Canon recently announced their new 5D Mark IV. It’s been over 4 years since the release of the 5D Mark 3, so tons of photographers have been eagerly awaiting a new model – and tons of photographers will now be disappointed.
Why the 5D Mark IV is a boring update for photographers
For starters it offers only a minor bump in resolution. The 5D3 was 22.3MP and the 5D4 is 30.4MP. And while the addition of GPS, WiFi, and NFC in the 5D4 are handy, the Canon 6D has had WiFi and GPS since 2012!
Other new features of note for photographers include faster autofocus, the ability to shoot more frames per second, and a higher native ISO range. All fine things, to be certain. Except…
The 5D4 retails for US$3,499 ($900 more than the current price of the 5D3!).
Personally I don’t think the spec bump from Canon really justifies the length of time they’ve taken to release a camera with that tech. It should have been out two years ago! And the price isn’t justified either. If you really want to shoot full frame Canon then grab a 6D for less than half the price (only $1,499!)
But wait, there’s more! The 5D4 is an even bigger disappointment for anyone interested in video.
Why the 5D Mark IV is bad for video
Now it’s important to remember the legacy of the 5D. The 5D Mark II was the first full frame DSLR capable of shooting 1080P video. It was a pretty revolutionary camera that created an incredible amount of opportunity around video. The 5D3 saw slight improvement to video, but by that point most DSLRs were shooting video, and tons of specialty mirrorless video cameras had popped up.
I think with the 5D4 Canon had an opportunity to reignite the legacy of the 5D2. Here’s how they failed:
First, the 5D4 does feature dual pixel autofocus (which I find to be the best video autofocus currently out there, we love it on the 70D). It also has a touch screen, which is another incredibly useful feature for video. Everything falls apart after that.
1. The touch screen doesn’t flip out or flip up – which makes shooting video from off angles quite difficult.
2. It shoots 4K video – but only in a 1.7x crop mode! What?! That means that you might as well be shooting video with a micro 4/3 camera (2x crop factor) – in which case you should just get a GH4!
3. The sampling is improved for 4K video (4:2:2), and it’s nice this is recorded internally. What would have been better is if full frame HD 1080p (so no crop factor) was also able to record 4:2:2 internally – but unfortunately that’s only possible using an external recorder.
4. If you want to record in 4K you need to use the M-JPEG codec. This is an outdated codec with terrible compression, that creates embarrassingly large file sizes.
Besides the above disappointments, there are also a couple glaring omissions.
Where is in camera sensor stabilization? This is an incredible feature! If Sony can fit full frame sensor stabilization into their much smaller a7 lineup of cameras, than Canon should easily be able to make it happen with their big DSLRs.
Where is the high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF)? This is another really useful feature for shooting video. With optical viewfinders you can’t shoot video while the camera is against your face because the mirror is up and the viewfinder is blocked. An EVF would help you get steadier footage (and honestly is just a lot more fun to shoot video with). An EVF is also really helpful with still photography since you can get a live preview of your exposure before you even press the shutter release.
The 5D Mark IV is probably a camera worth skipping. If you’re a hobbyist the 6D is way better value. If you’re a professional then you’re probably better saving your cash and getting a 5D3 – or a Nikon D810.
If you can think of any redeeming features that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments.