Update: We’ve added videos towards the end of the article.
By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Finally. It was generally considered vaporware for the last two years, and in doubt once the 5D S/R series came out, and now, the long awaited 5D Mark IV has been announced. And it finally has 4K and a 30.4 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. Since it’s arguably two years overdue and costing twice as much as its competitors, honestly, I’m not sure there’s enough here to get excited about.
“Canon’s EOS 5D series of DSLR cameras has a history of being at the forefront of still and video innovation. And today, we add to this family of cameras the EOS 5D Mark IV– the first in our 5D series to offer 4K video and built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “In developing this new DSLR camera, we listened to the requests of current EOS users to create for them a modern, versatile camera designed to help them create and share beautiful still and video imagery.” – Canon’s Announcement Press Release
That’s Canon’s main takeaway here: Their 4K 5D MK IV is innovative. But there’s one problem, it really isn’t. Had Canon beat Panasonic’s GH4 or the Sony α7S to the punch and released a full-frame 4K DSLR for the prosumer, you could have said that it was innovative. Had Canon lowered the price to below $2,000, you could have said it was innovative. Neither of which happened.
So what is so “innovative” about the 5D4? Maybe we can find it in the specs:
- 30.4 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
- DIGIC 6+ Image Processor
- SO range 100–32,000; expandable up to 50–102,400
- 4K Motion JPEG video (DCI cinema-type 4096 x 2160) at 30p or 24p; in-camera still frame grab* of 4K 8.8-Megapixel images; multiple video options include Full HD up to 60p, and HD up to 120p. MOTION JPEG? REALLY?
- Touch screen LCD monitor with Autofocus control
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF during video or Live View shooting
- 61 point with autofocus with 41 cross-points with face detection
- Dual Pixel RAW, in-camera Digital Lens Optimizer during JPEG shooting and Diffraction Correction technologies.
- Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC for sharing to compatible smart devices, select social media sites and the Canon Connect Station CS100 device.
- Built-in GPS for geotagging with Universal Time Code
So, is there anything innovative there? Honestly, I don’t think so. In fact, none of it is. Is there anything on this we haven’t seen on the Canon 1D-X MK II, which costs about nearly $2000 more? I know that Canon’s traditional price for the 5D platform has been around $3500, but times have changed and prices have dropped.
At best, the Mark IV is a mid-range prosumer DSLR, not top-level, and one that has to compete with the full-frame Sony α7s and the micro four-thirds Panasonic GH4. Both have been around for two years, both have benefited from Canon’s slow adoption of the 4K platform on DSLRs, and both cost 1/3 to half as much.
Though Canon will argue this is a stills-first camera, we need to look at the video capabilities, since this camera’s predecessors changed the industry forever. Sure you can argue that only one can record 4K interally, but so what? 4K monitor recorders have dropped in price dramatically, and anyone who needs one already has one.
On top of that, Sony’s α7 II has 14-bit Raw in 4K, and Panasonic is rumored to launch the GH5 with a new 6K sensor. So any ground gained with the 5D Mk. IV is only going to be extremely temporary. Honestly, for a little bit more money, you can get a full fledged URSA Mini with a bit more resolution, and a lot more capability.
The one thing that may do it for shooters is Dual Pixel Raw, since it promises a Lytro-like ability to refocus in post. The 5D Mark IV can do it thanks to shooting multiple images, one for Raw images, a second for parallax information, and a third for bokeh, I think. But the downside for filmmakers is that it only works for stills.
We could look at the HDR that Canon brings to the 5D4. That’s fairly current thinking, but it takes a step back by only offering it in 1080p and not 4K where it could really have some impact. So it’s almost one step forward and two steps back. And don’t get me started that Canon is still using Motion JPEG for it’s codec, rather than going with the more “innovative” H265.
It speaks a lot that instead of getting a quote from the Vincent LaForet, the cinematographer who launched the 5D Line into filmmaking, they go with a quote from yet another pro stills guy basking in the glow of the Mk. IV’s still image capability. To be fair, this is a stills-first camera, but the 5D2 revolutionized filmmaking. It’s almost like Canon was caught unaware on the impact that the 5D2 would have on the runner and gunner, and they had not only caught lightning in a bottle, but a tiger by the tale. After the Mk 3, it’s almost as if they’ve shrinked back to familiar and comfortable ground.
I know it’s unfair to think this way. We’ve been wanting a 4K Mark IV for years now, and we are finally getting it. But lets face it, the price is still too high for the current state of 4K cameras, and when the competition announces new models soon, Canon is going to be playing catch up again. It’s almost as if Canon got tired of hearing fans demand a mid-range 4K DSLR, so they gave us one. Barely. But I’m not really sure it’s the 4K DSLR we deserve and certainly not at the price they’re asking.
Updated: Videos added (hat tip: Planet5D):
You can pre-order here [affiliate link].
Hat Tip – Canon Rumors