The original Canon 5D goes up against the 5D Mark IV in this street portrait comparison

Aug 10, 2018

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.

The original Canon 5D goes up against the 5D Mark IV in this street portrait comparison

Aug 10, 2018

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 was just talking yesterday about how interesting it is to see the progression of digital cameras. Well, here we have another. This time a £300 used setup consisting of the original Canon 5D with 50mm f/1.8 lens vs the £5,000 combination of Canon 5D Mark IV & 50mm f/1.2.

Photographer Pablo Strong takes the two systems out on a walk around London shooting street photography. He shoots similar images with the two side-by-side to see how well the 5D holds up against more modern equipment.

YouTube video

Shooting the two side-by-side, Pablo comments on how familiar the two systems both feel compared to each other. And it’s a common theme amongst many camera manufacturers. I have the same thing here with my 16 year old Nikon D100 bodies. They really don’t feel all that dissimilar to picking up a more recent D850 or D500.

Keeping the same settings on both cameras to ensure consistent exposure between the two, the only potential issue Pablo might run into with these systems is if the ISO needs to be raised. The 5D does quite well if you want to bump the ISO up a little bit. But despite also being a full frame camera, it still doesn’t really compare to the much more recent 5D Mark IV.

When you’re able to shoot within the limitations of both cameras, though, can you really spot the difference?

Left: 5D + 50mm f/1.8 / Right: 5DIV + 50mm f/1.2

 

Left: 5D + 50mm f/1.8 / Right: 5DIV + 50mm f/1.2
Left: 5D + 50mm f/1.8 / Right: 5DIV + 50mm f/1.2

While we often get caught up in the bells and whistles of newer and more expensive kit, demonstrations like this just go to show it’s not always needed. I’ve always believed that there’s no bad DSLR out there. They’re all capable of shooting amazing photography in the right hands and with the right shooting conditions.

I won’t go as far as to say the gear doesn’t matter, because it most definitely does. But only insofar as the gear you’re using can give you what you need. Sometimes what you need demands the latest and greatest kit. Oftentimes, though, it doesn’t.

Until last year, my main camera bodies were still the Nikon D300s. I just never really had a compelling reason to replace them until I needed specific features that a newer body offered. And I’ve never had a client object to the camera, either. Nor have I had somebody tell me an image would look better if I’d shot it on more recent and more expensive kit. And I still have my D100, D200, D300, D7000 and other older bodies that still get used for various tasks (particularly for timelapse and behind the scenes stuff).

If you’re budget conscious, or you’re just starting out and learning photography, don’t be afraid of older bodies, especially bodies that were well regarded in their day. They can still produce excellent images and they may offer all that you really need. Spending £5K on a new camera & lens when a £300 used setup will do what you need just fine is simply overkill.

And if you do find that you need that £5K kit to shoot what you want, well, you can always sell the old kit for about what you paid anyway. Or keep it as a backup.

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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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18 responses to “The original Canon 5D goes up against the 5D Mark IV in this street portrait comparison”

  1. Lorenzo Morgoni Avatar
    Lorenzo Morgoni

    I have a 5D first series and it goes really good. Very clear sensor along with the 30D, for their times; also slightly more sensitive than average (1/3 stop more or less). If one doesn’t need the extra dynamic range, an AF way better and/or the ability to shoot in very low light, well, go safely with the original 5D! ;)

  2. Philip La Lumiere Avatar
    Philip La Lumiere

    I see the point he was trying to make, but at the same time it kinda misses the point. Shooting two cameras at the same settings in broad daylight usually will produce the same photos, especially when they’re being viewed on YouTube.

    I still rock a 5d mk ii with no plans on upgrading anytime soon but this test doesn’t really test for the things that the 5d mk iv does better.

    I agree that gear matters wayyyy less than some people think but there’s also a lot left out of the comparison

    1. Philip La Lumiere Avatar
      Philip La Lumiere

      For example, that lens costs so much because it can go down to f1.2, yet he doesn’t push it.

      Again that’s not what he was testing for but it feels a bit clickbait to be like omg this camera is sooooo expensive but it does the same photos but not take advantage of any of the reasons why it costs so much….idk….I like the vid but ehhhhhhh kinda rigged to push a point rather than a proper comparison

    2. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      It’s not missing the point, it’s exactly the point. It wasn’t just a straight up all-feature comparison, and nobody’s suggesting the 5D can keep up with the 5DIV in all circumstances. The video simply illustrates that there are times and circumstances when you DON’T need the latest and greatest kit to get the job done. :)

  3. Yon Pol Avatar
    Yon Pol

    Diego, estás igual!!! ??

  4. Eli Snook Avatar
    Eli Snook

    I’d like to see the comparison with the same lens on both cameras and then show 100% crops also.

    1. Matt Shuck Avatar
      Matt Shuck

      Same here. Knowing both those lenses I honestly think most of the difference I can see, just on my phone admittedly, stem from the difference in glass.

    2. Gavin Langley Avatar
      Gavin Langley

      Who cares bout 100crops. Who views a photo that close? No one besides 100croppers

      1. Eli Snook Avatar
        Eli Snook

        Certainly not myself, but when it comes to showing the difference is it is nice to see, because at face value you cannot tell a difference from a YouTube video nor from the examples he posted if doing so from a mobile device which most people are. I admittedly regret selling my original 5D. I shoot with the Mark II now. I am by no means a pixel peeper, nor do I have G.A.S.

  5. Stewart Norton Avatar
    Stewart Norton

    Nikon D700. In my opinion the best camera they ever made. Built like a tank, superb performance and ergonomically perfect everything was where it should be. Wished they would have stuck d750 guts in the d700 body would have been a phenomenal camera.

  6. Ruben Karnas Avatar
    Ruben Karnas

    The nikon d700 will stay in my bag for a while to come

  7. Tim Knecht Avatar
    Tim Knecht

    cut the Cheap… I am Still using my Fuji S5 Pro :D But to get another one I would have to pay the same as for a D7100…

  8. Erin Guest Avatar
    Erin Guest

    The Nikon D90 is still a brilliant bit of kit.

  9. Julien Ricard Avatar
    Julien Ricard

    It’s 2 different lenses

  10. Jukka Jalkanen Avatar
    Jukka Jalkanen

    Olympus E-1

  11. Chris Cabjuan Avatar
    Chris Cabjuan

    Love my Mark II ?

  12. Nick Galazoudis Avatar
    Nick Galazoudis

    Still shooting with my d300s (bought it new back in 2010). A quality semi-pro Nikon camera, able to serve well.

    1. Frank Nazario Avatar
      Frank Nazario

      the D300s is not a semi pro… it is a pro camera and one of the best low light cameras in the market even today.