Canon Experience Center - 5D Mark IV Hands-On

Last night we attended the "EOS 5D Mark IV Hands-On Experience" at the Canon Experience Center in Costa Mesa, CA to get some time with the just-announced 5D Mark IV and see if it could fit into our work, or if a 5DSR would be the better choice. Previously, we planned on purchasing a 5DSR for portrait/fashion and product work, but with the 5D Mark IV right around the corner, we decided we'd wait and see what Canon had in store for the latest-generation 5D.

This was our first time at the Canon Experience/Service center in Costa Mesa, and WOW. This place is awesome. They've got every single Canon EOS still and EOS Cinema camera on display with you to play with. There's a little set built in the middle of it all so you can test out the cameras. Very cool. They also have a lounge for CPS members.

Canon Experience Center - Costa Mesa, CA

Canon Experience Center - Costa Mesa, CA

They also have this awesome display of ALL of the current Canon EF, EF-S and Cinema lenses on display, along with some no longer in production. #gearporn, anyone?

Lens Display, Canon Experience Center - Costa Mesa, CA

Lens Display, Canon Experience Center - Costa Mesa, CA

Food and refreshments were served and the first part of the presentation was held in a large back room used for their live learning sessions (visit learn.usa.canon.com for more info on their live and online learning sessions).

"
BKGF4703.jpg

The first portion of the presentation covered what's new with the EOS 5D Mark IV -- a lot of that time was spent on highlighting the improvements to overall usability -- the new customizable "Q" screen taken from the 5DS/5DSR and 1DX Mark II, Fully-functioning touch-screen (with more functionality than the 1DX Mark II, which frustrates us with its very limited abilities) GPS/WiFi/NFC, and of course, the Dual-Pixel RAW technology. Dual-Pixel RAW was covered at length with plenty of questions being answered from those in attendance.

NFC and WiFi connectivity are a welcome addition to this level of camera, with WiFi appearing to actually work pretty well (albeit being a 2.4GHz antenna, which may be a concern for crowded areas when trying to pick up a connection or use your phone). We're unsure of how well the Canon Camera Connect app works for remote shooting, but have heard reports it needs some work -- hopefully they're working on that, because it appears Canon has placed an emphasis on WiFi connectivity with some of their new products announced recently.

GPS is another great feature that has finally met in the middle of the EOS series (first in the low-end compact cameras, then the consumer DSLRs, then the flagship 1DX2, and finally the 5D series gets GPS)

Following the presentation, the presenters split up into a couple of different stations to let us have some hands-on time with the 5D Mark IV and some of the new lenses -- the EF 24-105 f/4L IS II, 16-35 f/2.8L III, and the EF 35 f/1.4L II (which has been out some time now).

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The first station answered any technical questions regarding the 5D Mark IV. One question we were curious about in particular, was if if were theoretically possible for the Dual-Pixel RAW to utilize the Dual-Pixel AF to record two different ISOs (as in Magic Lantern's Dual-ISO tech) to greatly increase the dynamic range of the resulting RAW file -- since the camera is recording two images simultaneously. Unfortunately, there was no definitive answer from the Canon rep on this, and that as of this time DPAF is only being used to record and account for pixel shift to correctand adjust small focus, ghosting and bokeh issues. We're confident that once (or if) Magic Lantern can get their hands on this camera, that Dual-Pixel RAW will be something they explore; and if it's possible, dual-ISO via the DPAF will mean that we'll have a true dual-ISO function as opposed to the sort of interlaced solution that currently exists in Magic Lantern's Dual-ISO.

On the upside, the 5D Mark IV should have better dynamic range due to its utilization of the new sensor technology in the 80D and 1DX Mark II -- namely, the on-chip ADC which results in better dynamic range at base and lower ISOs (with some DR given up at higher ISOs) -- how it will compare to the 1DX Mark II remains to be seen.

Edit: Dynamic Range tests analyzed from RAW files have been posted on fredmiranda.com:

About 13.3 - 13.4 EV at ISO 100 (noise level about 3 DN).

This is about 0.1 EV less than 1DX2:

ISO 100: 13.38 EV (1DX2 was 13.55)
ISO 100: 13.29 EV
ISO 100: 13.29 EV
ISO 400: 12.88 EV (1DX2 was 12.83)
ISO 800: 12.32 EV (1DX2 was 12.58)
ISO 1600: 11.57 EV (1DX2 was 11.82)
ISO 3200: 10.65 EV (1DX2 was 11.28)
ISO 25600: 8.40 EV (1DX2 was 8.49, 1DX was 8.79)

About 1.60 EV above 5D mark III results, exactly just like 80D and 1DX2 which also are about 1.60 EV better than their predecessors.

Currently, Dual-Pixel RAW images are only readable via Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software. What this means in practice, is that if you use DP RAW to shoot your images, you will not be able to open them natively in Lightroom or Capture One (as of yet) -- You will first need to use DPP to make your desired adjustments, then convert it into a DNG or TIFF for opening in your favorite editing program. This adds an additional step to your workflow, slowing you down significantly. We think DP RAW is a great feature in theory, but it seems a little half-baked right now.

A second area featured their studio setup with a model and some Westcott LED panels to show off the capabilities of the 5D Mark IV's increased resolution at lower ISOs, along with the new 24-105 f/4L IS II (and other common lenses like the 85L II and 100L Macro). Unfortunately, because the camera has not been released, we could not take photos home on our own cards to evaluate the images. We expect the camera to do fine with portraiture and studio work, as most cameras will do just fine at lower ISOs and in controlled lighting environments. People stepping up from a 5D Mark III will like the additional resolution and detail that the 5D4 brings to the table.

The third area featured the 5D4 with the new 16-35 f/2.8L II and touted the video features of the new 5D4. While we did not spend much time here, we're sure everyone is aware of the 5D4's video specs - 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) at 24/30p, Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 60p, and HD (1280 x 720) at up to 120fps. 8.8mp Still-frame grabs are possible when recording in 4K.

We were a bit more interested in testing the 16-35L III, which in our time with it, seems to be a great performer. The 16-35 f/2.8L II was good, but not quite amazing -- just a ubiquitous piece of kit for event and general photography. The new version III of this lens brings it in line with the rest of Canon's new updates like the 24-70L II, 70-200L II and 11-24L. The lens is sharp, contrasty, lighter, and fast to focus. It seems to be a bit longer than the previous 16-35L II, but felt lighter, so it's a wash.

What did we think after spending a bit of time handling the 5D Mark IV, you ask?

Meh.

The 5D4 is a jack of all trades, master of none. It felt exactly like a 5D3 in our hands and spending the last 4 years using 5D3's meant that we could pick it up and use it without any issues or fumbling. This is great for people upgrading for the sake of upgrading from the "old" 5D3 -- you'll feel right at home, and can start shooting with more resolution and speed the second you pick it up (side note: the body is pretty significantly lighter than the previous 5D3). But we'd personally save our money and skip this generation -- at least, until prices come down from the current $3499 (body-only) price point. There's no need to rush out and pre-order one unless you've either got money burning a hole in your pocket, or you're not currently a 5D Mark III owner/user.

There's nothing that we care about that this thing can do that our 1DX Mark II can't already do (and do better/faster), and nothing in it that we need/want in a camera to supplement the 1D. 

Like everyone else, we've waited a long time for this thing, and was really let down as soon as the announcement confirmed the leaked specs -- being hands-on with it for some time last night just confirmed the letdown. On the other hand, Now we know for sure that the 5DSR is a better companion camera to the 1DX2 for our uses than the 5D4 would be.

The progression from the 5D > Mark II > Mark III was increasingly progressive with each iteration -- Video features were enhanced along with focusing with the jump from the Mark II to the Mark III, along with a host of other new and welcome features. Canon had to really pull out all the stops to make a camera that would "WOW" with the Mark IV, and we feel like it falls flat.

Canon teased at a "new feature that doesn't currently exist on any EOS camera" leading up to the 5D4's announcement -- that turned out to the Dual-Pixel RAW -- and it's not very exciting at first glance (though admittedly we'll have to see what it can do once people have the camera in their hands). Second, the old media standards -- CompactFlash and SD (UHS-I!) probably hamper the potential performance of this camera. a 21-frame buffer depth (7 frames if shooting Dual-Pixel RAWs), is pretty abysmal if one were to try and use this for sports, which, along with the improved AF system taken from the 1DX series and its 7fps, the 5D4 is perfectly capable of doing. 

There's so many corners we felt they cut on this camera, that it just doesn't inspire us all that much. We'll be getting a 5DSR for ourselves instead.

-The Broketographers