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Canon EOS 5D Mark IV: The best just gets better

The Mark IV is the first Canon camera to feature the Dual Pixel Raw feature.
The Mark IV is the first Canon camera to feature the Dual Pixel Raw feature.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Upgrades galore - GPS, Wi-Fi, Near Field Communications and even more megapixels

The EOS 5D mid-range full-frame DSLR camera has been one of Canon's most popular models.

But the last iteration - the EOS 5D Mark III - was four years ago, which is an eternity in technological terms.

The EOS 5D Mark IV is finally here, with plenty of upgrades.

The upgrades include a 30.4-megapixel full-frame image sensor (up from Mark III's 22.3 megapixels), with an upgraded Digic 6+ image processor. The camera comes with built-in Wi-Fi, Near Field Communications and GPS.

While it has the same number of autofocusing (AF) points as its predecessor, the Mark IV is equipped with Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. Each pixel of the image sensor is equipped with two independent photodiodes that convert light into digital signals, instead of one.

When an image is being captured, both photodiodes combine to give a pixel of image.

But when AF is used in Live View image capture and video recording, each photodiode acts as an independent phase-detection AF sensor to help the lens lock on more quickly to a focus.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $5,199 (body only) or $6,249 (with EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens)

    IMAGE SENSOR: 30.4-megapixel full-frame CMOS

    DISPLAY: Fixed 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD with 1,620,000 dots; optical viewfinder

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 50 to 102,400

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 7 frames per second

    WEIGHT: 800g (body only, with battery and memory card)


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Furthermore, the Mark IV is the first Canon camera to have the Dual Pixel Raw (DPRAW) feature.

This enables slight adjustments, like the focusing point, to be made to images after a photo is taken, using Canon's Digital Photo Professional software. But I found the adjustments to be so minute that it is not worth your time.

The 3.2-inch display has a resolution of 1.62 million dots (up from 1.04 million dots in the Mark III) and is now a touchscreen one. It is great to be able to quickly pinch on the display to zoom into a picture to check details.

The Mark IV is also now able to capture 4K (4,096 x 2,160 pixels) videos at a smooth 30 frames per second (fps). This is great news for videographers.

In terms of design, there are minimal changes from its predecessor. The button layout and controls are almost the same - well thought out and intuitive. One major difference is the addition of a thumb button just below the rear AF joystick.

This thumb button comes in handy as it can be customised for different functions, such as changing the AF area or toggling between a registered AF point and the centre AF point.

The Mark IV has a weather-resistant magnesium-alloy chassis that protects it against rain and dust. It is also 60g lighter than its predecessor. Combined with its ergonomic contours, the 5D Mark IV is sturdy and great to handle.

For this review, I used the EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens. Operation is lightning quick.

Start-up and shutdown of the Mark IV are immediate. Shutter lag is not noticeable.

The Mark IV has dual memory card slots, for a CF card and an SD card. The SD card can be used to back up any picture you take, or as extra storage.

Using a CF card rated at 160MB per sec, and an SD card rated at 94MB per second, the camera was able to capture six RAW images in 0.9sec, writing images to both memory cards simultaneously before running out of buffer.

In bright sunlight, AF was instantaneous. In dim lighting, focusing took less than a second.

The biggest plus is its enhanced AF performance during video recording. In most cases, it took less than 2sec to automatically lock on to a focus, when you pan from one scene to another. Its predecessor took longer and would give up focusing after 3sec.

Image quality is simply stellar. Even in the darker areas of images, there is a wealth of details. You can see each strand of hair, or pick up even the slightest of blemishes on a subject's skin.

Image noise performance is excellent. There are no noise artefacts before ISO 3,200 and only a little chromatic noise in the dark areas at IS0 6,400. Even at ISO 12,800, noise is not evident.

The noise level and detail loss become significant only at ISO 25,600 and above.

The 4K video quality is sharp and smooth. However, it uses only Motion JPEG. While this format is great for extracting 8-megapixel still images, the video files are very large. For instance, a 26sec clip comes up to 1.75GB.

Battery life is great at around 900 still images per full charge.

However, the battery life is not as good when compared with its direct competitor, Nikon's D810, which is good for 1,200 frames on a full charge.

Another downer is the increase in pricing. The Mark III was priced at $4,699 (body only) four years ago. The Mark IV costs $500 more.

• Verdict: The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV might be a tad expensive, but it does what it does best - a jack of all trades. It provides great-quality printouts with fast-speed and accurate autofocusing in both still and video modes. Its superb 4K videos will endear itself to many videographers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Canon EOS 5D Mark IV: The best just gets better'. Print Edition | Subscribe