Canon’s 5D range is arguably the company’s most important offering. It’s long been the model where new innovations from the company make their debut and it’s a camera owned by both professionals and enthusiastic amateurs alike.
Launched back in 2005, the original 5D was a game changer, followed by the 5D Mark II – the first DSLR to feature Full HD video recording; I’m not sure that even Canon was aware of how much it would change videography.
The 5D Mark III was announced in 2013 so in camera terms is beginning to look a little old. That’s not to say that it isn’t still hugely popular – in fact, more World Press Photo winners use the 5D Mark III than any other camera on the market.
Canon also has the 5DS and the 5DSR. Both were announced to sit alongside the Mark III and are specialist cameras for photographers who require ultra high resolution (both have 50-megapixel sensors).
However, since 2016 is a Photokina trade show year, it comes as no surprise that the ever-popular 5D range is receiving an upgrade. This comes in the shape of the 5D Mark IV. Outwardly, the design is similar to its predecessor – Canon wants existing users to feel at home here. But on the inside the 5D Mark IV benefits from some brilliant upgrades to make it a very exciting camera indeed.
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1. It's the game but different – To look at the 5D Mark III next to the 5D Mark IV and you’d be hard-pushed to spot a huge difference. It’s rare for companies to give camera ranges a complete overhaul, because upgrading users want to be able to pick up the camera and go.
However, there have been a couple of tweaks. The grip is now a little deeper to offer better handling, and there’s a new customisable button on the back that provides quick access to a setting of your choice. The bump on the top of the camera is also slightly larger than that of its predecessor to accommodate the built-in Wi-Fi and GPS unit: a first for the 5D range.
Weatherproofing has also been improved, making the camera more durable. Despite this it’s actually 50g lighter than the previous model, thanks to a redesigned mirror box and mechanism that’s constructed from aluminium rather than stainless steel.
2. Super focusing – The 5D Mark IV has been equipped with a 61-point AF system, which is very similar to that of the 1DX Mark II – Canon’s flagship professional camera. All points are sensitive down to f/8, which is good news for those using very long lenses with converters – wildlife and sports photographers, for example.
Of the 61 points, 41 are of the more sensitive cross-type, which can focus down to -3EV (or -4EV when shooting in Live View), giving you the capability to get the subject in focus even if the only light source is the moon.
3. Dual Pixel Raw – This feature is super-exciting, and enabled in the main menu. In simple terms, Dual Pixel Raw allows you to make micro-adjustments to sharpness and focus after you’ve taken the shot by using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software.
A feature such as this is extremely useful for anybody who uses prime lenses with a wide aperture, where only just missing the focus is common as a result of subject or camera movement. With this feature you can correct it post-capture.
Portrait photographers in particular will find it a nifty inclusion, but wedding photographers, too, are likely to benefit from it.
The only downside of using this mode is that it ups your raw file sizes to around 60MB a pop – better make sure you have some external hard drives on standby.
4. 4K Video Recording – Canon broke new ground by introducing Full HD to the DSLR market. Now, using DSLRs and CSCs to capture video is common place and 4K is starting to become the industry standard.
The 5D Mark IV has DCI 4K, also known as “true 4K” because of its 4,096 x 2,160 resolution. 4K is available at 30, 25 and 24fps. There’s also Full HD at frame rates up to 60p.
Not only that, but Dual Pixel CMOS AF results in faster focusing during video recording, and there are microphone and headphone sockets.
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5. It has Touch-sensitive screen – Manufacturers used to think that touch-sensitive screens weren’t desirable for professionals/enthusiastic amateurs, but this was being shortsighted. The 5D Mark IV brings a touchscreen to the range for the first time. It allows you to set the AF point and fire off the shutter release in Live View, to make certain adjustments and to use it during playback for helpful shortcuts such as pinch to zoom and swipe to move to the next shot.
6. There's a great sensor for low light – The 5D Mark IV has a 30.4-megapixel full-frame sensor. While it’s true that there are higher pixel counts on the market (including Canon’s own 5DS/R cameras), by sticking with a mid-range number such as this, it’s likely that low-light performance will be excellent.
Native sensitivity range stretches from ISO 100-32,000. If you want to compare that to the astronomical figures currently offered by Nikon’s top of the line cameras, it may look a little weak, but it will be interesting to see how the Canon compares with the Nikon at ISO 32,000 – a figure that is more likely to be used than ISO 3,000,000. We’ll be looking at that closely when a full sample becomes available.
7. Plus a load of technical gubbins – Canon has put a lot of thought into how photographers like to use their cameras, not only by adding more customisation options and Wi-Fi connectivity, but also by providing tools such as FTP transfer built into the body of the camera.
Another nifty addition is that IPTC information can now be entered on the camera, so your shots will be tagged with the location, who’s in the shot, and any other information that’s likely to be useful for picture editors everywhere.
Related: Canon EOS 1300D review
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV will retail for £3,629 (body only), which is a marked increase on the price of the 5D Mark III when it was first announced a few years ago. It will be available to buy from September 2016.
Editor's note: The below photos were shot by a Beta sample. The images have also been resized to 90% at the request of Canon.
Although outwardly, there isn’t too much of a difference between the 5D Mark IV and its predecessor the Mark III, it’s great to see Canon bringing some genuinely useful innovation to the market with its latest release.
Although I haven’t yet been able to test the most exciting feature – Dual Pixel Raw – it sounds extremely promising in theory, and has the potential to save many shots that are just ever so slightly out.
There are other great features here too: a sensible resolution, 4K video shooting, a touch-sensitive screen and, at last, built-in Wi-Fi. In an ideal world I'd perhaps like to see a tilting or articulating screen to help with those awkward angles – especially for videographers – but other than that, this is a very promising camera indeed.
I spent some time with a pre-production model of the camera and results are already look great. Using the camera is straightforward – especially, of course, if you’ve already used a 5D model before. Images show fantastic colours, accurate exposures and low-light performance is excellent – something I’ll be keen to test.
At the time of writing, Nikon doesn’t have a new camera to sit in this sector of the market, but with Photokina taking place in the next month, that could change at any minute. Watch this space.