In-depth 5D Mark IV Review – Probably not worth upgrading if you have a 5D Mark III

Oct 6, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

In-depth 5D Mark IV Review – Probably not worth upgrading if you have a 5D Mark III

Oct 6, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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I’ll save you some time and give you the short version. If you thought the 5D Mark III was awesome, then you’ll think the 5D Mark IV is awesome. It’s at least as good as its predecessor. It has a few significant new features, but overall, it may not be worth the cost for 5D Mark III owners to upgrade. But it might. If you want to know a little more, keep reading and watching.

In this set of videos from Jim Goldstein at All Things Photo, we get a great in-depth look at the 5D Mark IV’s features. There’s a lot of videos, so you might want to sit back with a large drink, and schedule a bathroom break. There’s a big review, a quick review, and a look at some of the 5D Mark IV’s most asked about features.

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If you don’t have time to sit back and watch through the whole thing, here’s Jim’s “Speed Review”, quickly going over the most important features, what’s good, what’s not so good.

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From watching both of these, it strikes me that it’s probably not worth upgrading from the 5D Mark III unless you have a need for Wi-Fi or GPS. If you were planning to buy both of those for your 5D Mark III, than that essentially knocks around $1,200 off the cost of the 5D Mark IV.

If you bought the 5D Mark III along with the WFT-E7 and GP-E2 units, it would actually cost you more than the 5D Mark IV. With the Mark IV, you’d also get the convenience of not having to bolt extra things onto your camera. They’re both contained within the camera itself.

The dynamic range has increased on the 5D Mark IV, and Jim says it even beats out the 1DX Mark II. Jim suggests that it’s now on a par with competitors Nikon and Sony, but it’s nothing really special. Both Sony and Nikon are expected to release new body updates fairly soon. So, this may see the 5D Mark IV lagging further behind.

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Another new feature of the 5D Mark IV is the built in intervalometer. This is something Nikon shooters have had since at least the D2 generation. My D200 had it, and the D2h released in 2003 has it. It’s surprised me that it’s taken Canon so long to start implementing this feature as standard. None-the-less, Canon’s implementation seems quite impressive. It also has a built in anti-flicker feature to help prevent aperture flicker from interfering with your viewing pleasure.

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One area where a few are disappointed with the 5D Mark IV is ISO performance. The base ISO has been expanded a mere third of a stop, now capping at ISO3200, while the expanded range stays the same at ISO50-102400. But how does each ISO value compare to its predecessor?

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Jim also looked at extreme long exposures, with some shutter durations lasting for as long as an hour and a half. Obviously, for this, you would need to use an external shutter release. Like pretty much every other DSLR out there, the longest exposure built into the camera itself before bulb mode is 30 seconds.

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The two big things shouted about with the 5D Mark IV’s launch were the dual pixel features. Dual pixel raw has been complained about already quite a bit. It’s certainly not the post-focus saviour many believed would come.  That’s not really much of a surprise, though. This is a DSLR, not Lytro, so you can’t really expect the same kind of post focusing abilities.

You basically get micro adjustments. It allows you to fine tune the focus, but it doesn’t let you drastically alter it. One feature that is quite cool with dual pixel raw, though, is the ability to control the “bokeh” of the out of focus background areas. With the technology in its current state, I could see this being a little more useful than the ability to slightly adjust focus in post. You’re also limited to using canon’s DPP software.

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The other advantage of dual pixels is the new dual pixel autofocus system. This seems to work incredibly well for video. Tracking moving subjects seems a lot more reliable than we’ve seen in the past. It may have trouble focusing on subjects that may be running toward or away from the camera, though, especially with older lenses.

As I said at the top, if you were impressed by the 5D Mark III, you’ll easily be impressed by the 5D Mark IV. But, unless you have a specific need to step up to the 5D Mark IV, it’s probably not worth upgrading from the Mark III. If you occasionally find yourself wanting a feature it offers, you may be better off simply renting for those shoots. If you’re still clutching onto your 5D Mark II, or another previous generation or lower level body, then it certainly seems worth going for the Mark IV.

Do you have the 5D Mark IV yet? What did you upgrade from? If you went from the Mark III to the Mark IV, has it impressed you as much as you’d hoped? Or are you feeling a little underwhelmed? Did Jim miss out any important features of the 5D Mark IV? Let us know in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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23 responses to “In-depth 5D Mark IV Review – Probably not worth upgrading if you have a 5D Mark III”

  1. Piotr Biernikowicz Avatar
    Piotr Biernikowicz

    no for that but the difference between usable iso is very big

  2. Victor Bezrukov Avatar
    Victor Bezrukov

    i still use my 7-8 old markii and thinking to buy another same one just in good condition – just for backup. have no need in all these “features” like face recognition and touch screen – i love to have simple camera with me not the supermodern spaceship :-) less is always more

  3. Raphael Diara Avatar
    Raphael Diara

    Not agree it dépends what you are looking for
    I made the switch
    Dynamic range is way better
    Dpr is not à gadget

    1. CameraGuy Avatar
      CameraGuy

      You’re right it’s not a gadget. DPR is a marketing tool for Amazon.

  4. Fionnbharr O'Muireadhaigh Avatar
    Fionnbharr O’Muireadhaigh

    Why can’t more web articles do this? Say what the article is, then give a brief summary. I’d be far more inclined to read once I know what it is instead of the usual click bait. Fair play DIY Photography.

  5. Paula Gemin Bell Avatar
    Paula Gemin Bell

    I’ll stick with my 3 and buy another…love my mark 3!

  6. Kristijan Keretic Avatar
    Kristijan Keretic

    Was waiting 5D Mark IV for too long time, finally decided to sell all the gear and give Nikon D750 a go. So goodbye Canon, hopefully forever.

    1. CameraGuy Avatar
      CameraGuy

      Then why are you here posting on a Canon site if you’ve gone Nikon? Oh I get it…you’re trolling.

  7. Mike Musto Avatar
    Mike Musto

    Thank you. I’ll be buying someone’s used Mark III for my second

  8. Laurent Roy Avatar
    Laurent Roy

    My personal rule is to wait at least two générations to replace my gear (hi tech: audio, video, photo, tv…). Each génération is usually not worth the money… unless one has an unlimited budget, which is not (by far) my case…

  9. Jeremy Christopher Avatar
    Jeremy Christopher

    Hey now, you can’t make a 5D post and not mention 4K.
    Aside from RED, the 5D was the initial boost to the DSLR video revolution; to not mention full frame 4K from this camera is mildly irresponsible. If you’re a Canon user, you’ve been waiting for this feature ever since the 5D MkII even came out. Sure, other cameras have 4K, but this is actually a nice, lighter option (than RED or Arri), which can be used on less expensive gimbals and still keeps you on the same platform.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Except it’s not full frame 4K video, it’s a 1.74x crop. :)

      1. Jeremy Christopher Avatar
        Jeremy Christopher

        The point was about 4K, but since you’re also wrong about the sensor size, your comment is off as well: https://www.dpreview.com/products/canon/slrs/canon_eos5dmkiv/specifications

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          Where did I mention sensor size? The 4K video in the 5D Mark IV does not make use of the full size of the sensor, it is not “full frame 4K”, so to state that it was full frame 4K when it is not would be mildly irresponsible.

          1. Jeremy Christopher Avatar
            Jeremy Christopher

            I have no idea what you’re talking about, that makes no sense? The 4K using the full image sensor is all over Canon’s site: https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/products/details/cameras/dslr/eos-5d-mark-iv/eos-5d-mark-iv

            Not only that, you’d have to swap lenses just to shoot the same aperture.
            Show me a reputable site where it says this.

          2. Jeremy Christopher Avatar
            Jeremy Christopher

            Alright, I’m seeing sites where this is showing up, but nowhere on Canon’s site. If this is accurate, then I’m not buying it. That’s a dumb move. Thanks for the info.

          3. Robert Charles Avatar
            Robert Charles

            lol

  10. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    If I were buying a DSLR, the Canon 5D Mk IV would be the camera I would buy. I bought my first DSLR in 2013, the 5D Mk III, and it is a great general purpose camera for me.
    Memorial Day Weekend (May 28-30, 2016, my wife and I visited a friend. He noticed that I own the Mk III; he owns the Mk II and asked me about upgrading to the III. I don’t know the II to make comparisons, but I suggested that he hold off until the Mk IV was announced.
    The IV provides some nice incremental changes, improved ISO range, improved dynamic range, and improved auto focusing. It also provides a boost in megapixels and a slight boost in FPS. I like the built-in GPS, but I wouldn’t necessarily use the Wi-Fi.
    I’ll probably skip two or three generations of the 5D.

  11. Jon Hellier Avatar
    Jon Hellier

    Canon needs to release a 36-40mp full frame (perhaps a future mirrorless camera?). 30mp is too low, 50mp is too much. The 1080p video is shaper than 5d3 but the 4k is soft compared to the competition (eg. Sony a6300, a7r ii etc)

  12. Fernando Coutinho Avatar
    Fernando Coutinho

    Post very esclarecdor, has to have a good idea of what to expect more of this equipment with comparative prior.
    Unfortunately, here in Brazil, everything ‘and very expensive and complicated, so often we have to have a lot more patience than in other parts of the world to invest / trade for new equipment. Work photographing weddings and use much equipment in the event and is coming time to replace equipment.
    Parabens the matter and Tips
    http://www.fernandocoutinho.com.br

  13. Tom Young Avatar
    Tom Young

    I unfortunately had my old Mark III stolen so decided to upgrade to the Mark IV with the insurance money. I’m a pure still shooter, so don’t much care about the video performance. I was expecting that the new body would offer noticeable improvements in image quality, in particular high ISO performance, but I actually feel that when combined with the larger file sizes, comparable quality has reduced somewhat. 3200 ISO was quite clean in my old body, with an almost filmic subtle grain to it. In the new body it is more or less the same in terms of quantity of noise but the quality feels like noise, not grain.

    So, I still haven’t properly put this new camera through its paces, but I have found myself pining for my old workhorse, as the improvements for my workflow and end results do not really seem to be there so far.

  14. Denis Silveira Avatar
    Denis Silveira

    Excellent equipment.

  15. Pousada em Campos do Jordão Avatar
    Pousada em Campos do Jordão