Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Review 2021 (Is It a Good Camera)

Last updated on December 18th, 2020

Canon 5D Mark IV offers a ton of new features and performance upgrades however keeps things modest and familiar with its similar yet refined design. In this Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Review, I’m going to share about features and performance.

What is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV?

Canon 5D Mark IV is a top performer – but you’ll be paying a premium for it. Top-notch images are promised from this camera, which will be all too familiar to existing users of the 5D Mark III or 5D Mark II.

It features a new sensor, with 30.4 megapixels, and like its predecessors, it’s a full-frame number. The 5D vary is usually wherever Canon likes to point out its latest innovations, and for this iteration, we have Dual Pixel RAW, which promises to shift the focus or bokeh ever so slightly after you’ve taken the shot.

In other words, if you ever so slightly miss focus, and if you have DPR switched on, you might be able to save the final image post-production.

Canon 5D Mark IV Review – Build and Handling

Canon doesn’t want existing 5D users to feel as though they have to start from scratch when working with its new camera, so it has kept the design and dimensions of the Mark IV just like the predecessor, the 5D Mark III.

There are some notable exceptions to this, however. The hump wherever you’ll notice the optical viewfinder is currently larger to accommodate the Wi-Fi and GPS unit, and the grip is also a touch deeper to make it feel even more secure in the hand.

The button layout is almost identical, but there’s a handy new switch on the rear of the camera that means you can use the scrolling dial to change a setting, while the switch is held in place. The obvious choice for this would be ISO, but you can choose between various options on the main menu.

There’s a button for almost every setting you’re likely to want to change frequently, but you can also press the Q button to change anything you see highlighted on the main display. The main menu is where you’ll make less regular changes, but this is organized sensibly to help you find whatever you’re looking for with ease.

One particularly handy addition is the Rate button, which you can use to provide a rating to an image in playback – useful when you’re looking through your shots quickly. These ratings will be brought over to software such as Adobe Bridge when transferring across images to your computer, making it easy to find particular images very quickly.

Although there hasn’t been much change to the design of the body, the weather-sealing has been improved so you can feel more confident that the camera is going to last an afternoon of unpredictable weather.

Canon 5D Mark IV Review – Screen and Viewfinder

The biggest boost in usability comes as a result of making the screen touch-sensitive. While there are other cameras in Canon’s lineup that now feature touch capability, this is the first time one has felt truly useful, integrating well into how a photographer likes to work. You can use it to set an autofocus point, but you can also do so much more.

We found that if you use it in conjunction with the camera’s myriad buttons, it’s possible to achieve a great flow to work. For example, you could press the Q button, then use the touchscreen to pick your setting to change. Or you may press the metering button, and then quickly tap the screen to make the change.

Of course, if you’re somebody who prefers to keep it old-school and use only buttons, you can do that too – in fact, you can turn touch-sensitivity off altogether if you prefer. But, it’s in using the capability to complement your existing way of shooting that makes it feel as if Canon has pitched it just right this time.

It would be nice if the screen was articulating, or tilting — especially for those who want to use the camera for video work. However, since there is talk that doing so would result in a loss of weatherproofing, it’s easy to see why Canon would be reticent to include such a feature.

The viewfinder is an optical finder, which many still prefer over an electronic version. The one here is nice and bright, providing a great view of the scene. It goes one step further by being an Intelligent Viewfinder II, too.

This means that you get information in the display including shooting modes, a level for helping to keep your shots straight, and a grid that also helps with composition. You can choose between having some of the information, all of it, or nothing at all.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – Performance and AutoFocus

The 5D Mark III was an excellent performer when it comes to autofocus, so with the 5D Mark IV Canon is simply trying to improve this further. It’s particularly impressive how much autofocusing has improved in Live View.

Now, if you’re using the camera to shoot macro and still-life subjects, you can use the screen to focus on precision and speed, without having to wait for the camera to get its act together. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll want to use it often for other kinds of subjects, it isn’t out of the question anymore and could have some applications depending on the circumstances.

When it comes to shooting through the viewfinder, here, too, there have been some notable improvements. There’s now much wider AF coverage across the whole frame, and although you may still have to focus and recompose for anything lying on the outer edges of the frame, generally speaking, you should find you’re doing less of that.

The tracking focus is good, too. Being able to keep up with moving subjects is much easier, and although the camera only shoots at 7fps, it’s still a decent choice for moving subjects. Focus acquisition is also pretty speedy, snapping sharply into focus in brilliant light, and only taking a touch longer in lower light conditions; it’s very rare for a false-positive confirmation of focus to be displayed.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – Image Quality

We expected no less than stunning image quality from the 5D Mark IV, and Canon delivers. Images are deliciously sharp, and colors are well saturated. This camera seems to display slightly cooler images than we’d usually expect from a Canon camera in overcast conditions, but this is something that can easily be altered by changing the white balance setting.

You can achieve impressively noise-free images to the upper echelons of the 5D Mark IV’s ISO capability. Even those shot at ISO 25,600 is usable, with just a hint of noise detectable if you examine the images closely at 100%.

You may want to avoid the very highest ISO settings of 51,200 and 102,400, though — but even then, if you’re in a pinch and need to get the shot then you can be sure that the resulting image won’t be a blurry mess.

Exposures that are weighted to the active AF point, even when shooting in all-purpose metering mode, are generally good. This weighting is less prominent than we’ve seen on previous models, with a decent overall look, except if you’re shooting in very high-contrast conditions – something that will throw out pretty much any camera.

The new Dual Pixel RAW feature is an interesting one that we’ve struggled to fully utilize to any great effect. You can only adjust these files in Canon’s own Digital Photo Professional, but the good news is that they’ll still open in Adobe Camera Raw.

Sadly, Canon’s software isn’t the easiest to use, and although we’ve been able to adjust some shots slightly, there’s nothing here that has completely transformed an image. Whether it’s worth shooting in this mode and ending up with huge file sizes is debatable, but it’s certainly worth experimenting with, especially if you have longer lenses, where any movement of the subject could cause an issue.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – Video

Canon was a bit of a revolutionary when it came to video, the 5D Mark II is the first of its kind to feature Full HD video recording. Now we’ve progressed to 4K, and the video produced by the 5D Mark IV is excellent – you can rely on this camera to produce clean moving pictures, and refocusing while you’re shooting is also smooth and accurate.

Although Panasonic has somewhat stolen the crown from Canon for those looking for traditional cameras with which to shoot videos, the 5D Mark IV may just tempt some people back over again.

Should You Buy the Canon 5D Mark IV?

In short, the answer depends on your circumstances. If you already own a 5D Mark III (or II), making the switch to this camera will be easy. And the good news is that this isn’t just a minor upgrade; there are plenty of new features to get your teeth stuck into, making it feel like a worthy upgrade.

View Current Price

That said, the new camera comes at a premium – it’s significantly more expensive than the 5D Mark III at launch. If you can wait for the price to drop a little then you could save yourself a pretty penny, and if you’re currently shooting with the already-excellent 5D Mark III then that wait may just be doable. Read more: Sony A7R III

If you’re jumping up from something further down the line — such as a 6D, for example — you’ll find that the Canon 5D Mark IV is a whole new level of camera and be extremely pleased with what it can do.

Our Verdict

Canon has produced another camera that’s likely to be drooled over by both professionals and experienced amateurs. While it’s a shame that the price is so high, you do get a mighty fine camera for your money. Beautiful images, intuitive controls, and 4K video-shooting make an excellent 5D camera.

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