Canon’s EOS-1D Mark III failed to impress some professional photographers, but perhaps the new 16.1-million-pixel Canon EOS-1D Mark IV version will regain their confidence
Build and handling
At the risk of stating the obvious, the EOS-1D Mark IV is a big camera as, like its forebears, it has both vertical and horizontal grips built-in. These make the back of the camera much squarer in shape than the models below it in the Canon DSLR line-up, so users trading up to the EOS-1D Mark IV may find that they need to invest in a bag that is able to accommodate their new toy.
The new camera has the same magnesium-alloy construction and 76 dust and waterproof seals as the camera it replaces. It feels very solid and built to last. However, by my calculations the quoted 300,000-cycle shutter durability only equates to around 8 hours and 20 minutes’ use at 10fps. While this would be an exhausting single shoot, it doesn’t really seem that long for the expected life of a key component of a professional sports photographer’s camera.
Despite the introduction of video-recording technology, Canon has kept the construction and control layout of the EOS-1D Mark IV very similar to the Mark III version, but there are a few little tweaks that have been made in response to feedback from users. Many of the buttons on the back of the Mark IV, for instance, have been made more prominent and require a longer, firmer press so they are easier to locate and have a more positive feel.
The mini-joystick multi-controller has also been made more pronounced so it is easier to operate. In addition, small holes have appeared in the back of the vertical handgrip and the far right of the front of the camera to allow the inclusion of a speaker and internal microphone respectively.
While EOS-1D Mark III users may appreciate the similarity of the EOS-1D Mark IV’s control system, I am surprised there isn’t a dedicated Live View and video-recording button with a switch to determine whether still or movie footage is to be recorded. This was a welcome introduction with the EOS 7D and I suspect that the journalists using the EOS-1D Mark IV are even more likely to need to switch quickly between recording modes than EOS 7D users.
There are, however, two ways to start video recording, depending upon the option selected for Custom Function IV 11. The default mode is to activate Live View mode with a press of the Set button at the centre of the Quick Control dial on the camera back and then start video recording by pressing the flash exposure lock (FEL) button that sits near the shutter release. Alternatively, the FEL button can be used to start recording directly, but this is at the expense of its flash-exposure lock role.
I found the EOS-1D Mark IV easy to get to grips with, and on the whole its controls are sensibly arranged and within reach. As with the EOS-1D Mark III, though, the mini-joystick multi-controller, which I generally use to select the active AF point, is out of reach when the camera is rotated through 90° and my finger is poised over the shutter-release button on the vertical grip. Rather unhelpfully, the menu and information screen don’t rotate when the camera is held in this orientation.
Although the menu is extensive and there are 62 custom functions, the options are sensibly arranged and grouped so it doesn’t take too long to become familiar with the layout and find what you need. However, given the complexity of the AF system, I think Canon should revisit this section of the custom menu and make the function of the various options a little clearer. Fortunately, up to three sets of custom functions can be saved and recalled, which is very useful and allows the photographer to switch quickly between working arrangements.
The My Menu screen is also helpful for some of the more frequently used, or heavily buried, menu functions, such as the mirror lock-up or the AF AI Servo Tracking sensitivity (Custom function III: Autofocus/Drive 2).