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The other major improvement for the EOS-1D Mk IV is the new 45-point autofocus system, which features 39 of the more sensitive and accurate cross-type sensors, which unusually are positioned around the outside of the focus area, with the six conventional strip-type sensors in a line across the middle of the frame. I was able to try the AF system briefly with a couple of different lenses, and I can confirm that it is extremely fast, the tracking function works superbly and it appears to have no problem even when focusing on dark low contrast subjects through a 400mm telephoto lens. It would probably take fairly specialised equipment to determine if it's faster than Nikon's much-praised 51-point Multicam AF system, but suffice it to say that it is certainly fast enough for even the most demanding professional.

The EOS-1D Mk IV is the latest digital SLR to feature HD video recording. It uses the same system as the popular EOS 5D Mk II, with full 1080p video at a range of different frame rates. It can record stereo audio via an optional external microphone, and can play back on a HDTV via its HDMI output jack. It can also shoot at 720p or VGA resolutions at higher frame rates for slow motion effects. Like the 5D Mk II it also allows full manual exposure control while filming, providing creative options such as control over depth of field.

Until I can get a production EOS-1D Mk IV in for a full review in a couple of months (and how I'm looking forward to that!) I can't say anything about the image quality, or indeed anything more about performance, so I hope this preview will be enough to whet your appetite. Between this camera, the EOS 5D Mk II and the EOS 7D that I'll be reviewing next week, the second half of 2009 is looking pretty good for Canon digital cameras.


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October 30, 2009, 5:32 pm

Hi Cliff, if you referring the Canon's APS-C sensor should be 1.6x crop. I understand Nikon's are 1.5x DX format?


October 30, 2009, 6:48 pm

APS-H is 1.3x


October 30, 2009, 7:08 pm

I had a play with that MK4 on that stand - I was very disappointed that they had no memory cards in them and had the back gaffer taped up - A totally pointless exercise by Canon - they might as well have left them at home. No comparisons could be made on the image quality / high iso noise, and you could not use the video function. Other than that it felt exactly the same to handle as the MK3.

Jay Werfalli

October 30, 2009, 7:36 pm

You're right Robin. APS-C sensors in Canons have a crop factor of 1.6x whereas Nikon's APS-C sensor variant is 1.5x (i.e. DX format). I've tweaked Cliff's copy to make that clear.

@Singulariter - your point being..?


October 30, 2009, 11:20 pm

Thanks for the preview. One small quibble however:

"In continuous shooting mode it can rattle off full-resolution shots at 10 frames a second, with full continuous autofocus and a buffer large enough for a sequence of 121 shots. The Nikon D3s can shoot at 11fps, but only in its 5MP DX crop mode, and it has a smaller buffer too."

The buffer in the D3s is twice as big as the original D3's: Nikon claim 130 JPEG / 48 RAW images for the D3s, versus 121 JPEG / 28 RAW for the 1D Mark IV.

Jay Werfalli

October 31, 2009, 1:37 am

Thanks maniacyak - Nikon does state that the D3s' buffer is twice as big as the D3's and that it can take a 130 JPEG/48 RAW images in one continuous burst. However, for both cameras I would assume these figures to be quite variable depending on the visual complexity of the scene you're shooting (as that can affect file size quite a bit) and, in the case of the D3s, which crop mode is used (the D3s has a 1.2x crop mode too). The buffer performance in the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV is nonetheless still impressive, bearing in mind that it has around 4 more megapixels to process than than the D3s. (I've edited out the bit about the buffer, though).

Martin Daler

October 31, 2009, 2:05 am

What is the thinking behind APS-H, 1.3 crop factor? Will a regular APS-C lens image circle satisfy the APS-H sensor? I guess not. So you are still lumbered with the size, weight and cost of full-frame lenses, without getting the full advantage thereof. For a given sensor resolution, compared to the full-frame sensor which your lenses would satisfy, APS-H demands more from the resolving power of the lens and sacrifices sensitivity/noise performance. And I'm guessing you get a smaller viewfinder image to boot. If you are going to have to pay the cost of full-frame lenses (and lug them around) it seems a shame, for the sake of a few quid more spent on the sensor, to forgo so much of the benefit. Unless there is some other genius benefit to APS-H?


October 31, 2009, 3:01 pm

I've got to say, I couldn't agree more with Martin Daler's comments about a full frame sensor. I definately wouldn't pay out this sort of serious money for a digital SLR that didn't incorporate a full frame sensor, especially these days when they are becoming far more common. It's not as if the technology isn't there now with the manufacturers. Canon say this model is aimed at the professional photgraphers and that they're been listening to what they want, well if they really have, then why arn't they producing a similar specced camera with a full frame sensor that gives a reasonably decent burst speed like this one? Surely something like a 21MP model with twin digic 4 processors or even digic 5 if that's what it takes now? I see no point in going further up the MP route as one can only enlarge/crop images to a certain extent. I think most would agree that camera design and build has got to the point now of reaching a good MP count and full frame capability, so surely it's just a manner of fine tuning the internal workings of these SLR's to produce one that gives an excellent resolution and picture but also provides for decent sports/fast photogrphy, i.e. 10 FPS. Or would this be giving the customers too much of the perfect camera and stop people settling for second best and being encouraged to spend bundles more on 'chasing the ideal soloution'?!

Hans Gruber

October 31, 2009, 10:21 pm

The Canon 5D Mark II camera uses a single DIGIC 4 processor not two. Thus far, just the 7D and 1D Mark IV use dual DIGIC 4 processors.

APS-H format with its smaller sensor size and lower megapixel count can offer faster image processing with its lower data overheads compared to full frame. 1D Mk III offers 10fps continuous shooting (10.1MP) compared to 5fps (approx) for 1Ds Mk III (21MP).

APS-H sensors use more of the sweet spot of lenses, making use of higher lens resolving power (compared to the edges) whilst lessening the effects of vignetting and distortion.

Original list price of 1D Mk III body = US$3,999 compared to US$7,999 for the 1Ds Mk III. For photo/journalists and news agencies that's a significant difference if they're buying more than one body.

Personally I'd still rather have full frame anytime and yes, I'd say it's weird that pro body users should have to compromise with the smaller sensor size when full frame has moved down the range to higher end consumer camera users. That said, clearly it's the need for speed which maintains the sacrifice APS-H has in view of its limitations in FOV crop etc.

Looks like high ISO capability is becoming the new battleground in the technological arms race between camera manufacturers. Seeing as how the 25,600 maximum ISO of the 5D Mk II is barely usable (might be ok converted to b+w), I'm somewhat sceptical that Canon and Nikon have mastered the manufacturing of usable 102,400 ISO sensitivities. Sounds like marketing blagger to me. 3200 looks ok on the 5D Mk II and 6400 is just about acceptable so by that token perhaps 12,600 will be ok and 25,600 just about usable on the new 1D Mk IV? The megapixel race is dead, long live the ISO one?


November 2, 2009, 3:01 am

What interests me is how often 'new improved pro cameras' seem to turn up. Do pro's update their equipment every time? Seems a rather poor investment - I wonder if the old ones are available at a good price or are they all worn out.....

Hans Gruber

November 2, 2009, 6:13 am

Pro Canon DSLR timeline:

Pro equipment (at least the previous generation plus one) seems to hold its price pretty well judging by the secondhand section of places like Jacobs (Pro Lounge).

I've seen plenty of battered gear on sale that still maintains a hefty premium when compared to brand new DSLRs. Secondhand 1D Mark III or new Canon 5D Mk II? They were pretty much level pegging but I suspect, with the recent price drop of the 5DM2, the 1DMk3 is again the more expensive choice (despite the latest announcement of the 1DM4).

stuart 9

November 2, 2009, 8:29 am

I'm sure that Canon, in its wisdom, has done the research to verify this is the camera that sports photographers and photojournalists want. But, I think there's an opportunity to create a new customer base for those wedding photographers who have the 5DII but who want better AF, higher fps, and better ISO performance with even better weather sealing. I'd be willing to pay $5K for this camera with a full frame sensor. If the reason for not having FF was processing speed, then why not create a FF version with 8 fps and no video? I know of at least 5 wedding photographers who'd give up $5K tomorrow for this. There needs to be a model between the 1D and 1DS. This camera would have fit my needs just right with FF.


November 3, 2009, 6:28 pm


thanks for the interesting link which makes things clearer - i.e. I just did not understand the Canon model ranges.

The 'pro' camera development looks reasonably steady - the 'prosumer and below' are changing more often. So sadly no bargain pro cameras on the horizon.....

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