Does the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV offer enough to entice existing 5D-series users as well as newcomers to full-frame? Michael Topham finds out as he puts it to the test
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review: Features
Since the arrival of the EOS 5D Mark III in 2012, we’ve seen many new developments and technologies roll out across Canon’s line-up of DSLRs. We’re used to seeing a new sensor in each iteration in the 5D-series and this latest model continues that trend. It boasts a completely new 30.4-million-pixel CMOS sensor that’s quite a jump up from the 22.3-million-pixel CMOS sensor fitted inside the EOS 5D Mark III. The improved sensitivity range of ISO 100-32,000 (expandable to ISO 50-102,400) combines with developments to the noise-processing algorithm to enhance its performance in low-light – something we’ll touch on in more detail later in this review.
The EOS 5D Mark IV’s sensor now benefits from Dual Pixel CMOS AF, making it the second full-frame DSLR in Canon’s line-up to feature such technology. This sensor-based phase-detection AF system has been employed to overcome slow focusing speeds in live view and works on the principle of splitting all the effective pixels on the surface of the sensor into two individual photodiodes – one for left and one for right. Each of these photodiodes can be read separately, resulting in faster phase-detection autofocus while simultaneously being used for image capture. In addition, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system supports Servo AF when shooting stills in live view, opening up the opportunity to pinpoint focus on a subject and track it as it moves through the frame while the shutter button is half depressed.
Canon’s engineers have been hard at work experimenting with other ways to utilise the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system and have come up with an entirely new innovation that’s called Dual Pixel Raw. The idea behind this technology is that it creates Dual Pixel raw files that contain a pair of images shot from two slightly different points of view. When these files are processed through Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software, users have the opportunity to perform unique image adjustments such as fine-tuning the position of maximum sharpness.
Keeping on the theme of focusing, the new camera is equipped with the same AF system as that found inside Canon’s flagship DSLR, the EOS-1D X Mark II. The 61 AF points have been given a wider area in which to operate – an 8 per cent vertical expansion in the central area, and 24 per cent more vertical expansion in the peripheral area – offering greater freedom about where subjects can be placed when composing. When light levels drop users can rely on the camera’s ability to focus down to -3EV using the viewfinder, or -4EV in live-view mode and users of teleconverters will be pleased to hear that all 61 AF points on offer are f/8 compatible. There are also five dual cross-type points in the centre that are sensitive down to f/2.8, and as many as 21 cross-type points that can be selected at f/8 for greater precision.
In the past, all EOS 5D-series models have featured a single processor, but for the first time the sensor teams up with a pair of image processors. A DIGIC 6 processor is allocated to metering and works in harmony with Canon’s 150K RGB+IR metering sensor, while a second DIGIC 6+ processor is in charge of handling the camera’s high-speed image processing. This has allowed the camera to shoot faster than its predecessor, albeit by 1fps, with an improved buffer depth. The Mark IV can rattle out a burst at up to 7fps set to continuous high and can shoot a continuous burst at up to 4.3fps in live view with AF tracking. Silent continuous shooting is also possible at up to 3fps, just like it was on the EOS 5D Mark III.
Canon’s 5D-series has a strong legacy in video and the EOS 5D Mark IV offers cinematic DCI 4K video capture (4096×2160) at 30/25/24fps for the first time. There’s also the option to extract 8.8-million-pixel JPEG images directly from 4K movie footage. Full HD recording is also available up to 60fps, together with 120fps or 100fps recording at 720p. Microphone and headphone inputs are provided, and an HDMI connection provides full audio and uncompressed full HD output to external recorders and video monitors, although the same can’t be said for 4K.
Another first and long-overdue addition to the EOS 5D-series is built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, which has been added alongside built-in GPS for those who wish to geotag their shots with location data. The camera also gets support for the International Press and Telecommunications Council’s system (IPTC), which essentially enables users to assign additional details and information about an image to the EXIF data before it’s submitted to galleries and picture desks. So we’re led to believe it’s a feature that has been requested by professionals who demand faster ways of speeding up workflow.