Does the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV offer enough to entice existing 5D-series users as well as newcomers to full-frame? Michael Topham finds out as he puts it to the test
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review: Build & Handling
Canon has tinkered with the design of its EOS 5D-series since the original and you get the sense the company has now reached a stage where not a great deal more can be done to make its handling any better than it already is. Canon says the handgrip and thumb rest are both designed fractionally deeper, but in truth you’ll be hard pushed to notice a difference on the new model from the EOS 5D Mark III. The same is true of the camera’s weight. The EOS 5D Mark IV sheds 50g off the EOS 5D Mark III by introducing a new mirror box assembly that’s similar to the one used within the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R. This assembly uses fewer springs and more cams and gears, with a new cam added to help eliminate mirror bounce. While we’re all for minimising internal vibrations, the 50g it loses in weight isn’t blatantly obvious when you switch between the Mark IV and Mark III. It should also be noted that the sound of the shutter remains much the same as that of the 5D Mark III.
Like that of its peers, the EOS 5D Mark IV’s body is made of magnesium alloy, which gives it a reassuringly solid feel in the hand and the sense that it will survive the demands of enthusiasts and pros. Like with previous generations, Canon has looked at enhancing its robustness with improved weather seals around the body to ensure dirt and moisture do not enter the internals. On the exterior of the body there aren’t too many changes, with buttons and dials falling nicely to hand in the same way they did on the Mark III. The AF joystick now has a knurled texture to it much like the EOS-1D X Mark II and just offset from this there’s a new customisable push button that can be located easily when the viewfinder is raised to your eye. It’s assigned to controlling the AF area selection as default, but you’ll still need to hit the AF-point selection button first on the corner of the body before you can use it to toggle through the various AF area settings. Alternatively, this small push button can be appointed to AE lock, AE lock (hold), ISO and exposure compensation. As well as being set up from the main menu, it can be customised from the custom settings that are presented in the Quick menu.
Something we’re yet to comment on that plays a role in the camera’s operation is the 5D Mark IV’s LCD screen. Although it’s similar to the Mark III’s in that it’s the same size (3.2in) and remains fixed as opposed to being the tilting-type, the resolution has increased from 1.04 million dots to 1.62 million dots and now supports touch control. It’s hard not to be impressed at how well the screen reacts to light touches, especially its accuracy, despite some of the menu icons and sub-menus being on the small side.
Existing 5D-series users are most likely to find that they use the camera’s buttons and dials in the traditional way, but there are times, such as when you want to quickly navigate between settings in the quick menu, that the touch screen has its advantages. It can also be used in playback mode to swipe through images – an intuitive way of reviewing images, but it’s not as fast as using the quick control dial.
The same can be said for zooming in to images in playback mode. Due to the screen being that much smaller than a smartphone or tablet, you’ll find you have to repeat finger gestures a few times to inspect images at close magnification before zooming out. This is where a double-tap option to magnify images to inspect sharpness followed by another double tap to zoom out again would be advantageous. On the whole, though, the touch-screen functionality works well and gives users better choice over how the camera is set up.
Other minor body changes involve the remote port being relocated to the front corner of the body from the side. This has freed up room at the side for the 3.5mm mic port to sit directly above the headphone socket and a USB 3.0 port below the HDMI out input. On the opposite side of the body is the same dual-card-slot arrangement that accepts CompactFlash and SD memory cards.
The frustrating news for those looking at the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV as a potential upgrade from the 5D Mark III is that it’s not compatible with the BG-11 battery grip. This slightly short sighted approach from Canon means that those who own a BG-11 grip won’t be able to make the most of it and rules out interchanging grips between cameras. Users of the Mark IV who’d like to duplicate controls when shooting vertically and slot in an additional battery will be forced to buy the Canon BG-E20 (£339). Other than adding the small push button next to the AF joystick, this grip is virtually identical to the BG-11.