Canon 5D Mark IV Announced: Minor updates to the most anticipated camera of the year


Today is the day that many Canon photographers have been waiting for–the announcement of the highly anticipated Canon 5D Mark IV full-frame beauty.  It has been 4 years, 5 months, and 23 days since its predecessor Canon 5D Mark III was announced.

Early opinions of the leaked specs of this camera body have been mixed.  Most photographers have been underwhelmed with the relatively minor evolution in specs and failure to address many features that other camera manufacturers have added to their camera bodies over the last few years.

Let's look at the announced specs of the new 5D IV.

The Announced Specs of the Canon 5D Mark IV

  • 30.4 megapixel sensor
  • 4k video recording; however, 4k video recording has a 1.64x crop factor
  • Phase detection autofocus while recording video
  • 7 frames per second
  • Touch screen
  • Improved weather sealing
  • ISO range up to 32,000
  • HDR Video – The camera records a dark and overexposed frame at 1/60 and combines the two videos to create a high dynamic range 1/30 fps video.  Nobody seems to be talking about this feature today, but it's probably the most exciting change on the 5D IV for me.
  • 61 autofocus points
  • Improved auto exposure metering
  • Built-in wifi and NFC2
  • GPS tagging built into the camera
  • (1) Compact flash slot and (2) SD card slot

Comparing the 5D Mark IV from the 5D III from 4 and a Half Years Ago

  • Sensor – 7 megapixels larger
  • Low light capability – 1/3 of one stop higher ISO range.  The 5D III had an ISO range up to ISO 25,600.  The new 5D IV has a range up to ISO 32,000 with boost up to 102,400 (same as the 5D III).
  • Frames per second – 1 frame per second improvement on the new 5D Mark IV
  • Autofocus – No change in the number of total autofocus points (61) and no change in the number of cross-type AF points (41).
  • Battery life – 50 frames worse than the previous 5D Mark III (950 down to 900).
  • Weight – Same as the 5D III at 890 grams without batteries
  • Video – Advertised improvement of better autofocus during video on the new camera, and now 4k video as opposed to just full HD on the old version.
  • Ergonomics – Almost nothing has been changed.
  • Screen – Now a touch screen with the same 3.2″ size, but the screen now has .58 million more pixels
  • Flash sync speed – No change to the 1/200 sync speed on the 5D III (flash photographers everywhere let out a huge sigh…)
  • Price – The new body will sell for $1,000 more than the current price of the Canon 5D Mark III.  The price for the 5D Mark IV has the same MSRP as the Canon 5D Mark III had when announced.


Open Questions

  • The 5D IV only promises the spec of 1/3 of one stop improved low light performance, but I think everyone is interested to see the real-world change in low light performance.
  • I'd love to see how the 5D IV does with dynamic range–especially when compared to the Sony A7RII.
  • Is the new camera ISO invariant?  When I first learned about this technology, I frankly didn't think it was very valuable, but now it's something that I absolutely love!
  • Is there an optical low pass filter?  Most of Canon's competition has done away with theirs.

My Thoughts

It's tough to have much of any opinion when only looking at specs.  Specs don't tell you the full story about image quality, which is of course paramount.  However, here are some early impressions.

This is an evolutionary upgrade to a few key specs from the 5D Mark III.  If I were a 5D Mark III wedding shooter, I wouldn't be rushing to throw another $3,500 at Canon.  However, if I were doing video on a 5D Mark III, then this would be a sensible upgrade.

It's easy to get caught up in the hype of a new camera update–especially one as long-awaited as this.  Before purchasing a new camera, I always force myself to sit down and write down the actual reasons or specs why I “need” the new piece of gear.  For many 5D Mark III photographers, it could actually be quite tough to justify the purchase.

However, the more interesting question to me is not whether this is worth the upgrade for 5D Mark III shooters, but if this will keep photographers shooting Canon, or if we'll continue to see photographers moving over to the Sony A7RII for the image quality, the Nikon D810 for dynamic range and resolution, the Fuji XT2 for ergonomics and weight, etc.

Canon's problem in keeping up is that it simply is taking far too long to iterate.  To me, the 5D Mark IV is a clear sign that Canon is merely keeping up with the industry and not leading it as it has for the last decade.  I don't see any spec on the announced list here that hasn't been done a dozen times already by other companies.

Your Thoughts?

I really am curious to see what you all think of this new camera.  It's pretty clear from this article that I'm underwhelmed with this announcement.  Canon has had over FOUR YEARS to engineer something for us, and there really is no killer feature or even any aspect of the camera that is anything more than a slight evolutionary upgrade.

But what do you think?  Am I wrong?



4 thoughts on “Canon 5D Mark IV Announced: Minor updates to the most anticipated camera of the year”

  1. Jim, I am historically a cannon shooter, but I recently purchased a Sony a6300 for a lightweight APSC option when I do not want to carry my 5D III. I really want to disagree with your analysis, but I can’t. My only hope is that future testing will prove that the new 5D IV sensor has caught up with the Sony sensor in dynamic range and low light performance. However, even if that proves to be true, I am disappointed with the slow pace of Canon’s progress. As you note, it is losing its leadership position. The only edge Canon has currently is in the depth and quality of its lens lineup, but other name brand camera manufactures and third party lens manufacturers are quickly closing this gap. Let’s hope Canon is reading your posts and decides to get serious about innovation and advancement in the future. Thanks for your insights and the great resources you have built with the websites and podcasts.

  2. I’m still getting the best images with a 5DsR + 70 – 200 f2.8 II combo. No other combination proved to be better (studio beauty / commercial photography). Sorry guys…

  3. “Canon’s problem in keeping up is that it simply is taking far too long to iterate. To me, the 5D Mark IV is a clear sign that Canon is merely keeping up with the industry and not leading it as it has for the last decade. I don’t see any spec on the announced list here that hasn’t been done a dozen times already by other companies.”

    Nailed it right there for me.

    I’m a wedding photographer and just can’t justify the £7k to upgrade two my four bodies early next year (when they are due to be replaced) for a teeny update to a few things, and certainly could never afford the £14k to upgrade all of them as some photographers are insisiting they will.

    Now researching the Fuji X-T2 as a serious contender to my next system. Disappointed in Canon.

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