This is a big conversation that has been discussed at length on forums, blogs and social networks: Canon’s 5D Mark IV video specs look… disappointing. But in a recent editorial on SLR Lounge, Justin Heyes defended Canon’s choices with the Mark IV, and I wanted to address those points as a video shooter so that all sides of the argument were voiced.

4K Recording in Crop

Like the 5D Mark III, and every other 5D before it, the 5D Mark IV has a full frame sensor; but, unlike its predecessor’s videos, can be recorded in DCI 4K (full 4K). The 5D Mark IV records with a crop factor of 1.74x, which is more than their APS-C DLSRs like the Canon 7D Mark II at 1.6x; but is right in the ballpark of a Super 35mm crop.

This is probably the biggest complaint you’ll hear from video shooters, and though I see where Justin is coming from, he’s kind of ignoring why the 5D II and III were popular: the “look.” You can absolutely argue that video shooters who have been doing it for decades won’t miss the full frame video, but that’s not the entire market, and arguably not the one Canon created when they introduced video on Canon DSLRs years ago. Though the best full frame video cameras Canon has made aren’t fully full frame in video (like the 1DC and the new 1DX Mark II at 1.3x crop), they certainly weren’t at the incredibly aggressive 1.74x crop. Just look at how drastic that is in this image via EOS HD:

5dmkiv-4k-crop

That’s incredible, and though your depth of field won’t be necessarily affected by that punch in on zoom, the “feel” of the video will be. A common argument from those defending Canon here is that if the specs don’t appeal to you, then go get “a real video camera.” Ok, sure, but those won’t give me that full frame look I was just talking about, a look that I and many other filmmakers fell in love with for specific scenes. It’s a massive disappointment for those who really wanted high resolution with the “look” of a full frame Canon sensor.

MJPEG Codec

Justin doesn’t do much to defend this, other than to show that the codec does offer the appealing 4:2:2 instead of 4:2:0. For those who aren’t sure what the difference is, here is a video that breaks it down:

The thing is… it’s still not that defensible. The only reason 4:2:2 is seen as an advantage here, as Justin discusses, is that it’s better than 4:2:0 which was more common in older Canon DSLRs. So though this particular method of recording video is indeed better than what they may have used in the past, it’s still only at par or below what other competitor cameras are using. To have continued with 4:2:0 would have been absolutely suicidal for Canon, placing image quality well below the current norm. To praise Canon for going with Motion JPEG because it was able to do 4:2:2 is missing the point entirely.

Personally, the Motion JPEG codec doesn’t bother me much, and the high quality of the image generated in the same codec used in the 1DX Mark II says enough for my liking. I’m just not ready to say it’s my favorite, or use it as a defensible point on the argument that the video on the Mark IV is good as it is.

Lack of LOG

This is another big one for the Canon faithful, as the lack of CLOG means that in addition to shooting in a smaller, compressed codec, the ability to grade footage in post is seriously undermined. This was pretty much expected, as Canon only puts their C-LOG in high end cameras for the reason that has been basically accepted that they don’t want to cannibalize their cinema line. As Justin says:

Photographers who need a LOG profile in their camera know why they need one. Canon hasn’t been the one to cannibalizes their other lines in order to create an impressive be-all-end-all product. There are specific Canon cinema cameras that shoot with a C-LOG profile, and if they included LOG with this camera, there is no particular reason for an upgrade to a cinema class camera.

Except… I don’t buy it. I figure Canon is struggling with this same line of reasoning, and my comments here are aimed at both Justin and Canon: putting LOG in any camera you make that shoots video doesn’t have any effect at all on the sales of your higher-end cameras. In fact, I argue it can help you sell them.

Why do I believe this? Well, let’s look at Sony.

Right now, you can get Sony’s S-Log in their FS7 and FS700 cameras, which are high-end, cinema-level camcorders that I put on par with what Canon is producing in their C line.

But I also have S-Log in my RX100 Mark IV point and shoot.

You cannot possibly tell me that by putting S-Log in the RX100 that I as a consumer would now no longer consider buying an FS7 or even an A7 camera (which also have S-Log). You don’t buy a camera for Log, you buy it for a host of reasons, one of which happens to be Log. To say that I would not buy a Canon Cinema camera if they put Log in the Mark IV is insulting to the consumer, and shows a serious lack of personal faith in the technology of the Canon cinema cameras. You’re basically saying the only difference between your cinema camera and the Mark IV is a minor software segment? That’s totally ludicrous, and Canon’s Cinema line is worth the price you pay for far more reasons than Log.

But it makes you think… do they believe that?

By giving lower-end cameras many of the features of higher end cameras, you are training your consumers to want even more high-end features. Start with something like Log, and they will graduate to wanting something like full RAW video or something as simple as a wide variety of optional codecs that come with cinema cameras. SDI ports, form factor, battery life, video bit depth and various frame rates are all things that are reserved for higher end cameras, and just giving one or two of them to a “lower” end camera only gets your consumers hungry for more. To totally rob them of any high-end feature makes them not know what they are possibly missing, go with a competitor who offers more at a lower price point and eventually graduate to that company’s more expensive, higher end equipment.

The Real Reason We’re Upset

That’s about all Justin has to say on the matter, and though from the perspective of someone who perhaps isn’t shooting video all the time or hasn’t grown to love the format like thousands of us have, I don’t blame him for his perspective.

But what Canon has failed to do in the video of the 5D Mark IV goes way beyond the subjects Justin covered. Let me show you what Philip Bloom said on this in a recent blog post.

Below are some bullet points he raised that explain why he’s not happy, some of these we already covered:

  • The 4K is not full frame, it is not even 1.3x crop like the 1DC. It is 1.74x crop which is HUGE. Whilst the depth of field technically won’t be affected by such a crop the field of view is. To replicate the field of view of a Canon 85mm F1.2 you will need to look at the 50mm F1.2 and your depth of field will be substantially less shallow because of that. This sucks.
  • The 4K is only up to 30p. The rather nice 1DX MKII that came out earlier this year recorded 4K up to 50p/ 60p and it was with a 1.3x crop like the 1DC.
  • There is no 4K HDMI out so you are stuck with the ancient motion jpeg format in 4K.
  • The 4K is DCI 4096×3840, there is no option for UHD 3840×2160
  • The HD is ALL-I and not motion JPEG (good!), whilst we do get 1080p 50p/60p which is fine… the 120fps high frame rate mode is incredibly only 720p. The 1DX MKII does this in full HD.
  • There are no proper video functions that really should be in there. There is no C-Log mode. There is no peaking, there are no zebras. There is still no punch in focus check whilst recording. It’s quite astonishing. I had been asking Canon for peaking on my 1DC for years. It never came.

When you look at those complaints and compare what the 5D Mark IV does against the a7R II… you see where we are coming from. Visit Philip’s page for a further breakdown, he does a good job comparing the two cameras.

Basically, this folds back up into what I just finished explaining about high-end features in mid-tier products. Adding focusing peaking, zebras, punch in focus, and C-Log would only begin to cover why someone would want at C100. They are part of the “expected” features of a video camera.

“But Jaron, the 5D isn’t a video camera!” yells the stereotypical defensive Canon fanboy.

Yes it is. The 5D series has been a video camera for going on 10 years. It’s been used by major films, to start-ups, to film students. To sit there and claim that the 5D line is not a video line is totally false. It is, and by giving their consumers so little in this regard really hurts. It’s a sting that won’t fade.

When I reviewed the 1DX Mark II, I was higher on Canon than I had been for years. I was ready for them to be the camera juggernaut I fell in love with in high school. Everything about the 1DX II felt right. It had high frame rate 4K, it had a good crop on that, and it had super high frame rate in 1080p. It was just enough video camera to feel great, and not enough to potentially “cannibalize” the C-line (though I still think this is a silly concept). It made me lust for what they had in store for the 5D, their real video DSLR.

And then we were given this. Canon once led the way in video on cameras once reserved for stills. Now they’re producing a product I fear will be outdated in a year (some argue it’s outdated now). That’s not good for a series that gets refreshed once every five years, when compared with the Sony Alpha series that sees a new model every 12 to 18 months.

That, my friends, is why video shooters are lamenting the 5D Mark IV. And you know what? Those are damn good reasons.

[H/T SLR Lounge, Philip Bloom]