Canon 5D iv Review – The Full Frame Camera For All Occasions

Is the Canon 5D iv still a leader in a fast moving competitive market?

There are those that will argue that the entire world is going mirrorless. That may be so but there are a lot of photographers out there that have a substantial investment in DSLR lenses, love their Canon 5D iv  and don’t see any need to change. 

So while it may look like the trend is toward mirrorless let’s talk DSLR for now because that is where this amazing camera sits.

The long awaited launch of the Canon 5D iv finally arrived in the latter half of 2016 and is still a much sought after camera by both professional and enthusiasts alike.

Let’s find out why that is.

Key Specifications

Sensor Size:
Sensor Type:
Megapixels:
Built-in Processor:
ISO Range:
Focus Points:
Body:
Weight:
External Dimensions:
Weather Sealed:
Touchscreen:

Articulated Screen:
Shutter Speeds:
Maximum Frame Rate:

Battery:
Battery Capacity:
Image Quality:
Focusing:
Memory Cards:

GPS:
WiFi:

Price:

Full Frame – 36 x 24mm
CMOS
30.4
DIGIC 6+
100 – 32,000 (expandable to 50 – 102,400)
61 Points  of which 41 points are cross-type
Magnesium Alloy
890 g (31.4oz/1.96 lbs) with battery inserted
4.58 x 5.93 x 2.99″ (116.4 x 150.7 x 75.9 mm)
Yes
Yes
No 3.2″ fixed with 1,620,000 dots
30 secs – 1/8000th
7 fps
LP-E6N Lithium Ion Type
900 Photos
RAW, JPEG fine and normal
Auto and Manual
1 x CF slot (only type 1 CF cards will fit)
and 1 x SD slot (for SD, SDHC and SDXC cards)
Built in
Built in WiFi for use with Canon Camera Connect App and has NFC

Body only $2,598.00 (as at December 2018)

Check Current Price

Body, Menus and Controls

There’s nothing much to say about the 5D Mk iv while at the same time there is so much to say.

As expected in a professional body the controls are all external, easy to get to, fast to respond, placed in the right positions for access etc. 

The “lots” to say would be for the first time full-frame user who is about to embark on a rather steep learning curve if you intend using this camera for the purposed it was designed for.  Why else would you buy it?

What's New That the Canon 5D Mk iii didn't have?

The upgrades are quite substantial as follows:

  • In connectivity WiFi is now included for use with Canon Camera Connect App and includes NFC for Android use
  • GPS is also included and also tags elevation
  • There’s a new programmable button set between the big rear dial and the little thumb nubbin.  This can be set to toggle between whatever the user chooses.  Pretty handy for selecting between options often used – for example selecting between auto-focus modes such as continuous or single.
  • The touch screen is a welcome upgrade.
  • All 61 focus points work at f8 and 41 of them are cross-type.
  • 150,000 pixel RGB and IR Metering system which provides precise exposure metering to detect flickering lights, provides enhanced scene recognition and face detection.  Canon refer to it as iSA (Intelligence Scene Analysis); a system which is a powerful and instant subject and light analysis system. Who would have thought?
  • Several in-camera options such as “as-shot” distortion correction, “as-shot” diffraction correction and “as-shot” digital lens optimiser. Personally I have no idea when these options would be used but I guess technically minded people might be interested and Canon are proud of these enhancements?
  • Another weird one (to me anyway) is the inclusion of what Canon have labeled the “Dual Pixel RAW” system which apparently allows one to touch up focus after shooting!  Seriously?
  • And a colour tone adjustment option in the LCD allows for a slight increase in oranges and blues. Okay …
  • An improved video with 4K capabilities. 

That’s a lot of enhancements – let’s take a look at what’s good and what’s not so good about the Canon 5D Mk iv.

The external body remains almost identical so Mk iii users will have a seamless transition to the Mk iv – a nice touch.

The Good

  • The touchscreen is coated with an anti-smudge and anti-reflective coat.  A nice The Canon 5d Mk iv's touch screen now comes with anti-smudge and anti-reflectivefeature with obvious benefits – who  likes  smudges, fingerprints and reflections? 
  • Still on the touch screen I also like the new auto-brightness control. Old eyes you know …
  • There are 3 user settings – Canon call them C1, C2 and C3.  These are so useful for regular sessions in different situations.  For example I have mine set to in studio portrait work, one for fast action sports and one for golden hour landscapes. They are ideal starting points that may or may not require  adjustments on the day. You’ll find them very useful.
  • The multi-shot noise reduction is a nice feature to have – I find it particularly useful for such diverse situations as bird-hide photography and school plays, it will be beneficial in any situation that requires a bit less noise.
  • I must say the RGB and IR metering system (mentioned above) is pretty nifty and useful for those flickering light conditions.

The Bad!

  • I thought it was just me as I struggled to come to terms with the “digital lens optimiser” but much to my relief (sanity) I learned from others that I am not the only one who found it so slow as to be almost useless. Who needs something that locks the camera up for several seconds after each shot? C’mon Canon you can do better than this.
  • The lack of a built in flash may not appeal to some but if you prefer off camera lighting you will have no concerns about this. If you absolutely must have an on-board flash this is not the model for you.
    But let me tell you a little secret that all top photographers know – off camera flash and lighting makes for much better photography as you can control the lighting to create the image you want.
  • Hard to believe that such a sophisticated camera does NOT have a “mirror up” option. This is such a useful option with landscape photography but I guess canon figure that their image stabiliser is so good they don’t need to worry about mirror slap.
  • The Canon 5D Mk iv does not come with a magnetic compass as do the Canon 5D S and Canon 5D R.
  • It would have been good to have a tilt screen and fantastic to have an articulating screen but no such luck.

Canon 5D iv - a camera for all occasions.

OK I have a bit of a rant about the confusion Canon caused (quite unnecessary in my opinion) by producing the 5d Mk iv, the 5DS and the 5DSR – why so many versions of the 5D?

They are all essentially the same camera and the vast majority of photographers wouldn’t know the difference. The differences are detailed on the comparison chart a bit further down.

Unless I have missed something.

For now let’s press on with the 5D Mk iv which is a camera for all occasions.

With 30 megapixels it has ample resolution for most subjects – printed or otherwise. The camera is ideal for wedding photographers, portrait work, landscape photos and nature shooters. 

With a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 sec and a burst rate of 7 fps, couple with a 17-19 photo image buffer, it is more than adequate for the vast majority of sports out there.

The 5D Mk iv is compatible with all of Canons full frame lenses so there is a huge selection. Another little secret is – spend the money on the best lenses you can afford to get the most out of your canon 5D Mk iv (you’ll thank me later).

I could go on providing you with a host of very impressive technical sounding features but as a photographer I am guessing you want to know if the camera can do the job.  Well I am here to tell you that it can and will continue to do so for many years to come.

The 4K video is easy to use and although I am not a big videographer the odd clip I have made of the kids running around and a few old geriatric friend’s golf swings have been more than adequate. 

Overall video reports are favourable and many very successful wedding photographers make use of the Canon 5D Mk iv for their businesses. That would be a good enough endorsement for me if I wanted to take videos for a more serious reason than I currently do.

Comparison Chart

The Canon 5D Mk iv has few peers in the market.

In the DSLR range there is probably only Nikon’s D750 and Pentax’s K-1.

No comparison would be complete without throwing in a couple of mirrorless cameras to give you a more complete overview – just in case you’re thinking of mirrorless as an alternative – and maybe you should be.

The following chart, while not totally conclusive will give you an idea of what you get for your money. 

Nikon D750

Pentax K-1

Nikon Z6

Nikon Z7

Sony A7iii

Price – body only

$2,598.00

$1,296.95

$1,499.00

$1,996.95

$3,396.95

$1,998.00

Megapixels

30

24

36

24.5

45.7

24

Burst Rate

7 fps

6.5 fps

4.4 fps

12 fps

9 fps

10 fps

Shutter Speeds

30 – 1/8000th

30 – 1/4000th

30 – 1/8000th

30 – 1/8000th

30 – 1/8000th

30 – 1/8000th

Buffering

19 (RAW)

25 (RAW)

13 RAW

35 (RAW)

22 (RAW)

89 (RAW)

Native ISO

100 – 32,000

100 – 12,800

100 – 204,800

100 – 51,200

64 – 25,600

100 – 51,200

Touch Screen

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Articulating screen

Fixed

Tilting

Tilting

Tilting

Tilting

Tilting

Battery Life

900 photos

1,230 photos

760 photos

380 photos

400 photos

610 photos

Wireless

WiFi with NFC

WiFi

WiFi

WiFi (no NFC)

WiFi (no NFC)

WiFi + NFC

Dimensions

5.9 x 4.6 x 3.0 in
151 x 116 x 76 mm

5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in
141 x 113 x 78 mm

5.39 x 4.33 x 3.39 in
137 x 110 x 86 mm

5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 in
134 x 101 x 68 mm 

5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7 in
134 x 101 x 68mm

5.0″ x 3.8″ x 2.9″
126.9 x 95.6 x 73.77 mm

Weight with Battery

31.4 oz
890 grms

54.7 oz
1,550 grms

35.63 oz
1,010 grms

*41.4 oz
1,175 grms

41.4 oz
1,175 grms

1.43 lbs
650 grms

DSLR/Mirrorless

DSLR

DSLR

DSLR

Mirrorless

Mirrorless

Mirrorless

  • with kit lens attached

The above chart is a general overview  of similarly priced cameras with similar features.

When looking to buy a camera consider your genre, shooting style, lens options, hw you will ultimately display your photos, will you be selling them etc. 

All of which have an impact on your final decision.

Often it boils down to your current budget and, if you’re any thing like me, the haste you have to get your new camera gear.

Conclusion

For a camera that has been around for some time now theCanon 5D Mk iv has certainly proved it’s worth and longevity.  And I suspect 5D Mk iv owners will continue to be happy for may years to come.

And why not?

Pros

Cons

  • Rugged weather sealed body
  • Familiar Canon layout
  • A camera for all genres
  • Excellent pro camera
  • Fast focusing
  • 7 fps burst rate
  • Excellent enthusiasts camera
  • 4K Video
  • Video still frames can be saved as individual images
  • Dual memory cards – but see cons
  • Fast and responsive
  • Good battery life
  • Bright viewfinder
  • No Mirror-Up option
  • Fixed screen
  • Different format memory cards
  • Top flash speed 1/200 second

Final Word

Recommended For

The Canon 5D Mk iv is ideal for all types of photography.
Enthusiasts and pros will both appreciate what the Mk iv brings to the party.

Highly recommended for anyone who intends printing their photos either for personal use or for sale.

Pros Secret.
#1
.  As fantastic as the camera is – to get the absolute best dynamic range, colour spectrum, hues and details, shoot in RAW with the best lens you can afford.
#2.  Master post processing (post processing is everything!) and watch real magic happen.

Not Recommended For

I guess I have to find something wrong and the only thing I would not use this camera for is for family holiday snaps.  Its a big camera and to get the most out of it Canon’s top of range lenses are the way to go.  but I ask myself if I want to be lugging around a body with big lenses for a family happy snap and my answer would be no.

However a photographic tour where landscape/seascapes/ animal safari etc.  – well that’s an entirely different story.  Its an absolute must so make sure you pack it.

For shooting in auto – sure it will take wonderful photos but it is designed for higher skills than that!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below – especially your own experience with the 5D Mk iv.

Learn more about the Canon 5D Mk iv.

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