The Canon 5D IV is the long awaited 4K update to the Canon 5D line. But with an updated 30MP sensor and true live focus in video mode, this is more than just a Canon 5D III with a 4K update. Read on for the full review of all the new features of this Swiss army knife of cameras.
- 30.4 Megapixels
- 7fps RAW
- 4k 30fps, 4:2:2 color space, 500mbps
- 1080 60p, 720 120p
- Dual pixel RAW
Stills Shooting -- Massively Improved Image Quality and PerformanceWith all the talk of video, it’s easy to gloss over the still shooting capability. The new 30MP sensor has made massive improvements in detail, low light/High ISO performance, and dynamic range. Zooming in at 1:1 over the Canon 5D III shows large improvements in the detail of an image. Pushing the files around in post is much improved due to the new sensor and increased dynamic range. You’ll no longer take anywhere near as big a noise hit by boosting shadows in post as with the previous model.
1/200, f/22, ISO 160.
Shooting performance is quite admirable for a 30MP camera. Shooting at 7fps is quite fast for a camera with this high of a resolution, and more than sufficient for most underwater situations. The RAW buffer is good, but not great at 21 frames. That is the trade off with a high resolution camera.
1/320, f/22, ISO 800.
Movie Mode Image Quality -- Top Notch With Room to Adjust In PostThe movie mode is probably the most anticipated feature of the camera. The Canon 5D IV shoots 4K video in the Motion JPEG codec at 500mbps. The Motion JPEG codec compresses each frame individually, combined with the relatively high data rate, and a 4:2:2 color space, allows for much more latitude for exposure and color adjustment in post. Having more information in the file with the high data rate and less compressed color space leads to a better quality image than you’ll get from most other 4K SLR and mirrorless cameras out now.
The drawback of the higher data rate is file size. You’ll get a bit over 30 minutes on a 128GB card. Fortunately memory is much smaller and cheaper that it used to be. I traveled with 3 small portable 2TB drives for editing and backup and had plenty of space left over after a lengthy trip.
1.64x Crop in Video Mode -- Don’t Hate, It’s a Benefit For Underwater ShootersShooting in 4K movie mode uses a smaller area of the sensor than full frame, about a 1.64x crop. One might initially think this is a bad thing, but I actually think this is a benefit. Shooting movies on full frame SLRs has been a little limiting with lenses. Previously shooting a fisheye lens had you stuck at 1 focal length for the dive. Now with the crop, the Canon 8-15 fisheye lens can be used from about 9-15, giving much more flexibility with zoom. On the macro side, shots will appear 1.64 times magnified, but with the same depth of field as shooting uncropped. The benefits greatly outweigh any perceived deficits.
h2>Movie Servo AF -- Actual Real Live Autofocus in Movie Mode That You’ve Only Dreamed Of In my opinion the biggest game changer on this camera isn’t the 4K video feature (as cool as that is), it is Movie Servo AF made possible by Dual Pixel Autofocus. Canon has had Dual Pixel autofocus capability in previous SLRs, but the implementation in the Canon 5D IV with Movie Servo AF takes it to the next level. The camera will now shoot live autofocus that does not hunt and will do artistic focus pulls that you can be proud to show in your videos. Previously cameras needed to have focus locked to prevent it from hunting erroneously and ruining your shot. If you had to refocus during a clip, you just knew you would have to slice it out in editing. The Movie Servo AF is so accurate I never needed to lock focus on the whole trip. Never. Not even once.
The Movie Servo AF functionality can be easily customized in the menu. The sensitivity and the speed of the focus change can both be set to suit a particular situation or to make an automatic artistically smooth focus pull between two subjects. To make a focus pull between two subjects in the same frame, simply use the Flexizone AF mode and use the 4 way controller to move the target focus square on the screen to the new area you would like in focus. For those who have wanted to take these type of focus pull shots in the past but were frustrated by trying to make a smooth manual pull, or even just wanted to have camcorder like live autofocus in an SLR, the awesome ability of the Movie Servo AF cannot be understated.
Same Great Canon White BalanceWe still can’t say it enough -- no other SLR or mirrorless camera brand on the market can master natural light white balances underwater without a color correction filter like Canon, and the Canon 5D IV is no exception. This allows the shooter to take lights in the water and have the option to do natural or artificial light shooting on the same dive.
The white balance procedure is a little bit different compared to previous Canon SLR cameras. The Canon 5D IV does not allow photos in video mode. This makes it one additional step to switch to photo mode, take a shot, then go back to video mode when ready to shoot video. Not really big deal, but if you were used to the white balance procedure on a previous Canon SLR, it is one additional step to take.
The 30MP sensor of the Canon 5D IV captures very fine detail.
1/200, f/14, ISO 160.
The Final WordCanon has made some vast image quality improvements over the previous Canon 5D III. The files can be pushed around much more in post without loss of quality, and there is significantly more detail in the images. The increased resolution comes at no cost other than larger file sizes, which isn’t a big deal as memory is super cheap these days. The Nikon D810 will still edge out the Canon 5D IV by a little bit for image quality, but that is about the only area it will outperform.
On the video side Canon still reigns as king. The reason for that is ambient light white balance. Nothing besides Canon can come close save for the Panasonic LX100 compact camera. Some shooters complain about the lack of zebra stripping and focus peaking and how could Canon put a camera out without those features, but none of that matters if you can’t get the color right. And the 5D IV does that in spades. Zebra stripping and focus peaking can be added by adding a SmallHD external monitor to the system if it is required. The biggest surprise for video is the revolutionary Movie Servo AF allowing full AF during movie shooting with accurate tracking and artistic focus pulls.
If one was only concerned about stills image quality and couldn’t care less about video, the D810 will be the pick. If your interest lies in even capturing just a small amount of video, the choice is starkly clear that the Canon 5D IV is by far the best choice. If 4K 60p is a must, then check out the the Canon 1DX II.
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