5D Mark Bore Why the new Canon 5D Mark IV is a disappointment

Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon recently announced their new 5D Mark IV. It’s been over 4 years since the release of the 5D Mark 3, so tons of photographers have been eagerly awaiting a new model – and tons of photographers will now be disappointed.

Why the 5D Mark IV is a boring update for photographers

For starters it offers only a minor bump in resolution. The 5D3 was 22.3MP and the 5D4 is 30.4MP. And while the addition of GPS, WiFi, and NFC in the 5D4 are handy, the Canon 6D has had WiFi and GPS since 2012!

Other new features of note for photographers include faster autofocus, the ability to shoot more frames per second, and a higher native ISO range. All fine things, to be certain. Except…

The 5D4 retails for US$3,499 ($900 more than the current price of the 5D3!).

Personally I don’t think the spec bump from Canon really justifies the length of time they’ve taken to release a camera with that tech. It should have been out two years ago! And the price isn’t justified either. If you really want to shoot full frame Canon then grab a 6D for less than half the price (only $1,499!)

But wait, there’s more! The 5D4 is an even bigger disappointment for anyone interested in video.

Why the 5D Mark IV is bad for video

Now it’s important to remember the legacy of the 5D. The 5D Mark II was the first full frame DSLR capable of shooting 1080P video. It was a pretty revolutionary camera that created an incredible amount of opportunity around video. The 5D3 saw slight improvement to video, but by that point most DSLRs were shooting video, and tons of specialty mirrorless video cameras had popped up.

I think with the 5D4 Canon had an opportunity to reignite the legacy of the 5D2. Here’s how they failed:

First, the 5D4 does feature dual pixel autofocus (which I find to be the best video autofocus currently out there, we love it on the 70D). It also has a touch screen, which is another incredibly useful feature for video. Everything falls apart after that.

1. The touch screen doesn’t flip out or flip up – which makes shooting video from off angles quite difficult.

2. It shoots 4K video – but only in a 1.7x crop mode! What?! That means that you might as well be shooting video with a micro 4/3 camera (2x crop factor) – in which case you should just get a GH4!

3. The sampling is improved for 4K video (4:2:2), and it’s nice this is recorded internally. What would have been better is if full frame HD 1080p (so no crop factor) was also able to record 4:2:2 internally – but unfortunately that’s only possible using an external recorder.

4. If you want to record in 4K you need to use the M-JPEG codec. This is an outdated codec with terrible compression, that creates embarrassingly large file sizes.

Besides the above disappointments, there are also a couple glaring omissions.

Where is in camera sensor stabilization? This is an incredible feature! If Sony can fit full frame sensor stabilization into their much smaller a7 lineup of cameras, than Canon should easily be able to make it happen with their big DSLRs.

Where is the high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF)? This is another really useful feature for shooting video. With optical viewfinders you can’t shoot video while the camera is against your face because the mirror is up and the viewfinder is blocked. An EVF would help you get steadier footage (and honestly is just a lot more fun to shoot video with). An EVF is also really helpful with still photography since you can get a live preview of your exposure before you even press the shutter release.

Conclusion

The 5D Mark IV is probably a camera worth skipping. If you’re a hobbyist the 6D is way better value. If you’re a professional then you’re probably better saving your cash and getting a 5D3 – or a Nikon D810.

If you can think of any redeeming features that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments.

Rob Lim

Hi there, I’m Rob! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I love all things photography: shooting, teaching and always learning more! If I’m not reading up on the latest photography news, or studying a technique, I’m probably reading a book or planning our next adventure!

Comments

6 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. Re: ‘Where is in camera sensor stabilization?’ Well, Minolta invented that feature, and Sony now owns the patents (which are licensed by other OEMs like Pentax and Olympus). None of Canon’s interchangeable lens cameras have sensor stabilization, and when I’ve heard their reps speak of it they always say optical in-lens stabilization is best. I don’t think we will see ICS on a Canon any time soon, but not for technological reasons.

  2. I would love a full-frame camera! I don’t have enough money for the 5d mark iii, so I am trying to find another full-frame camera that is affordable.

    Right now I have the Canon EOS 60D and I love it. Do you have some other recommendations besides the 6D?

  3. such a bummer. after all that wait, i just don’t see it. for me it’s always been about dynamic range and iso performance equivalent or better to something like the D750 (which is a couple years old now) sprinkled with some other incremental upgrades – resolution, focus tracking, better focus point coverage etc. clearly the D-range has been improved, but early tests suggest its no better and maybe even still a bit worse than Nikons several years older. no better focus point coverage. supposedly improved, intelligent focus tracking, but only in live view!? the whole dual pixel dealio may be a precursor to some future great functionality, but at this infant stage is clearly more of a parlor trick. i can effectively even swap my 5DIII for a D750, so what am I paying $3500 for?

    canon bodies are comfortable in my hands and i cringe at the thought of having to rebuild my whole kit – lenses, lights, triggers etc. ugh. but that’s looking like where i’m headed :(

  4. I have a 6D. The focusing system is a problem, with too few focus point and only one cross-type point. My eyes are old, making manual focus time consuming. Small depth of field macro shots are unforgiving, and my 6D makes the job harder than it needs to be. As a 6D owner, I do not think the 6D is a valid replacement for a 5D Mk III or IV. I want to replace my 6D with something that focuses better, and due to my investment in Canon L lenses, that something will be a 5D4. The hobbyist should stick with APS-C crop sensors (7D Mk II) or look to Sony or Nikon.

    Final note, while the focusing is disappointing on the 6D, the sensor is wonderful. Beautiful shots when I nail the focus.

    • I think you said it. Focusing is the major issue/scenario surrounding the 6d as any professional’s primary camera.. I have shot with the new 5d4, I rented it to shoot a wedding.. One thing many reviews are leaving out is how absolutely incredible the live view focusing is.. It’s so good that I almost feel like If I were to buy the camera, I would use live view during the ceremony to get the focus I want with no nonsense.. Even shooting video with the live view touch to focus feature on a USM lens was stunningly fast and accurate.
      The 5d mark 4 may be disappointing for people that were expecting all the best features from every manufacturer to be in this camera… but after shooting with it, I was blown away.. I agree w the 4k video codec and crop sensor discussions, but this is a non-flashy (pardon my pun), workhorse of a professional camera, in my humble opinion. Feel free to check out the wedding I shot w the canon 5d mark iv, photos.allblitzmedia.com/shelleyandlou
      Cheers!

  5. Canon’s best 2012 camera. Skip it. Buy a Nikon D750 and some lenses for the same money. In 2022 when Canon releases their best 2016 camera, you can upgrade to 4 year old technology again only pretend it’s still 2016.

    I have both Nikon and Canon gear. I love Canon stuff, when it’s current and not easily replaced with something half the cost.

    It’s all sitting on the shelf and won’t be used until some future day when Canon gets back to making equipment that’s worth buying.

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