Gear Review: What Joel Thinks of the new Canon 5D Mark IV
By Joel Holland, Founder and Executive Chairman of VideoBlocks
For 15 years I’ve been lugging around an unreasonable amount of camera gear. As many readers likely know, being both a photographer and videographer means almost twice the load. So it was with great joy that I purchased the Canon 5D Mark IV, capable of shooting 4K video in addition to world class photos. I was hoping that it could be the camera to replace my RED Scarlet X video camera and Canon 5D Mark III.
To answer this question, I spent a week shooting in the mountains of Colorado—putting the Mark IV through a litany of environmental tests. From rain to snow, high heat to freezing temperatures, and even an incredibly dusty off-roading expedition, I filmed it all.
Overall, the camera performed like an absolute champ, far surpassing my expectations. A quick summary of the highlights and challenges:
- Extremely easy to use, especially for anyone already used to the Mark III—the body and controls are virtually the same.
- Shooting video in auto/program mode was impressive. For on-the-fly shooting you can comfortably rely on the camera to make good decisions.
- Auto focus works well, even when tracking a subject.
- The touch screen is a game changer. Touch anywhere in the scene and focus is immediate and precise.
- For more nuanced control, Manual mode is perfect. Easy to adjust aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and more.
- GPS is a nice new feature for automatically keeping track of where shots are taken.
- Most importantly: The content that the Mark IV produces is fantastic. Nice bump up to 30 megapixels for photos and the 4K footage rivals bigger video competitors like the RED, in my opinion.
- Buy a Compact Flash card. I’ve always used SD cards, and when shooting in 4K this won’t cut it. Buffer fills up within 2 seconds and the shot will stop.
- Make sure your CF card is large. 4K files are saved in Photo JPEG format at 4096×2160 resolution. This means a 15 second shot is about 1 gig. (I found shooting with a 256gig CF card covered a full day).
- You’ll need a wide angle lens. When shooting in 4K video mode, the camera has a 1.74x crop. To capture many of my landscape shots, I used the 16mm-35mm L series lens.
- The screen is small compared to other video specific cameras, but the magnify button makes it easy to magnify for adjustments: 1 click, 5x zoom. 2 clicks for 10x. Note: magnification doesn’t work when AF tracking is on, but you probably don’t need it in that case anyway.
- 5. The built-in timer/intervalometer is a great addition, but only lets you select up to 99 shots or unlimited. So you’ll still need an external timer for more precise time lapse settings.
GEAR I USED:
- Canon 5D Mark IV body, factory settings.
- 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM
- 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
- 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM
- Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW II camera backpack (with camel back for water)
- Koozam Soft Backpack for Phantom 4 Drone and 5D Mark IV + batteries and lenses
- Rhino Slider EVO Carbon 42” with carrying case
- Arctic Cat 2017 Wildcat Trail for off-roading
Take a look at the final results in this quick 4K sizzle I compiled showcasing a variety of weather, lighting and gear setups. The footage you see below is straight out of the camera—no color correction or adjustments whatsoever, not even basic editing:
In the end, I can confidently say that my camera gear will be significantly lighter going forward. While I may still use my RED Scarlet from time to time to shoot in RAW for more control in post production, the 5D Mark IV is my new run-and-gun camera for both photo and 4K video.
Have you tried the Canon 5D Mark IV? Have a favorite run-and-gun setup? Let us know in the comments or upload your footage to the Marketplace.
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