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Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

By: Richard Mitchell

Canon has announced the 5D Mark IV, a significant update to their 5D lineup, but is it a good fit for you?



The Good:

For photography shooters, the Mark IV looks to be a nice upgrade from the previous camera. The larger sensor size (30.4 megapixels vs 22 from the Mark III), increased sensor sensitivity, slightly faster burst mode, USB 3.0 connectivity, built-in WiFi and GPS, and touch screen will make many Mark III users a little envious. Just a little…

On the video side, the camera is now capable of shooting 4K video up to 30fps. This sounds great, but…

The Bad:

Unfortunately, the camera has a few curious limitations considering it’s the year 2016. For starters, Canon opted for an older storage format. Compact Flash and Secure Digital are fine for many consumer level devices, but when you shoot seven 30+ megapixel images in a second, you need a storage format (like a CFast card) that can handle the bandwidth. Unfortunately, Compact Flash and Secure Digital aren’t up to the task.

The Ugly:

The second show-stopper is the video codec. This new camera will only shoot 4K video in the Motion JPEG codec at 500 megabits per second. What’s the big deal? Motion JPEG is a 20-year-old codec and can be a nightmare when it comes to editing and archiving. For example, if you shot 29:50 minutes of footage (a limitation of the camera to avoid European video camera taxes), it would fill a 128GB memory card! This could be forgiven if the camera had a clean 4K HDMI out so that you could use a field recorder to capture the footage in another format, but the Mark IV only outputs in 1080p. Also, when shooting 4K, the video is cropped at 1.74, basically nullifying the reason to shoot with a full frame sensor (no bokeh for you!).


The 5D Mark IV is sure to be a strong photography camera (I own the Mark III and you should see all of the baby photos!), but on the video side of things, there are other more interesting options at a fraction of the cost. I’d still consider a 5D Mark IV if you shot photos 90% of the time, and video 10% of the time. But, the more video you shoot, the more you will want a different DSLR video camera. Perhaps this is Canon’s subtle way of nudging video shooters toward their higher-end video camera offerings.


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