Good news for Canon 5D mk2 and 5D mk3 owners: the Canon 5D mk4 has more megapixels, less noise and a more usable dynamic range. Add in 4K video with smooth and fast AF, a touchscreen, Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS, and it is clear that you take a big step forward with a Canon 5D mk4, relative to the Canon 5D mk3 or mk2.
Canon 5D mk4 versus Canon 5D mk3
There are few differences in appearance between the Canon 5D mk4 and its predecessor. On the back, next to the Q button for the Quick menu, there is a handy little button that is intended for the choice of an AF punt (for those who do not want to use the touchscreen). It is inside that the Canon 5D mk4 has been improved relative to the Canon 5D mk3:
- With 30 megapixels, the Canon 5D mk4 has a sensor with 17% higher resolution.
- AF area of the 5D mk4 covers a larger surface (number of AF sensors is the same).
- Thanks to dual pixel AF, AF during video with the Canon 5D mk4 is fast, smooth and accurate.
- Mk4 has many more capabilities: NFC, Wi-Fi, Flicker detection, GPS and USB 3 (vs USB 2).
- The touchscreen of the mk4 (5D mk3 does not have a touchscreen) is a bit larger and has 60% more dots.
- 5D mk4 has higher video resolution (4K @ 30bps).
- The 5D mk4 is better sealed against dust and splashwater (see: Canon 5D mk4 striptease)
Canon 5D mk4 versus sony A7r II
Those who want to have a studio camera with extremely high resolution will sooner make the comparison between the Canon 5DSR and the Sony A7 R II. In other cases, a comparison of the Canon 5D mk4 with the Sony A7R mk2 (20% higher resolution and 10% less expensive) is more obvious. The Canon 5D mk4 is extra well-sealed against dust and splashwater; the Sony A7R mk2 is not. The Sony A7R mk2 beats out the Canon 5D mk4 when it comes to image quality (resolution, usable dynamic range; more about that in a minute). Even so, the differences in comparison with the Canon 5D mk3 have become so much smaller that other factors (ease of use, applications) have become more important in my eyes.
For both video and photography, the Sony A7R mk2 focuses just as fast as the Canon 5D mk4. It might matter more with these two cameras what lens you choose than which camera. The accessibility of the menus and the ease of use of the buttons on the camera depend strongly on personal preference. I experience the ease of use of the buttons and the menu of the Canon 5D mk4 as more well thought-out than those of the Sony. The electronic viewfinder of the Sony gives a larger (and in the dark, brighter) image than the optical viewfinder of the Canon. For video, the Sony is superior in practically all respects: the Sony A7R mk2 offers so many options that are missing on the Canon (focus peaking for manual focusing, zebra warning for overexposure, a live-histogram, 4K to an external recorder over HDMI, choice between 4K with or without crop, better video-codec) that the 5D mk4 is no match as far as video is concerned for the Sony A7R mk2. Unedited 4K files of the Canon 5D mk4 and the Sony A7R mk2 are both very good, but for the same image quality, the Canon needs 5x as much memory space. Soundless photography—ideal for a wedding, ceremony or other solemn gathering—is not possible with the Canon 5D mk4. With the Sony A7R mk2, it is. The silent-shutter mode of Canon is no match for an electronic shutter, which is completely silent. In a quiet environment, that is a world of difference.
Canon 5D mk4:
BUILD QUALITY, COMPETITORS & FEATUREs
The Canon 5D mk4 is a robust, dust- and splashwater-tight camera that is nice to use. If you have a 5D mk2 or 5D mk3, then you know what I mean. In both usage options (connectivity, video, GPS) and in image quality, the Canon 5D mk4 is a step ahead relative to the Canon 5D mk3. Canon indicates that you can take about 900 shots on 1 battery charge. If you make a lot of (4K) video recordings, then that will naturally be less. Fortunately, the Canon 5D mk4 is not as much of a battery hog as the Sony A7R mk2. With the Canon 5D mk4, 1 to 2 batteries suffice for me (if I shoot a lot of video) when I work with this camera.
Dual pixel RAW, SCREEN AND VIEWFINDEr
In this review, we do not go into the new dual-pixel RAW files; we did that previously. I have not yet discovered any practical applications for dual pixel RAW, on the basis of which I would decide to use these files. The dual pixel RAW files are nearly twice as large as the traditional Canon RAW files. The most recent Lightroom and Photoshop updates can also open the dual pixel RAW files from the Canon 5D mk4, but you can only take advantage of the specific dual pixel functionality in Canon’s DPP software.
The screen of the Canon EOS 5D mk4 is a bit larger than that of the Canon 5D mk3 (3.2 vs 3 inch), and it has 60% more dots. That looks sharper. But an even nicer advance is that the screen has become a touchscreen. Not only can you swipe on it and operate the quick menu with it, you can also use the screen to choose the point of focus. The screen does not tilt (like that on the Nikon d750) or turn (Panasonic GH4). Panasonic has long had a very practical use for a touchscreen: while you look through the viewfinder, you can use the touchscreen to choose the focus point with your thumb, without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. That is more intuitive and faster than moving the AF point by scrolling through the AF points with a button. That is now also possible with the Canon. Additionally, an extra button has been added next to the Q button for the quick menu, which you can use instead of the touchscreen. Because not everyone is going to use the touchscreen to choose the AF point, that extra button, which is at just the right place for easy use, is a great addition.
A really great feature, I think, is that you can put together the quick menu yourself, so that all the items sit in the most logical place for you. Below you can see a funny illustration from Canon (for the 5Ds), of what you can imagine for it:
“With AF in the dark, Canon has made progress.”
The image quality of modern cameras is a less distinctive property for many consumers than, for example, the speed of the AF. The Canon 5D mk4 has a comprehensive AF system with 61 AF points, which all still work when you use an f/4 lens with a 2x converter. The AF system is said to give nothing up to the AF system of the Canon 1Dx mk2. Good news bokeh fans is that there are 5 central phase-detection AF points, which focus more accurately with bright (<f/2.8)lenses. The AF system still works in the dark (-3EV). If you use the sensor of the camera just like the mirrorless system cameras, instead of the phase detection AF module, then the AF system becomes even more light-sensitive. When you focus in Liveview (dual pixel AF), then the AF system of the Canon 5D mk4 even still works at -4EV.
Whether you get a picture at the decisive moment does not only depend on the AF. Even if you do not focus, a camera has a release delay. In the case of the Canon 5D mk4, that is about 58 ms. Pressing and focusing with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 took 258 ms. The AF speed depends in part on the lens that you use. We therefore try to test every camera with different lenses. We have asked Canon Nederland a few times for a Canon 5D mk4 with a couple of Canon for testing. Once we have completed that test, which we really hope to have done within a couple of months, we can provide more information about the AF speed of this camera, both for photography and for video.
Canon 5D mk4 IMAGE QUALITY
At the time of the test, it was not yet possible to process the RAW files in the same way as for other cameras. For the time being, Imatest results for RAW files are obtained by converting the RAW files with Canon’s RAW software (DPP) into a 16-bit TIF file and then doing the measurements. This week, an update for Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw appeared in which the 5D mk4 RAW files can be opened. Now that the 5D mk4 RAW files can be converted with the DNG converter from Adobe, we will repeat the measurements, to improve the comparability of the results with those for other cameras.
HIGH RESOLUTION AND IMAGE QUALITY
We tested the resolution of the Canon 5D mk4 with a Sigma 50mm f/1.4, in order to achieve the highest possible resolution. That looks good: a visible advance in comparison with the Canon 5D mk2 and to my mind a surprisingly small difference relative to the Canon 5Ds. Of course the extremely high resolution of the Sigma Art lens is partly responsible for that.
We test the usable dynamic range of cameras not only in practice, but also with Imatest measurements, for both RAW files (converted with the DNG converter) and for in-camera jpg files. At the moment, the RAW files from the Canon 5D mk4 cannot yet be read with Adobe products, so the final score for the dynamic range will have to wait. In theory, a linear 14-bit file can store a maximal dynamic range of 14 bits. In practice, depending on brand and sensor size, it is less. If, however, you take into account the signal-to-noise ratio in the darkest parts of the photo, then you are left with a lower usable dynamic range. Above you can see the usable dynamic range of a jpg file at 100 ISO. Normally, we show the dynamic range of a RAW file, that has been converted by Adobe software without sharpening or noise suppression. A dynamic range of 7.08 stops with a signal-to-noise ratio of at least 10 in a jpg file is very good. Our measurement results for the dynamic range of the Canon 5D mk4 and the best camera with an APS-C sensor (Nikon D500, Sony A6300) were practically equal, but if you compare the usable dynamic range of the Canon 5D mk4 with that of the Canon 7D mk2 or Canon 760D, then the 5D mk4 wins with both hands tied behind its back. The Nikon D7200 scores for us just as good at low ISO values (on DxO Mark, even better) as the Canon 5D mk4. But at 6400 ISO and higher, the usable dynamic range of the 5D mk4 is larger than that of the D7200.
If you look at the shadows of a shot that was underexposed by 5 stops and then corrected with software, you find a great deal of noise and banding in shots made with, for example, the Canon 5D mk2 or the Canon 60D. More than in shots made with cameras with a Sony sensor. DpReview has devoted a great deal of attention to that, and you see it in our test results as well. Below you can see an underexposed 400 ISO shot (left), that has been made a total of 5 stops lighter in DPP and Lightroom. The signal-to-noise ratio without the use of noise suppression is good, and there is no trace of banding.
In daylight, the Canon 5D mk4—depending on the color profile that you choose in the camera—a good (right: standard image style) to extremely accurate (left: image style faithful) color reproduction. The extra saturation of the red colors in the standard image style, which appeals to many amateur photographers, is clearly visible.
That the Canon 5D mk4 does not earn an extremely high score in our test for color reproduction is because of the white balance in artificial light. In artificial light, you cannot yet trust blindly in the automatic white balance, and there is a clear orange color wash. This orange color wash, which can be resolved easily in RAW files by manually adjusting the white balance, prevents the Canon 5D mk4 from earning an even higher score for color reproduction.
Below you can see two image excerpts from jpg shots made with 400 ISO and 102,800 ISO. At 102,800 ISO, you see that the dynamic range has decreased (you see that with all cameras): the dark areas are not as dark anymore as at the low ISO values. You also see a small bit of color noise at the highest ISO values, but I am always surprised that today you can make a usable photo at extremely high ISO values. From the Imatest measurements, the noise for the Canon 5D mk4 performs equally with that of the Canon 5D mk3. Because the 5D mk4 has more megapixels, the image looks quieter if you make a print at the same size from both cameras. If you compare the noise on the pixel level on a screen for the 5DsR with that of the 5D mk4, then they do not differ much from each other (5D mk4 is a bit better). In print, the difference is compensated for because the image from the 5DsR is reduced more in size, so that the noise becomes less visible.
“Is 4K with Canon a discount for the sales price in euros?”
Canon is one of the last brands with which you can make 4K video recordings (3840 x 2160) on their affordable (read: under 5 thousand euros) system cameras. There are, however, a few challenges with that with Canon.
First, the video files are stored in an old file format (Motion-jpg), with the result that the 4K files that you make with the Canon 5D mk4 are about 5x larger than H264 video files that you get when you make 4K recordings with a Sony or a Panasonic camera. Those who use 4K for photography are happy with saving 30 8-megapixel jpgs without compression, but those who are sending a short video to the editor are less happy with it. Is it a technical problem for Canon (for example, heat output from conversion to H264) that has determined this choice? Or does Canon want to pressure consumers to buy a (much more expensive) video camera?
Second, color sampling takes place with Full HD/ HD in the Canon 5D mk4 4:2:0 (8-bit). Serious post-editing thus becomes impossible. Fortunately, 4K shots apply 4:2:2 color sampling. Unfortunately, that is only in 8 bits. Those who make serious video recordings will prefer an external (preferably 10-bit) video recorder, so that you can edit video recordings without immediately losing image quality. In addition, external recorders offer a larger screen with extra capabilities (focus-peaking, histogram or scope). The Panasonic GH4, a camera that has already been on the market for some time, offers 10-bit 4:2:2 color sampling with the help of an external recorder for a much lower price.
The third point is an extension of the second point: where you have log profiles on the Panasonic GH4 (with Vlog expansion), Sony A7R2, A7S2 or A6300 that produce a greater dynamic range in post-editing, on the Canon 5D mk4 you only have the standard photography image styles. It is not expected that Canon will release a firmware update for the 5D mk4 with a profile that will let you make log recordings. In comparison with other brands, Canon typically saves any improvements for a successor, rather than offering a (usually free) firmware update like Fujifilm, Sony and Panasonic do.
TIP FOR REQUIRED 4K CROP: SIGMA AND TOKINA LENSES FOR 4K VIDEo
If you have chosen a camera with a full-frame sensor because you want to play with background blur, then it might be a disappointment that the Canon 5D mk4 has a crop-factor of nearly two when you make 4K video recordings. When you switch from photographing with your 24-105 mm kit lens to video, then you will first have to change lenses in order to preserve the field of view of 24 mm.
It is namely not possible to use the whole sensor surface for 4K video recordings. I think that a crop-factor for everyone with a telephoto lens is a blessing. First, you bring your subject closer at the same focal length, and second—because you use a shorter focal length for the same field of view—you benefit from the extra focal depth that this brings.
But if you want to make video recordings with a wide view, then you want to use a lens with the shortest focal length possible (<18mm) and the highest possible brightness (<3). Canon EF-S lenses do not fit on a Canon 5D mk4. So forget those for your 4K video recordings. And the EF lens selection from Canon with an extremely short focal length (<18mm)and a high brightness (<3) is very limited. Usually, those are the fixed focal lengths, which are also expensive.
With other brands, there is a more comprehensive choice of lenses designed for APS-C sensors, that are a perfect combination for 4K video with the Canon 5D mk4:
- Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art
- Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 Art
- Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO DX SD
- Tokina AT-X 14-20 f/2 PRO DX
These lenses are so bright that you get a bokeh and focal depth that are comparable with the brightest full-frame zoom lenses that are on the market, while they offer a shorter focal length than the full-frame zooms, so that you retain a wide angle. It is true that these are not dedicated video lenses, but the large field of view (both Tokinas) and the world-record brightness (both Sigma f/1.8 Art zooms and the Tokina 14-20mm f/2) make these very affordable lenses ideal for 4K video recordings with high image quality and exceptionally beautiful background blur and bokeh.
COPIED FROM Panasonic? 4K frame grab
You can compare a 4K video camera with an 8-megapixel camera that shoots 25 or 30 frames per second. That is ideal for capturing just the right moment at a wedding, or of a kingfisher diving into the water, or whatever else. Better to steal something good than to invent something bad. That’s why I cheer the fact that it is possible with the Canon 5D mk4 to save an individual video frame in the camera as a jpg. With Panasonic, you find this function on all recent cameras with which you can film in 4K (on a camera that films in Full-HD, the resolution is too low; you get a 2-megapixel picture). With Canon, it is called “frame grab.” With Panasonic, it is called 4K Photo. It would have been nice if Canon also offered this function on less expensive SLR cameras.
Slow motion ONLY in HD
When you make recordings at a higher speed than you play them back at, then you get a slow-motion effect. With the Canon 5D mk4, you can make video recordings at 120 frames per second in HD (1280 x 720 pixels) that you can play back at 30 frames per second (4x slow motion). Making such recordings in Full HD (1920 x 1080) is unfortunately not possible. Just as with Full-HD, the slow-motion recordings are stored in 8-bit 4:2:0, so that there is little room for post-editing.
In the most expensive video camera, there is a global shutter, which is not bothered by rolling shutter. If you film a fast-moving subject with the Canon 5D mk4, then you run the risk of a visible rolling shutter effect. The 5D mk4 does not distinguish itself on this point from other cameras that we have tested in the price class of up to 5,000 euros.
ConclusiON TO Canon 5D mk4 REVIEW
- More options and better than the 5D mk3
- High image quality: high resolution, high dynamic range and little noise
- Good AF for video
- Customized Q menu
- Solidly built; extra-well sealed against dust and splashwater
- Touchscreen and new AF-point selection button
- Crop factor of nearly 2 for video
- Sales price above 4,000 euros
- Screen does not rotate or tilt
- Video: 4K with an external recorder not possible
- Video: M-jpg video recordings are unnecessarily large
- Video No C-log, focus peaking, zebra or histogram
- Video: rolling shutter
- Crop factor of nearly 2 for video
“As far as image quality is concerned, this is the best Canon camera that we have tested.”
The Canon 5D mk4 is a robust, dust- and splashwater-tight camera that is pleasant to use. Both in usage capabilities (connectivity, video, GPS) and image quality, the Canon 5D mk4 is a step forward relative to the Canon 5D mk3. Compared with the—somewhat less expensive—Canon 5Ds & 5DsR, the resolution of the 5D mk4 is 20% (5Ds) to 25% (DsR) lower. The counterpoint to that is a higher usable dynamic range and 4K video on the Canon 5D mk4.
Click on the product for specifications, prices and test results.
The color reproduction and resolution of Full-HD video recordings made with the Canon 5D mk4 are comparable with those of earlier Canon cameras that we have tested. The 4K (4:2:2) video image quality of the Canon 5D mk4 is an improvement in resolution and space that you have left over for image editing before you get visible posterization. For those who use 4K video to photograph at 25 or 30 frames per second, the M-jpg format in which the 5D mk4 saves its files might not be a bad solution. But the professional photographer who sends a very short video of several gigabytes to the photo editor is sure to be asked next time whether that can’t be done in a more compact (H264) file format next time. That is not possible with the Canon 5D mk4. Those who want to go crazy with 4K video will have to accept a significant crop factor on the Canon 5D mk4 and will also have to do without focus-peaking, histogram, zebra or 4K over HDMI.