Thursday 23 November 2017

Canon 5D Mark IV: Tech review

Canon's big beast is only worth it for the pros

Cannon 5D Mark IV
Cannon 5D Mark IV
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Reviewed by our Technology Editor this week is the Canon 5D Mark IV

Price: €3,999 (from Conn's Cameras) Compare prices

Rating: 4 Stars

I have a mixed view of Canon's new marquee DSLR, the 5D Mark IV, which I've had for a couple of weeks. On one hand, this is arguably the most complete, best-quality camera you can buy for under €5,000. It has added features that give it turbo-charged extra functionality.

On the other hand, I have a nagging feeling that it may be overkill for anyone except actual professionals or deeply committed, highly active amateurs.

I should say that I'm the satisfied owner of a (cheaper, older) Canon 6D and several good Canon lenses, so I'm in a decent position to assess the 5D Mark IV with this sensibility in mind.

Let's look at the Mark IV's impressive array of features.

The 30-megapixel camera is a step up in resolution from the Mark III (22 megapixels) and the 6D (20 megapixels), even if it's still somewhat behind Canon's other top pro-am model, the 50-megapixel 5DS. This means that photos are that much more detailed, meaning you can blow them up with more confidence or crop normal shots to make panoramas or portraits.

There is a superb 61-point autofocus system which I found helpful for getting clean shots quickly. Its improved seven-frames-per-second shooting (and much bigger buffer) also meant that I was better placed to catch the critical action bit of a kid's penalty kick.

Canon has worked on other things under the hood, like its ISO range for low-light pictures. It's pretty astonishing how well this now works. If you're into video, this is the first of Canon's pro-am range to shoot in 4K and in slow motion. (I'll admit I'm not a video shooter on a DSLR: I still find the file-sizes way too high to conveniently share online.)

The display is a touchscreen, although it's still a fixed, non-swivel version. There's Wi-Fi, GPS and also NFC (for Bluetooth connections). And of course it has dual memory card slots (SD and Compact Flash).

In short, this is an amazing camera. If you already have one or more Canon lenses and want something at the top of its category, by all means go for it: you honestly won't get anything better short of moving up to an Annie Leibowitz grade of medium format camera (which costs another couple of thousand).

But a word of caution for more casual photographers: several of these features are luxuries instead of necessities.

If I simply wanted a high-quality camera kit from scratch for around the same money, I'd go for a cheaper body (like the 6D) and an extra lens or two.

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