What is the impression of the Canon 5D Mark IV, what is the long-term experience? Would I choose the Canon 5D Mark IV again? Is it the perfect “all-round camera – always with you?” What are the weaknesses? What are the strengths of the Canon 5D Mark IV? There are a lot of reviews out there about the Canon 5D Mark IV, but when you have the camera in daily use, you see some things very differently. I’ve tried many cameras lately and as a comparison, kept taking the Canon 5D Mark IV. Now after more than 15 months – my impressions and experiences in the long-term test.
Canon 5D Mark IV – 18 months on the road
About a year ago, we published a report on the Canon 5D Mark IV, with a first impression that was often quoted and sometimes even copied. But often things only become apparent when the camera is used daily and regularly in a wide variety of situations – regardless of whether it’s video in 4K, HDR videos for the YouTube channel, sports shots or portrait and wedding photography, event support and sub-zero temperatures by the sea or thirty degrees in Mallorca and on a Mediterranean cruise.
To come straight to the point, the first impression of the Canon 5D Mark IV has been confirmed and it really is a very good camera, with a complete package that offers the perfect options in the set for almost every shooting situation and every application. Surely there are other alternatives for photographers who take 95% of their photos at night, as well as for photographers who only take sports shots of Formula 1.
However, if you want a camera that is full-frame on the one hand, offers very good photo quality with the 30 megapixel sensor, and is also in the top range for DSLR cameras in terms of video, you can’t go wrong with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
After years of experience with the Canon 1D Mark III, the Canon 5D Mark II, and the Canon 5D Mark III, some of the changes with the Canon 5D Mark IV are very positive. While the change to the Canon 5D Mark III was a bit more difficult at the time, one has the feeling with the Canon 5D Mark IV that it is a perfect further development, of the existing series.
At the latest, when you always have your photo backpack with you and various lenses in your luggage, you’re happy about every weight reduction and so the approx. 80 grams less of the Canon 5D Mark IV are immediately noticeable in a positive way.
Fittingly, we regularly use the Canon 5D Mark IV with the accompanying additional handgrip/battery pack, which on the one hand doubles the already very good battery life, but above all offers the additional shutter release and buttons for photos in portrait format. Anyone who takes a lot of portraits, is on the road as a wedding photographer and regularly has to switch between landscape and portrait mode will appreciate the additional convenience very quickly.
Especially if you are on the road all day for a reportage, an event or even a wedding, you are on the safe side with the additional handle and have enough battery capacity for the whole day.
The big advantage here is again that Canon uses the same battery model as already used in the Canon 5D Mark III or also the Canon 80D, EOS70D, etc.. The LP-E6N battery has proven itself over many years and is still absolutely a prime example of sufficient battery power for a camera. It is hard to imagine that in this day and age, cameras are still coming onto the market whose batteries only last for 45 minutes or 150-200 photos and then already have to be changed.
Just as important, and for us a clear plus point compared to the Canon 6D Mark II, is the camera’s dual card slot. The Canon 5D Mark IV has a slot for SD cards, as well as a slot for Compact Flash memory cards. If you’re shooting more privately, a memory card data loss is very annoying (and has certainly happened to every photographer at one time or another), but if it’s commissioned work or a wedding with a special mood, it’s almost unforgivable and, most importantly, impossible to recreate. The moment is lost and with it countless beautiful memories.
For us, the second slot of the camera has therefore already absolutely paid for itself in various projects, but also for many destinations and hotels, and once already saved a complete production. For all private shoots we usually use an SD card with a capacity of 128 GB and for all professional shoots we always use a Compact Flash card with identical memory data.
Canon 5D Mark IV – Photography
Even though we’ve written about dual autofocus from Canon more often, you don’t really appreciate this feature until you’ve tried several uses of other models as well. You get used to the precise autofocus that Canon offers on all newer models so quickly that you already take it for granted.
Especially those who frequently focus via the monitor will absolutely love this feature. The camera fixes the moving lens and it always precisely hit and absolutely sharp when triggered with Canon L-series lenses. Even in lower light conditions (evening atmosphere at the seaside, Christmas market, etc.) the DUAL AF keeps the object and triggers at the right moment.
One feature we used fairly frequently in the first few weeks was Canon’s new Dual Pixel AF, which was especially addressed for wedding photographers and portrait photographers who still want to change the focus afterwards. It is thus possible to shift the focus by a few millimeters, giving more emphasis on the pupil or eyelashes, for example.
With the Bokeh Shift function, the focus is shifted slightly forwards and backwards, and with Image Micro Adjustment you can once again play specifically with the sharpness.
In our use (with the exception of some food photos), however, the function was used relatively rarely in the last few months. It may also be due to the fact that the image size thus doubles to over 60 MB and there is still no reasonable permanent support in Lightroom’s image processing. Thus, one would certainly use it more often still, but the workflow is still somewhat cumbersome for our uses. For individual applications, however, “Nice to have”.
What surprised us in comparison to other Canon cameras in the long-term test was the low-light performance, even in photos. Where you should consider an ISO value between 800-1600 as the highest value for many cameras in the evening mood, you can also select an ISO value of 3200-6400 for the Canon 5D Mark IV without any problems, even in many areas of use.
Especially in comparison with the higher-priced Canon 1Dx Mark II, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV has a clear advantage in low-light photos.
These characteristics also stand out very clearly in various video recordings. It’s not without reason that very many successful YouTubers and vloggers use the Canon 5D Mark IV or even the Canon 1Dx Mark II.
Canon 5D Mark IV – Video – YouTube/Vlog
For us, within the shortest time, the Canon 5D Mark IV has become the perfect companion for the YouTube channels, as the camera offers many possibilities especially for video recordings and yet is much more handy compared to the C100/C200/C300 or even the Canon 1Dx Mark II.
Especially if you don’t take the battery grip with you and only choose a small lens (like Canon EF 35mm f/2 or EF 50 f/1.8), the camera is hardly noticeable even at events. However, in combination then with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8, a perfect set is created for many interesting videos and documentaries.
At the same time, even in combination, the camera is not so heavy that connecting it to a gimbal (such as DJI Ronin-S) makes it impossible to use for a long time.
Especially those who also want to use the Canon 5D Mark IV for documentaries or vlogs will be very enthusiastic about the color profiles and especially the low-light properties. In contrast to many other cameras from Canon, a clear advance in low-light can be seen here and makes filming atmospheric sequences in the evening hours very easy.
If you want to use the camera for professional video productions, you can have the Canon 5D Mark IV upgraded at Canon’s customer service and have a flat C-Log color profile stored. Especially in post-production with many programs, videos with a flat C-Log profile are perfect and show once again in a completely different way the possibilities that the Canon 5D Mark IV can provide even in different lighting conditions (e.g. at a wedding).
Over the past nearly 18 months, we’ve been particularly excited about the video quality and saw a clear advantage for video editing as well compared to the newly released Canon 6D Mark II. While with the Canon 6D Mark II you only get the videos compressed as output on the memory card, with the Canon 5D Mark IV recording in MOV format and All-I is also possible. The big advantage in post-processing is simple, the images are not already compressed before saving and only keyframed, but each frame is treated individually. The storage size is significantly higher, but the post-processing quality is also much higher and offers ambitious videographers completely different options. This is where the Canon 5D Mark IV continues to stand out from the newly released Canon 6D Mark II clearly for professionals.
We already introduced the HDR video function of the Canon 5D Mark IV during our first impression and were thrilled by the possible applications. Even today, we still use the function regularly in “talk videos” that have little movement and are filmed in difficult lighting conditions. Especially when the background is very bright (e.g. beach/water, etc.) and you want to have both the person in the foreground and the background on the video, the HDR video function is perfect. Instead of recording a video at 50fps then, the Canon 5D Mark IV records 2x25fps with different exposures and then stitches those shots together like an HDR photo.
This creates a higher contrast in the photos and naturally records more detail. However, for people who want to record very fast moving lenses or want to use the camera for vlogging while running, the HDR video function is less suitable, as the well-known “ghost images” are then created more quickly.
Since we record most videos at 24fps, the resolutions were perfectly adequate for us. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV offers recordings in 4K with up to 30fps and in Full HD with 60fps. This means that 90% of all YouTubers and vloggers, as well as professional video producers, have all the essential formats available and the camera is absolutely sufficient.
However, those who often place great value on special slow motion in the food sector will have to reach for the Canon 1Dx Mark II. Even though other manufacturers, as well as some smartphone manufacturers, allow recording at 120fps, the image quality in video is absolutely no comparison to a Canon 1Dx Mark II. It is not only the number of frames per second (fps) that is crucial here, but above all how many MBit are recorded. While many cameras are often well below 100MBit, the Canon 1Dx Mark II offers 360 MBit and thus naturally a completely different quality of recording.
Users who can do without 120fps images per second in their documentation or reportage, or even in YouTube videos, will find a relatively complete package with the Canon 5D Mark IV, which leaves almost nothing to be desired.
What we have also often criticized in new cameras from Canon is the abolished headphone port on the camera. It is indispensable, especially for video recording and quick control of shots. It’s hard to imagine why this was removed by Canon on the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, as it was regularly used again on the Canon 5D Mark IV. We can only hope that Canon will keep the headphone jack on the successor model, the Canon 5D Mark V, which is rumored to be released in 2020.
Canon 5D Mark IV – CONCLUSION – Long-term impression
You can get a first impression of a camera in a few weeks, but only in continuous use over various months with different challenges and shooting situations can you really reliably see where the advantages and also disadvantages of the respective model lie.
Functions that were new in the successor to the Canon 5D Mark III and that you thought you would choose frequently at the beginning (e.g. Dual Pixel AF) are used less and other things are only discovered over the months.
Canon succeeds with the Canon 5D Mark IV, a professional model at an acceptable price that hasn’t lost much of its value over the last 15 months.
The most frequently asked question by our readers in the last few months was clearly – “Would you buy the Canon 5D Mark IV and can you recommend the camera”.
The question can be answered relatively easily, because Canon has managed to create a very good complete package with the Canon 5D Mark IV, which is a perfect solution for 95% of all users. Certainly, there will never be a camera from one manufacturer that provides one hundred percent satisfaction for all applications, but the Canon 5D Mark IV offers very good to perfect performance for many requirements.
As a user, you should always ask yourself the question, what do I want to use the camera for. What are the daily requirements I expect from the full-frame camera. If you want to use the camera e.g. for documentaries, weddings, reportages, demanding travels, etc., you will get an almost perfect device. The application possibilities are so diverse and every requirement can manage the Canon 5D Mark IV almost with bravura.
The only thing that might be a bit annoying for vloggers is the missing flip display. The Canon 5D Mark IV has a very good display with a perfect touch screen and a very good image brightness even in sunlight. However, vloggers will probably miss the possibility to see themselves while shooting (especially on the go). An alternative from Canon here would be the relatively new Canon EOS 6D Mark II, which also has a very good display (but fewer video editing options) and just released at Photokina 2018 Canon EOS-R, the first full-frame system camera from Canon.
For photographers who are looking for a reliable full-frame camera and also already have lenses from Canon an absolute recommendation, for documentary filmmakers, wedding filmmakers, etc., the camera is also a clear recommendation, by the complete package. Only vloggers should consider beforehand whether you need a flip touchscreen or not. We have always managed well without a flip-out monitor in our recordings and have resorted to an external monitor in situations where control was desired.
Therefore, even in the long run, the Canon 5D Mark IV is an almost perfect camera for almost all needs and would be faked by us again and again. How the Canon 5D Mark IV compares to the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II in the long-term test and what the new Canon EOS-R can do, we will present in the next few weeks.