It’s really challenging to review a camera that has had so much hype and expectation behind it like the Canon 5D Mark IV has. For the last two years fans have been waiting for this camera (the realistic fans… the crazed ones have been expecting it for far longer), and now that it has arrived… mixed emotions are flying around from across the Canon faithful. In this first impressions review, we’re going to look specifically at still image shooting and the shooting experience. For those lamenting the video features (and lack thereof), you’ll have to wait for our full review.
From a handling standpoint, the camera feels great. It holds much like the the beloved 5D Mark III, but perhaps a bit lighter. It behaves exactly like you might hope, and anyone who has shot with Canon digital in the last 10 years will feel right at home with the 5D Mark IV.
Autofocus was reliable, fast and accurate, and I have high hopes that it will behave just as wonderfully as the 1DX Mark II, seeing as the autofocus system is taken right out of that excellent camera.
The touch screen is really nice, and it’s about time it made its way to the 5D line. The rear screen is big and bright, and the touch interface is responsive and totally useful. Once you have it, you’ll wonder how you went so long without. It just makes so much sense, and though the archaic menu system is still the same as it always has been, at least navigating it by touch is less frustrating than it has been in the past.
Minor body changes include moving the “Mark IV” lettering up from the bottom right of the camera to up under the “5D” designation to make room for the newly-placed remote trigger port. This means the left side of the camera is significantly more spacious, with only the headphone jack, mic jack, PC cable port, mini HDMI and USB taking up that space.
There is a new button occupying the space between the rear wheel and multi-angle thumb button that I have not quite figured out what it does yet, but it’s there. The photo/video switch dial is, oddly, inverted from the Mark III, but it’s not something you really notice unless you’re comparing bodies side by side. Everything else is pretty much, thankfully, untouched from the older model. I always hate learning new button layouts, and here I was largely spared.
So how are the images? I noticed that the Mark IV tends to air on the darker side during automatic light metering, giving images a deeper, more contrasty look than in the past. This makes for really dynamic portraits, and if you don’t like it, I doubt it will ever go so far as to be unfixable in post. I found that to get some rather even metering, I was up one stop from what the light meter thought was perfect.
I also noticed that in some images there is a bit of banding occurring, and I’m crossing my fingers that this is a JPEG problem and not a sensor problem.
Unfortunately due to RAW being unsupported by both Canon’s own Digital Photo Professional and Adobe Camera Raw at this time, I was not able to evaluate dynamic range. The photos included here are largely straight out of camera, with some taking minor color balance and curves adjustments. Getting access to RAW files will really be the big indicator of image quality.
From a purely stills perspective, this is a big step in the right direction, and I’m thus far pretty happy with what I have seen. It will of course take a lot more testing and time in the field, but for now I am optimistic with the experience. There is of course, much more to come…
Interested in pre-ordering a 5D Mark IV? You can do so here for a cool $3500.