5D Mark IV Camera Review for Landscape Photographers

In Landscape/Nature by Nathan3 Comments

At the end of September I got my hands on a refurbished (why buy new from Canon when I can get a refurbished one from them that's just as good) 5DMk IV from Canon. Before hand I had been photographing with the Canon 6D and was very happy with the results, but had grown slowly dissatisfied with certain aspects of it. The goal with the new camera was hopefully to reduce if not eliminate my frustration with the 6D issues. What were those issues? I wanted greater image quality, better dynamic range, less noise and to improve the quality of my prints. I also have full plans on getting into wildlife photography in 2018. With the new focusing system found within this camera and the impressive line up of lenses from Canon I figured I should stick to my native glass I already have and just upgrade to this body.

In order to test out this camera I have been testing it in some of the coolest places on earth… my back yard. So for the past month I have been taking this camera down the Escalante River, Zion, the Wasatch mountain range, and a few places around St. George, Utah where I live.

First initial thoughts were kinda of disappointing. Not that I was dissatisfied with the quality, I just expected huge gigantic steps forward with the quality of my work. I think that was the mistake of previous experiences where I went from aps-c to full frame and gained a whole new world of traits and quality. With this switch I didn't gain a new world of traits, I gained a world of upgrades. It took me a while to see them but as I have been playing with the camera I have become more satisfied with my purchase. So with that in mind, lets get into this review of the 5DMk IV.

Specs You should Care About

Literally there are tons of specs that go into a camera decision. But let me just focus on the ones that landscape photographers care about.

ISO100-102400
Resolution (MP)31.26- I thought I would be blown away by a 10MP bump in resolution but I don't see too much on my screen. Next test will be prints.
Dynamic Range13.59- At first I didn't notice it too much, but the longer you play with the camera you begin to see the huge dynamic range that this camera has.
Touch ScreenYes- Game changer. Literally the best thing that I have experienced in a camera.
Weather SealingYes- I have not photographed in a rain storm yet with this thing.
Weight1.77 lbs (800g)- Heavy beast, but I think my lens weighs more.
GPSYes- Don't care for this, but some out there will.

Dynamic Range

In the world of landscape photography, dynamic range is absolutely essential. One of the things that photographers complain about most is the lack of dynamic range in their cameras. One thing we all want is our cameras to see as we do. Mind you we have had around 300,000 years of evolution to refine our eyes to what we have today. Digital cameras are on year 20 or so, plus or minus a few years. They have a ways to go.

So when it comes to dynamic range this camera has a wonderful improvement over my Canon 6D. With a dynamic range measured by DxO Mark at 13.5 (stops) this camera gives great results. Mind you, Sony and Nikon both produce better dynamic range in an image, but the difference is not much at ISO 100. In fact I still bracket because I like the results better than trying to smash it all into one image. If I can pull it off I will, but in general the results are better if you bracket and combine. The funny thing is, I know of excellent photographers who have both Nikon and Sony and still do the exact same thing I do, that is bracket and combine, because they get better results.

Interesting things about the dynamic range of this camera. When doing a live preview on the back of the LCD, the camera displays a broader dynamic range than my previous camera. That was something I was not prepared to see when I began photographing with it. I can almost see the full dynamic range of many of my images before I take it to post process. This is helpful for pre-visualizing and planning.

This image is just two images put together. I might have required three on the 6D to pull off the dynamic range in this shot but the new 5D pulls it together really well in two. I generally I only need two images now for doing a shot like this. That has been a time saver when it comes to post processing. This image also came out cleaner and sharper all around than most of my 6D shots ever did. I think this goes to one of my topics later on in the article, that is better LCD makes for better focus.

Higher Resolution

The thing when it comes to resolution is that the final results are seen truly in the print. I have not printed anything yet from the new camera but I do have a few things coming down the pipeline to find out for sure. One of the issues I am facing for truly appreciating the resolution of the camera is my screen. I am not using a 4k screen and I am still analog 1080p on the screen as well. So I am lacking full potential of viewing. When I do a zoom in, I do notice some additional finer details on close up objects along with clarity in my images from my 70-200. In fact images from my 70-200 look so much better than I am use to.

I think I will do an update when I get the first large metal prints back.

ISO Invariance/ Noise

When it comes to the low noise (grain, gain, what ever you want to call it) this camera performs wonderfully on the ISO invariance aspects of its existence. If you are unfamiliar with what ISO invariance is Jim wrote an article on it a while back that does a good job at explaining what it is.

I am not use to being able to play with the exposure slider or shadows and literally not add any noise to my images. None. Period. I can slide that exposure slider up and down and just be happy with the results. It opened up a world of multiple blending options for a single image.

As for noise created due to ISO (though this is not 100% accurate) this I still find myself battling. It usually shows up as I play with the images in lightroom, but it has been small enough now that I can take care of it with some adjustment brushes.

Weather Sealing

I have not photographed in the rain yet with this camera, but I can see some of the weather sealing technology around the doors on the body. But if it is like every other Canon body out there, they are known for being rugged.

Touch Screen

I never thought touch screen would be as amazing/game changing as it has been. I use it on every photo shoot I do. It makes for navigating menus faster, focusing quicker, and it is a second handy shutter release. These are my highlights

  • Navigate to a point to focus- I do all my own focusing in my shots. My camera does not make my decisions when it comes to my landscape photography. In order to be in complete control I spend much of my time composing then focusing on the exact spot I want to focus on. With the new touch screen, I can navigate to the exact spot I want to focus really rapidly. Time saving from the days of having to toggle all around the screen.
  • Focus stacking uses- The ability to quickly move across the screen for choosing spots for focusing stacking has been wonderful. I don't focus stack any more than I use to, but I enjoy the new ease of doing so.
  • Touch to take the image- This is a double edge sword. I have taken a few shots with my nose on accident. I have also taken a fair few of shots I never intended. But when using the telephoto, I can tap the back of the screen lighter than I can push the shutter thus reducing camera shake.

Higher resolution back LCD (better for focusing)

The 1.62 million pixel back screen brought about something I wasn't expecting when it came to focusing, better focus. Since I do manual focus for so much of my photography it made it easier to tell if I had exact focus. This was another one of those things I didn't know I needed. The 6D is just fine and I got many shots in great focus, but I find it so much easier now to accomplish exact focus than ever before. If this has been an issue for you in times past, this just might be your fix.

Bracketing

One thing I still do is bracket. In fact, it has not changed much. But if you like doing your images all with one shot, I can say you will be satisfied. But if you are anything like me, you will be glad that the bracketing system in this camera is everything as good as it use to be in any of the older models. Hopefully you will have to use less images to pull together an image but don't expect this to go away.

This camera comes with the option to do 2, 3, 5 and 7 images for a bracketed sequence where the camera does all the adjusting after you set it. I have only bothered to use the 3 setting but the option to do more or less is very nice.

Astro Photography

I got this camera at the end of the milky way season. So I have only photographed a couple nights with it. With that said I was really use to the 6D and its capabilities. This camera I assume does absolutely amazing at star shots, but I only have a few to relate to. This is one exposure that I played around with while I was out in Escalante this October. I was impressed with the overall results but in order to bring out the milky way, you really have to work with it with the Mk IV. The 6D did a better beginning rendition, but this new camera does fine at pulling things back from the brink.

 

Better Color

The Mk IV appears to have better color rendition of my images. I am color blind, (more accurate is color deficient) but I can tell small tones when it comes to my images better than my wife can. I might get things wrong on occasion but I can tell when things look richer. This camera appears to provide more rich images when it comes to color. This would be due to the Digic 6+ image processor found within it. If you are looking for a more rich color experience, particularly if you are jumping from a beginning line of cameras, you will be blown away by the new color renditions.

 

Final Thoughts

If I would give a final score on the Camera I would give what DxO mark gave it. I think it is a worthy contender with the other top of the line camera companies. The biggest improvements I feel like I use are the interface and the noise reduction that has come through the new ISO invariance of this camera. The resolution is still a bit of a mystery as I don't see much difference in the 10MP gain, but I think when I print one of my images at 20×30 in the coming months I will be satisfied with the gain I got. I also love the small stream lining I have gained by having only to use two images instead of three images in my post process on my images. It has been a nice change for once.

In general I am not dissatisfied with any aspect of this camera.  None. I at first was really hating the fact that I could not see the built in camera level within live view mode, but finally figured out how to fix that and have been happy with it sense. Any suggestions I have fore canon is to add articulating screen. That is something that every camera should have, but camera companies think it makes their cameras easier to break.

Final score for this camera 91/100


About the Author

Nathan

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Nathan works for the state of Utah as a biologist for his day job, but does landscape photography on the side. His work focuses on the landscapes of Southern Utah including Zion, Bryce and the slot canyons of the southwest. He enjoys spending his weekends in the wilderness or selling his photos at local markets. To view his work go to: https://www.standrephotography.com/

Comments

  1. Great Article and thank you!!! I am contemplating the Mark V as well..any tips on where the best place is to purchase a quality used ones?? I don’t recall the article mentioning where you found yours…Thanks a ton, Marie

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