Canon's EOS 5D Mark IV has been a popular mainstay in many photographers' kitbags ever since it launched in 2016. The perfect all-rounder, this full-frame DSLR offers something for everyone, from action photographers looking for a robust camera with superior build quality and outstanding performance to videographers who want pro features such as internal 4K recording and Canon's renowned Dual Pixel CMOS AF. With more choice in the market than ever, it's a good time to look at the lesser-known features that make this camera so special.
With help from Canon Ambassadors Jaime de Diego, Guia Besana and Ulla Lohmann, and former Canon Ambassador Christian Anderl, together with Canon Europe Professional Imaging Product Specialist Mike Burnhill, here we dive into the EOS 5D Mark IV's specifications to discover why it's still an outstanding choice for pro stills and video alike.
Read through their top 10 features or skip straight to one of these sections:
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV can capture 30.4MP still images, but the high number of megapixels isn't the whole story: the camera can also shoot at 7fps, with full AF and AE tracking, for up to 21 consecutive RAW files or an unlimited number of JPEGs. This makes it perfect for photographers who need to shoot fast-paced action such as sports or wildlife.
Sports and commercial photographer Jaime de Diego says this feature is useful across all the different types of work he does. "Seven frames per second is enough to shoot my lifestyle, advertising or social media work," he says. "The most important thing to me is that I can shoot many pictures in the same sequence, if I want to."
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV provides fast, consistent autofocusing even in low-light conditions – down to -3EV through the viewfinder, or -4EV when shooting in Live View mode with Canon's acclaimed Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology.
Fashion and portrait photographer Guia Besana says this feature is useful whether working outside or in the studio. "In studio settings I like to construct my light from zero using continuous lights," she says. "So I need the camera to be able to focus in near-darkness and consistently record in the best quality possible, until I've honed the light I want."
It's not just about focusing in the dark: the camera must also be capable of correct exposures in low-light situations, and that's where the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV's ISO capability, up to ISO32,000 natively and expandable up to ISO102,400, comes into play.
Travel and adventure photographer Ulla Lohmann finds this extremely valuable. "I usually set the ISO very high at night," she says, "so I don't have to wait 30 seconds or a minute to see if my composition is good. Actually, one of my test images once ended up in the last selection for a print magazine, and you know what? It got printed. The noise wasn't that noticeable, so it was usable in print."
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV's intelligent Dual Pixel CMOS AF offers Face Detection and Tracking AF, as well as FlexiZones, to keep subjects consistently sharp. For videographers it also enables smooth and precise pull focus transitions in any resolution from 4K to Full HD – just touch on the LCD on the points you wish to focus to and from, and the camera does the rest.
For sports and wildlife photographers who use extenders on long telephoto lenses, the 61 AF points, 21 of which are cross-AF type points and all of which are selectable at f/8, will help ensure focusing is precise.
Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS technology has another trick up its sleeve. Saving images in Dual Pixel RAW (DPRAW) format adds the facility to tweak the optimal point of sharpness, moving it forward or backwards as required in post-production using Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software. DPP is able to read the depth map data contained in the DPRAW file and use this to make micro adjustments of where the area of maximum sharpness in the image is, as well as shift bokeh and reduce ghosting. "This is one of the best features I've seen in many years," says portrait specialist Christian Anderl. "In portrait photography there are countless examples when I didn't hit 'that' eye 100%, and the focus deviates a little in front or behind. I still find it amazing that I have the chance to correct this in post."
Even that's not all. Using Canon's Professional Print & Layout (PPL) plug-in, developed for the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO series, you can sharpen in-focus areas selectively when you print DPRAW images taken with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, producing gallery-quality prints with greater depth and tonal richness than is possible with software that sharpens across the entire image.
On the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV it is possible to create a custom set of menus, and that's great news whether you're shooting as an individual or as a part of a larger team, on stills or video. Canon Europe Product Specialist Mike Burnhill highlights the benefit of this sometimes neglected facility.
"In photo studios, you might want to lock the camera so that only certain settings are adjustable, such as the time and date," he says. "This safeguards against accidental mistakes when passing the device around in a team. Even working as an individual, it could be set up based on the different types of job you have – for example, a landscape menu, portrait menu or street menu. Or this can be used to place all your most-used menu items in one place for quicker access." So the customisable menu system is ideal whether you want to lock-out certain settings or simply want to redistribute them to make them easier to access and speed up your workflow.
When professional photographers use the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV they want it to work reliably and quickly. That's why the Quick Control Menu on the LCD screen is also fully customisable.
Press the Q button to access essential shooting settings such as aperture and AF point information. These settings can be swapped out for something else, repositioned and resized to fit the needs of the photographer. Jaime, for example, adds the Wi-Fi option. "I always work with the Wi-Fi on," he says. "It's a very important feature for me to show pictures to clients in real time, or if I need to shoot the camera from a distance and want to remove vibrations."
The AF-on button controls autofocus by default, but it can be assigned to recall presets of other main shooting functions such as the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, metering mode and AF area selection. This is useful for those photographers who use the shutter release button to reach focus, as it frees up the AF-on button to access favourite settings and speed up shooting.
With a firmware upgrade, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV can record voice memos on still images.
"This is useful for anyone who's shooting events and needs to quickly take a note for later," says Mike. "A wedding photographer might record family members' names, for example, or a photojournalist may need this to identify political figures who aren't immediately recognisable. If you've got a voice memo of who it is, it makes your metadata tagging so much easier." Adding a voice tag also helps with cataloguing and indexing image files on archival storage.
Voice memos are great for stills photographers, but videographers will find an alternative upgrade* even handier. Bearing in mind that the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV doesn't just pave the way for hybrid shooting but offers true 4K video recording at 30fps and in 4:2:2 (8-bit), it's a favourite for videographers and hybrid shooters. The optional Canon Log upgrade enables the camera to fit even more seamlessly into a pro video workflow.
Canon Log applies a logarithmic tone curve to produce footage with extra-wide dynamic range and generous exposure latitude, for easy colour grading. Designed for professional filmmakers, it provides an easier way to grade and seamlessly combine video footage taken from multiple shooting devices including Canon Cinema EOS cameras, and allows a wider dynamic range – 12 stops at ISO400.
"When I really want to get the best possible quality out of my footage in post, I always use Canon Log," says Christian.
Ulla finds that clients often expect Canon Log footage. "Usually you have very specific settings from the companies, and they often ask for Canon Log," she says. "I find it useful when shooting on assignment for different professional films, because that's what they ask for. For my own work I find it useful to have all the options afterwards."
The AF orientation sensor is great for those who need to recompose and maintain focus quickly. You can preset your preferred AF mode and AF point for different orientations of the camera, and the camera will automatically switch to the appropriate preset when you rotate it. So if you’re photographing fast-moving sports, for example, and have the AF point at the top-left in landscape orientation, turning the camera 90 degrees anti-clockwise would normally mean this AF point was at the bottom left, which is unlikely to be where the athlete’s face will be. Using the orientation-linked AF point feature, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV can automatically switch to a different preset AF point when you rotate the camera, say the top-right in this case, meaning you don't have to manually change AF point and risk missing the action. It's a feature that sets the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV apart from older devices.
Mike says: "In the old days you'd have to move the AF point around, or leave it in the centre to focus and then recompose. The issue with this method is that the subject is not at the same distance from the lens, so the focus will always be slightly out. If you're playing with a shallow depth of field, perhaps shooting on a telephoto or fast aperture lens, then these focusing differences become much more noticeable. So the AF orientation sensor keeps the focusing quicker and more accurate."
While a camera's automatic white balance normally does a brilliant job of analysing the scene and correcting any colour cast in order to render accurate colours, sometimes photographers want to retain some of the natural ambient hues to keep authenticity in an image. This might be the orange glow of street lights or deep blue of a shaded area. That's why the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV has two automatic white balance modes, ambient-priority and white-priority.
Mike says: "If you're a travel photographer, the ambient auto white balance might be important to keep the feeling of a particular place. Other camera manufacturers choose one white balance mode over the other, but Canon realises that people want the option of having both."
*The Canon Log and Voice Tag upgrades are mutually exclusive, meaning your camera cannot operate with both upgrades at the same time. If you have previously purchased a Voice Tag upgrade and then choose to purchase a Canon Log upgrade, you will lose Voice Tag functionality (and vice versa).