Canon 5D Mark IV - My Initial Thoughts

OK, so this is just my thoughts on the initial specs of the newly released Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Without one in my possession, I cannot make any definitive reviews, but I can do a bit of armchair quarterbacking. If Canon would like to send me one to test, I would be more than happy to let you know how I actually feel about this camera, but I don't think there is much chance of that.
Chances are, you are a wildlife or nature photographer as you probably wouldn't be reading my blog if you are not. This pre-review is based totally on my perspective as wildlife and nature photographer and based on my twenty years experience as a photographer.

The Specs and How They Relate to the Wildlife Photographer
  • 30.4 Megapixel Full Frame CMOS Sensor -  What I see here is honestly quite a big leap in resolution over the Mark III.  Although you can take great images with resolution down to 8 megapixels, the more resolution that your sensor supports, the easier it is to have more cropping options in post production.  You will be able to crop those birds in flight much easier with this sensor.  Essentially it gives us a digital zoom.  I give this feature a thumbs up for wildlife photographers.
  • DIGIC 6+ Image Processor - Essentially just an upgrade to the processing power of this camera.  Does it help the wildlife photographer?  I think any boost in speed will help the autofocus system and write speeds to the cards.  I give this feature a thumbs up for wildlife photographers
  • 3.2" 1.62m-Dot Touchscreen LCD  Monitor - Finally, the touchscreen monitor is making its way across the entire Canon lineup.  This I see as a welcome feature for any photographer, so yeah, thumbs up on this.
  • 7 fps for up to 21 frames in Raw Format Continuous Shooting - We pick up another frame per second on this Camera compared to its predecessor.  The Mark IV is now able to effectively play in the birds in flight space.  I would have liked to have seen it go to 8 frames per second as this is my personal cut-off for getting the best wing positions, but still a welcome attempt.  I give this a reluctant thumbs up for the effort.  I feel like they could have taken it to 8fps.
  • 4K Video Recording M-JPEG up to 30 Frames per Second - I have to be honest, I am not a big video/cinema guy, but this is certainly a welcome upgrade and I think one that Canon had to make to compete with Sony.  I give this feature a thumbs up.
  • ISO 100-32000 (Expandable 50-102400) - Here we see another incremental change in the ISO tolerances  of the Mark IV.  I think this was expected and will offer the wildlife photographer better opportunities in lower light conditions to capture better running and flight shots.  I give this is a thumbs up, but a tentative thumbs up.  Less than 1 stop added here.
  • Dual Pixel RAW - I think this is one of the most compelling upgrades to this camera.  Essentially this feature, when enabled, takes two 30 megapixel images at two different pixels allowing the photographer to select a slightly different focus shift.  I see this as a huge help when shooting in controlled conditions such as captive animals and special events.  The ability to correct focus slightly when shooting raptor portraits, for example, could make the difference between an out of focus shot and a keeper.  Time will tell whether this feature actually works well or not.  I can also see this as a great benefit to macro, hand held, shooting.  It can be a real challenge to get a sharp shot using this technique.  Bear in mind that the frame rate decreases when using this feature.  You can no longer shoot at 7fps.
  • 61 AF Points with 41 Cross Type - Yep, more points means more coverage for placement of the focus point on the subject.  Another incremental change that was expected and welcome.  I give this feature a thumbs up.
  • AF possible with all 61 AF Points at f8 - Another great feature for the wildlife photographer.  With most of the newer Canon cameras I can now add a 1.4x teleconverter to my 5.6 lenses and still use autofocus on any point.  This is a huge advantage when shooting skittish animals that require the extra reach.  I see this as even more important on a full frame sensor because we will no doubt have the teleconverter in use more often.  I give this feature a big thumbs up!
The Canon 5D Mark IV is a serious contender for the nature and wildlife photographer who can afford the $3,500 price tag.  I am hesitant to compare the camera with it's larger and more robust brother the Canon 1DX II.  Some have suggested that it uses the same AF system as the 1DX II.  This is the same song and dance we have heard from Canon, and others, every time a new camera comes out.  It has been my experience that this simply is not true.  The 1 Series has proven time and time again to outperform the midrange cameras in autofocus.  

If you don't need the video capabilities, I would look at buying a used Canon 1DX.  You can pick one of these up for about the same price used and will have the peace of mind that you are buying Canon's top of the line camera.  You will never wonder if you could have done better.  Time will tell as to whether this camera will meet all the needs of the serious nature and wildlife photographer.

If you are a landscape or macro photographer, I think this camera is hard to beat.  The large sensor will give you great details for making larger prints, and will help in bringing out the subtleties in your scenics. Honestly though, the Canon 5Dsr will probably give you more bang for your buck in this space.    
What I am really excited about is not the Canon 5D Mark IV per say, but rather, whenever a new Canon camera comes out, the older models, on the used market, drop their prices.  This makes the used market a great way to pick up an older camera at a fraction of the price it once was.

If you would like to purchase the Canon 5D Mark IV, please use my affiliate links below.  It doesn't cost you any extra, but will help fund this website so I can provide you with the best reviews and content.


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