D Mark IV’s metering system, with the latter helping to detect and track not only coloured objects, but perform face recognition as well. In the scenarios we tested it under, the AF tracking performed very well, locking on and following our chosen subject.

We found that Zone AF performed well in our tests – when it’s selected alongside one of the six Case Studies that tailors the AF to take into account the speed, sensitivity and how erratic your subject is moving, you have a formidable combination.

Coverage is good, and better than in the 5D Mark III, but there’s still a noticeable bias towards the centre of the frame. That minor quibble aside though, the AF system performs brilliantly.


Performance

  • 7fps burst shooting
  • 150,000 pixel RGB+IR metering sensor
  • Intelligent Viewfinder II technology

The 5D Mark IV gets Canon’s 252-zone RGB+IR metering system with Intelligent Scene Analysis (also seen in the 5DS, but different from that found in the 1D X Mark II), and it’s all the better for it compared to the older iFCL system found in the 5D Mark III.

The system weights the exposure to the active AF point, but compared to the Mark III it does a better job of assessing the entire scene as a whole to deliver an exposure that’s well balanced, with only high-contrast scenarios throwing up issues, which is to be expected.

Buy Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at Amazon Marketplace for $3299.00

Image quality

  • ISO100-32,000, expandable to 50-102,400 (H2)
  • Built-in low-pass filter
  • +/-5 EV exposure compensation in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments

It’s no surprise to find that the results from the new 30.4MP sensor display excellent levels of detail – not quite as much as the staggering files from the 5DS, but still very good indeed. You should have no problems producing richly detailed prints at Super A3, while A2 prints and beyond are a realistic proposition – that’s not forgetting the ability to tightly crop images if needed.

Verdict

While the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV may look underwhelmingly familiar to the model in supersedes at first sight, don’t be fooled – the engineers at Canon haven’t stood still.

Compared to the EOS 5D Mark III, pretty much every element has been tweaked and improved upon. The full-frame 30.4MP sensor might not quite grab the headlines like those of some rivals, but it’s still a welcome boost in resolution compared to the 22.3MP of the EOS 5D Mark III, while the improved noise and dynamic range performance make it an even more tempting proposition for those users thinking of upgrading.

And if you do upgrade, you’ll get a camera that you can feel instantly at home with, while enjoying a number of improvements – the AF system is better for starters, with the Dual Pixel AF in Live View a huge leap forward. The touchscreen functionality improves handling considerably, while performance is also that much better.

Buy Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at Amazon Marketplace for $3299.00

It’s certainly no surprise to see DCI 4K video capture, although the 1.64x crop of the sensor does make it hard to get those wide-angle shots; and while there is support for clean HDMI out at 1080p, it’s not supported for 4K.

Those video irritations aside, the only other major stumbling block is the fairly hefty price, especially in the UK. However, if you can justify the outlay, then the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV has to be one of the most well-rounded and complete DSLRs we’ve seen. Suited to a range of subjects, from landscapes to sports and wildlife, it’ll perform superbly in any situation.

7.5
Go again

The Breakdown


Features
7.4
Design and Build
6.7
Performance and Quality
8.5