Canon 1D Mark IV review
Value and image quality
Canon 1D Mark IV review - value
To overlook the huge price of the 1D Mk IV would be naïve - you could easily buy two 5D Mk II bodies and have change for a lens, but that isn't the point. This camera is a tool designed to be used professionally, to make money, and its price must be offset with the income it can create for a working sports, action, or other press photographer. For the non-professional, however, this camera is very difficult to justify but that doesn't make it any the less desirable.
Canon 1D Mark IV review - image quality
Tone & Exposure
The 63-zone metering system does an impressive job to produce an even tone distribution, even in tricky conditions. This leaves the image well exposed, though some may prefer to underexpose slightly to add atmosphere to images shot under darker conditions. Using the 14-bit Raw files it is possible to capture a large dynamic range, and even the JPEG files offer an impressive amount of detail in shadow and highlights.
Colour & White Balance
Canon has adjusted the standard profile from the 1D Mk IV to give images a little more punch, straight from the camera, as previous models have traditionally offered a more neutral image - allowing contrast to be increased in post processing. This certainly saves processing time and produces a more dynamic image, without taking it too far. Users can also choose to revert their profile to the more neutral version if desired.
White balance is well catered for with the range of presets, and the Auto setting is fine under most conditions. It did struggle with indoor strip lighting, however, and required a manual reading to match the lighting conditions accurately.
With indoor tungsten strip lighting the Auto White Balance produced results that retained a yellowish tinge and required a manual reading to produce neutral tones.
Canon 24-105mm f/4, 24mm, f/4, 1/2000th, ISO 12,800, AWB
Sharpness & Detail
The 1D Mk IV produces a very sharp and well detailed image, even at higher ISO values. The results from the APS-H sensor look far more like a full frame sensor than an APS-C, despite being halfway between the two in size. This means you get a similar range to full frame with the benefit of a 1.3x magnification on your lenses for telephoto work.
ISO Sensitivity & Image Noise
A large ISO range is somewhat pointless if the results are unusable above the normal set. Luckily, this isn't the case with the Mk IV; image noise is well controlled all the way through the camera's standard range or 100-12,800. Using the H1, H2, and H3 settings does require some compromise in this respect but even the top level H3, offering a 102,400 equivalent, is not beyond use for some situations. For critical work, however, it's best to stay within the non-expanded range.